You don't care about making professional-looking photos of your horse. Why would you? Your dedicated horse photographer does that for you.
But you spam your insta feed with photos of your horse and let's be honest, they don't always look that great. It's either too dark in the barn aisle or too bright outside. Or, there's a tree sprouting from your horse's ears. In any case, you decide it's time to spruce up your instagram and you really want to post photos that don't look like a toddler stole your phone.
Most of us just snap what we like seeing with our eyes. And if that was all it took, most of us would take good photos. But that's not how it works. Because our camera sees things differently. I'll admit, phone cameras get better and better, a far cry from that flip phone camera. But it's still not the same as a professional camera. So there are a few things you should take into consideration.
The first one is lighting.
In this case, natural light is still the best. But that doesn't mean you should take all your photos in bright sunlight. Because in bright sunlight, your phone camera won't know what to do with all those highlighted spots and dark shadows. As a result, your image will have these ugly white spots and very contrasty shadows. You might be able to save the photo by turning it black and white but even then you might end up with a less than stellar photo. One that won't make the cut for your revamped insta account.
Best times to take nice photos are around sunrise and sunset. But if you happen to be at the barn around noon, search for some light, even shade.
Of course, snapshots are just that: shots snapped in the moment. No time to look for the perfect light because your horse will never again look as cute as at that exact second. In that case, just keep in mind to keep the sun (or any light source) behind you.
Don't use a flash unless you are absolutely sure your horse will not bolt. My Udo could not handle flash. My Sophie had no problems with it. But keep in mind, they are still horses and can change their mind at any time and at lightning speed.
The second one is composition.
The most important thing really is: don't cut off the feet or any other extremities.
Oh, and keep the horizon level. Most phone cameras have a grid that can help with that.
There are also certain "rules" you can keep in mind that will make your photo pleasing to the eye. There's the rule of thirds: put your subject on one of the intersections of the camera grid. Or you can go for symmetry by centering your subject. Also nice is going in close and filling the frame.
Always keep an eye on your background too. If it's too distracting, you might consider taking the photo from another angle (but keep that light in mind as well!). Or you could use portrait mode to blur the background.
Cropping is fine but since you lose precious data by doing that (and thus decreasing the quality of your photo), it is best to consider composition beforehand.
The third one is creativity.
When you feel confident that you got all the above covered, it's time to get creative. Change the angle to something less conventional: shoot up or down. Or blur the foreground instead of the background. You can also shoot through something (think leaves or flowers). Endless possibilities!
Your insta feed will soon start to show off that you know what you're doing!
First, let's take the photos below and practice what we learned.
Our Great Dane used to follow me around on the farm and there was Sophie, trying to decide whether he was a strange sort of pony or a dog.
I took this photo in bright sunlight because, you know, it was happening right then and there. In my defense, I did not take this photo to post it somewhere, I just texted it to my husband. Anyway, enough with the excuses.
The contrast between sun and shadow is awful, beyond saving: Sophie's face is almost completely black. The white of our house and the pool is way too bright. The background is distracting and you almost miss what is going on in the foreground. Or should I say, the middle, because the foreground is just a big, boring nothing. I would need to crop this photo by at least 50%. Which will decrease the quality drastically and basically ruin this photo even more.
What I should have done:
get in way closer
change my angle so that I would have the woods on the right as a background. I could achieve that by standing on the left of our dog.
change the exposure, on my iPhone, I can do that by tapping on the screen where I want to focus, and then slide up or down next to the sun symbol.
not necessary but fun, would have been to stay close to ground and shoot slightly up.
Next, let's analyze this photo of Udo. It's also straight out of camera, I did not edit a thing. It is taken with my DSLR but this is easily achievable with a phone camera as well.
even though there is a lot of sunlight, I placed Udo in the shade. This eliminates contrasty shadows.
it was taken right before sunset, giving the light that typical golden color.
composition is good, I might crop a little from above but not much, thus keeping the quality of the image high.
That's it, folks!
Make sure to tag me (@caroline.nijs.photography) when you post your images taken with these tips on instagram!