Photographing a Model Horse for Halter
Taking pictures of models to help them look as realistic and appealing as possible is not all that difficult. This dissertation will go through the basic equipment, camera settings and information to get you going in taking quality photos of your own models.

The Good, the Bad & The Ugly Pix
Very Poor Photo
This pic is about as poor a pic as anyone can take (and this is one of my own from some years back.) The horse is very small in the frame, it's blurry, the horse is not particularly interesting nor does it stand out well from the background.

Poor Photo
This one isn't a whole lot better. With the light coming mostly from behind the model, most of what you see is a silhouette. The horse's legs are lost to the background, making it impossible to judge the quality of the model.
This photo is quite improved over the previous two. There's enough lighting on the subject to see detail, and the model fills the frame. On the downside, the model is not well centered, the grass is out of scale and out of place, and part of the head is a bit lost in the background. Better Photo
Nice Halter Photo This last photo is a good example of a nice halter photo. The background is clear and uncluttered, the focus is good, and the model fills the frame and with nothing to distract the judge from the model itself. The "silhouette" or outline of the model is complete, nothing is lost or hidden in the background, and the footing is not out of scale.

By using an outdoor setting and natural light, you do not need to invest in any special photo studio or equipment.
  1. 35mm camera--a camera that allows you to use manual settings is best so you can work towards getting the desired effects
  2. Film--ASA 100 speed film generally works well, and nearly any brand is adequate.
  3. Model--Start with halter shots (the model, by itself, or outfitted with a halter appropriate to its breed or body type)

Locate a spot in your yard, the park, local riding arena, parking lot, sand pit (just about anywhere there is some open space) that offers the following features:
  1. Uncluttered Background--ideally with blue sky to outline the model
  2. Free of close up man-made objects--such as cars and buildings, powerlines etc. Far away objects will appear to be 'in scale' to the model when you get down on the model's level to take a picture and are not as critical.
  3. Fine dirt or sand footing--free of large rocks, pebbles, and especially avoid grass since it's almost always out of scale to a model. Some brands of kitty-litter are rather fine and can make excellent footing. Alternatively you can obtain a bucket or two of fine sand to use for footing, and if shooting at 'remote' locations away from home, you can take it with you to use, and scoop it up later to reuse again.

  1. Keep the sun at your back more or less
  2. Hold the model up eye-level before you, and rotate it to determine the most attractiving sunlighting as well as best angle or view of the model. This is to help obtain the most attractive impression possible. Then set the model on the ground in the direction you decide upon.
  3. Lay down on the ground in front of the model with your camera and look thru the viewfinder.
  4. Adjust the model's position and yourself as necessary.
  5. Look for distracting objects in the background adjust the position of the model or yourself to avoid them as much as possible.

  1. Shutter Speed--experience has shown that a shutter speed of 1/250 sec is very effective when used with ASA 100 speed film, for the average model, outdoors, in full sunlight.
  2. f-stop--approximately 4 or thereabouts. The lower numbers will 'fade' or blur your background, higher numbers will cause the background to come in a bit clearer, but will also darken the image somewhat.
  3. Avoid Auto Settings--most automatic camera f-stop settings will result in photos that are too dark and sometimes muddy to be as nice as they can be. Also, it is important to focus manually, since only YOU know what exactly you wish to focus on. Close-up photos as models require have a very limited focal length (the area that is in focus in the picture) and automatic settings aren't usually very good at focusing in on what YOU want to focus in on.
  1. Get Down on the MODEL'S level--vertically centering the camera and lens at approximately the level of the model's elbow, or lower shoulder area. This creates the illusion of the model being "life sized".
  2. Get in Close and "Fill the Frame"--allowing just a little margin around the model to be sure that no parts will be cut off and just a little to spare (as some photo-developing places like to auto-crop the photo to the center area.) Getting in close like this will result in a more impressive image.
  3. Horizontally Center the Model--from side to side
  4. Focus Carefully--make certain the entire model is in the pic, from hooves to ears to nose to tail.
  5. Take Two Photos and Develop in the Morning--don't be afraid to take several shots and perhaps experiment with turning the model slightly in each shot or adjusting your position to capture different sunlighting and angles. Experiment a little bit with f-stop settings too...chances are at least one of the photos you take will really appeal to you and be your favorite. Later you can get reprints of the best ones.
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