It is a product of one part pure chance, one part willingness to experiment without expectation of coming away with the perfect shot. In this post I want to take you through the story behind it, why I think it works and why it is one of my favourite projects.
The first two photos were shot a cold and windy winter day last March, I was at the stables with my wife trying to do a long overdue new portrait of our retired thoroughbred race horse, Zorran. Incidentally, if you have ever done portraits of animals, you know that it is not easy, lets just say that they have no sense of the importance of standing still, posing in a way that makes them look their best.
When I finally got something that I thought might work, I was walking around waiting for my wife to get ready to leave. I was using my Fujifilm X-E2 with the XF 35mm 1.4 and a B+W CPL. Even though the light was fairly dull, I was getting much faster shutter speeds than I normally use when I do intentional camera movement photography. Being cold and tired, not particular keen on mounting an ND filter, I decided to give it a try.
So in what lies the experimentation I mentioned? Firstly, the relatively fast shutter, around 1/5 sec, meant that I needed to make a very fast, decisive movement, there was no other option. Anything else and you end up with what resembles camera shake. Already at f/16, there was nothing I could do to slow down the shutter more, I had to make do with what I had. Again, no options. Come to think of it, not having a lot of options can free up mental energy for the creative side of your mind. In other words, not necessarily a bad thing.
Secondly, when it comes to intentional camera movement photography, I had never shot anything but nature and landscapes. I decided to shoot the horses in the snow covered meadow. Why not I said to myself, I have nothing to lose? If it works, fine. If not, no problem.
As it turned out, I really liked the ghostly figures I ended up with, so much that I created the “Apparitions” project, which is still ongoing. The fact that you can’t identify the individual horses, opens up your imagination, it could be your -or any – horse standing there in the cold. Another strong point when it comes to the first two photos in this series is the atmosphere created by the minimalist scene. Given the fact that there’s very little that defines the location, your imagination is free to decide were this is. It could be anywhere on earth were there ever is snow.
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