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Thread: Icelandic Horses

  1. #1

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    Icelandic Horses

    Though the Icelandic horse is about the size of a pony, the breed is officially identified as a horse. It is known for having two gaits that other breeds don't have -- the tolt, which can range in speed from a fast walk to a canter, and the flying pace, which can be up to about 30mph/50kmph. All Icelandics are born with the tolt but only some of them can be trained to use the flying pace. To protect the breed, no horses are allowed to enter from outside the country including horses that were born in Iceland and left.

    I had never seriously photographed a horse before vacationing in Iceland and had a lot of fun obtaining my keepers. I never sought out horses in great light; instead, I would stop to photograph them if the light happened to be at least reasonable. I always used a shutter no slower than 1/500 because the horses would move unexpectedly and because I wanted to stop the action of their gorgeous manes blowing in the strong wind. The manes with light colors were a challenge; I had to concentrate on not blowing their highlights when they were back lit or lit from above, which left deep shadows that had to be lifted during post-processing to reveal detail and brighten the horse's torso. As an example, in image #3 shown below, though the capture was perfectly exposed to the right side of the histogram, the horse's eye was impossible to see in the out-of-camera version. In fact, if I were to photograph back lit horses regularly without controlled light, I would probably consider loading a custom curve into the camera to deal with that situation.

    Considering that this type of photography is new to me, C&C is encouraged more than ever!

    #1
    Icelandic Horses


    #2
    Icelandic Horses


    #3
    Icelandic Horses


    #4 -- This horse liked the joke I told.
    Icelandic Horses


    #5
    Icelandic Horses


    #6
    Icelandic Horses


    #7
    Icelandic Horses
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 30th September 2012 at 02:55 PM.

  2. #2

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    Re: Icelandic Horses

    some great pics there mike, we have had a couple of these before, they are great workers and a real friendly soppy thing with the kids, mad with adults,lol, the top and bottom ones are similar to ours

  3. #3

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    Re: Icelandic Horses

    Mike, I think your shots are lovely. I love how you got the detail on the manes! You must have been doing something right to get the one horse to smile for the camera!

    I've seen the tolt on video before. Very interesting gait. Never seen the flying pace.

    I think I really like the first one best. You were able to capture that spectacular mane in the wind while she was turning her head. The contast of her main and her coat with the backdrop is very nice. A close crop showing the curve of her neck and head might be a nice composition. The detail on that mane is really nice IMHO.

    You had a perfect day for this. Nice lighting.

  4. #4
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    Re: Icelandic Horses

    Hi Mike, to me the first image really stands out from all that horse images I've seen due to the way you have captured the mane. No less important to the enjoyment of these images is the background information you have provided!

    Thank you for both posting and educating us with this marvelous set of images and background!

  5. #5
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    Re: Icelandic Horses

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    Considering that this type of photography is new to me, C&C is encouraged more than ever!
    Given that I wouldn't know how to produce anything better, then all I can say is they are a very good set of images. As you said yourself, getting the exposure right must obviously have been the biggest challenge and that has been mastered very well.

  6. #6

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    Re: Icelandic Horses

    Thanks, everyone!

    My favorite is the first one, along with many of you, because of the lighting and the way the wind blew the horse's mane. That one was captured on a hill while on a hike in Skaftafell National Park. It's not often that I'll expect to be able to photograph such a gorgeous animal with back lighting and a lava field/flood plain in the background.

    I also like the close-up of the mane and the eye in #5. I would love to see the horse in image #6 in great light but that never happened during my trip. I was always partial to that color of horse as I drove through Iceland. Its mane and tail look like they had been recently groomed.

    Donald: Capturing the ideal exposure was a real challenge sometimes (thank goodness for histograms!) but the real challenge for me was to lift the detail in the shadows. That's because I had never had to go to such extremes. I usually selected the shadow area and applied the Curves tool locally and I had never used such extreme curves as were required. Using the brightening slider was ineffective in most of the situations. I also applied Local Contrast Enhancement to the animals and I had previously used that treatment only in landscapes. Interesting stuff if you like discussing post-processing! If not, well, ...
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 30th September 2012 at 04:49 PM.

  7. #7

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    Re: Icelandic Horses

    Mark,

    Is it common for pairs of Icelandics to "groom" each other with their teeth at the same time and at the same part of their bodies? I ask because I saw this happening often and I don't remember ever seeing this before. That's despite that I grew up on a beef cattle ranch and rode horses for fun every day after school.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 30th September 2012 at 04:50 PM.

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    Re: Icelandic Horses

    All great images, Mike. Thanks for the explanation on getting the right exposure and what was necessary post processing.

    Serge

  9. #9
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    Re: Icelandic Horses

    Nice series, the first is my favorite as well.

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    Re: Icelandic Horses

    These are all wonderful but #1 is truly spectacular. I love Icelandics and would dearly love to own one-but since you can't have a solitary horse I guess I'd need at least two.. I was hoping you would have some pictures of these wonderful horses in your series . It's amazing how the Icelanders keep this unique horse as part of their culture. Did you go riding at all? They are a very comfortable ride and because they have no natural predators the breed has lost some of the flight instinct and so are often a much safer ride.

  11. #11

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    Re: Icelandic Horses

    Lovely looking animals and I really like #1 - so elegant, so majestic.

  12. #12

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    Re: Icelandic Horses

    Thank you to Bobo and Helen.

    Helen: We didn't do any riding. My wife and I took riding lessons years ago but she was never able to get rid of the fear of the size and power of a horse. So, we gave up on riding horses.

    I have read the stuff that you mention about the lack of flight instinct thanks to the lack of natural predators. In each situation when I and the horses were reasonably close to each other, they were always easy to approach and very happy to interact with me. As an example, my wife took the image shown below. I've never posted an image of me, but in this case I'm happy to do so only because three of the four subjects are so good looking.

    Icelandic Horses

  13. #13

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    Re: Icelandic Horses

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    I've never posted an image of me, but in this case I'm happy to do so only because three of the four subjects are so good looking.
    Hey, Mike, nice to see a face that goes along with the name, and don't belittle yourself, the other three aren't that much better looking than you.

    Serge

  14. #14

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    Re: Icelandic Horses

    Mike that too is a great photo. Looks like you had an amazing trip.

  15. #15

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    Re: Icelandic Horses

    It really was an amazing vacation, Helen.

    Quote Originally Posted by unmerited View Post
    the other three aren't that much better looking than you.
    I used to respect your judgement, Serge.

  16. #16

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    Re: Icelandic Horses

    All are nice photos. No. 5 I find intriguing. I would have never thought of this shot. No. 1 is a great shot. I love how the horse's mane and tail have the same dynamic movement as the grasses.

    Karm

  17. #17

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    Re: Icelandic Horses

    Thanks, Karm, especially for mentioning #5. The reason I thought of the idea is that I was always intrigued that the Icelandic's manes were always falling down so far on their face. I kept forgetting to check to see if the roots of the hair are further down than on most breeds, but I suspect that's the case.

    My favorite of my Icelandic horse photos, if you haven't already seen it, is #3 in the series, Beyond my comfort zone

  18. #18

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    Re: Icelandic Horses

    All are just gorgeous! Being partial to black horses, my favourite is #2. Despite the barbwire (which adds to the environment aspect, anyway) this fellow just stands out. You've caught his ears tipping back and forth as he tries to figure you out

  19. #19

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    Re: Icelandic Horses

    Funny that you mentioned the barbwire, Myra. There were three horses in the field. As soon as I got out of the car, they ambled over to me. I bonded with them for awhile before taking pictures. Once I did that, I couldn't have gotten them to back away from the fence for the life of me. In fact, it was really difficult to take any pictures that weren't profiles (it's the profile that I like about the black horse) because they kept following me with their head and looking straight at me. I'm not sure if that's because they liked me or were wary of me.

  20. #20
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    Re: Icelandic Horses

    I have a cow that loves me Mike.

    She's called 'Curly' and she pops her head into every shot...I have given up dissuading her now.

    She is very pretty..and she knows it!

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