Osberton International Horse Trial

Posted on September 14, 2016 by Admin under carriage driving, horses, photography
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Osberton International Horse Trials 2016

WELCOME to Osberton International Horse Trials 2016. Whether you’re interested in watching top-class Equestrian competition from the world’s best riders. Thrilling displays and competition from the best canines in the region, or you are just after a good-value day out with a bit of shopping and good food thrown in.  This event has it all set in the beautiful Osberton Estate Parkland…    more information here


We are delighted to welcome back the driving to Osberton this year. Bennington Carriages will be running a one-day carriage competition. More information on this coming soon


Inter Hunt Gate Jumpin

After the success of last year’s competition, Osberton International Horse Trials is once again hosting an exhilarating inter-hunt gate jumping competition! The aim is to jump the gate without knocking it down. If it falls the competitor may only continue at the discretion of the judge, if they remove an item of clothing. The winner will be the person to jump the highest gate with the most clothes on!! The gate will start at approximately 3ft (90cm) and will rise each round. With a winner takes all prize pot of £500 up for grabs, make sure you cheer on your favourite thruster!

Pony Club Show Jumping

Osberton’s annual PC Team Show Jumping competition attracted more than 70 teams last year and promises to be just as popular in 2016. With a prize pot of £500 for the Pony Club who’s teams accumulate the most points throughout the day, the fast and furious Pony Club Team competition is one not to miss!

Photographing Dogs

Posted on August 3, 2015 by Admin under photography
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1-1Dogs are considered man’s best friend for a reason. They ignore our greatest flaws, fawn over us, always show up regardless of the circumstances, and their favorite activity, outside of eating, is staring up at us with that love drunk gaze. The world would be a better place if we could just all be the person our dog thinks we are!

Despite the undeniable bond we share with our canine companions, they are often some of our most difficult photography subjects because they wiggle and don’t really understand the purpose of the camera. While they present their own wiggle-based set of challenges, getting the shot is possible. Here are some pointers to up the ante on your pooch photography.

Introduce Yourself Properly

Sometimes we think of our dogs as humans but they aren’t. We call them our babies or our furkids. Despite the goofy grins and an occasional skeptical eyebrow lifts, dogs are very different from people. They can’t talk and because they don’t, they use body language to communicate. The first step to photographing any dog is the proper introduction. If you are photographing your own dog, you are well past this point.

If you are just meeting a dog for the first time, approach slowly and quietly. Don’t make large gestures and loud noises. If the dog seems hesitant, make yourself smaller. Kneel down and extend your hand about half-way between you and the dog. Let the dog bridge the remainder of the gap. Allowing the dog to come to you shows you are willing to give them needed space and respect the signs they are giving you. It is an easy and quick way to gain a dog’s confidence. Talking is a soft higher-pitched voice can also be a good idea. Avoid prolonged, direct eye contact as dogs use that action to establish dominance and at times initiate conflict.

 Watch their Body Language

You should also watch for how the dog is reacting to you. Relaxed dogs are not tense. Their body movements are fluid. Their tall might wag or be still but it will be relaxed. They will look comfortable and jovial. There muzzle will lack tension and sometimes be open with their tongue hanging out. Their eyes are their normal shape and the whites of their eyes should be mostly, if not completely, hidden by their upper and lower eyelids.

There are also many signs that a dog is uncomfortable. Lip licking outside of eating and drinking is a coping mechanism frequently seen in dogs. One raised front paw, what we call the “Paw of Oh No” in our house, is another sign of uncertainty. Pacing, sweaty paws and yawning are indicators signs of nervous dog. Cowering or tucking their tail between their legs is a sign of fear. Scared dogs often become defensively aggressive when they are approached.

Wide eyes are a sign that a dog is very uncomfortable, sees you as a threat and is ready to act out aggressively should you not retreat. Tension in the jaw, freezing or stiffness in the limbs, a head that is lowered with ears back and flat on the head, growling, a high raised tail which is quivering or making small fast movements, or wide eyes are a sign that a dog is very uncomfortable, sees you as a threat and is ready to act out aggressively should you not retreat. 1-2

Let Them Get Used To Your Gear

Dogs that don’t live with photographers might be confused by your camera and accessories. My dogs all know that just like I change my clothes, my other face is a camera. They were raised around my gear and caught on pretty fast. Now they flat out ignore me when I bust out my camera. Other dogs are often intrigued by the camera. When I do a session with a dog, I always sit on the ground and put my camera down so they can sniff it while I talk to the owners. It just makes it less scary and foreign. Dogs are more likely to actually look into the lens if they aren’t scared of it. Also, bring lots of lens wipes and a lint free towel with you. Drool and nose prints are imminent in this line of work.

Noises make for Interesting Expression

One of my favorite expressions to get out of a dog is the one they make when they hear the shutter for the first time. Click once and be ready to take a second shot immediately. I also always bring a couple of different noise makers. Most pet-centric retail stores sell just the squeaker part of dog toys for replacing the broken squeaker in your dog’s favorite toys. Often they have a couple different models that have differing sounds and they are really inexpensive. I keep a few in my camera bag for those adorable head tilt shots every dog owner wants to frame. They also work for babies who are too young to really take direction yet.1-3 

The Power of a Cookie

Bribery. There, I said it. The things most dogs will do for food are insurmountable. They dig through the trash. They learn to open the fridge. They have even been known to steal the Thanksgiving turkey right off an elegantly dressed table. Use that instinctual drive to eat to your advantage. If you are photographing someone else’s dog ask what their favorite treats are or if the dog has any food allergies if you intend to supply the goods yourself. I usually just request owners bring treats in my pre-session consult email or phone call. Sometimes sticking a treat just above or below your lens is the only way to get a dog to really look into the camera.

High Speed Continuous

There are moments you will only catch if your camera is in high speed continuous mode. If you are unfamiliar with high speed continuous mode, it essentially allows you to take a series of pictures in quick succession. How many pictures you can take at a time and the frames per second achieved depend on your camera body, the speed of you lens, and the writing speed of your memory card. Those water shake off photos where water is going everywhere but the dog’s eyes look fairly normal. Those are achieved with high speed continuous and the other fifteen shoots look really gross. It’s also a great way to get shots of a dog running at full speed.

Up the Shutter Speed

Dogs are by definition one big blur. Unless they are really old or asleep. Otherwise they are equal parts happy tail and wiggle. Upping the shutter speed will assure you get crisp (enough) photos even when your subject is weaving through your legs or chasing a tennis ball with fervor. I recommend at least 1/200 second shutter speed.

Get Down on Their Level

Just like kids, dogs are shorter than adults. Getting down on their level makes us less intimidating and more approachable. It also provides more flattering angles with a higher likelihood for eye contact and interesting backgrounds. It also alleviates those shots where the dog is bent at unnatural angles trying to figure out what the heck you are doing.

Don’t Forget the Details

My favorite things about my dogs are the little details that make them different from each other. They all look very similar but their little quirks are important to me and what set them apart from each other, visually. The swoop of a tale, the particular eye color that is unlike any I’ve seen before, the curve of a soft paw pad, the stubborn folded ear tip that never fully straightened. Those are the little things I don’t want to forget when they are gone, as a dog’s life is unfortunately short in comparison to us.

 Include the Owner

The bond between a dog and its owner is one of the most special bonds on Earth. It’s also wha1-4t attracts us to canines. If someone is requesting you take portraits of their dog, it is fairly likely they consider them part of the family. Make time in your session to include “Mom” and/or “Dad” in a few family shots. If people are uncomfortable posing, trying getting some action shots of the dog and their owner participating in one of their favorite activities. This takes the pressure off for people who feel awkward being posed or even photographed. If you are photographing your own dog think about doing some self-portraits using a wireless shutter trigger and tripod.

Keep the Fur and the Muzzle in mind

Dogs have long faces. Even Pugs and French Bulldogs with their smushed faces and night-time snoring have a muzzle that extends beyond the point of a human’s nose. When you are setting your aperture, keep it in mind. Shooting wide open (small F-number) and focusing on the eyes like you should in most portraits is going to cause the nose and mouth to be slightly out of focus, and it isn’t going to look intentional. It is going to look like you were being careless.

They also have fur on their muzzle and above their eyes which blocks light. Pay attention the direction of the light and if it is meeting the eyes. The direction of the light will also help give definition to the dog’s fur which is especially important with dogs that are darker in color. Dark dogs are notoriously difficult to photograph due to the way light falls and reflects on their fur. If you have a reflector, use it, or an off camera flash can add light and depth where a photograph would otherwise be flat and dull.

Go beyond the Standard Portrait

If you are photographing your dog, think about what you love about your dog and what your dog loves to do. Those two factors will give you some direction for your session. If you are photographing someone else’s dog, ask them those questions to establish the feel of your photo shoot. Even doing the session at their favorite park will add complexity to your session.

Take Note

Dogs are part of the list of joyful things that make life fulfilling. Infuriating and trying as a defiant puppy can be at times, the relationships we share with them are rewarding, companionable, and somehow soft and uncomplicated in ways which are rarely experienced in relationships between two humans. Capturing that heart-felt essence in an honest way is often technically and creatively difficult.

Remember that the dogs you photograph are looking to you for guidance on how to act and feel. It is especially important to keep your body language positive and watch for signs of their discomfort.

Oh yeah, and have fun!


12 Tricks for Better Equine Photography

Posted on by Admin under photography
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When I was 8 years old, I was photographing horses with my Brownie Flash Six-20. The camera had two settings: 5 to 10 feet and “Beyond 10 feet,” which I probably didn’t use reliably. The horses in those images had bulbous noses, large heads, and very long back legs.

Today, more than 50 years later and having photographed hundreds of equines in my animal portraiture business, I know how to make the animals look their best and reflect the breed or equestrian sport their owners enjoy.

Even if you don’t specialize in animal photography, you may be asked by clients to include a horse in a portrait, as was a friend of mine recently. If so, you’ll find the following tips helpful in capturing wonderful images of the large, easily distorted, incredibly beautiful animal that is the horse.

  1. Use a long lens. Try a 200mm or 300mm lens, and stand back as far as 1 foot per millimetre. In other words, when using a 200mm lens, shoot from 150 to 200 feet. This helps minimize the distortion that can happen when photographing such a large animal.
  2. Use a fast shutter speed. A minimum of 1/250 to 1/500 second is best. You can use shutter priority to make sure things don’t blur if you’re working in an arena where the light is constantly changing, but I like to use my manual setting for most things. Even with a standing horse, those ears move, as does the tail.
  3. Have an assistant. You’ll need one to make noises, move horse feet, rattle buckets, and hold onto a fractious horse so the owner can look relaxed. In order to keep the animal calm, the assistant needs to be very comfortable with horses.
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An assistant who is very comfortable with horses helps keep the
horse and owner calm and looking their best.

  1. Get down. Your lens should be at the mid-shoulder of the horse. Any higher than that and the animal’s legs will look short. If you’re too low, the legs will appear long—really long. I wear gel kneepads so I can move quickly without hurting myself.
  2. Start with a groomed horse. Make sure the owner understands the horse has to be clean, clipped, brushed, braided (if appropriate), feet painted, and ready to go when you show up. Use Show Sheen and lots of it, except where the saddle or person will sit—you don’t want anyone slipping and sliding.
  3. Get the ears up. Lazy ears or ears back in irritation will kill the image for the owner. One ear back can show engagement with the owner, but it needs to be the ear next to the person who’s in the frame.


Make sure the ears are up and forward. Lazy ears (right) can ruin the image for the client.

  1. Say no to nylon halters. Yes, they may be in the barn colours, but the attention is supposed to be on the horse and owner, not on a brightly coloured halter. If the owner doesn’t have a leather halter and lead on hand, put a clean bridle on the horse: It shows more of the face anyway.


Nylon halters in bright colours detract from your subject. A clean
leather halter with the horse’s name will add meaning to the image.


  1. Watch the lead or reins. Don’t let the owner wad them up. Keep the hands relaxed. Have the owner drop the lead or reins straight down or make one simple loop. If the horse is fussy, have your assistant attach a lunge line or driving rein to help hold the animal. You can take it out later, but you can’t change the expression on an anxious owner’s face6

Traditional poses with everyone looking at the camera can get
monotonous. Use your imagination and capture the relationship
between your subjects.


  1. Use your imagination. Don’t just stand the owner near the head of the horse and have everyone look at the camera. It’s especially boring with multiple horses and people. Try shooting from the side and having the person curl the horse’s head and neck around. Place a soft hand on the side of the horse’s cheek. Have the person face the horse and capture the interaction.
  2. Stay off the ground. In general, it’s not wise to have a person sitting on the ground next to the horse unless it’s a very mellow horse or a very nimble person. There’s too great of a risk of someone getting hurt. Try stacking hay bales for the person to sit on. Use a low wall or fence, the tailgate of a pickup, or have the person lean or sit on an interesting tree trunk or low branch and interact with the horse.
  3. Don’t create a two- or three-legged horse. Lining up one leg behind another creates unflattering optical illusions. And don’t allow the horse to become hip-shot, resting one back leg. This is a sign of boredom.


Hidden legs create unflattering optical illusions.

  1. Ask the owner. Find out what the owner likes most about the horse and make sure you understand what he means. Someone may say, for example, “I love my horse’s head and neck–the whole neck all the way down to his shoulder.” Because the horse is such a large subject, there are infinite little details you can capture to touch your client’s heart. You’ll sell one or two wall portraits, but those details can also sell a book or collection.
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Find out what your client loves about the horse and capture those
details. This image captured during a break in the session really
shows the relationship.


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