4-H, FFA clinic offers tips on horse photography

Mary Ann Van Osdell  |  7/23/2009 11:52:17 PM

News Release Distributed 07/23/09

WEST MONROE, La. – Common problems in taking pictures of horses are distortion, lighting and a distracting background.

That was the message of Pam Kaster of Zachary, author of “Molly the Pony – A True Story,” at a special clinic at the 40th annual Louisiana 4-H and FFA State Horse Show July 9. Kaster gave aspiring photographers lessons on how to take equine pictures.

Kaster, a former 4-H’er, is a member of the Equine Photographers Network and National Association of Photoshop Photographers.

“The best time of the day to shoot pictures is early morning and late evening when the sun is not directly overhead,” Kaster said.

An interesting exercise is to take photos of toy horses in various locations for practice, she said, lining up different colored plastic horses on a fence.

Kaster suggested riders who are subjects wear bright colors and demonstrated the difference between someone in a red shirt versus a beige shirt in her PowerPoint presentation.

“Hats are wonderful,” she added, as long as they’re not shading the subject’s face.

Kaster told the group to shoot wide so distortions caused by shaky hands or improper backlighting can be cropped.

“Compose images so background does not distract from the horse,” she said. “You’ve all seen the picture of the Eiffel Tower coming out of a person’s head.”

She suggested visualizing a tic-tac-toe board and not putting the subject in the middle square.

Kaster said she focuses slightly below the horse’s withers – the ridge between the shoulder bones of a horse.

She said silhouettes are fun – shooting through an opening such as a stall door, alley or building. A unique point of view is also important, she added, such as atop a horse and shooting a shot of him drinking below.

“Look through sports pages for fabulous ideas for action shots,” she said for “homework.”

Kaster explained aperture, saying a small number gives a shallow depth of field, which is excellent for head shots but easily blurred by motion.

“A large number puts a lot of the image in focus,” she said. “However, the speed of the camera drops.”

She said “huge camera equipment” is not a necessity. “It’s about being in the right place at the right time. My job is to make you feel happier and more effective with your camera.”

A point-and-shoot camera can easily fit in a saddle bag when trail riding, Kaster said.

4-H and FFA members received a discount to attend the clinic.

After the talk, the 15 in attendance, including some adults, photographed a model, Abby Theriot, on her horse and then asked Kaster questions – many about how to win 4-H photography contests.

Coordinated by the LSU AgCenter, the horse show is held annually at the Ike Hamilton Expo Center.

Mary Ann Van Osdell

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