Rock's Renegades arrived last night fresh off the press. The smell of them gave me an instant headache. I ordered my favorite color: Arizona Copper. Today I tried them on him, and couldn't get the heel captivator up over his heel, so I had to adjust them by making the cables longer. He was a good boy about letting me put them on him and lunge him in them. They make squeaking noises with each step, and I don't know if that means they might be too tight or too loose.
My first pet photography assignment was to photograph an animal in full body view, 3/4 view, and a close up in each kind of lens that I have on the lowest aperture setting. The first time I tried the assignment, it was at the hottest part of the afternoon. We were supposed to shoot outdoors around sunrise and sunset, but that's right when my horses are eating with their heads buried in feed barrels. If I take them away from their food or delay their meal, I will just end up with grumpy models.
Plus I have other commitments going on, so like I told my instructor, when it comes to sunlight and time of day, it is what it is. I was going to photograph Lostine, but when I groomed her, all the dirt and sand came to the surface and I couldn't brush it off. I ended up hosing her down and just decided to photograph a wet horse. Then my camera was giving me fits and I struggled with finding all the right controls to adjust the settings. This is all stuff I've done a thousand times before, but my brain was shutting down on me. I pulled out the manual for the camera, but didn't have my reading glasses, so I just looked at the pictures. Nothing was making sense, and then all of the sudden I heard that telltale ringing in my ears followed by dizziness. My pores opened up and sweat squirted out like someone stuck a hose in my belly button and turned on the spigot.
I realized that I had been out in the heat too long, was having a hot flash, was dehydrated, and was on my way to experiencing heat exhaustion. Hard to believe in November, huh? Yup. People are still wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts in Arizona. I put Lostine away and carried my camera equipment indoors, telling myself I'll finish the homework some other day. When I got another moment of free time, I brought Rock out to be my model. This time I got my camera set up ahead of time indoors with my reading glasses on. All I had to do was change lenses.
Rock found some plants on the ground behind the horse trailer that he wanted to eat, so I had to keep backing him up and tying his lead rope shorter so that he couldn't keep walking out of view. I discovered that even though he is a handsome horse, he isn't very photogenic. He kept a droopy head and lazy ears the whole time he was modeling for me. I needed noise makers to get his attention, but that meant hiking all the way back into the house and bringing out a second backpack. I was already being wracked with hot flashes and feeling fatigued, so I knew I had to just shoot the assigned images as fast as possible, or I'd never complete the assignment. I can't figure out how other women going through menopause can even hold down a job. I'm just struggling to do homework assignments while attending school part-time.
While I was photographing him, some neighbors rode past our backyard on horses, which caused Rock to turn his head away from me while I was taking pictures. Then my other neighbors came out to see what was going on and let their pack of guard dogs out in the process, so all the barking was capturing Rock's attention and I couldn't get him to look at me. I was shaking all over from overtaxing my body in the heat at that point, and decided to hell with it -- the instructor can use my photos as examples of what not to do. I don't care. I fired off one of each assigned shot, put the horse away and went in the house to recover.
Today I drove to campus to share my crappy photos, but I got lost because they relocated to a different classroom. After hiking nearly half a mile around campus with a 40-pound backpack filled with all my camera equipment and being 15 minutes late, I still managed to be the first student to find the classroom. The instructor had to send security out to locate the other missing student. I didn't feel so bad about bringing in bad photos when I found out that the other student didn't do the assignment at all.
Anyway, the instructor picked apart each photo, pointing out everything I did wrong with her laser beam. I, of course, knew 90% of what I did wrong, but there was 10% I didn't think about, so I did learn something. However, what shocked me was that the instructor really liked my close up shots. She said that two of them were perfect and she couldn't think of anything I could have improved upon. I thought the pictures were just so-so, because I have many other horse close-ups I've taken over the years that are more striking. But I did appreciate that she commented on what a kind, soft eye Rock has. His eyes truly are amazing. If you look at the horse as a whole, he's just a horse standing there in a relaxed manner. But if you look in his eyes, he radiates love. If God were a horse, I'd say he's in my backyard playing bitey face with Bombay right now.
Also, we're not supposed to use wide-angle lenses for portraits because they distort body parts, making noses, cheeks and ears bigger than they should be. However, I like to experiment, so I used that lens, and Rock was stretching his neck out and tipping his nose toward the camera when I took the picture. The image came out comical, and the instructor said it is like what we see on greeting cards with some silly horse wearing a hat and saying, "How ya doin'?" Only Rock wasn't wearing a hat, and I was seeing double at the time I was doing the photoshoot, so the image wasn't even intentional. My instructor says that 10% of photography is skill and the other 90% is luck.
Then we practiced panning, which is following a moving object with our camera while pressing the shutter release. The effect is that the subject comes out clear and the background is blurred like it is speeding past. This was the first time I ever tried the technique, and 3 out of 4 of my shots came out perfect. The instructor was impressed. She said that even after all her years of experience as a professional photographer, she can usually only capture the right image in 1 out of 10 panning attempts. I guess training horses has fine-tuned my timing.
All the photos I'm talking about are on my other computer and really not worthy of being posted, so I'll leave you with this.