Horses are magnificent creatures with a beautiful form and shiny coat that beams in the sunlight when they gallop. Capturing their grace can be challenging as they might be trainable, but they are far from photography models considering they cannot be asked to angle their face or body towards the light and what's worse is they can be easily frightened by loud sounds and flashing lights. Another aspect that can be exceptionally difficult to capture is a horse in motion as some can have speeds up to 65km/h, and their large size requires a suitable lens that can cater to their proportions and a camera with fast shutter speeds.
Accustoming the Horse to Professional Lighting
Horses are animals that can get spooked easily, so it is essential to get them acquainted with light so they can get desensitized so they don't face any issues during this shoot. The best way to start is by aiming the light away from the horse and slowly repositioning it until the horse is well-lit. If the lighting setup involves using flash, the horse should be introduced to the flashing light at an angle so the light does not directly fall in their eyes, and they can adjust to the sound of the flash as well. This is a crucial step as it allows the horse to relax and produces natural-looking images.
If you're looking for a powerful flash that can effectively light every part of the horse's exterior, a flash speedlite is the way to go, and the PIXAPRO CITI300 PRO is a great option. This lithium-ion battery-powered flash is highly compact as it weighs only 1.25 kg with dimensions of 190 x 100 x 90mm, making it portable and great for use on location. The light comes in multiple settings as it has nine stop ranges with 1/10 stop increments that can go down to 1/256 of its full power, along with a fast recycling time ranging between 0.01 – 1.5 seconds. The colour temperature can be adjusted between 3000-6000k with the Bi-Colour COB LED modelling light allowing the photographer to have extensive control over the lighting.
If your horse is especially finicky and doesn't respond well to flashing lights, you can consider opting for continuous lighting options such as the PIXAPRO LED100D MKIII Pro, which is an energy-efficient lighting option that provides daylight-balanced lighting at 5600K at a brightness of 100W. The LED light has a CRI of more than 95 for enhanced colour accuracy. The lighting system comes with a dial to adjust the brightness between 10-100% of the capacity, and it can be used with both AC power and battery for shooting on location, which can have a 50,000-hour life expectancy. These lights also run quiet as they have an optimized heat dissipation system that is bound to be less stressful for the horse.
Whether you're going with flash or continuous lighting, you're going to need a sturdy light stand that can bear the weight of the lights and keep them secure at a fixed angle for the duration of the shoot. The PIXAPRO 300cm Air Cushioned Light Stand is a versatile option for light stands as it has a solid aluminium frame that adds to the strength as it can carry a maximum load of 7 kg and the contraption is also highly portable. The highly adjustable stand has three-tier extensions allowing this structure to extend to a height of 300 centimetres with a minimum height of 100 centimetres for multiple settings. It also comes with an interchangeable spigot mount with a universal 5/8" spigot with a 3/8" and 1/4" screw on either end, making it suitable for use with multiple lighting options.
The PIXAPRO 150cm Large Umbrella Softbox is a large-scale modifier that can be attached to the front of any light, which enables it to reduce the light intensity for a more natural shot. The umbrella softbox has a highly reflective silver interior that allows the light to bounce, promoting maximum light efficiency, while the black exterior prevents light from escaping. Even the octagonal shape of the softbox allows the light to remain within the confines of the umbrella, and the resulting light is diffused, and it aids in reducing sharp shadows.
To avoid the complexities and intricacies of lighting and lighting control, there are kits available that can provide any photographer with the essential lighting requirements for any equestrian photography shoot, including:
The Equestrian Photography Kit: This kit comes with the CITI600 PRO, which are battery-powered flashes that can provide 600 watts of power, making it ideal for lighting large subjects such as animals time different locations. DTTL provides optimum exposure while the HSS reduces ambient lighting provides control over lighting. The kit comes with a retractable stand that can expand to a maximum of 300 centimetres and a minimum of 122.5 centimetres while being easy to move and featuring a large footprint diameter that ensures stability. The DeepPara Softbox has a diameter of 90 centimetres, making it suitable to light large subjects and enabling the camera to capture details of the subject.
The MagMod MagBeam Wildlife Kit: This kit is ideal for photography horses from a distance making it easier to capture their entire form. It comes with a MagMod MagBeam, which features a fresnel lens that produces a more focused light that reduces the flash's power and leads to faster recycle times. The kit comes with the MagGrip, which is used to mount the flash, and a MagBeam Tele Lens, which can be used to provide a highly focused light that can give 2-3 extra stops of usable light, allowing the photographer to shoot the image at a greater distance without losing out on clarity.