There’s something about horses that just captures our hearts. Maybe it’s their graceful movements or the way they seem to stare into our souls. Whatever it is, horse photography is a popular genre of photography.
But capturing the beauty of horses can be tricky even if you have the latest gear including the best horse photography camera and lenses – you need the right camera settings to get the perfect shot!
So which camera setting for horse photography should you use?
The answer is very subjective and depends on the person behind the camera, the environment, and the type of photo you’re trying to take.
Even if you ask the same question to 20 different professional equine photographers, you’ll get 20 different answers!
At the end of the day, the best answer will be to experiment, get suggestions from professionals and fellow photographers, and find what works best for you.
But to get you started in this article, we’ll share with you some of the most popular camera settings for horse photography!
So let’s get started…
Camera settings for horse photography
The first thing you need to understand is the relationship between aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. This is commonly referred to as the “exposure triangle.”
Aperture is the size of the opening in the lens. A larger aperture (smaller f-stop number) will let in more light but will have a shallow depth of field.
This means that the background will be blurry while the subject is in focus.
A smaller aperture (larger f-stop number) will let in less light but will have a deep depth of field. This means that both the foreground and background will be in focus.
For example, for horse portraits, I set my camera between f3.0 – f4.5 for the shallow depth of field. This way the background is blurry and my subject stand out.
The good example I can give you here are the photos from Shelley Paulson she applies the same technique and her photos are just stunning!
Next is the shutter speed which is how long the camera’s sensor is exposed to light. A faster shutter speed will freeze action while a slower shutter speed will create a “blurred” effect.
For horse photography, you’ll want to use a faster shutter speed to freeze the action. A good starting point is around 1/600th but it really depends on how fast your horse is moving.
Another important thing you should keep in mind while the slower the shutter speed will be the more chances you have of getting a blurry photo.
It only happens when you are not able to hold the camera still so for that make sure either the camera or lens should feature image stabilization (IS) or optical image stabilization (OIS).
With good image stabilization, you can go even lower with the shutter speed. For example to capture a jumping or running horse you can set the shutter speed to 1/250, 1/640, or 1/800.
Last but not least is the ISO which is the sensitivity of the camera’s sensor to light. A lower ISO will produce less noise (grain) but will require more light. A higher ISO will produce more noise but will require less light.
Here is the thing if you want the cleanest and sharp image you should always go for the lowest ISO. But keep in mind that the lower the ISO is the more light you need.
In good light conditions, you can set your ISO between 100-400. If the light is not that good then you can go up to 800 or even 1600.
But if you go too high with the ISO then the photos will start to get grainy and that’s not what we are looking for.
How to focus on horses in a photo?
Horses are beautiful creatures and make for great subjects in photos, but they can be difficult to photograph.
If you’re having trouble getting your horse photos to turn out the way you want, here are a few tips to help you focus on horses in a photo.
First, try to get closer to the horse. This will help you fill the frame and make the horse the center of attention. If you’re using a telephoto lens, zoom in as much as you can.
Second, use a faster shutter speed. This will help freeze the horse’s movement and prevent blur.
Third, try to position the horse so that it’s facing the light. This will help create a more flattering photo.
Most importantly be patient. Horses are often in constant motion, so it may take a few tries to get the perfect shot.
How do you take a portrait of a horse?
To capture a horse portrait, make sure the horse is well-groomed and in a clean environment. If you can, choose a location with natural lighting and a background that complements your horse’s color.
Ask the horse’s owner or handler to stand nearby, but out of the frame, and help keep the horse still during the photo shoot.
If you’re using a digital camera, set it to the highest quality setting so you can crop the image later if needed.
For a DSLR camera, use a large aperture (low f-stop number) to blur the background and focus on the horse’s face.
For portrait set your camera to f3.5 aperture, ISO 800, and a shutter speed of at least 1/640.
And if you’re using a point-and-shoot camera or iPhone, select the portrait or animal mode.
Get down low to the horse’s level, and fill the frame with its face. If you can, capture the horse’s eyes looking directly at the camera.
Keep the horse’s handler around and give some treats to keep the horse’s attention while you snap away.
Take lots of pictures, and be sure to review them afterward to find the best ones. Once you have your desired horse portrait, you can edit it to perfection in Photoshop or Lightroom.
Horse jumping photography & shutter speed for horse jumping
If you’re looking to capture some amazing horse jumping photos, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind.
Firstly, just like with any kind of photography, you need to make sure you choose the right time period to capture the photos as well as the right location.
The lighting needs to be just right so that the horse and rider are well illuminated, but not so bright that it washes out the colors.
Secondly, you’ll need to choose the right camera settings. When the horse jump is at its highest point, you’ll want to take a photo. So it is important you are ready and have your camera setting right.
Here are the important camera setting to take amazing horse jumping photos:
Use the camera in continuous or burst mode to capture photos. This will help you take a series of photos in quick succession and increase your chances of getting that perfect shot.
Set the right shutter speed. A faster shutter speed will help you freeze the action and avoid any blurriness. The recommended shutter speed for horse jumping photography is around 1/1000.
Choose a low ISO setting. This will reduce any graininess in your photos.
Use a wide aperture. This will help you capture more of the horse and rider in focus.
With these settings in mind, you should be able to take some amazing horse jumping photos! Just remember to be patient and wait for that perfect moment.
Horse jumping photography can be a tricky genre to master, but with the right settings and some practice, you can get some amazing shots.
Just remember to keep your shutter speed fast, use a low aperture, and focus on the horse’s eyes.
With these and mentioned above tips in mind, you’ll be able to capture some stunning photos of horses in mid-jump, portraits, and more.