Wednesday, August 5, 2020

More cell phone photography

Yesterday's excellent guest post by Julia Turner showed one way to take high quality show photos of model horses using a cell phone. Today's post expands on that, with advice presented from a multitude of hobby photographers that should helpful to anyone who wants to take pictures of their horses, no matter what kind of camera they use.
photo by Julia Turner
Like Julia, Shelly Nelson relies on indirect light to photograph her horses. Her set is a cardboard box with a poster attached to the back. Her camera is an old Samsung Galaxy S7 phone.
Here's one of Shelly's photos. 
Laura Brown's  set-up is quite similar. She uses a large sheet of watercolor paper clipped - with hangers! - into place. There are windows on the left, which bring in lots of indirect light, but Laura also uses overhead room lights.
Here's one of her pictures.
This set-up also works well with unpainted resins.
Sarah Brabbin uses a single lamp to light her naked ponies.
If your house is small and space is at a premium, you might need to think outside the box. To take her BreyerFest Open photos, Anne Field created a temporary photo studio on her bed.
Carol Tuft takes her photos in the carport. Here's her set-up.
In regards to lighting, Shelby Sargent offers this advice: When it comes to taking pictures of your models, try to avoid dark shadows especially over the face. Taking photos in dark areas causes a lot of graininess in the image. Use as much light as you can, but not to point of over exposing. For an editorial app on your phone, Adobe Lightroom is great for touching up the light. Here is one of her photos.
Jillian Morrell also mentioned the importance of good lighting, especially when using a less powerful cell phone camera. She took this photo on her front porch on a cloudy morning. This kind of even lighting is ideal for all kinds of photography.
Here's another one of Jillian's cell phone pictures. This one was taken indoors with an 18" Neewer Ring.
Kelly Korber Weimer, co-author of Breyer Animal Collector's Guide, writes: My iPhone 8 has a more powerful camera than the DSLR I used to shoot the last Collector’s Guide. I use a blue and green background because it balances warm and cool tones enough that there’s usually not a lot of editing to do as far as color correction is concerned. Anything too light or dark as a background may wash out details. Lighting is very important - outside and lightly overcast is my favorite and eliminates most shadows. If you are shooting under lights, pay attention to your light source. Multiple sources are best, but if you’re stuck with only one light, make sure it’s placed slightly toward the camera, pointing towards the horse. Backlighting is the worst! I usually try to place the horse square, but this pic was to showcase his star variation, so I angled him slightly. Think about if you were a 1:9 scale human and where your camera would be in relation to a halter horse’s photo. I try to place the camera’s height at just above the withers. This set up is two pieces of plywood connected by hinges that have vinyl tablecloth glued using spray adhesive. I covered a dowel rod with some excess fabric to cover the crack. It folds away for storage and can be set up in twenty seconds if the clouds are right.
Here's the same set up on used on a too cloudy day. See how blue?
It's important to know what editing tools you have. I did a quick color fix of this pic on my phone using the standard iPhone photo editor. This looks better, but if I were to use it for a show, I’d download a better app, or transfer the pic to my computer.
Finally, here's the same set up used indoors. There are harsh shadows and the lighting is too warm. 
If you're still looking for more information on how to photograph your models, I recommend this excellent video by Jillian Morrell and this post by Nichelle Jones.
Nichelle Jones' photo set-up
Thank you, Julia, Shelly, Laura, Sarah, Anne, Carol, Shelby, Jillian, Kelly, Nichelle and everyone else who has shared their photography tips with the model horse hobby. Online photo shows are where it's at right now, and your efforts will make it that much easier to stay home, stay safe and stay happy!


  1. As a photo show judge, I want to see a horse that looks alive, and that means making sure that the horse's eyes shine! The source of light should be somewhat in front of the horse so that it catches the eye(s).

    1. Oooh, I agree! I don't judge, but I entered a MEPSA Novice show a couple of years ago and that was a big point for my photos. I have tried to make the eyes shine ever since, and now I can't stand it when they're dull. XD

  2. Brilliant post, with a wide variety of approaches. "Something for everybody" could be true here.