Photography Information

IMG_8050 Photography Information Image
Photography Equipment Recommendations:

Camera Body
Any camera body can be used for photographing the wild horses on Wild Horse Photo Tours, but there are certain camera features that make photographing the wild horses easier.

Choosing a camera body that has a higher frames per second when using continuous shooting mode is highly recommended. Cameras with 6 frames per second (6 fps) or higher are preferred, and 8 fps or higher is best. A fraction of a second can make a large difference in how the horses in an image look, such as a special look in the eye, or the position of the legs and/or hooves, or the interplay between mare and foal, or two horses fighting, mating, running, or playing. The manes of wild horses are often in motion for action images, and are typically “frozen” in your images, so the exact moment of creating an image affects how the flying mane appears in your images. If your camera does not go as high as these fps, do not worry, you will still create some wonderful images of your thrilling wild horse experience!

Choosing a camera that can be set to high ISOs with minimal to no noise issues is recommended. Most wild horse photography occurs with plenty of light thus allowing fast enough shutter speeds to “freeze” the action when that effect is desired. Most of the time, we will photograph with ISO set to either 200 or 400, but occasionally in low light, such as at sunrise and/or sunset we may raise the ISO to 800 or even as high as 1,600.

Either full frame (FX) or APS-C (DX) sensor cameras will work just fine. The extra boost of a magnification/crop factor can make the images during the experience more exciting, which makes the experience more exciting too, but either format works great. Quite often, we will be very close to the wild horses, so either camera body can be a very effective tool.

The wild horses can be anywhere from 6 feet away from us (talk about a THRILL!) to a few hundred yards away or more, and that distance can change very rapidly. Accordingly, the best focal length for lenses can range quite a bit. The best approach for a lens choice is a zoom lens that allows for changing your lens’ focal length very quickly without changing lenses, which takes time. This is especially important because the environment in which we photograph has a lot of dust in the air. For example, a 28-300mm lens can be very useful as it allows for quite a large range in focal length so you can create great images when the wild horses are far away, but also when they approach very close as well. The 28-300mm lens is your Instructor’s favorite lens for photographing the wild horses. Often the very best images are created when the wild horses make a very close approach, and this lens choice allows for quite a range in focal length you to still capture these images when the wild horses come up to us. An 80-400mm or 100-400mm lens can also be a very good choice for photographing the wild horses – just be prepared and have a wider angle lens when the horses come up to shake hooves with you!

Most wild horse images are created under reasonably bright lighting conditions, so your lens does not have to be a “fast” lens with a large wide open aperture, such as f/2.8. A wide open aperture of f/4 or even f/5.6 is fine. In fact, with sufficient light, your aperture will likely be set to f/8 or even f/11 to photograph, which helps ensure that the wild horses are in focus (due to increased depth of field). Most lens also have a sweet spot where they are sharpest between f/8 and f/11.

Image Stabilization (IS), Vibration Reduction (VR), and Optical Stabilization (OS) are all very important features to have in a lens when photographing the wild horses. We are photographing from a moving vehicle at times, or there may be movement of the Pinzgauer even when we are stopped as others in your group shift to photograph or move to get out of the Pinzgauer. We will often be photographing from the range, which allows the wild horses to approach us very closely, and hand holding long lenses while photographing.

On occasion, filters can be useful while photographing wild horses. Polarizing filters can help keep the blue sky darker, can make a rainbow above fighting wild horses more intense, and can make a thunderstorm in the background behind wild horses in your image more dramatic. However, polarizers reduce the amount of light coming into your sensor, so be aware that their use will result in slower shutter speeds, which may in turn affect your ability to “freeze” the action. As such, WHP only recommends using polarizing filters when they provide a useful benefit.

Graduated Neutral Density (GND) filters can also be useful when photographing wild horses under a sunrise or sunset, as they help to control the light, and can allow you to capture great light and still capture details in the wild horses.

Typical Shutter Speed / Aperture / ISO Settings
Typical camera settings for wild horse photography during daylight hours are as follows.
Shutter speed range of 1/500th to 1/2,000th of a second.
Aperture of f/5.6 to f/11.
ISO range of 200 to 800.

If you would like to know more about advanced photography gear recommendations for photographing the wild horses, please contact us and join us for a wild experience on tour with an American Icon of the Wild West – the Wild Horses!