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Californio Style


This unique photograph titled “Californio Style” has been submitted to the International Andalusian & Lusitano Horse Association (IALHA.org) for their 2016 Art Contest, and was a Professional Class winner at the California Mid-State Fair 2016. It depicts an Andalusian named Brillante JG and her owner and rider, Julie McCloskey, working cattle at a small ranch on the Central Coast of CA.

The Andalusian horse is being ridden using a unique style of horsemanship and stockmanship developed during the Mission era of California. These methods became an essential part of California and western U.S. history, and is having a resurgence around the globe.

The techniques and equipment used by the Californios were passed down within family traditions and so secretly guarded they were almost lost to the pages of history.  Preservation and promotion of the original California Bridle & Hackamore horse as well as the skills of the California Vaquero intend to honor & elevate the horse from just a “working animal” to art in motion.

Key elements of this history & stockmanship are shown not only in the specific tack but also in the way it is used – this Andalusian is shown in a rawhide bosal and a horse hair mecate.  The saddle is a modified Visalia 3B with traditional style tapaderos.

Further, the “type” of horse the California Vaqueros used were the Iberian horses brought to North America by Conquistadors and early California’s Missionary Padres in the 18th and 19th Centuries – selected for its intelligence, intuition, physical stamina and athleticism.

The methods of the California Vaquero take much longer to develop a horse, but the end result is a horse who truly knows how to use its body and mind to be fully & quietly connected to its rider under all circumstances and conditions.

#LIKEADANCER


It's been a little while since I photographed anything dance related. So, I was elated that I had the opportunity to photograph the "#likeadancer" show put on by the local Paso Robles High School dance team.

As with many local high school events, there is very little or no funding for sets, costumes and of course photography or videography, but it's a great opportunity to hone your skills in an challenging environment of low variable lighting, and fast movement.

Since this event had several showtimes over the course of three days, I took the opportunity to bring along my videographer Lynn (my wife) to capture each of the performances from a different angle. This is so that I could make a composite video that's much more interesting and feels like 5 different cameras were used to capture it.

Some of the footage is unusable if there are severe inconsistencies in lighting and costumes, but for the most part with some patience and editing, a composite video can be made to look like it's all one performance with closeup and wide angle views. Of course the other option would be to have 5 cameras that are SMPTE time-coded, but I only own one at this time. The other four are on a wish-list somewhere.

The recorded soundtracks of each of the recordings were used to sync them all together. Its very important that they contain the same material. Five mics were used both on stage and in the auditorium to capture the room ambience, and then mixed with the the original soundtracks to create both a 5.1 DTS and DD encoded surround sound audio track.

As the video footage is being shot by my wife, I could focus on photographing each of the performances from different angles to maximize the number of shots of all the individual performers. I find that people do not buy group shots...ever, and so you must try to capture as much close-up and individual shots as possible. Photographing as many performances as possible significantly increases your chances of getting a better selection of individual shots. And if you are unfamiliar with the performance, you will be after the first couple and able to better predict when special moments are to happen. Certainly the workload increases tremendously as you'll have to sort through many more images, but we hope the extra effort is appreciated.

So with over 1600 images ready and a full HD 5.1 and surround sound video in hand, I'm off to load up my website to see what I can sell. By the way, the show was really creative. I loved the reflections from the mirrors used in this particular dance called #rules. 

You can see all the results here.

Paso Robles Park

Working with Juli Brockett of Design Collaborative, this image was commissioned for the new SESLOC bank in Paso Robles.

With only a couple weeks notice, an image had to be shot and able to be printed on metal plate up to 8 feet wide. In order to achieve the desired print size, multiple images would have to be composited. So, on a very cold morning of November 29, 2015, I shot the 18 images that would be used for the composite.

Although there were a few unexpected people in the park, I was able to work around them as they were going through the trash cans for usable items. But, unfortunately I forgot to bring a pair of gloves. And although the sun had just come up over the horizon, my fingers were so cold that I could hardly make any adjustments to the the camera settings.

To see this artwork, please stop by the SESLOC location at 705 Golden Hill Rd, Paso Robles, CA and tell them the photographer sent you.

The printing was done by Photo Printing Pros in Santa Barbara, and the detail is stunning. I highly recommend them for metal print work.

Just Horsin’ Around

Living in Paso Robles, it's hard not to know people that ride or own horses, and see a ranch or ten just a short distance from town. Speckled through the vast acreage of vineyards, equestrian events and shows can be easily found.

After photographing several Junior rodeo events in the past few years, I found I only had to look a short walk down the road to find some pretty awesome equestrian activities that could be really fun to photograph and lead to some sales opportunities.

Before you know it, I shot both adults and kids sorting, barrel racing, roping and other gymkhana events and got some cool shots that were real hits with folks. Here's one of a young lady on the chase showing off her roping talents.

This above photograph uses a technique called "Slow Shutter". Assisted by a tripod, a camera's shutter speed so slowed down to a sweet spot that is related to the tracking speed of your subject. As you move the camera in sync with the subject, and you keep tracking the subject until after the shutter closes, the subject can be somewhat frozen in the foreground with the background moving at the tracking speed. Experiment with different tracking and shutter speeds to see what works best for you.

 Here's another image that was taken at a sorting competition. This particular rider was well educated in horsemanship from a young age, and her style of riding made for some beautiful renditions.

Over the course of about 6-8 months, it's easy to accumulate around 8,000 photos for viewing and purchase. Several became prize winners at the local fair.

There is an incredible amount of work to photograph and post-process images to a professional standard, and of course the subjects love to have them to show off on social media.

But although there was a tremendous amount of website activity to view photos, very few actually made purchases. I found that the majority of people were ignoring copyright laws and screen grabbing even watermarked images and posting them on the internet. So, unfortunately business dictates not putting images online for free, and eventually I just stopped shooting these kinds of events altogether because of it.

And so if your a pro photographer and reading this, and are looking to be compensated for your hard work, I recommend finding clients that will pay to have them professionally photographed. And although this is beautiful and challenging sport to photograph, I'm now leaving it up to the amateurs - cuz that's enough "horsin' around" for me.