We took on a commission for Mike Davies at ‘Performance Horse Vets’ in Gloucestershire, to provide images for a vehicle wrap, as well as a miscellaneous selection for their website and promotional purposes.
A quick meeting over a cup of coffee down in Gloucestershire and the remit agreed. The side of the van needed a dynamic image depicting movement, and the rear of the van should be an image of the rear of the horse. Ultimately Mike wanted eye-catching images. The horse would be Hellvelyn, a beautiful grey stallion, provided by Bucklands Farm & Stud, under the expert supervision & handling of manager Roisin Close.
The challenge with this shoot was that we would be capturing a horse on the move with our studio lighting and we also knew the images needed to be bang-on sharp as they would be subject to close scrutiny on the van. Quality would be paramount.
With no indoor area available, we decided to shoot at dusk time in the evenings to help cut down the ambient light and used a black backdrop several metres wide to give us some room to play with. This would help to give us images ‘out of the can’ and would make the image refinement work minimal.
The first task was to get the images for the rear of the van, which proved quite straight forward with Hellvelyn giving us the pose we needed without much prompting.
As a remit, this was always going to take a bit of work to capture movement on a ‘still’ image. What we ended up with was an image that was less about movement but had a lot to do with a ‘Dynamic’, an ‘Energy’!
With Ashlee (From Performance Horse Vets), and Roisin working with us as a team to get everything set up, we set about the task. We had to start with getting him to work his way around the ménage untethered and to see what he did naturally. All the time, as a team we were all conscious of each other’s safety.What we weren’t sure about was how Hellvelyn would pose, how he would ‘show’. A beautiful horse no doubt, but how would we capture him at his best and meet the remit?
One of the obvious ways to get the images showing movement would have been to get the horse jumping hurdles. However, Hellvelyn was a ‘flat’ racehorse (of some pedigree I might add), and whilst quick on the ground was not about to start jumping over anything.
After several images of Hellvelyn trotting around, and a few with him rearing up, we still didn’t have ‘the’ image. He was also tiring a little too, so we set about a re-visit and a re-think and decided to come back and try again another night.
Having slept on it, I thought we were best to focus on his movements as he changed direction. We were back in the ménage for a second night, but this time restricting Hellvelyn’s movement. By confining him he was having to change his direction more frequently and he finally presented himself … giving us that moment!
It’s always a slightly nervy time between viewing the image on the back of the screen and getting it loaded onto the PC and checking that it’s sharp in the right places. It obviously was. We went through the selection process with other images also thrown into the hat for the customer to review. After careful consideration, Mike, Ashlee & Roisin made their decision, which to my delight was my favourite image from the shoot.
Above all, the pose conveyed the 'dynamic' that we were after. The eye was was perfect, giving the viewers eye somewhere to settle in the image. But then there was more to explore. The detail was great with every hair around the edge nice and crisp, but the bonus for me was the pumping veins all showing around his neck and chest ... perfect!
The next stage of this job was out of our hands. The images were provided to their graphic designer and the vehicle wrap production company. Once we had the news we paid Mike, Ashlee & Roisin another visit to see the van and get some images of the final result.
We were very excited to see how the images had come out. We were as pleased as the team at Performance Horse Vets were with the outcome. Hellvelyn even got in the act to meet his life-size image.
As well as making it an enjoyable shoot, a special thanks in particular to Ashlee & Roisin for their efforts, skill and patience.