Horse Breeds at

Photo Tips from Dusty Perin

Our photo contest judge gives advice for creating winning images.

May 2012 Extra

Printer Friendly

Dusty Perin Congratulations to Dusty Perin on winning the American Horse Publications 2013 award for these photo tips in the category of Online Equine-Related Editorial Multimedia Series!

Need some help preparing your entry for the 2012 Horse Illustrated photo contest? This year's judge, professional equine photographer Dusty Perin, is offering some expert advice to help you capture the best image of your horse. Check back every week until the contest entry deadline, June 1, 2012, for a new photography tip from Dusty.

Week 1: A Creative Action Technique Called Panning
I first discovered panning accidentally when I was a horse crazy teenager spectating at a grand prix jumper event in 1970. I had a borrowed Brownie camera in hand, loaded with one roll of black and white film. I stood in awe on the sidelines trying to capture the jumpers as they cleared each fence but the fixed lens and slow shutter speed resulted in mostly blurry images, except for one.

Week 2: Capturing Jumping Action
On a beautiful summer day there is nothing finer than being out on the cross country course at dawn waiting for the first rider to leave the start box. It is easy to create beautiful action images of  horse and rider flying over cross country jumps because this sport typically starts early and ends late giving you the chance to shoot it when the sun is low and  at it’s  most artful angle.

Week 3: Capturing Western Action
From the high speed spins and slides of a reiner, to the unpredictability of team penning and the fast turns of a barrel racer, western equine sports have plenty of action. Catching that action in a photo is fun and challenging for all levels of photographers.

Week 4: The Horse at Liberty
Everyone loves to have pictures of horses running freely. Unfettered by tack or a rider, they look so beautiful as they gallop through a field. Catching that beautiful action with your camera is the ultimate challenge. However, before you try a liberty shoot always consider the safety of the horse and yourself. A horse that is used to being outside and is familiar with the pasture or paddock and frequently runs around on his own is a good candidate.

Week 5: Horses at Play
Horse behavior and horses at play create some really fun action shots. What they will do next is always a surprise; you have to be ready for anything and everything. Remember to follow the basic rules and position yourself for your background and the best angle of light.

Week 6: Shooting Close-ups
Not every scene will have beautiful backgrounds and in spite of your best efforts to scout the perfect angle, you might not find it. When that happens to me, I start thinking in terms of a close-up. There are many creative artistic action photos that can be taken if you start looking closely through your zoomed lens.

Week 7: Taking Show Photos
If you get a great shot at a horse show, be proud of it. Show grounds are the single most difficult spot to take good pictures. Everything is out of your control, the backgrounds are busy and filled with distraction, the angle of light is not always on the prettiest section of the ring and just when you have your shot lined up the ringmaster calls for a change of direction. Learning to work with what you have on any given day is all part of learning to take better pictures.

Week 8: Lens Selection and Composition
The combination of how you hold the camera, where you place your subject and the lens you use can give you hundreds of different results. For instance, you can hold a camera vertically, horizontally or even tilted and the angle of aim can be from below or from above. In addition, there are many lenses or zoom settings to choose from that will each give a different perspective.

Read the contest rules and guidelines and submit your entry at

Check out tips from past Horse Illustrated photo contest judges here.

Printer Friendly

 Give us your opinion on
Photo Tips from Dusty Perin

Submit a Comment   Join Club
Earn 1,000 points! What's this?
Reader Comments

Melanie    Portland, OR

4/20/2014 4:08:27 PM

Great advice for this beginner. Thanks, Dusty

Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

5/15/2013 11:56:31 PM

These look like great tips.

LJK    Payson, UT

5/21/2012 11:06:29 AM

WOW thats good info!!!! Thanks so much!!!!!

Dori    Sanford, ME

3/26/2012 3:00:46 AM

I will be checking back for more grest tips! Thank You Dusty!

View Current Comments

Top Products
Close X