On the Road with Sharon Lee Chap­man Edi­tion One – Pho­tograph­ing Foals and Wean­lings

Peo­ple of­ten ask me the tricks to pho­tograph­ing foals and my No.1 tip is PA­TIENCE, PA­TIENCE and more PA­TIENCE!

Ladies in Racing - - Contents -

Hav­ing plenty of time is the key to any foal shoot, as they sim­ply can’t be rushed. I’ve had times where I’ve sat in pad­docks for 30 min­utes and not taken a sin­gle frame. The most im­por­tant aspect to foal pho­tog­ra­phy is mak­ing sure the mares and foals are com­fort­able with your pres­ence. Once the ini­tial cu­rios­ity is over, they will re­lax and the nat­u­ral and mag­i­cal mo­ments will come. Never ex­pect to walk up to a fence, take a few frames and walk away. The im­ages in this se­ries, all took TIME. The sun­set im­ages were cap­tured at Waikato Stud in New Zealand; I sat in that pad­dock for three hours by my­self, sit­ting in the grass, watch­ing the light change and chang­ing di­rec­tion from the beau­ti­ful af­ter­noon light with my back to the sun, to shoot­ing di­rectly into the sun to cre­ate sil­hou­ettes. The mare and foal by the tree de­cided just as the light hit, that they would move on back to the other herd. I pleaded with them ‘This is a bill­board mo­ment, you don’t un­der­stand the LIGHT’. I lit­er­ally had to herd them back by my­self to the spot where the tree was. It took about an­other 20 min­utes of pa­tiently wait­ing for the mare and foal to sep­a­rate to cap­ture th­ese im­ages, us­ing two dif­fer­ent cam­eras. One cam­era with a wide-an­gle lens, the other my trusty 200-400mm. It was in this same pad­dock that I pho­tographed the cheeky Sav­abeel colt, who con­tin­u­ally ha­rassed his mother and was full of en­ergy. I

St Pat’s Fash­ion­able Foals pho­tographed him for around 30 min­utes as ev­ery time I put the cam­era down, he de­manded my at­ten­tion again, by charg­ing around the pad­dock. The light was just start­ing to dif­fuse and be­come that beau­ti­ful soft light, so I couldn’t take my eyes off him. Whilst at Waikato, I was on Foal Alert. I didn’t mind be­ing wo­ken in the mid­dle of the night, so be­ing able to cap­ture new­born foals in the dead of night is some­thing very spe­cial. Us­ing spot­lights to just cast the light ex­actly where I needed was all that was re­quired to light up the foal, yet keep the dark­ness of the night to cre­ate the scene. The im­ages from Trelawney, I en­sured I sat in the grass nice and low with a wide-an­gle lens to cre­ate th­ese im­ages, again, which took plenty of time, sit­ting and wait­ing for just the right mo­ments. The image of the foal from The Oaks, again, sit­ting, wait­ing for the mo­ment that this foal put his head down to eat just where the flow­ers were, the con­trast of the lush green grass and the flow­ers made for a sim­ple but ef­fec­tive image.

I spent well over an hour in the one pad­dock at beau­ti­ful Wid­den Stud in the Hunter Val­ley with the wean­lings ear­lier this year. They were very play­ful and once again I sat and waited low in the grass with a long lens. Af­ter a while they lost in­ter­est in the strange lady ly­ing in the grass with the big can­non thing and started to wan­der away from the cam­era. I knew they were all head­ing in a mob, so I slightly changed my po­si­tion, bal­anced my­self and waited for them to all be to­gether in per­fect uni­son to cap­ture this image. Once again, had I not been pa­tient and waited, I would never have cap­tured this image. Some­times the im­ages you are wait­ing for don’t even­tu­ate, but in­stead you are pre­sented with some­thing even bet­ter than you an­tic­i­pated. Ex­pect the un­ex­pected and be ready to shoot.

Whilst at Wind­sor Park Stud, I sat out­side a pad­dock with the cam­era through the fence and waited for well over 30 min­utes for th­ese year­lings to no­tice me and have enough in­ter­est to ven­ture over. They had done ev­ery­thing to­gether, so I just knew if I waited, even­tu­ally they would come over and chances are they would come over to­gether. As they came over to­wards me, I changed to my trusty 24-70mm wide-an­gle lens, while lay­ing flat on the ground on my stom­ach and shot up through the fence as they in­quis­i­tively came to­wards me. It would have been easy af­ter 15 or 20 min­utes of noth­ing hap­pen­ing and not a sin­gle frame to lose in­ter­est and walk away, but some­times you are far bet­ter off cre­at­ing one beau­ti­ful image, than count­less un­us­able and dull im­ages. You also have to be pre­pared to walk away with noth­ing and try some­thing else, but not be dis­cour­aged and keep try­ing for that unique image. All th­ese im­ages were cap­tured dur­ing my shoot for New Zealand Thor­ough­bred Mar­ket­ing, when I spent four days shoot­ing at var­i­ous lo­ca­tions around the North Is­land. Join me each quar­ter in “On the Road” where I’ll be shar­ing a few of my favourite shoots and photo tips!

Wind­sor Park, Year­lings

Wid­den, Wean­lings

Trelawney, Mares and Foals

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