Monday, November 28, 2011

"Hunting" for the Big Picture

Covering an event with a LARGE playing field can be challenging. Shakertown, covering over 3000 rolling acres of Central Kentucky Bluegrass farmland, plays host to the Woodford Hounds annual Fox Hunt. It's large. 
You need to have a game plan and a vision on how you want to cover such an event, and bring along a selection of lenses that will tell the story. How do you want to shoot it, and what do you want to cover? Do you want to focus on the dogs and details, the range of colorful people stories, or the broad scope of the event over hill and dale?
Blessing of the Hounds. Photo: Matt Wooley, Aperture, f/5.6 @ ISO 320, 1/1000th, 0EV, 15mm fisheye.
I chose the BIG PICTURE point of view. I wanted to capture the overall scope of the event, and also feature some of the little scenes that weave the fabric of the story. I carried a 15mm fisheye, a 50mm and a 300mm, and one camera body, to get what I wanted. This was Wendy and my third year in attendance, so I had an idea of what was in store. Of course, thinking you know what's going to happen, is the recipe for missing the shot.

They left the "Blessing of the Hounds" and went in the opposite direction to what I was expecting. Thankfully, after talking to some of the riders, I knew the game plan and planted myself in the right spot. Off they went right into the morning sun. Perfect. I popped on the 50, and they trotted right by me. 

Release the hounds! Photo, MW, Aperture, f/4 @ ISO 400, 1/2000th, 0EV, 50mm.
I was sitting on the ground as they came my way to get a perspective from a dog's eye view. Shooting at f/4, the focus is on the dogs in the foreground, right where I want it. Remember to "PUSH IN TIGHT" to get this type of shot with a wide angle lens.

Photo: MW, Aperture, f/4 @ ISO 400, 1/2000th, 0EV, 50mm.
The fox hunt is a big social event, for both horse and human. A chance to get all dressed up and reconnect old friendships. Probably a lot more fun for the horses, dogs and riders than the fox.
I gave this shot a "sense of place" as they left the restored Shaker Village.  

"Off to the Hunt". Photo: MW, Aperture, f/4 @ ISO 400, 1/1600th, 0EV, 50mm. 
As the hunt master takes to the hills with the hounds in pursuit of the wily fox, I switch lenses to tell the story. Notice how the COMPRESSION of long glass works in the next 3 shots to create nice depth in each scene. 

"Picking up a Scent". Photo: MW, Aperture, f/5.6 @ ISO 400, 1/1250th, 0EV, 300mm.
"On the Trail". Photo: Wendy Wooley, Aperture, f/7.1 @ ISO 640, 1/1600th, -1/3 EV, 200mm.
"Road Crossing". Photo: MW, Aperture, f/5.6 @ ISO 400, 1/1600th, 0EV, 300mm.
Okay, we got the BIG picture, now some of the little stories. The 300 also gets me in tight.

Photo: MW, Aperture, f/5.6 @ ISO 400, 1/2000th, 0EV, 300mm.

Photo: MW, Aperture, f/4 @ ISO 400, 1/4000th, -1/3 EV, 300mm.
Shooting at f/4 helps your subject pop out from a distracting background.

"Clopping Back". Photo: MW, Aperture, f/4 @ ISO 400, 1/2000th, -1/3 EV, 300mm.
Here's a great example of the Rule of Thirds, times two. Not only is your eye drawn to the left one-third of the frame, the image also has depth.. front, middle and back thirds. Lots of LAYERS.

"Back to the Kennels". Photo: MW, Aperture, f/4 @ ISO 400, 1/5000th, -1/3 EV, 300mm.
So that's how our morning went, from start to finish. A lot of our time was spent spotting, and then following, the hunt. By SUV. Mostly on the designated roads.
By the way, no fox was harmed in the making of this photo shoot.

That's it for now..


  1. How long did the event last? You took great shots! You're truly a professional… I wonder if I can also be a great photographer someday. The last photo is the best shot for me. I also like what you tackled about the layers and the Rule of Thirds. Thanks!

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