Wednesday, August 21, 2019

EDITING AN EQUINE-OWNER PORTRAIT FOR DRAMA


We knew that photographing this young lady for her high school senior photos with her old horse was very important to her because her mother had told us in advance the horse was not doing well and that this was likely a farewell photo session.  So, my goal was to capture as much interaction between her and her horse as I could—but as most professional photographers working with animals know it’s  often difficult and rarely turns out as planned. I was resigned to probably just getting a basic posed portrait—the usual two-up head shot of them looking at the camera.  When she was bringing her horse out of the corral so we could do portraits in the barn I started the session with some candids and not 20 images in I was amazed to get the image that I desperately wanted showing that connection between human and animal that had always eluded me!

This is the original image right out of the camera….
f5.6 @ 1/1250 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 180mm
Not expecting this moment as she paused in our walk to the barn, I was too far away, so I zoomed fast and got off one image before the moment was gone.  There is way too much information in the original image, especially for a PPA competition style image. The background is very busy and marred by the corral.  In addition all the legs being shown take us away from what really matters here.

A major crop was the answer….
Cropped in
I cropped-in using a horizontal format and placed her head in a dramatic “crash point”. I really like her hair framing the right-hand side of the image. But, I did not like the extremely bright color contrast between her and her horse. Aaah ha…Black and White conversion might do the trick!

NIK, Silver Efex, Conversion
The color problem was not just her bright shirt. Her hair and skin color separated them as well. The black and white version made their hair similar and united the two of them in tonal harmony. And very important in a competition image, as it is in art, simplifying a composition will often make it more powerful. 

We went on to get a lot of nice images of this young lady with and without her horse and even a nice solo portrait of the horse.  Sadly, shortly after we created these portraits they had to put her horse down. Rest in peace sweet one….

As always questions are welcome…

Author: Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman

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