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Equine Photographers Network
June, 2007
In this issue . . . Special Colorado Retreat Issue

At the end of April, Equine Photographers descended on the sleepy town of Craig, Colorado for ten days of shoots and talks . . . participants were heard to say “Bloody Brilliant!” - “That shoot took my breath away!” - “Better than sex” - “Best shooting I have done in years!” For ten glorious days in Northwestern Colorado, EPNet members experienced the truly Wild (and Wonderful) West.

The Holiday Inn was mission central - a great choice for accommodations - good food, nice meeting rooms, and great places to chat. Many of the members met that first Friday evening at the Museum of Northwest Colorado, located in Craig where our special photo exhibit "The Equine Image - A Photographic Celebration of the Horse" Print Competition was held. It was a great chance for retreat newbies to meet members they had only known online. You can see the photo catalog and results from the Equine Image Competition online if you didn't get to see it there.

Kicking off the activities was a truly incredible trip to photograph the wild horses located an hour away in the high desert country of Baggs, Wyoming. Surely these majestic creatures had never seen so many photographers snapping away, but for the most part they pranced and preened and showed off their equine spirit. The horses came in a variety of shades and colors and had that independent streak we love them for. Long lenses were de rigueur – and the scenery was magnificent.

Quite a day – one severely dehydrated person, a flat tire and a guide who kept threatening to go – with or without us – when he'd had enough towards the end of the day. All these things would be quite insignificant at home, but no laughing matter when you're in the middle of nowhere!! Literally. However, all turned out well. Everyone survived. We saw plenty of wild horses and as the sun went down, a beautiful light settled on the landscape when we saw our last herd of the day . . . and our guide didn't desert us!

On Sunday Melanie, the Photoshop Wondergirl did a brilliant job of taking us through some Photoshop tips and her many short cut commands. A genius, she made it seem so easy . . . as she led a question and answer session where she was able to answer everyone's questions and demonstrate how to use the various tools. In the evening we enjoyed viewing Scott Trees’ inspirational DVD to give us a taste of his work. Scott shared with us many of his experiences spanning many decades and the ups and downs of working in the horse industry for clients all over the world.

Wait! They're taking our picture!

On to Sombrero Ranch! Craig was a beautiful location, winter snows and spring rains left the hills a beautiful emerald green lush with vegetation. The management and staff at Sombrero couldn’t have been nicer and more accommodating – especially with our “suggestions” like – “Can you run those horses through the creek again.” and “Let’s do silhouette shots at dusk up that far hill.” Cowboys, cowgirls, big horses, little horses, horses being ridden for the first time since fall (with the ensuing hilarious results), roping, riding, herding, the opportunities to test our skills and push our own photographic envelopes were incredible. The majority of the shoots were led by the inspirational Scott Trees who opened up a world of light and 'how' to 'see' it. With the wonderful cooperation of Ed, the head wrangler, and his crew of cowboys and cowgirls who went above and beyond the call of duty, they produced stunning shoot opportunities. Galloping horses everywhere – through water, down sage covered hillsides and over mountain meadows. All very dramatic and it was hard to not simply put the camera aside and just watch. First, the shimmer of dust in the distance, then the sound of hoof beats on the dry western earth as they came nearer, then cowboys 'hollering' mixed with the neighing and whinnying of the horses . . . and then of course, the sound of a million shutter clicks!

Shooting the Herd

Paul Peregrine, from Lightware, and Scott Trees worked together in teaching us about portraiture resulting in great authentic cowboy portraits. Paul showed how to use supplemental lighting in outdoors photography, while Scott helped us set up our models for best effect. It was a great learning experience.

Wednesday was a day of meeting sessions. Lynne Pomeranz, author of Among Wild Horses, gave a wonderful talk on a subject she is passionate about. Her images of the wild horses she has followed for two years were absolutely beautiful and in sharing her experiences with them, we were left having a better understanding and appreciation of these horses.

Mark Lukes of FinePrint Imaging gave an inspiring and enthusiastic presentation on 'Getting into Galleries, Marketing Photography and Creating a Strong Portfolio'. It was a fast paced and provocative discussion that gave the members some great ideas on how to promote their work. This presentation was followed by Scott Trees. For over an hour he led us into his own beautiful creative world of equine photography. Extremely passionate and loving of his subject, we were spellbound by his ingeniousness and determination as he told us the stories behind a selection of his images.

Thursday was a "free day" but there were still more EPNet activities. First there was a reception at the Museum of Northwest Colorado for the Equine Image Exhibit. Later, we joined Lynne Pomeranz at Downtown Books for her book signing. The day was truly a "Photographic Celebration of the Horse."

Attendees shuffled around at this stage – some left, while other newcomers came to join the retreat for the Sombrero Horse Drive. This part of the retreat was launched with a lovely lazy day being taken up to the land up at the back of the ranch for a nature walk and the opportunity to shoot the riders as they came in for lunch over a fantastic campfire and steak fry in a mountain meadow. This was the second day for the guests, who had come to take part in the drive, and we had a chance to get to know them.

Melanie & CandiceJust when you thought it couldn't get any better – imagine watching horses galloping in, in herds, from the hills where they had spent the winter months – heading for the corrals. Some 800 horses were gathered up. This was the beginning of the horse drive early Saturday morning and it was bitterly cold with snow resting on the hillsides. By mid-morning this cleared and although cold, at least the sleet and rain subsided so we didn't have to worry about our cameras and could get good shots. The climax of the drive was in Maybell – where the population of 370 waited in anticipation as the drive ran right through the center of town with a crowd who had gathered from all around to see the event. It was quite something.

It was with great sadness to see the drive head down the last mile to the ranch knowing it was the end of the retreat. It was the most spectacular event, so much knowledge imparted, unique opportunities for photographic images and lots of laughter and friendship among the EPNetters. If you didn't go this year try and go next time.

The retreat attendees appreciated the generous donation of a Sony SnapLab and supplies to use for printing by Imaging Spectrum for the duration of the event. The prints were surprisingly good, print times very quick, and overall the machine was amazingly easy to use. Setup was a snap (no pun intended) and I especially appreciated the fact that the paper was easy to load; no lining up edges or weaving through a maze of components. The touch screen was simple to understand and use. Nearly every image came out looking great. If not, the machine usually wasn’t at fault. The main benefit of the SnapLab is providing quick results for your clients. Our models were very pleased with the images and the speed at which they were delivered. For small professional prints, even faster than the local 1 hour place, the SnapLab is pretty hard to beat.

Special thanks to our contributing authors, Sue Burgess and Roberta McGowan, for the article!

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