Posts Tagged ‘Lusitano

21
May
14

a question of light

I’ve just finished teaching two workshops on two coasts in two weeks. And too many times I heard myself say “look at the light”! After talking for seven or eight days you can get very tired of hearing your own voice. So now is the time for me to be quiet and think about all that happened during these workshops in order to improve the next. I use many concepts and quotes from my teachers to break up the ‘me-ness’ of the class. But I think I need to add more. I found this quote this morning, thanks to John Paul Caponigro’s blog and it answers a question a number of students posed:

“Today’s photographers think differently. Many can’t see real light anymore. They think only in terms of strobe – sure, it all looks beautiful but it’s not really seeing. If you have the eyes to see it, the nuances of light are already there on the subject’s face. If your thinking is confined to strobe light sources, your palette becomes very mean – which is the reason I photograph only in available light.” – Alfred Eisenstaedt

Larapio, Lusitano Stallion, available light

Larapio, Lusitano Stallion, available light

I don’t like painting all my fellow photographer’s with such a broad brush, but the point is well taken. I don’t use flash for two reasons: first, horses don’t like it and second, I don’t use it well enough to make it seem like there is no flash. In other words, I prefer natural light.

I like the challenge of discovering a way to use all the light available. Very often, this means finding solutions to difficult lighting situations. It’s hard to put a horse in a soft box type of environment and then ask them to be dynamic. It can be done, but why not learn to see the beauty in light we are given? Seeing deeply, and truly learning how our cameras see light will create confidence and boldness.

Suplicio da Raposa, Lusitano stallion

Suplicio da Raposa, Lusitano stallion

“When I have a camera in my hand, I know no fear.” – Alfred Eisenstaedt

Shoot into the sun? Why not? It can be magical! No light? Get a light horse and shoot the movement. There is more light there than we think! Bright sun in the middle of the day? Find some open shade or shoot a sunny portrait. Better yet, look for some bounce light and make a beautiful, softly glowing image. The point is, there are always photographic opportunities.

Abby and Stella, PRE Mare

Abby and Stella, PRE Mare

 

Keeping an open mind and an open heart will help to bring these to your awareness. So, one last quote from Alfred Eisenstaedt, the great master: “Once the amateur’s naive approach and humble willingness to learn fades away, the creative spirit of good photography dies with it. Every professional should remain always in his heart an amateur.”

My students keep me humble and stoke the fires of inspiration and creativity. Thank you for a marvelous two weeks! And a special thank you to Patewood Farm in New Jersey and Barbier Farms in California. The people and the horses in both locations made work fun and filled the days with laughter and good spirit!

 

22
Apr
14

sun, flowers, Lusitanos

The winter rains have given way to the glory of spring. I’ve had the great luxury of photographing beautiful horses in flowers and dappled sun these last two weeks. It is marvelous to be out each evening in the woods and pastures after what seemed like interminable rain!

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Carlos Oliveira on Talisman, PSL.

 

There is something about these cork trees (quercus species) that I love. I keep thinking that someone in a toga will step from behind one. Silly? Perhaps. But this landscape says ‘human history’ to me. And for the last 500 years, the cultivation of the cork oaks has combined with the breeding and selection of the Lusitano to create a land and heritage that is Puro Ribatejo. And yes, I know….togas are much older than 500 years. But so is the cultivation of cork oaks here in the Ribatejo.

And speaking of togas, here is an interesting fact: Julius Caesar made his fortune near here in Alcacer do Sal (by harvesting salt) and with this strength of fortune and his army, became Emperor of Rome.

Enjoy the photos. I’ll be back this weekend with more, after the festival in Alter de Chao.

 

 

23
Mar
14

more driving from the Iberic Cup

I went back to Companhia das Lezirias for an hour or so this morning to photograph more driving. It was pretty amazing to watch the precision, power, and speed! Congratulations to all the competitors. I heard competitors from Belgium, Spain, and Portugal being called to the piste…but I think I saw some French and German flags as well. If any of my readers know the participants, please pass along the link! And congratulations/parabens to Companhia das Lezirias for a beautiful venue and event.

25
Nov
13

Golegã, Portugal, Part 2

Following five wonderful days at Golegã enjoying the Lusitanos and the festive atmosphere, my ladies were ready to ride! For four days we had the privilege of riding and learning from a number of Senhor Pedro Torres’ horses. Ulisses and Trinco (European champion this year with Bruno Pica) taught the ladies the feeling of the upper level movements including 2-tempis, piaffer and passage.

The weather was perfect along the shore in Cascais. Perhaps a little breezy one day, but sunny and bright. We were also treated to a demonstration with retired world-champion Oxidado and Pedro’s new star Ahoto. Everyone remarked that it was tremendous to see the capability and athleticism of the Lusitano in full display. This seemed to be the theme for the entire trip.

Everywhere we went, whether at the Portuguese National School of Equestrian Art, sitting on Carlos Oliveira’s exquisitely light Botero and Talismá, or watching Ana Batista try new mounts for Tauromachie, we marveled at the horses. The Lusitano’s unique ability to offer brilliance and strength while maintaining a calm and willing attitude is the quality that engenders the great respect for the breed.

Enjoy the photos…and think about coming to Portugal to experience the finest Lusitanos and training. I have private trips available throughout the year, including riding opportunities and photography intensives with exclusive access. (keron@keronpsillas.com)

23
Nov
13

Golegã 2013! Part 1

I am woefully behind with my blogging. So in order to catch up I will begin with a fun subject: Golegã, the Lusitano Fair that happens every year in November. I was host to seven marvelous ladies this year who were eager to soak in all the pageantry and excitement that the Fair brings. And of course, they are all lovers of the Lusitano!

We began with a trip to visit Carlos Oliveira and his gorgeous Lusitanos. After some tack shopping at Mundo Equitacao with Catia, Maria Joao, and Maria Helena, we made our way north to our lodgings. For the first six days of our trip we stayed at Ourem Castle, in the Pousada and at Casa Alta Royal Lodge. Both are highly recommended!

The sights and sounds of Golegã must be experienced to be believed. There are horses everywhere, of all levels of breeding, training, and turnout. But the strongest impression is one of a shared love for the Lusitano, this National Treasure. Riders in traditional dress complete the picture of this elegant animal. As the day lengthens into night, the sounds get a little louder and the Ginja flows a little easier! It is, after all, a festival! But it is also a competition. Congratulations to all the breeders. The classes this year were super competitive!

Though my ladies were keenly interested in all things Lusitano, we did make time to visit some local cultural sites, including Tomar and the Convento do Cristo. It’s just one of many UNESCO World Heritage sites in Portugal…but probably my favorite. The mysterious history of the Knights Templar and outstanding architecture examples culminating in an explosion of Manueline style captured everyone’s imagination.

After our week in and around Golegã we went to Cascais for a four-day riding intensive with World-Champion Working Equitation rider Pedro Torres.  More about this amazing experience in the next blog. Until then….enjoy the photos from the first week! And if you look under November 2011 on the list of posts to the right, you’ll see more images from Golegã. Thanks for checking the blog!

 

09
Aug
13

for all our horses, in gratitude

I recently lost my stallion, who was 31 years old. He shared his life with me for many years, offering love, teaching, light. Today I learned that a friend lost one of their horses. It has made me reflect about the nature of sorrow and loss. What I feel most strongly is gratitude. Had we never had the beauty and love they offered our lives would have been so much poorer. Thank you, Fol Amour….and thank you Xama do Top, for the brief time we shared.

Xama do Top, at Japu, Sorocaba...with Paulinho

Xama do Top, at Japu, Sorocaba…with Paulinho

10
Jan
13

playing a bit

Life must be lived as play. ~ Plato

Every once in a while I enjoy looking back at images in the archive. I thought it would be fun to play with Flypaper Textures on some old favorites. I think it’s useful to examine old images from an emotional distance. I often tell students that the best time to edit is at least a month from the time you made the images. Yes, we all have to look at them as soon as possible…but don’t throw them away for at least a month or more. When the emotional energy/heat has faded we can begin to see our images much more objectively. It doesn’t matter how far we had to climb or how long we had to wait or what light we had to battle…the image must stand on its own merit.

That may sound strange coming from me in a post about texturing and layers. After all, it is image manipulation. But here’s the caveat: a bad image will not make a great textured image. Start with a good photograph and then enhance the image in a way that amplifies a concept you are trying to communicate. When I am photographing I am always thinking about communicating what intrigued me, what made me care enough to stop and create images. Then, if the image can be enhanced with textures or layers, then I think about those qualities again. Perhaps I felt a somber mood or a mysterious brooding atmosphere. Maybe I just felt the image was going to be painterly and planned right then to add textures. Its likely that if that was the case, I photographed in order to support that intention.

Here are some old favorites re-invisioned. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment if you want to learn more about using textures and layers. Have fun with your images (and CLICK MY BUTTON….over there on the right…for Flypaper Textures)!

23
Nov
12

essence

Readers of this blog will know that my favorite quote is from Antoine de St. Exupery:  “What is essential is invisible to the eye; one must see with the heart.”

While visiting the home of Ana Batista and Orlando Vicente in Portugal, this feeling, this belief was vibrating in me while I watched the horses work.

The epicenter of the Lusitano culture is the Ribatejo in Portugal. We were in the heart of it, watching and participating in the most important aspect of this culture. Working with bulls over hundreds and hundreds of years guided the breeders to create horses of amazing functionality, and brilliant, courageous…. but calm temperaments. We saw all of these attributes in action, along with the finesse and ability of their riders! This was the soul of the Ribatejo.  500 years of diligence, respect for the essence of the horse, and clarity of vision has created spectacularly bred horses. They enjoy what they are doing and perform with elegance and spirit.

As the light faded I had to shift my tactics for shooting. Slowing the shutter and feeling the movement was exactly what was needed. Though I was photographing, not riding, I did feel part of the moment, not just an observer. It was sublime.

The results? Of course it is entirely subjective, but I am pleased. Pleased because the images bring the feeling, the experience, right back to me.  I hope I’ve communicated a little of it to you, my reader. Thanks for stopping by. And if you REALLY love the images, come with me on the next trip in Portugal. Zip me an email and I’ll send you an amazing itinerary. Lastly, for my photo friends, these images were created with a slow shutter, panning, and a FLYPAPER TEXTURES layer or two in Photoshop using mostly the overlay blending mode. It’s fun, creative, and super simple. Push my button….just over there on the right side of the panel….and you can see all the fabulous things that Jill and Paul are doing over at Flypaper.

22
Nov
12

a common thread

My life has been immeasurably enhanced by living and working with horses. In the past several years I have traveled to beautiful places and met lovely, inspiring people that share the common thread of a love for horses. In the last three months I have been in Spain, France, and Portugal for extended periods. The opportunity to become part of the rhythm of  daily work with animals has re-awakened my love of living with horses. This part of my life has been dormant for nearly eight years. My stallion, Fol Amour, is retired (he’s a very spry 29 years old!) and living in California. I see him often, but not daily. Winston Churchill said “there is nothing so good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse”. I have always known it, but it is alive in me once more.

While traveling in Europe, often I steal away to favorite esoteric sites to photograph and absorb the mystery. Tomar, Sintra, and the Convento dos Capuchos are a few of my favorite spots in Portugal. I’ve included several new images from these spots.

Here is a small gallery of images made since September. Most of the horses are the beloved Lusitano….but the breed is not the most important part of a horse. The teaching, grace and acceptance that all horses have to offer is their unique gift to mankind. As always, I welcome your comments and questions.

Next up: a report of a wonderful trip through the South of France and then on to Paris for the Four Schools performance!

 

30
Jun
12

Light

From within or from behind, a light shines through us upon things, and makes us aware that we are nothing, but the light is all.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I found this after posting all the other images. As it turns out, it is my favorite. Thank you to Martina Brandes, as this is her horse, Bomilcar Interagro…and of course to Cecilia Gonzaga at Interagro Lusitanos. It is such a pleasure to visit and a great honor to photograph the horses!

17
Nov
11

Golegã!

 

 

Now, after many years of wanting to visit, I have been to Golegã during the Festival of the Lusitano. Golegã: home to a number of legends of Lusitano breeding, including Manuel Veiga of Quinta da Broa, and Manuel Assunçao Coimbra.  As a longtime student of Mestre Dominique Barbier, I have been familiar with these names and have regarded them as the height of perfection for the classical Lusitano. Tracing bloodlines from Broquel to Larapio, one of Dominique’s stallions, has been a pathway through breeding and cultural history in Portugal (and Brasil) for the last fifty years. Dominique’s original stallion, Dom Giovanni, was also a horse by Broquel.

But Golegã surprised me in so many ways.  It was not just a history lesson or homage to the great breeders. It is a living, breathing, celebration of all things Lusitano. The rich culture surrounding this great horse is multi-faceted, and as a living organism, it is in a state of constant change. One thing remains the same; the festival is held each year over the Festival of Sao Martinho on the 11th of November.

I am still catching my breath from all the excitement, imagery, sounds and smells. Golegã was THE complete sensory experience. Hooves clip-clopping on cobblestones, with breath from nostrils and steam from flanks mixing with the smoke from roasting chestnuts….all competing with the cries of children wanting to pet the horses and the calls from one friend to another over a pulsing crowd, creating a marvelous cacaphony. I hope the pictures will give you a sense of the vibrancy of the Lusitano Festival. It has been a rich harvest for me and a rare instance of the reality far exceeding the dream. I am truly blessed.

My favorite moment from Golegã? That’s easy…the conversations and camaraderie all built around the love and passion for a great horse. Having dinner in a very small restaurant and meeting people from all over Europe that knew each other through the Lusitano, coming together to enjoy the festival, was a memorable night. It reminds me that the world, though vast in size and full of wonder, is made small, even intimate, by the connections we share and create with others.

Tomorrow I’ll put up a small gallery of images from Tomar and the Convento do Cristo, along with a few from the Cistercian Monastery at Alcobaça.

25
Jun
11

Abundance

The trip to Portugal and Spain was one of abundance. Everywhere I turned was a feast for all the senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Although I no longer like this word, it was dizzying.

But the strongest feeling I got was one of connection. Of course I am at home with the horses no matter on which continent I find them, but watching a bullfight?? or visiting the village of Goléga, and Mestre Nuno Oliveira’s old manege, a Flamenco performance in the Gitane area of Jerez, the famous Bodegas of Terry and Domecq, and then the Convento dos Capuchos?  Each location was filled with a familiarity or sense memory for me that was suprisingly strong and completely unexpected. My challenge during this trip was to make meaningful images AND hold as much of the experience in my heart as possible. This can be very difficult when so much is packed into such a short time. In one day we saw a performance at the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art, had lunch on one of the most beautiful windswept beaches I’ve ever seen, visited a monastery built into the rocks at the top of a mountain, traveled back in time to visit the Manege of Mestre Nuno Oliveira, and finish the night (very very late) at a Fado restaurant in the Alfama district….smack in the middle of the celebration for the Feast of St. Anthony.  And on top of that, I needed to make meaningful photographs of all the participants enjoying their trip.

I always remind myself that when I am working, I am happy to get ONE picture a day that reflects what I have seen and felt. It is hard to put into words the satisfaction I feel having created an image that speaks to me.  If I had to use one word I would choose affirming. A successful photograph affirms my connection with the subject and in a very real way, my connection to life. This experience of being in the flow of BE-ING is one of the most rewarding parts of photography. As my friend and mentor says so often, “photography is a great way to BE in life”. He’s right.

It’s often demanding and tiring, especially during a trip like this. Folks are snug in their beds by 2 am and I’m up downloading images and cleaning cards and gear, preparing to be ready to go again at 8 am. Looking, with intent and a desire to see deeper is tiring as well, but often rewarding.

I’m at home now, working through a mountain of files, and video too, and trying not to think (yet) about the next trip.  As always, thanks very very much for checking the blog. Please do tell a friend or two about it. Wishing you an abundant feast for all your senses. ~ Keron

 

30
May
11

Magic and artistry

The best feeling in the world for me is one of vibration and excitement when experiencing authentic artistry. This trip has been filled with those moments. Equestrian artistry was certainly the theme for the trip but today I had the pleasure to visit two lovely women that work in oils and fiber. They create the most exquisite works of art I’ve seen in a long time. I’ll do a separate blog about this tomorrow, but here are some images from the last two weeks….and a few from today. I hope you enjoy them and can feel a little of the joy I’ve experienced.

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29
May
11

Photos from Brasil!

It’s just the beginning, but here are some photographs from the trip. I’ve got a few more days to continue to create images so I’ll post another gallery very soon. The trip has been truly wonderful.

That’s the thing about traveling….the unknown can often bring joy and fill your heart with gratitude. Beatrice Bulteau, renowned watercolorist and artist of Lusitano images, said to me, smiling, just as I was leaving the auction “See you soon….the world is such a small place!”.  And it’s true. Manfred from Germany, Heitor and Fabio from Toca Do Marlin in Bahia, Beatrice from France, Carlinhos from Portugal, and many others all gathered in Sao Paulo because of the love of the Lusitano. Late next week it will take me to Portugal, but until then I’m going to savor the moments that continue to rise up from this latest experience.

Thank you to the Barbiers, Davi, Natasha, Nancy, and Sarah. And to all the friends in Brasil, old and new, you made this trip so very memorable.

24
May
11

A spinning globe

First, an apology to my regular readers.  I’ve been blogged down. I am in Brasil and feeling upside down and spinning all around.  Yes, the globe does this, but normally we don’t feel it. But I’ve been feeling every bit of it with something called labyrinthetie (in Portuguese).  Basically, if I moved, I fell down. And when I wasn’t moving I felt as if I was on a magic carpet taking me to a very nasty place.  With great care from dear friends (Debra, Dominique, and my dear Davi Carrano), strong medicines and some time in a Brasilian hospital I am on the mend! And the big news is that I must change my life. Meaning: I cannot have the iced tea with lemon and sugar that was my main food group. I’ll write more about this later as I digest this. (ha ha…not smiling).

For now…there are a couple of images from the lovely spot where we stay while visiting all the farms in the area of Sorocaba. Early on Sunday morning (too daggone early, actually) I heard a roaring sound and took my camera, in my jammies, to investigate.  I’ll be posting more images of horses and riders, but here are a few for today to get me back into blogging mode.

So, Bom Dia! And my favorite expression in Portuguese…. Avanta, con coragem, tudo é beleza!

16
Nov
10

storing memory

I am writing from California while looking at the late afternoon sun falling over the vineyards.  It is warm and golden with the sweet sounds of birds in the olive trees. After a long summer the grass has turned green again following late October rains.  It is a peaceful place for a pause before I begin the rest of my journey to the East. It reminds me of my favorite story, Frederick The Mouse. I’m storing the memory of the warmth and light and scent. This way I can use it to sustain me over the winter and as a guidepost for my return.

After four years I have left Seattle. Work and family cares are calling me to the East Coast for a time so I am driving across the country. I’ll be taking a southerly route and making notes of all the places that I’ll want to visit and photograph on a return trip. Driving south from the Oregon/California border was torturous at times because I could not stop. The light in the olive groves on the fresh green grass was arresting.  The patterning, the color, the softness in the atmosphere….thinking of it all now brings the pain back of not being able to photograph it.  I think I will have many bittersweet moments like that on this trip. As a photographer I know well the law that demands we “photograph it now”. We can never duplicate the light we see or the emotion generated by a scene when we first discover it. It’s a life lesson isn’t it:  Carpe Diem….do not procrastinate…etc. But as it can not be helped, I will make the notes and plan to return.

Here are a few images from my trip to Florida last week. Photographing for Cindy, Simone, and Rosemary was a joy and one that I actually KNOW can be repeated. I’m looking forward to being in Florida again in February. I’ll harvest again the scent of the ocean, the call of the gulls and the chirps of the pipers while the atmosphere displays the orange, pink, purple and blue hues that announce the arrival and departure of the sun.

18
Sep
10

Way out West, fraternity and collaboration

“The greatness of a craft consists firstly in how it brings comradeship to men.” ~Antoine de St. Exupery

The last 30 days have been a whirlwind of teaching, travel, and photography.  It was my great pleasure (as it is each year) to assist Sam Abell on Whidbey Island at the Pacific Northwest Art School in Coupeville.  The class this year was built around creating a book of Whidbey Island.  Books are dear to Sam and dear to me. For this reason we were excited to offer the class the opportunity to develop an essay on a topic of their choosing about Whidbey Island. The assembly of these essays created our book.  It will soon be available on Blurb for all the students. By all reports, the workshop was a great success and we will be doing the same thing again next year with a few minor adjustments.

Following the workshop I flew immediately to California to photograph participants in a clinic at Debra and Dominique Barbier’s farm in Healdsburg.  Thirty or more people enjoyed participating in the first ever formal clinic at Batbier Farm…..riding their horses, learning from both Dominique and Debra, hearing Dominique’s Meditation for Two lecture, and enjoying great food, conversation, and wine.  The group, though diverse, came together easily because of the common love of the horse and their dedication to classical teaching and the compassionate training of the horse.

After a few days back in Seattle I was off to the East Coast to visit family and collaborate with Linda Bertschinger of Classicus Farm on her new book: Alchemy, Transforming Your Horse in Lightness.   After 30 hours non-stop work, we declared the book designed and well on its way to completion.  It was a pleasure to put in this time as the book is a gentle recitation of Linda’s experiences with different horses, each illustrating a pillar of classical training.  I will have an announcement on this blog when it is available.  (Soon!)

And then I was off to Wyoming.  I was a sheer delight to accompany Sam Abell and make a pilgrimage of sorts to a little town in Wyoming, prior to giving a lecture at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming.  Our good friend, Anthony Polvere, had arranged for the talk after we all met the previous year at the workshop on Whidbey Island.  The talk was the finest I’ve heard Sam give in the last five years.  The students of Northwest College and the citizens of Powell, Cody, Billings, and points in between, were given a talk that illustrated Sam’s practice and philosophy of photography.  Even more importantly, they walked away having witnessed a man that has examined life, a life in photography and from photography, a life writ large but lived humbly.  It’s a stunning combination: inspiring, uplifting, whole.   And then….off we went to Yellowstone National Park with the photography faculty from Northwest College!  There was such great fun, laughter, joy, remarkable story-telling, in short, camaraderie.  With the majesty of Yellowstone as our backdrop and great cowboy songs for our soundtrack, we toured, photographed, and enjoyed much of the Park.

And now I am just back from Santa Fe, having photographed participants there in a clinic with Dominique.  The very talented Lynn Clifford was the organizer of the clinic and our gracious hostess.  Again, a diverse group met for three days, enjoyed each other’s company, and shared their lives and experience with one another….all from their love of the horse.

In thinking about this whirlwind 30 days, the experience of fraternity and the spirit of collaboration are the thoughts that keep rising up. Friendship built on common interest, but friendship that respects each other’s vision and tradition creates an easy but deep and lasting bond.  The experience of collaboration, whether creating a book, editing a slideshow, shooting a video, or just exploring somewhere new, provides a foundation for each person to offer their insight and their strengths to the completion of a project.  With this collaboration, the project has a greater chance of having more depth and lasting meaning.

I have seen this with other book projects, I have experienced it with my own, and I have been honored to collaborate with and assist Sam and other teachers and photographers in many different ways.  So for photographers, horsemen and horsewomen, and all the readers of my blog, I say this: find a collaborator or teacher, join a group of friends and make new ones, and navigate to a place of joy and meaning.

“Friendship is borne from an identity of spiritual goals ~ From common navigation toward a star.”  A. de S. E.

Here’s a gallery, including friends and collaborators, from recent travels.

 

26
Aug
10

Doma Clasica link

I’ve had numerous images published in magazines and books….but this is the first article ABOUT me.  Here is the link (in case you read Spanish.) There are a couple of errors (mostly in tense) but the spirit of the article is correct.  Thank you, Katharina, for the opportunity.  And to my readers: stay tuned!  There are more articles and images to come.  Thanks for checking the blog.

Doma Clasica And please….leave a comment!

~Keron`

25
Aug
10

A really big announcement and a wrap up from Whidbey Island

I’m delighted to tell all my readers that Meditation for Two is going to be published in Germany, Switzerland, and Brazil!  I’m so excited and deeply gratified.  All the thanks goes to Dominique for without his tremendous success with Dressage for the New Age (published in 5 countries and in its third edition in the US) this would not have happened.  I’m working now on finalizing a publisher in France and the US and hope to announce the details quickly.  The message here:  Dreams do come true.  Of course, the book is still available on Blurb.com (and would make a GREAT gift at Christmas for Zen-leaning equestrian enthusiasts).

I’m hard at work completing the book project that the class from the Pacific Northwest Arts School created during their week-long course with Sam Abell.  The book title is Portrait of Whidbey Island. I had the great pleasure to assist this class for the fourth year in a row and am already looking ahead to a reunion next August.  The level of engagement on behalf of the students was extraordinary and surpassed only by the generosity and quality of Sam’s instruction. His alumni know that the discussions during the week will be thought provoking and erudite. That is why they return each year. New students are treated to original thought and genuine care about their work and progress. Sam is unparalleled as an instructor. It is my great honor to have assisted him on so many occasions.  In addition to the week-long course in Coupeville, area residents had the opportunity to hear Sam speak. The Life of A Photograph was the topic, to be followed next year with the second half of the lecture, The Photographic Life.  I’m certain that every person present last week will return and bring a friend.  It was THAT good.  Thank you, Lisa, Karen, and Sue, for all your hard work and dedication.  PNAS adds so much to the quality of life on Whidbey Island.

As soon as I finished on Whidbey Island last Friday night I zipped down to Healdsburg, CA, to photograph the clinic at Dominique’s farm.  This was the first time a formal clinic was held there and it was incredibly well-attended.  The organization, Shanna, Meredith, Beth, and Linda’s help, and of course Debra and Dominique’s instruction made for fun-filled days that were packed with information and philosophy…all with the benefit of the horse as the focus.  Riders and auditors alike went away with a renewed dedication to communicate with and learn from their horses. If you are a rider you’ll want to attend the next clinic at their home in January 2011….the 5th thru the 11th.  Reserve your spot quickly as space is limited and the August clinic was over-subscribed.

Here are recent images of several of my favorite equestrian subjects.  Enjoy!

03
Aug
10

Favorite horse photos, recent shoots

I’ve posted this gallery to show some of my favorite images from past commissions and assignments.  Some of them have been chosen, some not, but they all appeal to me for one reason: I believe they reveal the essence of the horse I am photographing.  There are a few selections from the farms I’ve visited, as the energy and creation of the farm is an integral part of the experience you share with your horse.  Photographing the surroundings allows me to depict a more nuanced view of your daily routine.

I hope you enjoy the gallery.  If you are interested in having images created I will be in Santa Fe, (New Mexico), Flemington, (New Jersey), Kiel, (Germany), Devon, (England), Florence, (Italy), Sao Paolo, (Brazil), and points in between in the coming months.  I’d love to hear from you.

07
Feb
10

serendipity: aka photographer’s luck

“We live only to discover beauty. All else is a form of waiting.” Kahlil Gibran

Last weekend I went to Healdsburg to photograph a client.  Because this was the first time I was photographing a person for a job I had more than the usual nervousness.  As the insecurity and senseless internal dialogue was brewing I knew I had to do something to get out of that energy if I was going to create successful photographs.  For me, a successful photograph includes many elements, but the foremost is the satisfaction of the client.  Readers of this blog will know that I am familiar with the location and have photographed horses at Barbier Farms many times.  I am always a little anxious about seeing things new in a setting that is somewhat limited and thoroughly known.  So I slowed my breathing and switched the internal dialogue from the static channel to the compassionate, grateful channel.  I met the client with a smile, listened to her desires for the photographs, suggested a few settings and started to work.

I know that everything I am saying is simple, perhaps even simplistic.  But it is too easy to forget and get caught up in thinking about what comes next or what if this or what if that….rather than just being still and taking in all the information that is being sent.  My client and friend, Candida, was giving me her thoughts about the movements that she wanted photographed….the light was changing rapidly….the dogs were playing…activity in the barn was picking up as it was feeding time…..other clients were coming to the barn for lessons….and through all of this, remembering to smile kept me centered and calm.  Soon there was a flow to the shoot akin to the gentle pace of deep water moving.  It was undisturbed and developed a quiet energy as we progressed.  By this time the light was getting  a little higher and stronger than I wanted and I let some doubt creep in….just as I silenced that thought and asked Candida to move to another area,  I caught the reflected light off the horse’s mane onto my friend’s face.  We were able to play with that for quite a few minutes and I enjoyed a bit of photographer’s luck.

The shoot was a tremendous gift for me as it brought more fullness to my resolve to create calm and expanded awareness in the midst of a great deal of activity.  Further, I think that my ability to project that created ease for my client, and certainly for the horses as they are so aware of all that is happening on the physical, emotional, and etheric levels.  I am looking forward to the next challenge of this kind and seeing what gift is in store, what serendipity arises.  It’s all around us.  We just have to remember to find and to feel our smile.

17
Jan
10

the editing process

I am engaged by photographs that elicit an emotional response.  I want my own photographs to meet that standard and yet I realize that it is totally subjective.  What one viewer finds sorrowful or joyful will likely be different from another’s view.  But still, if we (as the photographer) are moved by a scene, a moment, or an event then it is likely that our audience will catch on to something that pulls them in.   So the question for me, when helping clients or friends edit their work, is this: Am I engaged?  Am I taking some extra time to really see the photograph or is it a ‘one look’ photo, a photo that might be graphically stunning but is one-dimensional? What are you trying to communicate as a photographer?  Anything? What is your point of view?  Do you have one?  Or is it simply a picture of  a pretty scene, thing, event?  What does the photograph say about you, the photographer?  Are there clues or is the mystery part of the appeal?  In short, to paraphrase Sam Abell: Is it involving? 

Of all the challenges to creating a successful or engaging photograph, among them lighting, technique, composition, setting, and gesture, the communication of feeling is for me the most important. Here is a small gallery with a wide array of subjects for you to critique. 

A note about Sam: Over 1,000 people attended the opening of his new show, Amazonia, at the University of Oregon on Saturday, January 16th.  Sam, along with the wonderful Danish photographer, Torben Nissen, spent months in the headwaters of the Amazon and came back with compelling, thoughtful images that tell the story of one of earth’s most precious resources.  I hope you’ll get to see the show.

31
Dec
09

Tenderness

Perhaps it’s the time of year and the time for looking back that has placed the word tenderness in my heart and on my mind.   Holidays, combined with thoughts of re-birth with the coming new year keep thoughts of family and friends present. 

I’ve been reviewing the year in pictures, both my own and the various collections spread all over the internet.  One of the best compilations of images comes from The New York Times  http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/world/2009-decade.html#/intro. The ones that have stayed with me are the tender photographs.   The subject matter, in the case of The New York Times photographs, is often fierce, but the approach has been gentle and the respect for the dignity of the subject apparent.  These are the photos that I want to make in the coming year.  I have several personal projects under way that will demand attention to this objective: A story of the Navajo families in Canyon de Chelly and the life of the farm workers and inhabitants of several Lusitano fazendas in Brazil.  These will be challenging for me as I am unused to photographing people.  I’m looking forward to the deeper connection that this will bring to my life and my relationships with family, friends, and community. 

I wish you a very Happy New Year, with the blessings of good health and connection to loved ones.  And for photographers and non-photographers…..in the words of Irving King and Harry Woods by way of Otis Redding, try a little tenderness.

16
Dec
09

Road Trip, part 2

The most viewed images from the first road-trip post are the horse images…. so I thought I’d post a few more of my favorites.  The inherent beauty of the horse makes them marvelous subjects and it also makes it easier to create  a successful photograph.  But there are challenges as well.  I am terribly discerning with my horse photographs because I know what the correct postures are from an equestrian viewpoint, and I’m looking for meaningful gesture from a photographer’s viewpoint.  Then I want good lighting, dramatic lighting even…..and the last component must be the essence or the soul of the horse.  This is a tall order, but having access to Debra and Dominique’s farm makes it possible to have some success.

Visiting the farm is like going home for me.  My stallion, Fol Amour, lives there now to enjoy his retirement in his first home. He’s the old man of the barn now at 26, and while still active and working it is bittersweet to see him aging. I am just beginning to photograph him. I don’t have an answer as to why I haven’t been doing it, seriously, for all these years. It’s a regret that I must live with.  

Generally, I am happy with this group of images.  I was able to produce a couple different types of images in the midst of action and changing light.  We were there for less than two hours before we had to begin our trek up the coast.  But of course that bit of modest success fuels the fire to return!

11
Dec
09

thawing out from road trip

I’m just back from a 4.5 day roadtrip that began in Healdsburg, California, and ended in Seattle.  I was joined by Rick Holt, fabulous image editing instructor, fellow teacher, and photo buddy.  Our plan was to photograph horses in Healdsburg at Debra and Dominique Barbier’s  vineyard and farm, then cruise the California coast by taking the back way  up and over to Mendocino and then following highway 101 all the way north to Astoria, Oregon.  We were hoping for coastal fog and mist to lend some atmosphere to sea stacks, redwood trees and California oak images.   

Horses?  Check.  Highway 101? Check.  Mist, fog, atmosphere? Nada.  We drove for 4.5 days and never saw a cloud in the sky.  Not one.  But the painfully cold temps did give us some unexpected photographer’s luck.  Ice coated grasses, hoarfrost covered forests and meadows, and delicately frosted leaves on the shoreline delighted us each morning.  We were both slightly unprepared for pre-dawn with wind and frigid temps, but in our “hey, we’re out shooting!!!” euphoria, it didn’t matter that much.  

I’m back in Seattle now with an invigorated passion for exploration and appreciation of serendipity.  Here’s a small gallery from the trip.  I’ll be posting more over the next several days and will talk about the specific subjects and locations. 

28
Oct
09

Horses, photography

Ultraje

Top Iberian, a gorgeous magazine from Spain that chronicles the Lusitano and Andalusian horse, is publishing a feature story about me, including a number of the horse photos that I’ve taken in the last several years. The editor, Katharina Braren, asked me in the interview to describe my connection with horses, as a strong connection, in her words, is evident in the photographs.  This is a subject that is central to who I am as a photographer so I was happy to discuss it.  As a full answer will take more than two paragraphs I am going to post it over several days.

The quality, or act of being that is awareness is the greatest gift we can give ourselves.  I’ve written and thought about this for nearly two decades.  Curiosity at a young age is a good start, but true awareness begins with an examination of who we are.  For me, this time coincided with when I met Dominique Barbier almost 20 years ago.  Antoine de St. Exupery describes friendship in this way:  Friendship is born from an identity of spiritual goals ~ from common navigation toward a star. If that is so, Dominique and I have seen many galaxies together.  Our discussions about the horses and training quickly turned to developing awareness and knowing what energy we were bringing to the horse whenever we were in contact.  By beginning to peel away ego and expectation, I found a greater partnership and acceptance with my horses.  Please understand, this took some time and a great deal of effort.  Effort in the sense of bringing forth work from the heart…not just working AT something….it had the quality of working TO something and each step was a revelation.   This approach naturally spilled over into all the layers of a busy life (raising children, running a business) and while there were many setbacks, there were real moments, periods of peace and acceptance.   How does all this relate to photography?  That will be revealed in tomorrow’s post.




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