Equestrian photo shoot

My cousin Madeleine Näs has been riding for 20 years at Djursholm’s Stable. We had been talking about taking some riding photos this past summer, but it was not until today that we finally met up for a photo session. The stable is located along the rail track going to Näsbypark. It is the same route that I had been travelling daily while studying at Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan (The Royal Institute of Technology) in Stockholm. It was like taking a trip back in time.

Madde had been working today and when I arrived she was getting her horse Dalwhinnie ready. She is big, but a very friendly horse, that likes to nibble playfully on your hands or arms when they get within her reach. Madde described her as a big baby that had not yet realised she was six years old.

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Horses are easily scared, so I wanted her to get used to me and the camera. I let her smell the camera but she did not seem to care much about it. I took a few photos to see how she reacted, and it seemed fine. Here I used an aperture of f/4.5 meaning that I got the horse’s head sharp, while Madde in the background was blurry. This leads the attention of the viewer to the horse.
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When we got out Madde rode Dalwhinnie back and forth a few times, to make sure that she got her exercise. This gave me a chance to get some shots in action.
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You do not realise how big those horse heads are until you are up close. Here I chose to crop in on Madde. I felt the photo in the original horizontal composition got too wide.
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I shoot in RAW with auto white balance, which usually does a pretty good job, but here I chose to slightly warm the colours to give it that autumn feeling as the sun was setting.
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Madde’s dalmatian Jesper also joined us. I am not sure how he felt about Dalwhinnie’s attention. At first he looked a bit concerned…

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We walked up the steep hill. Here I hung back to try and get a shot of them walking. Jesper came running out from the trees to the right, and I managed to get them all lined up. For the editing I was experimenting with black and while, but ended up having it in colour. I have lowered the contrast to the left and around the corners to move more of the focus onto them.
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Dalwhinnie nibbling away on Madde’s hand. I shot against the sky from a low angle to remove distracting elements in the background.
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This photo has so much character.
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I saw that Jesper was begging for attention, and sat down low so that I could capture the world from his perspective.

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Our two and a half hour photo session was coming to an end. I snapped this last photo of Dalwhinnie before we went to the cafeteria for some warm kanelbullar (cinnamon buns).

My drawing tablet is still in Cambridge, so I edited the photos using the built in touchpad on my laptop. Doing so made me realise how important that tablet has become to my workflow. All adjustments go slower in camera RAW, although it is still possible to do them. Where I really missed the tablet was when editing the image in Photoshop. Using my fingers on the trackpad felt really clumsy, and lacked the touch sensitive control of the tablet and pen.

It was great fun to catch up with Madde. We used to see each other more often when we were younger. Hopefully there will be more opportunities when I move back to Stockholm in April. Tomorrow my brother Jonathan and his family arrive in Stockholm. The next blog post will probably have a Christmas inspired theme…

– Johannes

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