On cross country day at the Puhinui three day event early in December last year, there were a number of photographers on course having a crack at capturing equestrian action for their first time. The three Auckland-based snappers had met through an on-line photography game, Guru Shots. Having a wide portfolio of photos for this is useful so the opportunity to add photos of horse and riders tackling the cross country was too good to miss, especially when it is in your backyard. It was also a great opportunity to actually meet in person, and talk photography!
After being fully briefed on how to keep themselves and the competitors safe, and aware they had to obey the directions of fence judges and cross country controllers, the group started at the water jump from the safety of the arena fence. Once they built up a bit of confidence in knowing what to expect, and I had confidence they were not going to cause chaos, they were let loose out on the rest of the course.
The results were great. They had a great time and got some great shots. I was curious as to how they had found their experience and they have shared their reflections.
Shelley, who did claim some equestrian photography experience, having taken a few photos at a local gymkhana some years ago, jokingly asked if it would be possible to “get rid of the flags on the jumps as they can spoil a good photo!” She loved being able to have easy access to such a prestigious event, including being able to park her car right near the water jump arena. “The horses were magnificent, they are such glorious creatures. The jumps were far bigger than I ever expected – they were huge,” she said. “I loved the experience.”
Ana also loved the venue and what she saw. “It was great to see the families and friends out supporting the riders. I loved being able to walk around and get photos from different places. Everyone was very helpful, from the parking attendant through to the jump judges.” Ana was particularly impressed with Tom Lane’s commentary. “He was so funny, and it was interesting to find out a bit about the riders.”
She too was struck by how much expertise was required. “There were some great skills shown, especially tackling those drops and the water jump – that was something else.”
Enzo also really appreciated and enjoyed the laid-back nature of the event. “Everyone on the course was so friendly and accommodating compared to other high-level sport I’ve shot.”
Enzo probably had one of the biggest lenses on course, up there with Libby Law. “My lens was obviously a talking point – it was only my second week of owning it and I was itching to use it even if the size of the horses and jumps meant trying to fit everything I wanted to capture into a frame presented a few challenges! There’s probably a very good reason or ten why the pros on course all had much more sensible looking kits.”
But in saying that, he wouldn’t change a thing though. “The power and grace of the horses and the skill and application of the riders make this a sport like no other both to photograph and to take in up close. I’m hooked and already planning my next trip to a cross country day.”
Favourite photos from Enzo
Favourite photos from Ana
Favourite photos from Shelley