Feel the Speed

Feel the Speed


In honor of the illustrious Breeders’ Cup World Championships held this past weekend in California, it seemed appropriate to feature racehorses as the subject for Photo of the Week. In addition I am a member of a professional horse photography group that challenges its members with weekly assignments. This week the topic was ‘Race’. These two not so coincidentally related events reminded me that a few years ago I had photographed the thoroughbred races at the Del Mar track in California. I never did anything with the resulting images, so this prompted me to go back to my files and browse through them until I found this.

Every photograph has a story to tell. The focus of this particular story is the body language and expression of the lead horse trying its heart out to win. The vibrant colors of the race track are a pleasure to photograph, but in this instance they just distracted from the essence of the shot, which is why I chose to convert to black & white. The blurred motion created by using a slow shutter panning technique amplifies the feeling of speed.


Nikon D7000, 1/30 sec at f/22.0, ISO 200, 300mm (28.0-300.0mm lens)

Photo is copyrighted and registered with the US Copyright Office. Enjoy but please respect.


Posted by Carol in Animals, California, Equestrian, Horses, USA, 0 comments
Portrait of a Thoroughbred

Portrait of a Thoroughbred


Week before last I escaped Tucson’s hot spell by driving over to California for a horse show. I spent the week catching up with daughter Michelle, watched the horses compete, socialized my new puppy Truffle, and got acquainted with a new camera and lens recently added to my gear bag.

Ever since I’ve been rummaging through the photos I took and applying some artistic license to my favorites. Back on the computer, it’s always fun to apply some artistic creativity to the original digital RAW files. Today’s PHOTO OF THE WEEK is actually PHOTOS plural, as I’ve posted several of my keepers newly added to my online portfolio!

This week’s headliner is an OTTB (off-the-track thoroughbred) mare named Ladybug, purchased as a four-year-old by Lauren Boswell of Tucson. Lauren has been training Bug herself over the years and successfully turned her into a competitive jumper. The duo had a great week while I was there – winning several classes against tough California competition. She’s a very pretty mare, and I was quite taken with her hand-crocheted fly bonnet, themed after her namesake! I took photos after photos of Ladybug with the camera set to burst mode, trying to catch just the right moment. Since she has the nervous habit of tossing her head up and down and gapping her mouth constantly most were throwaways best suited to illustrate horse dentistry. But this photo caught her with mouth closed and chin tucked into a very ladylike, demure pose that shows off her refined head and colorful bonnet.

In regards to that new camera, a Nikon D500, last night I attended a seminar for getting up to speed on its new features – and was told there are 1.2 million different setting combinations possible in that one camera body! Mind boggling.

Prints of Portrait of a Thoroughbred are available for purchase HERE.

Sony a7R II, 1/1000 sec at f/4.0, ISO 400, 200 mm (FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS). Handheld.

All photos are copyrighted and registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Please respect.

SLIDESHOW – Click any image to start.

Posted by Carol in Animals, California, Equestrian, Horses, Humans, USA, 0 comments
Left to the Triple Combination

Left to the Triple Combination

This is a ringside shot of Saer Coulter aboard Don VHP competing in the Grand Prix during the 2013 HITS Desert Circuit in Thermal, California. Saer is a California girl in her early twenties, a successful grand prix competitor who has graduated to international competition. On the day I took this shot, it was windy with blowing dust. The sky had a grungy tinge and the ringside banners stood straight out flapping during the competition.

On a really windy day, the jumps start falling without any assistance from the horses, and the jump crew is kept busy sandbagging the standards and trying to keep the course intact so that the competition can take place. In this class, the challenging triple combination (a series of three jumps closely spaced) was positioned on the long side of the arena. The approach involved making a left turn after landing from a jump set at the far end. Making the turn correctly is critical to positioning the horse to give him the best chance of clearing all three obstacles.

I prefer the monotone finish, which in my mind enhances the strong graphical elements of the composition and emphasizes the details of horse, rider and tack.

Left to the Triple Combination, sepia is available for purchase HERE

Nikon D4, 1/1000 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400, 280mm (200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0) lens.

Photo is copyrighted and registered with the US Copyright Office. Please respect.

Posted by Carol in Animals, California, Equestrian, Horses, USA, 0 comments
High Heels, sepia

High Heels, sepia

Here’s one for the equestrian crowd!  High Heels, sepia is a new addition to my online gallery and the first square format photo I’ve posted.

It’s fun to hang out at ringside with a big lens, trying to capture the action and excitement of Grand Prix Showjumping up close and personal. Here the horse is in a bit of trouble over a really big oxer. He’s making a herculean effort to  keep from hitting the rail, while his rider hangs on for the ride, releasing the reins to give her mount more freedom to solve the problem.

I love how the rider and horse are both showing the soles of their shoes!

High Heels, sepia is available for purchase HERE.

Nikon D4, 1/1000 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400, 280mm (80.0-400.0 mm f/4.5-5.6)

Photo is copyrighted and registered with the US Copyright Office. Please respect.

Posted by Carol in Animals, California, Equestrian, Horses, USA, 0 comments
The Best of Nature Photography Show Opens Today!

The Best of Nature Photography Show Opens Today!

I checked my Facebook page this morning and found this post – I’m so excited that the 2014 Best of Nature Photography Show is now open at the San Diego Natural History Museum. You can read all about it by following the link – but the highlights are that nearly 1,000 entries were submitted to the show, from which 52 artists and 74 images were selected. Two of my images are included and after following the link to the website and paging through the other absolutely stunning entries, I am hugely flattered to be in such good company!

A special thanks to daughter Michelle who emailed me the entry details and encouraged me to enter. It would have slipped through the cracks without her not-so-subtle hint! And it’s great to know my family supports and believes in my work.

Husband Mike and I are driving to San Diego next week to attend the artist’s reception on Saturday, November 1 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. If you live in the neighborhood, we certainly hope you’ll join us! The event is on the Museum’s 4th floor in the Ordover Gallery, and admission to the reception is free. Of course the usual fees still apply to visit the Museum’s other attractions – one of which is the intriguing Discovery of King Tut exhibit that we don’t want to miss! And if you can’t make it this Saturday, the show will be on display until February 1, 2015.

Here are my two included images: Sunrise Flight was taken from AVATAR’s deck on an early morning passage in the Solomon Islands. Exhale was also taken from AVATAR’s foredeck this summer as we were sailing near Marina del Rey on our way north to the Pacific Northwest.

Click on any image below to open a full screen slideshow.

Posted by Carol in California, USA, 0 comments
Between Horse Shows

Between Horse Shows

Print Gallery

It was time to catch up with my daughter and her show jumpers competing in California. Last Saturday I drove from Tucson to Del Mar near San Diego to watch Michelle ride our Holsteiner stallion Clintord I in the $100,000 Grand Prix of Del Mar. Actually I planned to leave on Friday but the wind was gusting so violently in Tucson that driving seemed an unappealing prospect. The same windy weather was whipping up a fierce wildfire in the Hidden Hills area near LA. At its peak the fire threatened some 4,000 homes and a university campus. There are also numerous horse farms in the vicinity including several top grand prix show barns. A thousand horses were evacuated to safer surroundings and fortunately by next day the hot, dry, windy weather abated and the fire was brought under control without inflicting as much damage as was threatened.

The Del Mar National Horse Show is one of a select few remaining across the country that continue to offer the pomp and circumstance that marks a true event. So many of today’s horse shows operate in a closed loop, existing only to bring in entries and crank out classes for the benefit of the participants and the venue’s bottom line. In contrast a show like Del Mar goes the extra mile to entice the public with fun and pageantry, generating an electric energy absorbed by fans and competitors alike. The stands are filled with enthusiastic spectators while the riders suffer an extra edge of nerves to suit the occasion.

Only a limited number of entrants were allowed in the big money class, so a qualifying $25,000 speed class Thursday night served to narrow the field down to 32 horse/rider combinations eligible to compete in the big ring Saturday night. Clintord acquitted himself admirably in the qualifier with a clean round (video) and a 5th place finish to secure his place in Saturday night’s order of go. For the main event we were pleased with his 4-fault effort in a class that saw only four horses produce clear rounds over an imposing course of very big jumps. Congratulations to Duncan McFarlane and Mr. Whoopy for the win, well-deserved for their gutsy ‘full-throttle’ jump-off round!


Nikon D4, AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR @ 400mm, ISO 400 f5.6 @ 1/750 sec, 0EV

Now I’m hanging out at Michelle’s Cross Creek West training facility in nearby San Marcos while the horses take a break. After last week’s fire, the weather turned grey and drizzly. While the daily activity of a training stable took place around me – exercising the horses and coaching the students – I prowled the property seeking candids of horses and people but I spent the majority of my time with Clintord while he was turned out in the pasture, green with new spring grass and dotted with cheerful pink wildflowers.

Photo notes:  The overcast skies produced a soft light that served well for the impromptu candids I was shooting. This was my first time using Nikon’s new 80-400mm lens and it was awesome! Fully zoomed in across a field, hand-held, ISO kicked up a bit to compensate – the lens captured such details as individual whiskers on a horse, barn flies frozen in motion (later to be cloned away), and sparkling bright eyes all in crisp focus. The quality of the lens and the great flexibility of its range earns it a permanent place in my shooting bag. Traveling overseas frequently as I do always creates a packing dilemma but this lens will solve a lot of my decision-making agony.

Posted by Carol in Animals, California, Equestrian, Horses, USA, 5 comments