A Trip to Missouri

I never thought this day would come...the day my youngest is old   enough to be looking at colleges and thinking about what she wants to be when she grows up, which even when she is 70 she will still be my little girl and not quite grown up yet.

The whole weekend took me back to when I was 18 years old, a senior in high school and I drove to Kentucky to stay for the weekend with a college student in the Equine Studies program at Midway College.  It is where I met my good friend Sara...but perhaps that is another blog!  There is so much to tell about that girl...she is so interesting!

One of the things I was encouraged to do with my camera in one of my classes was to snap shots without looking through the viewfinder.  I thought this was a great day for that challenge and set my camera on AV mode (which is where you can set your ISO and preferred aperture and let the camera decide on what the shutter speed is going to be) which I don't do very often.  Plus, as a daughter of a photographer, one can become a little tired of posing for the camera so this was a wonderful way to get some shots of her just being her.  I love the way it turned out.

Around Campus

We first met in a large theater and got an overview of the activities for the weekend.  We met some of the college ambassadors and then went out for a tour of the campus.  I think we were all itching to get out to the barns and see the horses and watch the riding demonstrations but we saw the campus first.  

Along the tour we got a little distracted by the wildlife...but look at that little face!

This shot is everything that college is about...the colors of fall, old buildings, warm Indian summer days with the windows open and fans in windows of the old buildings that are too old to have air conditioning...

This was part of a totem pole and large canvas painting that were in the art center.  Loving detail shots and the challenge of taking a different perspective on things, I decided to only shoot part of each together because I liked the textures together.

A little history...

William Woods University was founded in 1870 as a school for orphaned girls.  Eventually, it expanded to accepting young men, has around 2,500 students and was one of the earliest schools of higher education to offer a degree in equestrian studies.  That is what brought us 6 hours away from home...let's get to those barns!

Local wildlife

I really liked the way the sun was shining on the green barns and that there was a single horse hanging his head out the top of the dutch door.

 I was also loved their stop sign  :)

This is where the photography gets tricky...indoors with very little light and without any fill flash, which will either spook the horses and/or give them eyes that reflect the light in the photographs.  This top shot is SOOC (straight out of camera)

This shot I brightened a little in post processing.

Inside the heated college arena

This was one of those shots that you just have to see it then shoot it immediately...there is no posing it, there is no going back to that moment...you just have to capture it.  Here we are entering the large indoor HEATED arena and that horse coming along at just the right moment couldn't have been more perfect.  The shutter speed is a little slow for the low lighting but it is a moment captured...I'm not going to complain.  (ISO 800, f/3.5, 1/25)

At William Woods University they offer 4 seats in the equestrian program.  Seats are styles of riding and they are night and day different from each other in the way you sit on the horse, use your legs and hands,  the equipment you use and the attire you wear.  As an equestrian student, it is wonderful to have access to so much diversity as it makes you more marketable and knowledgeable as a future trainer or facility manager.

 Here they are in no particular order...



Saddle Seat


The 4 Seats

Again, in the low light of this arena I had the opportunity to really see what my camera could do, especially at the higher ISO's.  Even so, in post processing, I decided many times to convert them to black and white and soften them to take away some of the lack of sharpness and/or the grain/noise.  

I also really enjoyed using that slow shutter speed to get some blurred shots, since that was the easiest kind of shot to get in these conditions.  For the shots I wanted in focus, I tried to wait until the horse and rider were under a set of lights to help me out as much as possible.

Lighting is everything...

I saw this horse being led along the back side of the arena wall and waited for them to get along the row of cart shafts up the wall and under the lights.  I did play with this shot and brightened the curves on the horse as well as kept the surrounding areas more natural.  I also desaturated the shot except for the horse to make him stand out more.

This was a lovely Andalusian/Arabian cross gelding

Here I waited for the horse and rider to get under the arena lights.  You can see the difference between the lighting above the horse here...

and the lighting a little more to the horse's side here

This is a lovely Friesian gelding named Desi and he was beautiful to watch in the Saddle Seat division.  He is not quite under the lights as much as I would have liked here and his stride is not quite where I needed it to be but I liked the way it showed his extension and forward movement.  (ISO 2500, f/5.6, 1/100)

Some originals and their artistic edits

As much as I like detailed shots, I tried to also get some of the whole scene and again used a slow shutter speed to get some movement blur with the horses that were standing still.  I also wanted to capture the apparent chaos that goes on in the arena with horses going all over and no one running into each other!

ISO 4000, f/5.6, 1/125

ISO 4000, f/5.6, 1/125

ISO 4000, f/10, 1/15

After the riding demonstrations we went to the barn party and they had large buckets filled with carrots to feed the horses.  This horse, Rambo, was a warmblood called a Hesson, a breed originating in Germany and he was not too proud to ask for a few handouts!


I don't remember any details about this horse, but this is a SOOC shot...he was really that red with the sun shining into his stall window.  (ISO 800, f/5, 1/80)

All too soon, the visit was over and it was time to head home.  That didn't mean I didn't continue to have my camera out!  I got a shot of the moon near one of the buildings (not sure about that moon glare/orb in the shot...maybe the university is haunted!)  I rode along in the back seat and took some shots of the world as I saw it going by.  It wasn't a particularly pretty day...very overcast, but I did get the major landmark and a shot I would love to take another crack at...the reflection of our car in the wheel hub of a semi rolling along at 70+ mph!

Road trip anyone?!

Heading home in the back seat...

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