Tuesday, September 27, 2016


This session was part of an engagement session for an upcoming wedding. My vision for this final image was of the couple galloping side by side, on their respective courses in the surf.  Well the best laid plans are easily shot-down by the unpredictable nature of horses! It turned out that the horse he borrowed (big mistake) was terrified of the surf—and sat on it’s tail, did a 180 and ran the other way as soon as it’s hooves touched the water!

So, we were down to her and her horse, which greatly simplified the execution and composition of this image.

My experience doing portraits of people while mounted atop their horses taught me that my camera position needed to be at least as high as the chest of the rider.

One of the basic rules of portraiture is that you don’t want to be “shooting” up people’s noses! Therefore, I’m usually on the 6-foot ladder when we are all on level ground. One of the important compositional side benefits is with my high position I can often place the rider’s head below the horizon line creating a better background.

So, to prepare the this session I made a ladder platform (so my ladder would not sink into the dry sand) using a three foot square piece of plywood, screwed some handles on it, and used my 3-foot ladder since I planned to be on the elevated sand away from the surf.

This accomplished two things: 

1) My high angle down eliminated the sky, which would have just blown-out anyway.
2) This backed me off enough to use the 180mm lens on my Mamiya RB-67, so I could compress the scene, crop in camera, and make the pan easier.  Yes, I’m hand holding my RB-67 with a 180mm lens and bellows lens shade!

So here was the result…

f5.6 @ 1/500 sec., ISO 800 (Fuji NHG film)
I had her ride the horse in a big circle around me coming to a full gallop only in the surf.  We did that six times, so, I only made One Exposure each time they galloped by—those of you familiar with the Mamiya RB-67 know why!  The one thing I did not count on was the how much the ground would shake when they rode my me….Wow what an experience on top the ladder!  The rest of the session went well, they loved the images and their wedding was great too. 

The icing on the cake was my print of this image, when entered into PPA’s International Print Competition (1996) was chosen for their traveling loan collection—the highest award PPA bestows on an individual print.

As usual questions are welcome….’til next week.

Author:  Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman, Certified
Training site: http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com
Client site: http://www.TheStorytellersUsa.com

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