Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Photography Workshop

Over the weekend I got to go to a photography workshop with one of my favorite equine photographers, Mary Cornelius. I've always admired her photos and have wanted her to take photos of my and my horses forever, but have never gotten around to having her out for a session or attending a show where she has been the photographer. In fact, one of my greatest regrets is not having her out to take pictures of Grady. She was doing an elder horse project of horses 25 and older, so I was going to have her out this summer to get some shots of Grady, though for obvious reasons I will never get to have those pictures done :(

Anyways, the day was not off to a good start. I live in a townhouse near campus in the city. We have a garage and assigned parking spots. My roommates all leave their spare keys in case we need to rearrange cars since we essentially have three spaces, but they're all in a straight line. We typically only use two spaces unless a boyfriend needs to park overnight. Anywho, I woke up at 6 and went out to my car to leave at 6:30, opened the garage door to find... a random car. In our space.

I woke up one of my roomies to make sure she didn't know whose it was (I'd never seen it before and there was no one random spending the night at our house). Having decided that we didn't know who it belonged to, I went outside and made sure no one was around to whom it might have belonged. No one. I'm guessing it belonged to a guest at our neighbors who had a ridiculously crazy party the night before. College, I'm telling you. After calling the towing company whose name was posted on the "Do Not Park Here unless it's your space or you'll be towed" signs and determining that only our manager could have a car towed, I called him and he answered! Major cudos to a manager who answers his phone before 7am. He was great and arranged to have a towing company come move the car.

Getting towed...

An hour later and I was finally on my way. I felt fairly bad about having the truck towed since they would have to pay for it, but at the same time I was really mad. I mean, who does that? It's one thing if you were parking there for a few minutes, or even if you just parked there for a few hours but still left in the wee hours of the morning. Like at 3 am or something. But the truck didn't get towed until 7:30am so that was way past the reasonable time to move it and still no one showed up.

Rough start behind, I made it to the workshop, albeit 40 minutes late. I was quite mortified to be so late (though I did call ahead to let them know I was on my way but late) since I'm one of those people who routinely shows up half an hour in advance to everything, just because I don't want to be late.

We started off almost immediately taking pictures of the foals. They were getting turned out for the day so we all went out and arranged ourselves in the different paddocks to get some good shots. Mary was helpful in deciding what settings to use - she wanted everyone to try to shoot in manual and while my camera does have an auto mode, all other settings are manual (there's an aperature and shutter dependent setting, but you still have to manually set them). It was good because even though I've had my 70D Canon for over a year, I still have no idea what to do with it and I'm finally learning the relationship between aperature, ISO and shutter speed. So it was nice to have someone there to reiterate those ideas and give tips.

The foals were SO CUTE. I want a baby warmblood! The moms were totally nonchalant about us being there and pretty much went straight to grazing but all the foals of course had to zoom around. We spent over an hour taking pictures of the babies and then the stallions got turned out so we took some pictures of them. Two of the three stallions obliged us with some nice movement, but one of them went straight to grazing which was slightly amusing, but gave Mary a chance to talk about trying to capture expressions, not just movements, which is what makes her so good. If you have a chance to check out her blog with some of the elder horse project photos, I recommend it (http://shuttermonkee.blogspot.com/search/label/elder%20horse%20project). She was able to take some great pictures of older horses, some of whom could only graze. We then went back to the classroom to discuss.

Mary told us a little of her background, which I found really interesting. She started off doing film cameras which I find fascinating since of course I've never really dealt with them and they seem like a lot of work to operate and get good quality pictures. Anyways, she got burnt out doing show photos and took a hiatus for a few years, basically refusing to take any pictures at all. Once digital started coming out though, she got back into the game and started focusing on dressage shows only and doing farm calls for portraiture, etc. She said one of the reasons that she loves taking pictures is because for a lot of people, your pictures are your most prized possessions. She said that when people get interviewed after a natural disaster where they lose all of their belongings, the one thing that most of them regret losing the most of their material belongings is their photos. She said that she wanted to be able to give horse owners pictures of their horses because it is so important to them and she didn't want anyone to be without photos of their horse when they passed away. My heart just kind of broke then because it's so true and it's why I'll always regret not having more pictures of Grady and I. It's not that I don't have any, I just don't have as many as I'd like and I have no professional photos of either him or us together and it just makes me sad.

Anyways, I loved seeing her photos before getting edited because she has such a great artistic eye to be able to look at a photo, possibly one that I might personally pass by, then crop and edit it so that it really looks like an amazing final product. She discussed different elements of good photos, beyond just the typical "rule of thirds" which was helpful, I really liked what she showed with framing and leading lines because it's something you do unconsciously when taking a photo, so recognizing what it is was helpful for saying "Oh, that is what I do and it looks good, so I should recognize that more when taking pictures."

Finally, we went out to take pictures of some of the other horses - we took some pictures of a little herd of mares, then a pair of 3 year old stud colts, then the two herds of yearlings (divided into colts and fillies). It was a lot of fun and I took a ton of photos. I haven't even had time to really sort through all of them in detail and edit my favorites, so I've just shared a couple of my favorite unedited pics. Overall, I wasn't too happy with my photo taking for the day, I guess it was just an off day, but I did get some ok shots and I can't wait to sit down and go through them all in detail!

And I have to say, the barn that it was held at was STUNNING. It was so pristine and nice, I just wanted to live in one of the barns. Yes, that's right barns plural. There were three barns on the property, I believed they were segregated to be the show horse barn, stallion barn and mare & foal barn, though I'm not sure. The arena was big and gorgeous, perfectly groomed. There was an outdoor arena as well and the rest of the property was all fenced pastures for the horses. Amazing. If I got to come home to that every day I think I would feel like I'd died and gone to horse heaven.


  1. People always ask me why I take so many pictures. Personally, I feel that eventually all memories fade at least slightly...pictures live on long after.I like being able to look back and remember the special moments.

    dSLR cameras are so much fun once you learn how to take pictures off of "Auto." Enjoy the knowledge of how to use your camera! You're in for a lot of enjoyment!

  2. Wow, those are gorgeous! I wish I knew how to use my camera lol

  3. Your pictures look great!!! I would love to participate in a workshop like that.

  4. What a great way to spend the day! And you got some great photos in the process.