SkyLimit Photography: Blog en-us (C) SkyLimit Photography (SkyLimit Photography) Wed, 30 May 2018 15:18:00 GMT Wed, 30 May 2018 15:18:00 GMT SkyLimit Photography: Blog 120 80 Stars, Woodlands, and Goal Posts This month I've had a massive variety in the work that I've been doing, although it's all been horse orientated I've been doing a little more than just shooting continuous dressage or the odd bits of show jumping that I do each month. Firstly a few of you will have seen the result of my creative day on a course with Malcolm Snelgrove from Wild Tor Media at Badminton horse trials from the start of the month. I spent the day playing with weird angles, capturing up close athleticism, and generally seeing how far I could push my skills and equipment. My artistic process doesn't tend to have much ryhme or reason, I turn up to an event, warm up with some "standard shots" (Usually just average portraits, flatwork images, jumping shots, the standard everyday stuff), this settles me in, takes any pressure off, sharpens my focus (pun totally intended), then the cogs start turning. I get a funny look in my eye when I start looking for a shot, I'm usually staring at something with a weird intensity while my brain is processing what possibilities are presented before me. This weirdness is evident in most "arty" photographers, yes we're weird, no we don't care if you've spot us rolling around to get into shooting position, this is how we work, because when we have a camera in our hands we lose all sense of normal social behavior and for some reason it doesn't bother us.... 
Anyway, back on topic! With it being cross country day with splendidly sunny weather, the crowds around most fences were massive, it made getting the shots I wanted quite tricky, but I was able to work with what I had and occasionally worm my way to the front of some crowds. I played with several different ideas and this is what I came up with:


After the excitement of 4* eventing I was brought back down to Earth with the wonderful quietness of horsemanship to shoot a level 1 TREC competition at Berriwood Farm. The morning was spent on the POR (The orienteering phase of TREC) where I was positioned in a fairytale woodland surrounded by bluebells, wild garlic, and a gentle stream with a wooden bridge crossing over it. You really don't get much better than that for a morning's work! The afternoon was then spent photographing the water crossing for the PTV (the obstacle phase of the competition, to test the horses obedience and present a horse with things they may meet out hacking). I seemed to be in luck with yet more glorious weather, and my flappy sunhat that I had bought at Badminton the week before enjoyed an outing with me. This competition was mainly attended by people who were new to the sport, wanting to have a go and see what it was all about, and by the end of the day there were lots of smiley faces of people who couldn't wait for the next competition!


My third weekend of the month was a total contrast, and I got to cover something which I have never photographed before: polo. It's a totally different ball game (I'm on a roll with these puns today), I had had a little practice run with some evening chukkas a week earlier, but this was far faster, and way more furious. I managed to dodge being taken out by a polo ball the entire time I was there which I think is quite the achievement and felt like I captured all the right moments while still putting my individual spin on the work produced. Enough about me though, this wouldn't have been possible without the hard work of Major Terry Warburton and his family for setting up such the wonderfully welcoming Moor Farm Polo Club in Baschurch, or without my good friend and exceptional photographer, Steve Wall (who is their regular official photographer) sending the work my way and trusting me with his 200-400mm lens and monopod, I really can't thank him enough for the opportunity.



I hope you've enjoyed seeing what I've been up to this month, who knows what next month will bring!


Stay creative,

Emma :)

(SkyLimit Photography) arena artists badminton badminton horse trials berriwood british british dressage british summer business change competition creative cross country day in the life dressage equine equine photography fine art horses moor farm moor farm polo club nikon photography photoshoots playing polo polo club shropshire skylimit photography summer trec water Wed, 30 May 2018 14:32:57 GMT
April Madness The past few months have been incredibly hard both creatively and financially, thanks to heavy snowfall, bitterly cold days, and a large number of event cancellations due to weather conditions, there's been a feeling of never ending despair among the horse community as the rain continued to fall, our fields turned to swamps, water buckets constantly froze as our numbed fingers carried water in containers, and there seemed to be constant posts about events being postponed and abandoned, it's felt like all hope was lost. I was beginning to scrape at loose ends as my funds were drying up, my income is entirely dependent on competition coverage, and also starting to doubt my ability as a photographer and artist as a result of no work (Our minds work is strange ways sometimes....). But with the sudden influx of dry weather and warmer days, my diary exploded this month with long show days booked in, and with this sudden influx, my mindset instantly improved. It started with an Easter show at S&G equine, featuring a fancy dress class and a number of show jumping classes, and then into a manic weekend of British Dressage and unaffiliated dressage at Reaseheath, seeing me shooting 10 and a half hours on the Saturday, from Prelim to PSG, and the Sunday with 6 hours of dressage, I finished the weekend with around 1600 images, processed and online by the Monday afternoon. My fire felt restored after going flat out for 3 days, and hearing various compliments about my past work from competitors, those kind words often mean the world to me and can often turn a bad day into a good one. 

The following weekend was a monster 4 day dressage weekend, beginning with following Anna Brown to Hartpury for the BD winter championships, where to competed Midnight II in the Novice gold, and Bocelli in the Advanced Medium silver where they placed 6th, it was great to take in the atmosphere and soak up some serious competition, but a long and exhausting day, I left the house at 6am and later returned at 6pm. Saturday was an easy day of Team Quest at Reaseheath, starting at 9am and finsihing at 3pm, which meant I was able to get photos online the same day, before I headed to S&G equine for dressage on Sunday and Monday. Photos were online from those two events by the Monday evening, and I grabbed myself a well needed glass of wine to celebrate surviving all that dressage!

For the final week of this month I've covered two camps ('tis the season for rider camp!) one on Monday 23rd at S&G, a dressage camp coached by Samantha Morrison, and then I camped with riders for the final weekend of this month at Somerford Park Farm for TREC camp. To say I was cold while camping would be an understatement, but the sense of adventure makes it all worth it.
  I'm now feeling back on top, ready to take on the madness that May will bring, with a visit to Badminton horse trials, unaffiliated dressage, a Polo weekend, show jumping, combined training and a Level 1 TREC competition. Bring. It. On!

Stay creative,

Emma :)

(SkyLimit Photography) 2018 advanced medium advanced medium silver anna brown anna brown dressage april april madness arena artists british british dressage business busy charlotte dujardin competition creative day in the life dressage equine hartpury hartpury winter championships horses naf nikon novice novice gold photography photoshoots playing reaseheath reaseheath equestrian centre s&g equine shropshire skylimit photography somerford somerford park farm travel photography trec trec camp water winter Tue, 01 May 2018 11:43:13 GMT
Documenting Emotion Growing up around horses, I would regularly visit horse auctions with my mum, learning how to pick out the right horses, how to read between the lines, spotting those tell tale signs of a dodgy dealer, soaking up the strange atmosphere of smells, sounds and emotions. It used to be my favourite thing in the world, casting my gaze over the wide variety of horses that ended up treading the walkways of metal pens, breathing in that sweet mix of horse and shavings, the echoing of the auctioneers voice, occasionally interrupted by a horse neighing, or eventually ending with the undeniable sound of a that wooden hammer coming down to finalise a sale. But I always felt a small amount of sadness, watching these horses who had been unfortunate enough to end up walking through the judging gaze of potential buyers, the loud hum of voices, fellow horses crying out as they left the pens for the auction ring, the unfamiliar smells; some horses showed distress, some had a dead yet knowing look in their eyes, while others continued to walk with in their handler, trusting them with every step. 
Towards the end of March I decided to take a trip to the Brightwells auction in Hereford for one of my "creative days" with the idea of just playing with different shots. Upon arriving at the auction pens, camera in hand, I was overcome with a heavy emotion, there was a sadness in the air that lingered with me, and I knew in this moment exactly how I would document my trip, telling a story of emotion with my images. 
Deep down I know that auctions hold a place for horses who no longer have a home or a purpose, sometimes it's a last resort for an owner who can no longer look after their horse for various reasons, or for a horse that they have been unable to sell. For others, it's a quick fix to get rid of an unwanted animal, but this day, I felt every emotion and it hurt. Below are a small selection of images, telling a story of the feelings I felt this day, please try and view them with your heart first. 

Please note, this is on no way a dig at Brightwells or any other auctioneer company, this is simply my way of telling the story of my emotions on a particular day.

Stay creative,

Emma :)

(SkyLimit Photography) auction brightwells british creative documentary photography emotion equine equine photography feelings hereford horse auction horses livestock auction march nikon photography playing shropshire skylimit photography spring story telling winter Mon, 09 Apr 2018 15:13:47 GMT
Adrenaline Rush Although the first weekend of this month consisted of a long, but calm weekend's dressage, my second weekend was in stark contrast to the idea of relaxations and steadiness. I was one of the team of photographers who had been contacted to help cover the Golden Button Challenge, a challenge more than a race, covering just under 3 miles of old turf over 25 fences, consisting of rails, hedges, and ditches (Some ditches with meaty hedges behind them!). The going up until the Friday before the event had been perfect, but heavy rainfall overnight had riders feeling worried. 
As game day dawned, riders loaded their horses into trailers and boxes, not knowing what the day would bring, only in the knowledge that the event that lay before them would be hugely taxing on both horse and jockey, all preparations had been made, the only thing to do was ride and ride well.
I was positioned nearer the finish at fence 21, a large hedge (but certainly not the largest on course) with plenty of space to get at, it was however, entering the more twisty part of the course, with riders having to snake back on themselves after tackling fence 20, the previous hedge. Horses would be tiring at this point so their jockeys would have to be riding even more precisely to nurse their tired steeds over the final few jumping efforts before home, all while dodging empty saddles and battling fatigue themselves. 
Crowds gathered as the start time neared, large clumps of people claiming the best viewing spots as we saw a large field of 40+ riders and their keen mounts being guided to the start by a member of hunt staff dressed in scarlet, it was a picture to behold as coats glistened, eyes sparkled, and riders donned brave faces for the challenge that lay ahead of them. 
As I heard the commentary voiced in the distance that the horses were off and galloping, I waited in tension for horses to appear; it felt like an eternity, but when riders appeared, my shooting window felt like it passed in the blink of an eye. 
The first riders to pass me were Yvonne Goss (This years winner) and Rowan Peters (2nd place), battling it out for 1st place, and they rode with both ferocity and finesse, the rest of the field then dripped through in clumps, tackling my allocated fence in a mish-mash of styles, some battered through the top of the hedge at a gallop, others jumped neatly as if on a cross country course, this ride had attracted a wide range of riders, from jockeys, to hunting enthusiasts, to team chasers, and eventers. If you wanted an adrenaline buzz, this was the place to be!
So, without further delay, I will give you what you've all been waiting for: Photos! 


The field of brave riders making their way to the start behind scarlet coats Yvonne Goss and Rowan Peters battling for first place This rider took a moment to cuddle their horse for all his hard work! A selection of styles over this hedge A selection of styles over this hedge A selection of styles over this hedge A selection of styles over this hedge A selection of styles over this hedge Samantha Clarke praising her horse, Lucky, after tackling fence 21

Stay creative,

Emma :)

(SkyLimit Photography) 2018 british business competition country sports creative equine golden button golden button 2018 golden button challenge golden button challenge 2018 golden button challenge photos 2018 golden button photos golden button photos 2018 horse racing horses nikon photography playing race rowan peters shropshire skylimit photography winter yvonne goss Fri, 02 Mar 2018 16:29:59 GMT
Wilderness Last month I enjoyed a visit to a country I never really thought of as a holiday destination: Iceland. It was a last minute decision between me and my partner because of the cheap flight deals on easyjet, and we found 50% off camper vans with an Icelandic company called Camp Easy (I feel like there's an easy theme here...) 
Flight day arrived on 9th January, an early start of 5:30am, and we nearly missed our flight because we thought we had more time than we actually did (Whoops! Lesson learned.), having to run to our gate, arriving gasping and sweaty in winter clothing, it was just our luck that we caught the tail end of the queue before departure. And so, our journey to the land of ice had begun. Our flight went smoothly and we arrived in Keflavíc an hour early, only to be told we would be unable to get off the plane due to high winds preventing the ground equipment being brought due to safety concerns. It felt like an age sitting and waiting, muscles tight and aching from being sat still for far too long, but eventually we were able to touch base on Icelandic soil with our own two feet, before climbing aboard a bus to Reyjavík (Pronounced: Rake-ya-vik), and then eventually a transfer bus to our hotel, The Oddsson, which was more of a hostel than a hotel. It had an easy vibe, with soft neon lighting, a boheimian style bar, and pastel greens and pinks dominating their theme. Our room was very small, but comfortable and cosy with two big dormer windows, whcih gave an exquisite view of the night sky. Once we'd put our bags in our room it was time to stretch our stiff legs and hit downtown Reyjavík, seeing what this foreign city had to offer. 
The first thing that struck me was the amount of high quality street art, huge designs spanning the entire sides of buildings, with immense detail and creativity, they really caught the eye, to be found in all sorts of surprising places.
Situated on a harbor, tucked away behind a wall of mountains, Reyjavík is a well sheltered town with an abundance of activity, shops tend to open their doors later in the day, and shut late at night, the rich smells of different restaurants dishes drift through the air as the cold reddens your cheeks. This was a city moving ahead quickly, there was never limited options of what to eat, with a surprising number of vegetarian and vegan options at almost every restaurant. Although the atmosphere was very Icelandic, there were strong American influences, with an abundance of American and Canadian tourists visiting each year. One of my favorite things about this city was the book shops that doubled as coffee shops, meaning you could browse the book shelves and if you like the look of a particular book, you could sit down with a coffee and begin reading (Excellent if you're a fussy reader and need to get the flavor of a book before buying!). One of these shops had a resident cat by the name of Tissy, whom me and my boyfriend (Jack) ended up following as he lead us to chair that he wished to sit in to be fussed over (Is it obvious I'm a cat person?) This cat definitely knew how to make the most of the tourists! 
We enjoyed our first 4 days in the capital, making the most of the wide number of museums, admiring the fine architecture of some of the buildings, walking for miles each day, and trying a different cuisine each night - Our favorite was "Noodle Station", a restaurant that served an excellent portion of noodle soup, with your choice of chicken, beef, or vegetables, for a small cost of 1200Kr, one of the cheapest restaurants we could find with the best portion sizes. 

When the time came to pick up our campervan on the Saturday, we had seen enough of the city and were itching to hit the open road, we did some shopping at a local supermarket, stocking up on cheap foods such as beans, rice, and porridge, to feed ourselves without breaking the bank. One food we found was considerably cheaper than other foods in it's category was tomatoes. Why, I hear you ask? Well, the Icelandics have several large greenhouses towards the South of the island in which they grow tomatoes, which light up the night sky like a ball of flame and are powered by geothermal power (which is the case for a majority of Iceland). These were quite the spectacle, you could see them from miles away, like beacons of civilisation in the distance of a long dark road. One of these greenhouses was situated next to The Secret Lagoon in Flúðir, which gave an incredibly surreal experience, the greenhouse made the night sky glow yellow and it's light lit the steam up as it rose into the bitter air. At one point snow began to bucket down, sheets of it caught in the light above the greenhouse, as we bathed in the heat of the natural hotsprings our faces burned as icy snow the skin and our bodies stayed warm in the sulfuric waters, a phenomenally weird experience of mixed sensations and scenes!

Once we had our hands on the wheel of the camper, we headed down the south coast, shocked at the change in weather as we climbed over the mountain range that sheltered Reyjavik. It had been milder in the city, with no sign of snow, but up here there was a blizzard, we could barley see where we were going. Turns out, we were going to see a lot of this as we travelled the coast, covering ice plains, mountains, gale force winds, snow drifts, and freezing conditions. But the adventure was more than worth it, we discovered stunning waterfalls, vast open plains, quaint towns, black sand beaches with untamable waves (Check out Vík for this!), breathtaking mountain ranges, cheeky Icelandic horses who were hardier than I ever thought possible, hidden caves with stories of early settlers, and a sense of freedom that one only gets when you visit a land so vast and untamed that you can't help but feel humbled and small. It's a country I would recommend to anyone, the people are warm and welcoming, the landscapes are something that a camera can never do justice (Believe me, I tried my best!!) and the nature of the country will leave you in awe. 
Below are a small selection of images taken while we were there, but keep an eye on Facebook and Instagram for more over the coming weeks, enjoy!


One of the first images taken on our trip, driving towards Flúðir The Secret Lagoon at Flúðir, picturing the greenhouses illuminating rising steam from the hot springs Seljalandsfoss, a waterfall along the south coast a few miles outside of Flúðir Scenery around Seljalandsjelfoss. Their skies were something else!! Another pit stop a miles west of Vik, behind me was a stunning waterfall, but thise scene made for more exciting images. Snow at Seljalandsfoss at night, I liked how weird and abstract this image is, giving you an idea of the icy winds whipping snow past your face. Sunrise on the road, Icelandic horses steadfast in the snow. Exploring caves in the south, what a find! Here you can see the snow drifts can regularly swept through the open landscapes

(SkyLimit Photography) 2018 adventure blacksand beaches business camp camp easy change competition creative dramatic easy easy jet easyjet flúðir holiday holiday plans ice iceland iceland holiday icelandic horses icelandic waterfall landscape landscape photography nikon photography playing road trip roadtrip seljalandsfoss skylimit photography snow snow drift the secret lagoon travel photography vik waterfall where to visit in iceland winter Wed, 07 Feb 2018 12:52:27 GMT
If not now, then when? At the start of December, a large number of us saw more snow fall than we have seen for years, the countryside was filled with a magical, white silence, while the roads became treacherous, leaving a number of people with days off work, myself included. One weekend I had been booked to cover two days of competition at Reaseheath, I was waiting to see if the shows we're going to run ahead when I received a message from a friend of mine (Rebekah) who owns a beautiful Fell pony stallion going by the affectionate name of Peanut, stating that she had always wanted to to a shoot in the snow with him but she hadn't really had plans to do one so soon! I suggested that if the show I was booked to do the next day was cancelled, we could go ahead with a shoot. Well my luck was in, within the hour I saw Reaseheath had been forced to cancel due to heavy snowfall forecast, so I messaged Rebekah to let her know that I was available and we decided on a time to go ahead with. I was so excited, I had hundreds of ideas going through my head over the course of the evening and the next morning, this was possibly the most last minute shoot I had organised, but spontaneity keeps things interesting and I love a last minute plan!
I enjoyed chatting while Rebekah groomed Peanut's mass of black mane and made him look show ready in a matter of minutes (The advantage of a black pony!). We headed down to the most picturesque part of the yard, where she let on to a few insecurities she had about being in front of the camera, a common concern among clients before their first shoot. It's understandable, a lens focusing entirely on you can be incredibly daunting, but once you start to interact with your horse you soon forget I'm there, you relax, and shots just pour out as you move organically around the horse, enjoying spending time with him. 
We had so much fun exchanging ideas and testing them out, some worked, others didn't, but the shots that didn't quite work evolved into new ideas that did work. Rebekah's relationship with her horses really shone through during shooting, there was an energy of connection and understanding between this combination that just radiated off them. Peanut was incredibly obliging of everything he was asked to do, from cantering in hand, carrying a cloaked rider, playing at liberty, and even cantering towards me up a snowy track, all this made even more impressive by the fact that he hasn't long been broken in. 

This shoot was last minute, there had been an idea stewing for some time but the wheels never got put into motion until finite circumstances arose. So many people say that they'd love to do a shoot but because of X,Y,Z reasons they haven't gotten around to booking it. But what if you suddenly had a limited time only, or looked back in regret when you lose your equine partner? Why keep putting off something that you've always dreamed of?
One common excuse is affordability, to combat this, I offer packages to suit almost any budget, with the option to space payments out over several months if necessary. My packages range from budget portrait shoots starting at £50.00, all the way up to half day shoots at £320.00. There is an option for everyone, because I believe that everyone deserves the chance to be a model in front of the camera with their horse, and to receive stunning images to be treasured for a lifetime. 
"But what if my horse doesn't behave!" or "I'm not very photogenic!" If your horse doesn't behave that just creates more unique shots, it makes for a more exciting shoot and gives us even more to work with, not to mention it's more fun! And everyone seems to underestimate how good they really look, anyone can look gorgeous in front of a camera, the distraction of a horse to interact with takes away the need to think about posing and what your face is doing, and with a few directions and angle changes you'd be surprised how fantastic you and your horse with look in the finished images. Photography is art, simple as that, and a photographer's job is to create those artistic images that tell a story time and time again, that's all a photoshoot is; it's telling the story of you and your equine partner, capturing it in an artistic light. Stop putting it off, because one day you'll look back in regret at the things that you didn't do. Whatever your anxieties are, drop me an email to discuss, there's no pressure to book anything, but placing an inquiry is the first step in doing that thing that you've always talked about. 2018 is the year of doing, so let's stop talking and start doing.

Stay creative,

Emma :)

(SkyLimit Photography) 2017 arena artists bookings british british dressage business change competition creative dressage equine fell pony stallion horses nikon photography photoshoots playing ramelia images shropshire skylimit photography snow snow shoot stallion water winter Wed, 03 Jan 2018 17:56:49 GMT
Rejuvinate The past few months have been full of rigorous routine, keeping horses fit has been at the center of it, and with the days becoming shorter and shorter, my mojo has been at an all time low. I feel like I'm stuck in the mud with creativity, struggling to see new shots, going through the motions when covering events, it's all felt too stationary for my liking. I struggled to even get into my groove on a day's hunting, finding myself focusing more on getting in the right place at the right time, than putting my energy into creating art. It didn't feel like me. 
During a sudden buzz of energy on the way back from a day's dressage coverage, an idea awoke within me, a lightbulb moment to help me out of this rut. What if I shot completely out of my comfort zone? What if I stepped back from my usual themes and changed my subjects about a little? So I set about creating a December photo challenge for myself. I scoured google images and saved lots of different photo challenges, and began to write out my own plan, taking whichever prompt caught my eye for each day, I would be forced to shoot every day, with a vague prompt that pushed me to think more creatively, no more going through the motions shooting the exact same stuff over and over. I'm hoping this will inject a little bit of life back into my work and get me back on track. 
I will be sharing the image I choose each day, sharing it both on my Facebook and my Instagram, a way of both keeping me accountable and sharing with you all what I'm up to. It would be wonderful to have a few of you join in too (If the mood takes you!) and I'd love to share them to my Instagram story, to give everyone else a little joy and inspiration at this time of year. Who knows, it could even help someone else out of a rut! If you'd like to join in and share you images with me, please tag me in your photos on Instagram, and use the hashtag #skylimitdecemberchallenge it would be wonderful to get a few people in on this - Even if you decide to join in later along the month!

Here you can see the theme for each day, feel free to save this as a reference or as a challenge for yourself at another point in time.

Stay creative!

Emma :)

(SkyLimit Photography) 2017 british british dressage business change christmas competition creative december photo challenge december photography challenge dressage equine fun horses mojo nikon photography photoshoots playing shropshire skylimit photography water winter Thu, 30 Nov 2017 19:22:18 GMT
Cattle and Canines During September and October, I had the chance to enjoy two very different private shoots that were a little step away from my usual competition and equine photography. One, a photoshoot with some gorgeous Holkin Shorthorn cattle, and the second shooting dogs doing what they do best; playing! 
Each month brings me something different, and I'm always willing to give it a go, testing my skills and adding my own personal touch into the images, these varied shoots really keep me on my toes and keep my creativity fresh. 

It took a few minutes for the cattle to really get used to me and my strange, black clicking box, but after a while, I was surrounded. It gave me the chance to work with close ups, testing the narrower aperture of my new portrait lens (85mm prime), and use my smaller 18-55mm to create a little more distortion, allowing me to play further with the angles. 

The next shoot proved to be a little more challenging as I'm used to a much larger subject which makes for a much bigger area to focus on at speed. However with some tracking tweaks and a little bit of warming up, we were away. My subjects were more than willing to run back and forth repeatedly after various balls, zooming to and fro. It made for a really fun shoot, and being an out and out animal lover I felt right at home surrounded by speeding four legged friends.


I'm always willing to give anything a go, it's the only way to grow as a photographer. If you've got something you'd like me to shoot, just drop me an email, I'd love to see what my next challenge will be!

Stay creative,

Emma :)

(SkyLimit Photography) 2017 85mm 85mm prime lens business cattle change country living countryside photography creative dog portrait dogs holkin hounds nikon photography photoshoots playing portrait lens rural rural photographer rural photography shorthorn shropshire skylimit photography Wed, 01 Nov 2017 17:51:37 GMT
In Darkness As the nights draw in and the last of the summer shows are drawing to an end, we as photographers are faced with yet another challenge; low light photography. We are plagued by the disaster that is poor focal ability and potentially high noise images, making for an incredibly stressful evening's work. In this blog entry, I thought it would be a good idea at this time of year to give a few pointers on how I cope with low light conditions while photographing horses in motion. 

Firstly, I would like to mention that I am shooting with a Nikon D4s, a camera with excellent low light capabilities, which does help my case for these conditions (One of my main reasons for a camera upgrade last year), but these techniques will apply to different cameras as well.
We must initially find, through trial and error, which ISO we are willing to go to, obviously with a higher ISO we create more noise within the image. (For the real geeks among you, image noise is caused by statistical quantum fluctuations, which is a variation in the number of photons sensed at a given exposure level.) Some photographers will be happier with a higher level of noise than others, and some will have a better method for noise reduction in post processing, it is all up to personal opinion and your camera's capabilities for what your ISO "threshold" will be. Personally, I refuse to go about 5000 ISO as I feel that I start to lose quality after this point, some photographers may be better than me for getting more out of the camera, whereas others may consider this too high, personal opinion and skill level is the main factor here. 
This image was taken last winter, while I was still learning how to deal with low light. Note, high noise and low image quality. Not a shot I was particularly happy with.
The next step is to consider what your lowest shutter speed can be, this is greatly depends on your subject. For example, if you are shooting static subjects, or landscapes, while using a tripod, you can drop your shutter speed as low as you would like without the risk of motion blur. However for a moving subject, and depending on their speed, you might avoid anything too low. I personally will not go below 1/640 for horses, as I feel anything less than this could allow for motion blur. I like my images sharp, and in good conditions like to have a shutter speed of 1/1000 or above.

I have saved the most flexible corner of the exposure triangle for last; your aperture. Measured with F-stops, the aperture controls how much light is let through the aperture ring inside the camera, this is a hole that opens wider or narrower, depending on your setting. A larger F-stop will create a smaller hole, allowing less light into the camera, but opening up the depth of field to take more into focus. A smaller F-stop will create a much larger hole, allowing more light into the camera, but closing down the depth of field. Generally a standard full frame zoom lens cannot go lower than F2.8, this gives you a lot of room to allow more light into the camera, but you will need to make sure you're an accurate photographer as you can miss out on your sharpness if focal accuracy is a weak point for you. I very rarely go past F3.5, but desperate times call for a lower aperture!

Another trick I like to use, and commonly use in my day to day shooting is "Active D-lighting", this is a setting that optimizes high contrast images when detail is lost through harsh shadows and highlights, it does slightly flatten the image, but allows more scope for the camera's exposure without sacrificing for noise or motion blur. The flattened look is easily fixed through basic post processing. It is a tool that can help when shooting indoors or in general low light conditions. 

As for particular shooting techniques, you need to look for your light. Look where it's landing the most strongly to give your camera the best chance to pick up as much information as possible. When I was covering dressage on Tuesday night, there were two floodlights on the arena, one on either side. My best places to shoot were where the lights landed at their harshest, or where the two light pools overlapped. Again, this stage can be trial and error, as the camera perceives light differently to how our eye does. Sometimes your best option is to take multiple shots in different places to find where the camera picks up the best light. 
When shooting in darkness, your camera will struggle to pick up focal points, especially with a dark subject, at any chance you have, aim for very light or white points on your subject as your focal point, the camera is far more likely to pick up on this and lock on, making your job as a photographer slightly easier. Luckily, as a competition photographer, I often have a white numnah or bright pair of breeches to focus on! 

Taken earlier this week, image quality has hugely improved, even with a black horse! The white point of the numnah and breeches made for an easy focal point.

My final tip for you all, would be experiment and play. That's the only way to learn and find your style, figure out what works and what doesn't and you'll find a method that works for you.
Experimenting in low light can yield some super results, playing is the best thing you can do to improve your skills

Stay creative,



*If you've enjoyed this blog entry and would like to see more tutorial style entries, or if there's a particular subject you'd like me to cover, let me know in the comments below!

(SkyLimit Photography) 2017 british british dressage business competition creative dressage equine exposure grain hartpury horses image grain image noise iso low light low light photography low light tutorial nikon noise photography photography tutorial photoshoots playing skylimit photography technique tutorial Sun, 01 Oct 2017 18:30:00 GMT
Flexin' I'm always going on about how my line of work can be very unpredictable, and I regularly end up with an unexpected call or email, asking me if I'll shoot something I haven't done before. Well, this month was no different. At the end of July, I received a WhatsApp message from Richard Foster (Owner of Strom Sports Nutrition, in Shrewsbury) and Kate Theodore, one of his clients, asking if I would be interested in doing a fitness photoshoot. I'll be totally honest, initially I panicked a little, but after some careful thought, and a pep talk from my partner, I decided to take the chance, after all, it's an idea I had been dabbling with in my head for a few months now.
Messages were passed back and forth, going over shoot specifics, potential locations, equipment requirements, etc. I took a day to look around multiple gyms in the area, asking the owners if they would be interested in letting me use their gym as a potential shoot location, each and every one seemed very keen on the idea, which made me feel even more excited about the shoot. In the end, I decided upon an independent Shrewsbury gym, Pukka gym. It had the lovely old school weight plates which I had hoped for, with clean machines which still carried character, white walls, plenty of space to work with, and a generally welcoming and relaxed atmosphere. It was perfect. I arranged potential dates with my client, Kate, then called Christina at Pukka gym to settle on a date and time with her. 
The next step was equipment. I knew that I wanted to work with off camera flash to bring the vision in my head to life, and I knew just the man who could help me. The immensely talented photographer, and good friend of mine, Steve Wall. I popped the question about borrowing his flash equipment, mentioning that I'd need some tutoring as it was something that was totally alien to me, having only ever used an on camera speedlight very basically before and he was more than happy to help me out, I think by the time shoot day came around, he was almost as excited as I was!
I also had to research which lens I would need, my usual 70-200mm would be far too big to work with in the tight spaces of a gym, and my 18-55mm wouldn't be good enough to create the high quality images in low light that I needed. In the end, I settled on a 24-70mm lens, which I hired from Hireacamera, they provided an excellent service, the lens arrived in great condition the week before the shoot, plenty of support over the phone, and clear instructions on how to return the lens when the hire was up.

The night before the shoot I was buzzing with excitement, all the plans had been laid, the gym had been booked, Steve was coming along to help as a lighting assistant for the shoot, the equipment was prepped, all the was left was to get a good night's rest and have my game face on for shooting the next day.

I arrived 15 minutes early to set the equipment up and have another look around the gym, planning the shoot in my head a little more and getting those creative juices flowing. This also helps to calm my nerves, I always feel a little nervous with anticipation before a shoot, but as soon as the camera starts firing, I relax straight into it. 
We had a brilliant shoot, playing with different lighting techniques, working lat pull downs, leg press, squat rack, deadlifts, bicep curls, tricep push downs, and lateral raises, as well as some posing work. Kate was a total professional to work with, and had a fun, bubbily personality, we had a wonderful time. 

Below are just a small selection of my favourite images from the shoot, I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed creating them!

If anyone is interesting in booking a shoot like this, please don't hesitate to contact me to discuss requirements, I'd love to hear from you!

Stay creative,

Emma :)


(SkyLimit Photography) 2017 business change fitness fitness photography flash health lifting model nikon off camera flash photography pukka pukka gym pukka gym shrewsbury skylimit photography steve wall equestrian photography Tue, 05 Sep 2017 10:03:30 GMT
Living Wild In May of this year, I decided that I wanted to photograph the semi-wild ponies that inhabit the Long Mynd, Shropshire. Although I love the detailing in clean tack and glistening coats, my creativity craved something a little more rough and ready, with filthy textures of untamed manes, and winter coats which were just hanging on as the summer coat was forcing it's way through. 
I drove up to Jinlye, where I had frequently seen several small bands of ponies enjoying their feral lifestyle, grazing peacefully upon this natural landscape, and on this particular day I was in luck as there were at least 3 herds in the area, made even more exciting by the presence of several young foals on the ground. I wandered my way down the hill, camera at my hip, a backpack over my shoulders, and made my way quietly towards the first herd. 
They didn't seem to bothered by my presence, but a mare with a very young foal at foot kept her distance from me, understandably so as her foal only appeared to be a few days old. 
I set my camera to a quiet shutter and began shooting. Throughout the day, I spent about an hour with each herd, simply sitting still, observing, shooting, and enjoying the time around them. My main focus was to capture textures and herd life. 
I has taken me a while to find the time to process these images due to being so busy over the summer months with competition coverage, but now I am excited to finally share this work with you all. 

I hope you've enjoyed these images, and I plan on producing more like this in future. If anyone has any location recommendations I'd love to hear them in the comments below! For more of my creative work, please have a look at my instagram where I post up to 3 times a week:

Stay Creative!

Emma :)

If you are interested in purchasing a fine art print of any of the images featured in this blog entry, please contact me. 

(SkyLimit Photography) 2017 black and white black and white photography black background british business change creative day in the life equine fine art fine art photography hiking hills horses jinlye long mynd nikon photography photoshoots playing shropshire skylimit photography travel photography walking water wild ponies young horses Mon, 31 Jul 2017 12:45:38 GMT
Scottish Adventures Recently I have been experimenting with landscape photography, I feel that it could help to improve my equine work, helping me to consider the composition of the background while shooting horses, as well as keep my creativity fresh. Earlier this month me and my partner took a week away in Scotland with no real plan other than to head up the West coast and see what happened. I took this fantastic opportunity to practice my landscape photography in some of the most stunning landscapes the country has to offer. But, I decided to make the project a little more interesting, we had driven up there in my R reg Peugeot 106, with over 100,00 miles on the clock, so I decided that this little car should be the subject in all of my images, documenting our adventure further and further North. 
Without any further delay, I introduce to you, Roger, the little blue Peugeot:

These two photos were taken when we decided to take a detour on the road to Loch Tulla, we liked the look of the road, and since there were no time constraints, decided to stop at points to enjoy the scenery. The second photo was achieved using the black and white conversion in Adobe Lightroom, manipulating the colour saturations to give a really heavy background, while making Roger pop out.


 This shot was tricky to get, I was trying to capture the scale of the mountains, but on the other side of Roger was some fencing and a gate with traffic cones, it would not have made for a nice photo, so I had to get a little creative with my angles, which really helped to create some lovely leading lines.


This photos was taken upon entering the Scottish Highlands. I had never experienced such a vast and rural landscape, it really did take my breath away. The main through route contained many long straights, and lucky for me, there was a pull in to capture what I felt should be called "The road into the Unknown". The heavy clouds topping the surrounding mountains gave an incredibly looming feel, it was wonderful to feel so exposed to the natural and rugged landscape. 

The road to Loch Etive and the Etive forest. This road may be familiar to some of you, the James Bond film, Skyfall, was filmed along sections of this route. The road was narrow and winding, with a beautiful river running alongside. Our speed stayed very steady, as we maneuvered the twisting road and admired yet more dramatic scenery.


Togs on tour! I had to capture the company sticker in the back window of Roger, with camping gear galore pushed up against it, the fabulous landscape drawing the eye deeper into the image.

I hope you've enjoyed this slightly different blog entry this month, hopefully I'll be able to offer up more landscape photography in future as it's something I'm definitely enjoying playing with. For those interested, all photos were taken with a Nikon D4s, and a cropped frame 18-55mm Nikon lens. 

Stay creative!

Emma :)

(SkyLimit Photography) Fri, 30 Jun 2017 09:05:55 GMT
If You Go Down to the Woods Today Two weeks ago I was blessed with the opportunity to cover a TREC competition at Bissell Wood Equestrian in Worcestershire, a discipline which I always thoroughly enjoy covering as it is so unique.  Once I arrived at the venue on the Friday and set up my tent, familiarised myself with my neighbors for the weekend, and went to seek out the event organiser to get an idea of potential locations that I could situate myself for the POR on the Saturday. 
This section of the event is orienteering on horseback, with riders copying their route from a master map in an allocated time, making sure to note down anywhere where there might be some questions on route, riders ride to set speeds for each section, coming across checkpoints on route; the POR is all about accuracy if you want to do well. 
It was a wet evening, a constant drizzle trickling down from a heavily clouded sky, but that couldn't take away from the lovely scenery that we were enjoying. The organisers had chosen several spots which they thought would be picturesque for me to shoot from, one of the big things about shooting the POR is finding a beautiful location in which to capture the competitors. I had initially decided on a lovely spot under a railway bridge next to a lake, but as we drove back to the venue, we needed to make a stop off to leave a ticket on the route. While we were walking through the large wood of the Bissell Wood estate, I fell in love with the forest lighting, the way pools of light broke through the canopy, creating a spotlight which the riders could ride through. There and then, I made my decision. 
The next morning was cool and damp as I headed out onto course after my staple breakfast of porridge, I positioned myself under the trees at a T-junction in the forest tracks where I could capture competitors among the trees coming towards me, and riding away into a pool of light. The other advantage of my location meant I didn't get very wet, thanks to the tree cover above me. As riders came, I began shooting, the light rewarded me well, creating gorgeous soft lighting, showing off the shine on horse's coats. 

Riders test their map reading skills in the POR along scenic woodland routes Riders test their map reading skills in the POR along scenic woodland routes
The next morning was grey, but considerabley warmer, after walking the PTV (The obstacles section of the competition) the night before, I had decided to place myself by the water crossing, as from this point I could also shoot the S-Bend, which was framed beautifully by a corridor of tall laylandiis. Once in position, I fiddled with my settings, deciding the best exposures to set for each obstacle, and walking out a short path between the two obstacles which I would be walking throughout the day. 
As competitors began the course, I figured out the best spots to move around in, there is only so much preparation you can do before riders begin to appear on course, with photography you tend to find what works best with a little experimentation on the job, a tweak of the angles, stepping a little left or a little right, changing exposures, it takes some on the ball thinking. 
As the day wore on, the sun came out, warming us through, a welcome change to the cold and wet of the previous day, this also provided some lovely reflections on the water's surface, something which I find helps to add another edge to a photo. 

Reflections and alleyways of Laylandiis Reflections and alleyways of Laylandiis
While covering TREC competitions, I normally stay overnight, which often gives me the chance to take some behind the scenes images as well, capturing the horses in their corrals. I really enjoy these candid, relaxed images, they give an insight into the atmosphere at an event, taking them into the image for a few moments. It's can also be a pleasant surprise to competitors to find unexpected photos of their horse in a candid setting, providing a professional photo to capture their horse in those quiet moments away from home. 

Relaxing and playing in the corralling field Relaxing and playing in the corralling field
These TREC competitions, for me, give a very different look at the world of equestrianism, and insightful sport where your bond builds even stronger through those long hours spent in the saddle, it may not be the trust like our top event riders have while hurling themselves at speed over solid fences, but a quiet trust in which the horse faces his every day fears whilst out in unfamiliar country, where his rider is his only herd member in this big world.

Stay creative,

Emma :)

(SkyLimit Photography) 2017 Bissell British D4s Day in the life Equestrian Equine Le Midlands Nikon POR PTV Photography Shropshire SkyLimit Photography TREC West Wood Worcestershire bend business camping candid competition corral corralling creative crossing equine estate fighting forest grass horses map obstacles orienteering photography photoshoot photoshoots play playfighting playing rain reading relaxed s s-bend season summer sunshine tent water wet woodland woods Tue, 06 Jun 2017 13:14:46 GMT
A Creative Reset During April, I decided to take a friend up on the invitation to join her on a trip out to watch the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships at Hartpury College. As of late, I was starting to feel a little bogged down with competition photography, that my work was no longer exciting enough, that I wasn't having any new ideas, struggling to see a new angle, to produce the work that makes me proud. During periods like this, I like to take a day out to a horse related event, it can be anything, from racing, to dressage, to hunting, whatever crops up, and I like to have my camera on my hip, with no pressure but just to shoot what comes to mind. There's no need for me to get any particular shot, no pressure to rush home and have photos online for clients in X amount of hours, and no guilt associated with going to be when I'm tired, even if I haven't even looked at the images on my XQD (XQD cards are high powered memory cards, used particularly in cameras that have big processors and need to process information at a high speed). Sometimes working as a full time events photographer can be mentally draining, so having a little refresher and taking the pressure off can really help me let loose and find my groove again when it comes to artistic photography,which in turn helps to improve my every day work. 
I usually like to start by just wandering around the event, taking in the atmosphere, maybe taking a few familiar shots, like horses cantering, head shots, like I said, no pressure. It's like easing into a warm bath, no rushing, just taking my time and observing contentedly. I let the shots come to me as I take things in, letting my mind wander across the scenes before me, testing a few things out.
As I warm up my mind, this rider warms up her horse

After warming up, for however long it might take, I start to look a little deeper into what's going on, beginning to hone in on some more interesting shots, a few close up's of details, like rider's hands, boots, veins on a horse's neck, plaits, whatever I find aesthetic enough to catch my eye. I let my mind relax into painting a scene, because photography is far more than just snapping a few pretty photos. I mean, it's nice to take something that looks pretty, but photography is about noticing the things that most people wouldn't pick up on and making them interesting, sometimes we are trying to tell a story, other times to make our viewer feel an emotion, sometimes to give a sense of atmosphere, or even a new perspective, photography is art. It begins in the photographer's mind's eye, we tweak our settings to best capture this vision, shoot, sometimes several times for the best chance, and then proceed to paint our images in post processing (In my case, Adobe Lightroom) where our initial vision finally begins to come alive. Sometimes, at this point, we are surprised, as this vision can change and we can create something entirely different from what we imagined. That is the joy of this medium, the scope in which we can create.For example, I never initially imagined this image below in black and white, but during processing, it's what worked to make this originally quite average photo far more exciting.

When I returned home, I was tired, but it felt as if my mind had enjoyed a day at the spa, I felt like I was back to myself, creating. As I took images into lightroom, I felt no pressure, picking only my favourite images from the day and discarding the ones which didn't excite me. During this time, I made a decision: To begin in selling my more beautiful images as fine art. So for the past fortnight I have been carefully selecting the work which I feel would be best presented in large pieces of art, which people could adorn their walls with, be it in a place of work, a yard, a home, wherever they may see fit. Because what I really love to do is create art, to make people go "Wow", to make them think, to inspire them. To forge beautiful photography, capturing the equine spirit, is where my passion truly lies. The fine art galleries can be found here.

Although I love artistic photography I will always want to photograph shows as well, capturing those special moments for riders and their horses, seeing the smiles on their faces when I've gotten it right and caught a special moment, it fills me with pride. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a rider happy because I've been able to immortalize a special point in time for them.

Stay creative!

Emma :)

(SkyLimit Photography) 2017 Advanced British Dressage Equestrianism Equine Fine Flatwork Gloucester Hartpury Medium NAF Nikon Photography Shropshire SkyLimit Photography arena art artists block business championships change creative dressage elegance fine five flying horses medium passion photographer photography pressure relax star stuck trot up warm winter Mon, 01 May 2017 18:15:00 GMT
Dressage and Driving Well hello there spring! 
This month began with a morning photographing our sponsored rider, Anna Brown's, yard. We began with a few in hand shots of her beautiful young horse, Freddie, who is just coming back into work after an incredibly unfortunate injury. We decided that the top yard, which featured brick built stables, and a beautiful little collection of trees in the middle would make an excellent location for shooting. Freddie proved to be a total natural at the job, posing himself as if he'd been doing it since the day he was born. The aim of our in hand shots is to show what a loving relationship Anna has with her horses, and it certainly shines through when shooting, the horses always respond well to all of the fuss and attention they receive. After shooting on the top yard, we headed back down to her main yard, the American barn style stables providing a relaxing and airy home for schooling liveries who come to stay, and her own horses. All the horses are stabled according to their individual needs, if one prefers more to be more social, he is put next door to a suitable companion, if a horse needs a quieter, more secluded spot, then he will be put further up the yard away from the arenas, sometimes without a horse directly next door if he prefers space, horses who like more going on tend to be closer to the arena entrances, to keep them entertained. Anna does her best to make sure that every horse has their individual needs catered for, along with the help of her hard working groom, Amy, who makes sure she knows each horse inside out, to provide the best care possible. Between them, the horses are kept in a relaxed routine, revolving around feed times, turnout, and ridden work. 

After the beautiful Freddie, we had a brief in hand shoot with another of Anna's gorgeous horses. The normally compliant Favita really wasn't feeling it this particular day, preferring to stand and go to sleep instead of making herself look alert (Goes to show how relaxed Anna's horses are!). We worked to get a handful of shots, without boring Favita too much, before moving on to Willbury, a handsome young training livery that Anna has in her care to start under saddle. We began with a few ridden shots, Anna working him in slowly before showing him off in front of the camera. During this short time, he put up with the camera clicking away loudly, and myself rolling around on the floor to get the most impressive angles, this was one extremely tolerant young horse! 

Training livery, Willbury. Ridden by Anna Brown
After the ridden shots, I wanted to get some of him stood with Anna on him, so we headed to the top yard. Initially Willbury wasn't sure about being up on this yard, but after walking him around, with Anna gently soothing him, he decided that this yard wasn't so bad after all, the priority during every shoot is that the horse is happy and comfortable, we work around him. We moved around to change location briefly, getting a few different shots, and the change of location assisted in keeping him alert and bright eyed for each photo. This really helps to keep a horse looking his best for a shoot. 

Things don't always go to plan! Willbury telling us that he didn't like the top yard.









In between changing horses, I took the chance to capture a few moments which really showed the calm atmosphere of the yard, moments of peace between Anna and her horses, Amy taking the time to groom and care for all them, a way to really express the feeling of what it's like to be on this lovely yard. 
If I'm being honest, these are my favorite kind of shots, the ones where my subjects don't fully realise that I'm shooting, they often produce the most emotion and I personally feel that this is what my style of photography is all about. 

Amy Tomkins giving Favita a good grooming

March also gave me a very unique opportunity to shoot an equestrian discipline that I never expected to be shooting, I was lucky enough to cover the Chester Horse Driving Trials' final indoor event at Reaseheath College. I tried to research the discipline to the best of my ability to know what to expect, but still felt like I was going in blind. There's a quote from Richard Branson which applies to this situation very well, and I often live by it: 

“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”

So that's what I did. I learned on the job, and it was a fabulous experience! This was a huge learning curve in the art of driving and how the events were run. It was indeed a challenge as I initially struggled to get the right angles and timing from the places I had to stand, but as a photographer you must work with what you are given. By the end of the day, I had 2000 images to work my way through (Which can be found here), I was exhausted, but had enjoyed a truly unique experience, met some wonderful people, and was working on planning my attendance at some of the summer driving events.
Taken during the obstacles phase of the indoor driving trials

The joy of photography is that you never know what lies around the corner and in what way it may push your abilities, testing both your creativity, your equipment, and push you to solve the ever tricky question of getting the right shots to satisfy both your client, and yourself with potentially limited resources.

As we move into April, I'm setting my sights on yet more dressage, and also assisting the outstandingly talented Steve Wall for a one day event at Lincomb Equestrian, as well as assisting to shoot a spot of polo! Like I said, you never know what's around the corner. 

Stay creative,

Emma :)

(SkyLimit Photography) 2017 Anna Brown Dressage April Carriage Driving Chester horse driving trials Day in the life Dressage Equine Photography Nikon Photography SkyLimit Photography business horses Wed, 12 Apr 2017 19:34:18 GMT
"What do you actually do then?" "Turn up at a show and take a few photos, I could do that!" I've heard this one a few times before. It all looks pretty lavish on a hot, sunny day, I get a tan and shoot horses all day, come home, put your photos online for you all to pour over. Well, that's not exactly what goes on, so I thought for this month's blog entry I could give you an insight into what goes on behind the scenes, and what better an example than a weekend of dressage at Reaseheath, consisting of British Dressage on the Saturday, and unaffiliated dressage on the Sunday.

Typically, the day before a show (in this case, it's a Friday), I make sure my camera is on charge first thing in the morning, I do this early on thanks to a bad experience where my camera had managed to "un-charge" itself during the night, leaving me very panicked and stressed for the rest of the day. I also like to prepare meals for the next two days, so I won't get hungry and lose focus. I like to eat fairly healthily too, to avoid sugar crashes and the risk of my focus nose diving, so this is rather important. I check schedules, to see how many competitors to expect during the day, what tests I'll be covering, and most importantly, what time the first and last test will be. Saturday's first test was at 9:30am, last test set for approximately 3:30pm. I say approximately as we sometimes run ahead or behind schedule. The next thing on the to do list is to check the weather forecast, so I should be fairly prepared for what mother nature plans on forcing upon me and I can pack my car up with the relevant clothing. This weekend called for gloves, hat, scarf, my extra thick hoodie (To go over the thermal base layer and slightly thinner hoodie), an extremely puffy body warmer, and a rather large, long coat, affectionately known as the "duvet coat" for it's sheer size and warmth.

Saturday morning rolls in, and my alarm going off at 6:15am, so I throw on some scruffy clothes to go out and feed my own horses, and get the three that are in mucked out. Next stop, breakfast, then loading food and camera equipment into the car, before getting changed and hitting the road for 8:30am. I like to give myself plenty of time to get to an event to make room for any traffic delays, always aiming to arrive 15 minutes before the show is set to start (unless it's an unfamiliar venue, then I arrive half an hour before). I arrive in good time, unloading my camera, extra layers, chair, and food to position in the corner of the indoor arena. I call in at the office on the way past to say good morning and briefly go over anything that may have changed, before placing business cards in the most visible places. This requires a little bit of tact, I have to think about where the best places to put cards to catch the eye of clients, so that they know who has been shooting for the day, advertising is half the battle. On this day, I place them along the low wall of the indoor where people like to lean and watch others compete, and also put a small stack where sheets and rosettes are laid out after the tests.

All set and ready to go!
Once I've settled in where I need to be in the arena (For prelim tests it's usually a top corner of the school, to capture the salute facing towards me at the end of the test) I test my settings, checking ISO, shutter speed, and aperture are set for the right exposure (If I'm in a very quiet indoor I also set a quiet shutter mode), and then put one headphone in to play some quiet music, I find that music helps keep me focused on a long day. When the first competitor comes in, I test my exposures again, for example, a grey I would need a lower set exposure than a bay, who would need a higher one. At this point I asses the horse, if he appears to be spooky then I will do a few test shots when he is further up the arena to see how he reacts to my camera, if he seems very relaxed, then I don't have to worry about test shots. A big part of the job when covering dressage is to get my job done without the horse and rider even noticing what I'm doing, minimal disturbance is key.

With the ring of the judges bell, the test begins. On every test, no matter what level, I like to capture the combinations up the centre line, this also gives me a good gauge of how the horse may react to me during his test. At prelim I make sure I capture photos in each gait, taking multiple shots to give clients a good choice to pick from later, sometimes this can be up to 25 images of one single competitor, which when you add it up, results in a massive number of images in one day. I will often delete images that don't make the cut during the day to save extra work later on. Once the Prelim tests had finished, I was left with around 240 images.
We moved onto the novice, and after a quick check of the test, I moved myself further down the arena , to be level with E. The reason behind this that I knew where the medium trot would take place, so I needed to be at the right angle for riders to be trotting slightly towards me, this is a very flattering angle for a medium trot.
During tests, I often hear things that really make me smile, the sort of things that, as a spectator, you wouldn't often hear. There was one particular rider who I recall hearing her say "Just do your best" to her horse before going in between the boards, and then I regularly heard her telling her horse what a good boy he was, and how wonderful he was during the whole test, I really couldn't help but smile. When she had finished, I heard her telling her horse how amazing he had been as well. I think, as riders, to have that amount of love for our horses is something we can all relate to.
Being sat in an arena, with a large camera, in a big puffy coat, can be a little scary for some horses. I had one rider say the following to her horse when he first spotted me "I know, scary photographer, she's gonna eat you, she's gonna eat you if you do a bad test" I will be honest, I couldn't help but laugh upon hearing that. Sometimes bargaining is the only way to get things done!
After this large entry, I was finished with just over 300 photos. The day continued on, running through one Elementary class, and then two Mediums. However, a few competitors didn't turn up for the Medium tests, so we had only one entry to actually compete. She came in, rode two lovely tests with a caller, and as she finished, her caller had treats on her and proceeded to give this horse a few treats as a reward for his efforts. A relatively early finish at 3:30pm, and a lovely way to round off the day. I proceeded to collect up business cards and the rest of my equipment, ready to head home.
Once home, I needed to feed and bring in my own horses before heading over to my boyfriend's house to process, he has a better internet connection than I have at home, hence the extra travel.

Treats after a lovely test from our final combination
Now begins the mammoth job of processing over 700 images, one some days I can have up to 1300 images, so this was a light day. I import photos by class into Adobe Lightroom, on import, my usual presets are applied to give the images my individual look, and then I proceed to adjust exposures and cropping on each individual photo where appropriate.
At around 9pm, I received a message on my photography Facebook page, normally I would ignore messages out of hours, but this was one seemed a little more urgent. A fellow photographer had messaged me to inform me that a rider who I had photographed the week previous had stolen one of my images, she was using it to advertise a £6000 horse, with a stolen image that would have cost her £2.50. After a slightly deeper look, it appeared that she had taken about 8 other images and had done this to other photographers as well. I asked that the images were removed immediately, but instead was blocked. This is the biggest problem facing photographers today, without paying customers, we can't afford to go on. I honestly found myself questioning why I do what I do, it made the next day feel particularly rough. How many others had stolen my work and left me scraping to get by?  By 11:20pm, I had finished processing the prelim and Novice, with the prelim class uploading, and novice exporting from lightroom, it was time for bed.

Ready for importing and processing
The next morning I was up at 6:30am again, for a first test at 9:30am. Horses fed and mucked out, breakfast eaten, camera charged and ready for action, I hit the road at 8:30am. Driving to Reaseheath, the rain was pouring, the forecast looking grim for the rest of the day. When I arrived there were competitors waiting in their lorries, reluctant to emerge from the warmth of their vehicles. This particular morning I was earlier than usual, so once set up, I spent a while chatting with the girls in the office, waiting for our judges to arrive. While talking, a mother came in with two children in tow and a asked Heather (Reaseheath's event coordinator) if she had any plastic bags. Heather had a little rummage under her desk and managed to produce one. Gratefully, this woman took the bag and some string designed to hold rider numbers on, and proceeded to strap this plastic bag around her child's riding hat! Parents creativity never ceases to amaze me.
Creative parenting!
Once the judge for the indoor arena had arrived, I headed into position, feeling grateful to be under a roof and not in the unrelenting downpour that competitors were warming up in. First competitor in, dripping wet, on an equally soggy pony, the bell rang and day two of competition was off to a start. Throughout the day, we had a large number of competitors who didn't turn up due to the foul weather, which made for large gaps in the classes.
During a gap in one class, I noticed that a number of organisers and students seemed engrossed by some horses warming in in the outdoor arena. I decided to get a better look at what had entranced them all. Two competitors had turned up on a beautiful pair of stallions, which appeared to be Spanish bred. You can imagine my excitement, a small dream of mine is to photograph Lusitanos in Portugal, and having not shot PRE's before, this was a good chance to see what would happen through my lens!
The first was a hugely expressive young grey stallion, who appeared to just be getting the hang of his enormously expressive paces, his medium trot was really something else. After the grey, came a slightly heavier black stallion with a hugely regal presence about him. He was beautiful, his movement powerful and coordinated.

Regal doesn't even cover this horse!

Slowly, the day went on, large gaps in classes continuing to draw out the day. By 4:45pm, the final class had drawn to an end, the rain just beginning to make a reappearance as it had held off for some of the afternoon, giving us a much needed break from the relentless downpour. I headed home, around 800 images on my XQD card, reflecting on the day. Once horses were fed, it was back to the other half's to continue processing, catching up on the remains of Saturday's images and starting on today's. The evening drew on, before it was bed time at 11:30pm, I was exhausted, my eyes had already closed once or twice while I was sat at my desk. Two 14 hour days back to back, and the work wasn't over yet.
The next morning I was up early to feed my own horses and ride out before I continued processing Sunday's dressage. The day was spend quietly working through the hundreds of images, thinking about future projects as I went. By approximately 5:30, I was done, it had been a long weekend, but photos were advertised on Facebook, all I could do was wait for my wages to appear through orders now.

So there you have it, that's just a weekend in the life of a professional photographer, but what do I do with the rest of the week? Well I have to keep my clients and potential clients interested in what I'm doing, so updating my Instagram 3 times a week at a minimum, posting on my Facebook business page about upcoming events and occasional projects, once a month blog posts (Which can take a considerable amount of time to produce), website updates and maintenance, looking for events to cover, replying to emails which can consist of an array of subjects, planning shoots with our sponsored rider Anna Brown, keeping an eye on orders, the list could go on and on. Running a photography business doesn't look like much on the outside, but when you take a magnifying glass, there's a lot going on to keep things slick, oiled, and constantly moving forward.
Next month, we have a really exciting blog entry, we are spending a day in the life at Anna Brown's yard, we'll see how horses from all levels of dressage are trained and cared for with an intimate insight through the lens, I hope you're all as excited as I am!

Emma :)





(SkyLimit Photography) 2017 Day in the life Reaseheath SkyLimit Photography british dressage business dressage horses march photography what do you actually do Tue, 07 Mar 2017 14:43:42 GMT
Challenges Hi everyone!

First of all, I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who took the time to take my customer satisfaction survey. After going over the results I'm able to see where I might be falling behind and therefore improve services. There was also a very positive response to the idea of a loyalty card service (When you buy X amount of digital copies, you get one free). I did some research into this, and have decided to set myself the challenge of designing the software myself, so the loyalty card will be an exciting new feature at a later date this year. I know it will be a long road, but I look forward to the test of learning a new skill.

Now this month has been quiet in regard to shows, that's something that isn't always talked about, the occasional lulls in the workload that you will inevitably experience as a photographer, especially when you are running a relatively young business, like myself. But I used this extra time to develop my skills as a business woman, taking notes through webinars and articles. I was able to get my year planned out a little more, deciding how I was going to improve my business (Because that's one thing we can't forget, you can have all the talent in the world, but if you're useless at running things like a business, you will ultimately either stay in one place forever, or fail). I've thoroughly enjoyed building my knowledge and knowing that there's so much more out there for me to learn. I've found that the key to my own happiness tends to be growth, and I like to do that through learning and taking on different challenges.

This month has also given me the chance to get back to where my love of photography really began to blossom; on the hunting field. There's something about the atmosphere that really inspires a creative view of the world. I love the test that comes with the attempts to capture that perfect hound images, eyes staring down the lens, focused, filling the frame. It's a photo that I still dream of. The glorious array of obscure angles to capture something which most people would ignore, giving a new insight into what might appear rather average to the untrained eye.
I often start the day with a degree of tension, questioning "Will I be in the right place, at the right time?" "Will I miss that once in a lifetime shot?" ""Will I be standing at that whopping great hedge when the field comes sailing over?" I am usually very stressed, but this helps to drive me onwards to the perfect shot.

I've had two days out following hounds with camera in tow this month. The first day felt a little disappointing for me, I failed to capture the field over a good rail, and during the who of the day, felt that I wasn't quite firing on all cylinders as far as creative expression was concerned. However, upon arriving home, I emptied my small hoard of images into Lightroom, and at the end of processing I was pleasantly surprised. The work I had produced was rather appealing, I even captured one very lucky shot of our huntsman and hounds against a heavy afternoon sky. I had just pulled up alongside a fence, upon spotting hounds trotting behind their huntsman along a track, I grabbed my camera from the passenger seat, threw open the car door, stood on my door frame, using the car roof as support, and began shooting. I always like to say that hunting photography is 70% luck!

My second day out was in attendance of the North Shropshire and Tanatside joint meet. It was wonderful to see so many out, both mounted and on foot, showing their support for the two hunts. After a sociable meet, the field moved off in a flurry of activity, heading up over some rails and hedges, I was unfortunate in my lack of preparation that I didn't get ahead of them, however I did manage to catch them over a stiff set of rails as hounds set out on their trail.
The day wore on, facing the usual challenges of trying to get into the right place at the right time (With the added difficulty of trying to navigate through twice the number of our usual footies). Fortunately, I had remembered from previous seasons a gate which they often jumped, so was able to get ahead of the crowds. I placed myself at this gate and waited patiently (If not a little nervously too!) After a few minutes of waiting, our whip appeared and before he hopped off, I offered to open the gate for him. Not long after, just as I began to close (Read: wrestle) the gate, our huntsman called out for me to let him through, as he rode past he pointed out the field would be jumping above me. In disbelief I questioned where, for the only thing I could see was a rather large hedge, nearing 6 feet high. He confirmed that this was indeed what they would be tackling before riding to his hounds.
I stood, waiting giddily as the field ambled their way towards a gate to get to this monster hedge. I watched as our field master shortened his reins, sat deep into the saddle and moved into a forward canter. I glanced between lens and reality, assessing where he and the rest of the field would jump, trying to decide if it would be open season or follow the leader, fortunately it was the latter. One after another, they leapt over in different styles, some bold, some quiet, some aggressive, and others just prayed. By the time it was finished with, there wasn't much left of this once tall hedge, but it had claimed no victims either.
Now that I had caught them over something decent, I felt that I could finally relax and begin to enjoy the day. It wasn't so much of a creative day as had been my last outing, but it was just as enjoyable. We continued on until 4pm, until hounds began to hack home, where I left them to begin processing the best part of 400 images, I knew riders would be eager to see their exploits from the day.

A brave Albrighton Hunt follower boldly tackles a large hedge


Although it has been a quiet month as far as shows have been concerned, I feel that I have made a positive step forward to shaping my career as a photographer and hope that I will be able to keep this growth moving forward throughout the coming months. Obviously it will be trickier when I have lots of shows to cover, but even just a few hours of learning through the week can make a difference.

Here's to a fabulous February of creation and stretching upwards. See you all soon!

Emma :)



(SkyLimit Photography) 2017 February Hunting SkyLimit Photography business challenges change creative growth horses north shropshire hunt quiet shows Wed, 01 Feb 2017 12:11:10 GMT
Start As We Mean To Go On After a relaxing break from the busy life at shows over Christmas and new year, it felt good to be back behind the lens in a professional sense. I will admit, I couldn't keep away from photography entirely over this break, making the most of the beautiful heavy frosts we've had recently, and took to photographing my little herd when they were turned out in the mornings, for this is when they are most entertaining in the field, busying themselves rolling, occasionally trotting about for a leg stretch after a cosy night in the stable, and generally socialising with one another.

Friday night, I found myself thrown back into the fray, covering Walford College's Winter Ball at The Lord Hill Hotel, in Shrewsbury. Students had brought their A-Game, hair trussed up in curls, bouffants, buns, gelled or hair sprayed into position. Gowns floated around the room, tuxes and suits strolling boldly as they entered. Friends greeted each other, excitedly squealing about how lovely one another looked, occasionally exclaiming "Oh my goodness, I didn't recognise you!" It took me a little while to really find my groove, but as the atmosphere grew, images began to appear before me, I was back to it, capturing both candid and posed images. The lighting in the bar was what really caught me eye, as students stood waiting to order drinks, the light cascaded elegantly upon them. As the night continued, guests became a little more bold in calling me over to have their photo taken, shouting their friends to pose with them. By 10:30, it was home time for me, back to the desk to begin processing the night's antics.

Saturday morning I was heading to Reaseheath, ready for a day covering British Dressage. I arrived in good time to set myself up in the top corner of the beautiful indoor arena, laying out business cards so clients would be able to find their photos easily. At 9:30 am we started Prelim 14, a good entry of tests with some quality riding. The day drew on, observing and capturing competitors in Novice 34, Elementary 42, Elementary 49, before finishing with Medium 63. Overall, a comfortable 350 images post processing. It felt good to be back in the game, watching elegance unfold, being given the wonderful opportunity to capture it all.

Sunday, I was again, at Reaseheath, ready for a day of unaffiliated dressage. Competition commenced at 9:00am, with a massive entry for Prelim 12. This class was fiercely contented with an entry of 27 competitors, eventually finishing at 12:15. We continued on into Novice 28, a smaller entry, but still a good quality of tests produced, and finally finishing with Elementary 49. At points throughout the day, glorious sunshine emblazed the arena, setting the boards alight and settling a glow on gleaming coats, now that is what gets us photographers really excited! However, now that I have been covering Reaseheath's dressage for a few months, I'm finally starting to recognise the regular competitors, which is where the real reward comes in; seeing riders and horses improve with each competition, and having the honour of documenting their progress through the art of photography.

With just under 2000 images captured, processed, and uploaded this weekend, I feel that I couldn't have started the year on a better note. Here's hoping I am able to have just as many busy weekends, capturing riders' thrills and spills as the competitive year goes on. Looking forward to seeing you all out there!


Emma :)  



(SkyLimit Photography) 2017 British Dressage Dressage Events photography January Reaseheath SkyLimit Photography competition new year Mon, 09 Jan 2017 12:57:25 GMT