Whitney Watson-Wilson guides a bison calf in a reining horse clinic attended, and photographed, by Shuswap Photo Arts Club Noreen Sadiwynk. (Noreen Sadiwynk photo)

Whitney Watson-Wilson guides a bison calf in a reining horse clinic attended, and photographed, by Shuswap Photo Arts Club Noreen Sadiwynk. (Noreen Sadiwynk photo)

Shuswap reining horse clinic makes for study in action photography

Shuswap Photo Arts Club member Noreen Sadiwynk shares experience behind the lens

By Noreen Sadiwynk,

Shuswap Photo Arts Club

A family farm in Salmon Arm, where bison are raised, was the recent site of a reining horse clinic for performance horses.

The instructor, Whitney Watson-Wilson, a world-class medalist with an Equine Science Diploma in western horsemanship (among her many credentials), has many years of experience in the reined cow horse field. Reining is often described as a western form of dressage riding. This clinic teaches the horse and rider several skills such as circles, spins and stops, all while the horse is at a lope/canter or gallop.

At the clinic, the horse and rider had an opportunity to train with a live animal – as shown in the included photo. In it you see Whitney on her horse keeping the bison calf away from the centre of the large arena.

I chose to use my Canon 90D SLR and an 18-135mm 3.5-5.6 zoom lens. It allowed me to zoom in and out as the subjects moved around the arena, keeping them in sight at all times.

I used a “continuous focus” setting, so I did not have to keep re-focusing as they moved in or away from the camera. Setting my camera to take multiple shots allowed me to take several burst shots, which gave me several creative photos for the post-editing process. Keep in mind that choosing a unique camera position can often create more interest or greater impact for your shot. Some of my favourite photos of the horse and bison were taken at ground level. However, one of my greatest challenges was having to shoot through a metal tube fence structure. Imagine remaining remain alert enough to get that unique shot, as the bison and horse galloped around the arena past you.

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Of note, one of the greatest concerns in action photography is making initial note of background clutter you will need to avoid. Arrive at the scene early enough to find your spot, one with the best background for your images, while keeping in mind continuous changing lighting conditions.

I used the raw format to allow for greater freedom in post editing. To freeze the action and ensure my photos would be sharp, I selected aperture priority and ISO ranging between 640 to 1000. In post production there would be only a few adjustments to be made, mostly cropping.

At our Shuswap Photo Arts Club meeting we devote time to topics such as action photography, macro, portrait, night photography and many more. We often invite guest speakers, hold workshops and occasional field trips. Exciting CAPA (Canadian Association for Photographic Art)competitions are open to members of the club too. Join us and decide what kind of photographer you are.

Please remember to enter your photo’s at the Salmon Arm Fall Fair this fall. Cell phone photo’s are acceptable.

To learn more, visit shuswapphotoarts.com, or email spaclub55@gmail.com. Meetings are held the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month, September to May.


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PhotographyShuswap