Cowgirl Yogatography 2017

Wondering what goes down on our Cowgirl Yogatography retreat? Find out in this guest post by our Yogatography guru, Larry Stanley

The Cowgirl Yogatography retreat is coming up again in September, and is by far one my favorite events. I get to step away from my busy summer schedule of wedding photography, and take some time to teach others how to get more enjoyment out of image making.

We start the first morning with a vigorous dose of ‘Camera 101’ basics (after a vigorous dose of yoga, of course) to help everyone connect with that mysterious, magical camera we all love, but don’t always fully understand. Learning to shoot in manual mode brings many rewards and lends to experiencing ‘aha!’ moments that you will LOVE!

I believe that when I pick up my camera and point it at a subject, there is immediately a connection that occurs. We will explore this. In the case of photographing horses, some have found it quite enjoyable. The size of these beautiful creatures, their kindness, and yes, even their horse wisdom can come right at you through those big beautiful eyes. Did you know that because of the placement of the eyes, a horse can see nearly 360 degrees, with the exception of a blind spot directly behind that big beautiful butt!!! Cool huh?

So what’s the best lens to use for photographing horses? Well, it depends. Perhaps if you are seeking the most physically beautiful image of a horse a long lens 80-200 mm captures the creature in its correct and sizeable proportions. Personally, I love the experience of being closer to my subjects, be they horse or human. I find the spiritual connection absolutely intriguing. I love my 24-70mm zoom because it allows me to get up close and personal with my subjects.

Last year we set up a creative photo shoot so everyone could practice newly learned techniques. Here are some of my photos, with comments about the choices I made and why.

F4.0, 1/320 second, ISO 100. In this soft light I chose a wider aperture to soften the foreground and background for the pastoral look. I kept my shutter speed quick to stop the action and the grace of the flowing mane and tail. The lens was zoomed to 62 mm which allowed me to fill the frame comfortably and pan with the horse as he ran by me.


In this shot I exposed at F 3.2, 1/500 second, ISO 50. I chose to use my 85mm prime lens because it is ridiculously sharp and allows for excellent depth of field control. Notice how the grass in the foreground softens so nicely.


The sun was coming out, which brought deeper values to the shadows and brighter highlights. Look how much more naturally saturated the sky and scenery is. 85mm lens, F6.3, 1/400 second.


Here I was shooting with my zoom at 70 mm. I want to convey a little more motion and free feeling in the image and still keep the model sharp, so I slowed my shutter to 1/125th of a second and panned with the horse as they came by through the tall grass. I love the feeling of this image!


One afternoon we visited a couple of impressively huge and loving Clydesdales on a nearby ranch. We got to explore and experience an amazing connection with these splendid beings. I carried my 24-70mm zoom. It’s my mainstay lens and  I wanted to be quick on the draw, suspecting there would be some great moments to grab. The horses did not disappoint!

They met us early on the road and horsed around with us, sticking their noses into the truck and making a full size sedan look like a compact. They were inquisitive, loving and playful. At first I was a little concerned because they are just so so big! But the realization came quickly that they would not hurt a hair on your head. One even got playful and nudged Jenny right off her feet. I grabbed the moments…

So I hope this encourages you to pick up your camera, take it off of A (aperture priority), or P (program mode), put it on M (manual) and start to experiment with the all the wonderful ways you can make more beautiful images. Then if you’re ready for the time of your life, please join Margaret and I at the Double T River Ranch this September for our annual Cowgirl Yogatography Retreat.