At my fall Horizon Workshop http://www.horizonworkshops.com/workshops.html?cr=80 October 28 – 30, the weather turned real nasty on Saturday, with temperatures in the mid-thirties, winds and driving sleet, which does not photograph. We saw it coming, and through emails during the previous week, the workshoppers and I discussed what to wear and what to bring in preparation for the inclement weather (e.g. no umbrellas, as it is hard to hold an umbrella and a camera at the same time).
I shifted some of the events planned for Saturday to Friday and Sunday and hoped that on Saturday we could proceed with Plan B. Photojournalists on assignment often need to do this, as the landscape changes regularly. The projected title of my fantasy book is, “You should have been here yesterday, we had a parade and a big rainbow, and today it’s raining.”
On Saturday, after a breakfast powwow, we went to Winbak Farms http://www.winbakfarm.com/about.asp , a horseracing operation near Chesapeake City. Upon arrival, we asked if they would be working the horses on the track, and the answer was that “This kind of weather makes both horses and people sick.” But they graciously said that we could photograph in the barns.
On Friday night, we had photographed the Ghost Walk in Chesapeake City that is held on the weekend near Halloween. Knowing the Saturday Ghost Walk would literally be a washout, I gave a crash course on Friday night on how to change the exposure for the student’s flash so that they could do combination available light/flash pictures (right). This technique came in handy in the dark barns at Winbak.
The students did an excellent job of “seeing” and went beyond the obvious fact that the barn held approximately 40 trotters and pacers. They focused on the details, producing surprising pictures that give great insights on the horses and the operation.
One warning I passed on was that extreme wide-angle lenses were not the best to photograph horses as it distorts their bodies and you can see why in this picture, where the horse’s head is larger than his withers.
By talking to the horsemen at the farm, the workshoppers learned many fascinating details about the business of breeding horses. The best comment was when one student confided afterwards that she had always been afraid of horses and now that fear was in the past.
Students for the Fall workshop were: Lori Weber, Robert Ullrich, Jamie Simpson, Frederick Gantz, Virginia Phillips and Angela Oates.
These workshops are a revelation for me as well. I look forward to teaching the one in April 2012.