Taking Photos from Horseback
Top 10 Tips
10 Tips for Taking Photos from Horseback
by Wendy Hofstee
We all want to come back from our trips with brilliant photos, many of which will be taken from horseback. Taking photos from horseback is a real art but with some simple tips the results from horseback photography can be astounding.
For good photos ask to ride a camera-friendly horse. The biggest challenge for sharp pictures is the movement both from your horse and yourself. My definition of a camera horse:
- has a smooth gait
- can be controlled with one hand (leaving my other hand free to hold the camera or video)
- is willing to leave the herd so I can take pictures with a good perspective
- Does not jog!
- Preferably stands still when I am mounted or off the horse holding the reins some way off taking pictures
- This mythical horse is also happy to have a camera bag tied to the front of the saddle and has a saddle with appropriate D rings/attachment points.
- Use fully automatic mode or a fast shutter speed. This helps to keep movement blur to a minimum.
- Do not use your digital zoom. Movement makes pictures taken with a digital zoom blurry almost every time. Real optical zooms are possible with the right light and shutter speed but still difficult and best used when on the ground.
- Use an image stabiliser or similar setting.
- Rainy or dark days are poor candidates for pictures from horseback. The lack of light and necessarily slower shutter speed means movement blur is almost guaranteed. Don’t bother and enjoy the ride instead.
- The best light is in the morning and evening. While the brightness of midday light is good for shutter speed the colours tend to wash out and everything looks flat. Early morning and late afternoon sunshine give best results. Plan your pictures for these times.
- To preserve battery life switch off the screen and minimize replay, in cold weather warm batteries in your hand. Always carry a spare battery pack and a spare memory card on you.
- Plan and set up action pictures. The best pictures of cantering/galloping are taken from a walk, or even better, the ground. Get permission from your guide to go ahead and take pictures. Dismount if you can.
- Keep your camera close to hand, preferably tied to the front of the saddle. Bring some string along to facilitate this. This way you won’t miss those spontaneous moments.
- Protect your camera from water! This means rain and being dropped in river crossings. I managed to ruin my camera in water in the Atacama Desert – the driest place on earth – on a river crossing.
Great tips! Just another recommendation: I keep my camera in a camera dry bag (from Berghaus), which I attach with carabiners to the front of the saddle. The top can be rolled up and clipped together, which makes it totally waterproof when crossing rivers or in similar danger zones. It served me very well in the Yukon and the Okavango Delta!