Horse Portrait Photography & Location Scouting

Horse Portrait Photography & Location Scouting

Horse Portrait Photography & Location Scouting

Before I became interested in photography, If someone had have asked me about Location Scouting, my initial though would have been related to the process of film making, but as a result of offering horse portraits as a photographer, I have found myself often looking for suitable locations, scouting old railway tracks, hidden Bluebell woodlands and rustic tracks.

One of the many hurdles in relation to finding good Horse portrait photography locations apart from the need for great landscape aesthetics, is suitable access which is also key, if the access is not suitable people cannot transport their horses and many great locations just cannot be used which can be frustrating.

Although I use portable lighting, equipment wise, C Stands are still vital in terms of safety, especially when booming lighting. Up until recently, the locations that have found to be most suitable have been, Skipwith Common, Parlington Lane, Old Coach Road and Howell Woods, but I’m constantly seeking out new locations and ideas.

 

One of the first locations I ever used was Brodsworth Country Park and I discovered that by walking along the Roman Road towards Highfields, was there was a great little track for autumn Horse Portrait Photography. Although I have been back and used this location twice, access is problematic and it seems to have become the playground for off road motor bikes and they use the old railway network to ride up and down, so sadly, this location is not so good at weekends.

There is a bridleway that runs past Wortley Hall (The Timberland Trail) that looks promising, as the bridleway has lots of potential for varied Equine Portrait Photography location shoots, from open fields, together with undulating tracks with a few tree clusters, there is good parking access too, so I am looking forward to shooting here in 2020 as I have not used this location so far.

Recently Fran & I went out into south Yorkshire on a Horse Portrait location scouting expedition and despite it being a damp and wet December day, we discovered a stunning place location wise, it is without a doubt the best location for equine portrait photography that we have found to date, so roll on spring 2020. I will then be able post a few horse portrait photographs examples once we have used it.

Know of any potential locations for horse portrait photography shoots or would like any questions you may have answered? I would love to hear about locations, or if you would you like to get involved with a spring collaborative shoot in south Yorkshire send us an email and we will keep you informed as to when and where we will be shooting.

Salina Turda

Salina Turda

Hidden below the Transylvanian landscape in Turda sits a large underground wonderland with a brightly lit modern art theme park nestled 120 meters below the surface of the Earth inside one of the oldest salt mines in Europe.

Salina Turda is the largest salt mine museum in the world, and easily the most incredible. Salt extraction on the site’s surface started in antiquity, but the work expanded underground during the Roman occupation of Dacia. The salt was extracted manually using pickaxes, hammers, chisels, and steel wedges, by free people who were paid in florins, ale, and loaves of bread.

The mine was closed in 1932, but it was used again during World War II as a bomb shelter. After the war, the mine served several purposes, one of which was a warehouse for storing cheese. Regardless of its history, this salt mine is not just a huge museum, but an epic tourist attraction. It was even ranked by Business Insider as the most beautiful underground place in the world.

Today, Salina Turda has been transformed into an incredible underground theme park.When you visit, you’ll head down about 400-feet before reaching the submerged wonderland. Once inside, you’ll find an amphitheatre, a bowling alley, an underground lake with paddle and row boats, and even a Ferris wheel. You’ll also find a mini golf course and ping pong courts.

The stunning rugged caverns walls are like surreal paintings and the result of mining that carved out over three billion tons of salt. Salina Turda is open year-round. Costs vary based on your preferred package, but will typically be around 15 lei (about £3) for adults and is worth every penny, there’s nothing else like it in the world.

Flashpoint R2 SPT Transceiver

Flashpoint R2 SPT Transceiver

If you are looking for a simple manual flash trigger set, the Flashpoint R2 SPT is a great option in terms of price and functions. The R2 SPT is a single firing pin transceiver and is the first simple universal flash trigger set that is compatible with the Godox X 2.4 GHz Radio Flash System.

  • Inexpensive Receiver – Universal To Fire non  Godox Lights
  • Single Firing Pin Transmitter – Universal To Work On Any Camera With Standard Hotshoe
  • Remote Shutter Release – Combined Shutter & Flash Firing (TRX Mode)
  • Increased Range – Up To 150m, or 300m Using R2 SPT as both TX & RX

The Flashpoint R2 SPT are Transceivers, with the Transmitter and Receiver units in this case being exactly the same device. A manual switch on the side simply assigns the unit as Transmitter (TX) or Receiver (RX) as required.

Being Single Firing Pin only, the R2 SPT do not provide TTL or HSS, though this allows them to work universally, as well as providing longer range.

Acting as a Transmitter to R2 enabled flashes, the R2 SPT will provide Remote Manual Power Control. (Not when acting as a receiver though).

  • Flashpoint R2 / Godox X – 2.4GHz RF Radio System
  • Range – To 300m (R2 SPT as TX & RX)
  • Range – To 150m (Between R2 SPT and R2 / Godox X System)
  • Flash Modes – Manual
  • Manual Flash – 1/256 – 1/1 Output (1/3rd Increments)
  • APP Mode (Sends Fire Signal Only)
  • Remote Modelling Light Power (Global ON/OFF)
  • Remote Beep Control (Global ON/OFF)
  • Groups as TX – A / B / C / D / E  (5 Groups)
  • Groups as RX – A / B / C / D / E  (5 Groups)
  • 32 Channels
  • Wireless ID 01-99
  • Compatible with the Godox X 2.4GHz System
  • Backlit LCD Display
  • 5 Individual Group Buttons
  • Auto Memory Function
  • Wireless Shutter Release (In Sync With Flash – TRX Mode)
  • Type-C USB Port for Firmware Updates
  • 3.5mm Sync Port
  • 2.5mm Shutter Release Port
  • Powered by 2 AA Batteries

RX MODE

Functioning as a Receiver unit, the R2 SPT provide an economical way to simply fire you existing non- Godox lights in sync with the camera.

The R2 SPT provide a 300V safe trigger voltage on both the Sync Port and hotshoe, so even most older flash units should be safe to use connect to the receiver.

NOTE – In RX Mode all buttons on the R2 SPT (except the SET / TEST Fire Button) require a long press to have any effect. This is so that settings can not be bumped and changed accidentally.

TX MODE

Functioning as a Transmitter unit, the R2 -SPT (being single firing pin) are universal to work on any camera having a standard hotshoe.

The R2 SPT feature 5 individual quick access Group buttons – A / B / C / D / E .

in TX Mode the R2 SPT provide Remote Manual Power Control of the Godox X System flash units. As well as turning the Modelling Light and Beep On and Off remotely.

Only Remote Group Control (ON / OFF) is available with R2 SPT as receiver.

NOTE – Double pressing a Group button turns that Group ON and OFF, and Holding a Group button turns that Group on only.

Integration with other brands of flash

Prior to my lighting kit being predominantly Godox, I hade various types and brands of lights, if I wanted to combine them with my Godox kit, I needed numerous leads and other triggers which made quick setups not so quick.

One piece of lighting kit that I still use and love are my Einstein’s, by Paul C Buff and by using R2 -SPT trigger, I can combine the Einstein’s with my Godox lighting kit. I don’t have remote power control of the Einstein, but if I use the Einstein as my main light and meter for that, controlling all of the other Godox lights is simple and for Horse portraits this just works and very well.

I would love a Godox AD600 pro, it would really speed the process of lighting up, but the justification in terms of cash outlay would be a stupid move and as I only use the Einstein’s for specific scenarios where I need to pack a lot of lighting power, I can usually get by with the Godox kit I have anyway.  The R2 SPT trigger is a cost-effective simple solution to my needs and I also then have a back for any situations where my Xpro 2 trigger might fail.

I really hope Godox release these in the UK, I had a friend order mine and then ship them to the UK, but even with the postage, the R2 SPT’s are still a bargain.

Adobe Photoshop 2020

Adobe Photoshop 2020

Thirty years ago Photoshop made its first appearance on the computer and is without a doubt the industry standard. The new desktop update packs in lots of new and enhanced features, definitely a lot more than last year’s version, so I thought I would highlight a few of my favourites.

Improvements that the Adobe team has added using their Sensei technology of artificial intelligence and machine learning- particularly new capabilities in the Object Selection Tool and Content-Aware-Fill are simply amazing.

Select Subject gets better edges, is faster on a Mac (mine anyway) and they have managed to reduce the size of the Sensei AI machine learning model on disk without reducing quality. 

Content-Aware-Fill Enhancements

Adobe, have added three ways to identify where in your image you want it to look for source pixels as fill content.

  • Auto: intelligently select source pixels by analyzing pixels near the selection
  • Rectangular: Chooses pixels nearby
  • Custom: gives you full control. You identify exactly which pixels to fill from

Object Selection Tool

This tool has been promoted to the top spot under the magic selections tool icon. Using Sensei AI machine learning enables you to automatically select single, multiple or parts of objects in an image; speeding up complex selections.

Better Auto Selections

The Select Subject command has been enhanced, due to Adobe Sensei – their name for the artificial intelligence that allows Photoshop to analyze an image and guess at what you want to select and from experimentation, its very good.

What else’s is new in Photoshop 2020?

  • Properties Panel with repackaged top tasks into a central location
  • Redesigned Present Panels (although users can revert back to Legacy settings!
  • Smart Object Convert to Layers
  • Enhancements to Warp Transform
  • Lens Blur addition
  • Adjustment layers for curves and brightness/contrast for 32-bit images
  • Consistent Transform Behaviour
  • Smart Object and Layer Comp Tracking
The Value Of Commissioning A Photographer

The Value Of Commissioning A Photographer

There are roughly 7.5 billion people in the world and about 5 billion of them have a mobile phone. Roughly 4 billion people 80% of phones have a built-in camera. Estimates state that 14 trillion photos are taken annually (14,600,000,000,000) but why do some photographs really make an impression on us?

There are many distinguishing factors that make photographs stand out from those you see or take every day, but despite the marketing of phone and camera manufacture’s, a good camera does not make a good photographer, or produce a good image.

Whether you are a professional or amateur photographer, good photography equipment is costly. As a professional photographer, cameras and lenses are just the basics, there is also lighting equipment, tripods, backdrops, computer software, website costs and most importantly Public Liability Insurance and all of these costs require an income.

Professional photographers continually attend workshops and classes to master their abilities and learn new techniques and these have a cost and are often not cheap to attend and require dedicated time to attend.

Let’s return to that question “have you ever wondered why some photographs really make an impression on us”?

Personally, I think it relates to a combination these key factors

Experience

Skill

Knowledge

Lens choice

Lighting

Image editing

When you commission a photographer, you are investing in the value of these factors which all play a part in producing images that have an impression on the viewer.

We all have different tastes, but in summary photography is like wine, some excellent, some good and some not so good. There is an abundance of cheap wine that can be purchased, but do you value it for its quality or price? By commissioning a photographer, you are more likely to receive either excellent or good photographs, you are investing in them as photographers to create images that have value.

Sadly, there are some people who will screen grab photographers work, or complain about the price of an image and overlook the time involved in the process of creating the photograph. The cost of doing business as a photographer is like any other business, they need to generate a profit to survive, so if you value the images you see, show some appreciation for their time, effort and skill and invest in their work.

Faces Through Northern Vietnam

Faces Through Northern Vietnam

The human face is unique yet universal and ancient or modern, the human face has been expressive for over 4 million years.

The amazing variety of human faces is far greater than that of most other animals and is the result of evolutionary pressure to make each of us unique and easily recognizable.

Our human face happens to be one of the most powerful channels that we all use to communicate social and emotional states: everything from enjoyment, surprise, empathy, anger and curiosity.

Before I became interested in photography I was aware of the social and emotional communication faces display, but I generally took people’s faces for granted, Photography has made me more aware of people’s faces and one of the things I have discovered is that the look on someone’s face when they’re doing what they love is contagious and inspiring.  

The images below are of some of the people Fran & I came in to contact with whilst traveling through Northern Vietnam, these included the Black H’mong, Zay minorities, Flower Hmong, Black Dzao, Nung, Phu la and Tay, Many of these people speak other language dialects, so even if we did speak Vietnamese communication would have been difficult, but I think smiles are universal regardless of language barriers.

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