All posts by Bj. deCastro

12 Tips on how to get that Award-Winning photo of your horse

Photographing your horseIn this wonderful age of technology, you no longer need fancy camera equipment to get that Award-Winning photo of your horse.  The camera on your smartphone, some time in practicing and a little luck in being camera-in-hand at the right moment will do it.   Start with 100 pics each session and you should have 1 spectacular one.  As you practice, you will end up with 2 good ones, then 3 and so on.

Here are some tips that I have learned in my 18+ years of studio work that you can practice with:

1.  Consider your composition and place your subject ‘off-center’.  It is often said that an artist spends more time planning where they want the viewer’s eye to travel – than actually painting.  It’s the same with photography.  This careful thought into the composition (where items/subjects rest in the real estate of your picture) determines if the viewer’s eye is going to hang out for awhile and be entertained…or if it’s going to see 1 point of interest and leave.

Placing your subject slightly off-center with enticing paths in the background for the eyes to follow will keep the viewer looking at your image.  Try colorful objects, figures, fences, roads, horizons, mountaintops, tree-lines, shorelines, footsteps in the sand, etc.   Then bring the eye back to your main subject.  Look at a pic now and pay attention to where your eye ball moves.  See what I mean?

2.  Thanks to the Delete button, we have lots of new creative powers.  Use the ‘action’ or ‘sports’ multi-shutter setting on your camera.  Then pick the best one and delete the rest.  This is wonderful for getting that perfect leg position or the best wind-blown mane.  Even with still shots, if the horse flinches, you should have a good one before or after the flinch.

3.  The subject should be at least 75% of the image and the background 25% for head, shoulders or body shots.  For Scenic shots, the horse should be at least 25% of the image.

4.  The best times to shoot are in the late afternoon when the shadows are long.  Or early in the morning when the light is brightest and warmest in color and the shadows are still long.  Never shoot at high noon.  The 2D camera will have no contrast to work with and your images will be flat.

5.   Subject in the sun.  You in the shade.  This will prevent any light from hitting the lens and causing distortions, blurring and faulty colors.

6.  Windy days can make dramatic shots.  The flowing mane and landscaping will bring ‘action’ to still subjects.

7.  Notice the color of the background.  White horse/grey barn…not good.  White horse/green trees..beautiful contrast.  Sometimes just taking a step or twisting left or right will change your background from crappy to gorgeous!

8.  Ears forward for portrait shots.  Use a treat or a reactionary command if needed.

9.  No posing – you or the horse.  When the brain sees a pic, it knows the body isn’t there, so the emotion is one of voyeurism or being a ‘peeping Tom’.  Making up a story is it’s first reaction, so it knows how to file and prioritize the data the eyes are logging.  If the subjects are posed, then the brain tells the eyes to move on…there is no story here that I can create.

10.  Don’t over-filter…either pre-shot or post-shot.  Pre-shot is with your camera settings/apps and Post-shot is with your editing software/apps.  It’s obvious and unattractive.  Just take a new shot.

11.  An intimate subject/moment calls for intimate framing.  Don’t be afraid to pull the viewer in by zooming in a little bit more.  On the other hand…

12.  Is it micro-photo art or did you zoom in a bit too much?  There is no expression in the eyeball itself.  If you are fascinated by the mirror images that reflect in your horses eye when you get really close, then you WILL need the special micro lenses and equipment that make that image work.  Close-up portraiture needs the horses natural means of communicating emotion to  create that story for the viewer – i.e., head tilt, eye lids, ear postions, mouth/lip/tongue movements, clear focus and lighting.  And/or an intimate moment with another subject or object – like a wind-blown piece of mane, a leafy branch, a worn and story-filled bridle, etc.

Mute your phone and go create!  Your horse will love the attention and your brain will love the exercise.

Bj. deCastro


2013 Merriewold Morgans International Photo Contest

2013 Morgan Horse Photo ContestGrab your cameras! Flip through your photos! Join in the fun and win great prizes! Merriewold Morgans is having our 4th Annual photo contest celebrating the Magnificent Morgan Horse. Entry is FREE and will be judged by Internationally renowned equestrian photographer, Bob Langrish.
Work will be judged on the following criteria
  • Effectiveness in conveying the beauty or unique character of the Morgan horse
  • Artistic creativity (Unique vision in perspective, action or feeling in the photograph.)
  • Natural theme (We are not looking for conformation shots.)

All entries will be displayed at the Merriewold Media Center Gallery. Prizes will be awarded for the top three images. *You can view all the entries in the Photo Contest Album any time during the contest.




1st Place Prize
Farm Supply
1st Place
prize is a collection of items: Mustang Casa Zia blanket, 100% new Zealand wool, hand-woven, and custom designed. A Mustang Mountain Rope Halter and a lead rope, which is a top seller in burgandy and tan. Also included, are 2 Kensington fold-able show totes with grooming brush and mit. ($125 value) *Colors may vary from product photos. Donated by Farm Supply in San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles, Arroyo Grande, Santa Maria and Buellton.
2nd and 3rd Place prizes


Samy's Camera2nd Place prize consists of 2 items: a KOLO, “Hudson” photo album (200 4×6 photos) in archival acid free binding and a “Noci” brag book (24 2×6 photos) in red. ($60 value) *Colors may vary from product photos. Donated by Samy’s Camera. Merriewold Morgans3rd Place prize is Photographing Horses, by Lesli Groves, hard cover edition. This book is beautifully illustrated and is an easy-to-use guide for taking better photos of your horse. ($20 value) Donated by Merriewold Morgans.


How to Enter:

Submit via email, by September 1, 2013, 1-3 of your images in the format stated below in the rules.
Submit to: (



  1. Amateurs only. (‘amateur’ means you do not get paid for your work.)
  2. Morgan horses only. (Horses can be at liberty or under saddle.)
  3. Photography only. No “graphics”, logos or Photoshop-type entries allowed. Minor adjustments such as light/contrast, cropping, etc., is allowed using your favorite graphics/image program.
  4. You may enter up to 3 images.
  5. Entries must be received on or before September 1, 2013.
  6. Email digital files only. No snailmail entries.
  7. Entries must be .jpg and minimum 400 pixels wide and maximum 600 pixels wide at 72 dpi.
  8. Your full name and photo title must be included in email. Name your file with title of your photo. I.e., attachment file: myprettymorgan.jpg


  • April thru September 1, 2013: Entries received.
  • During the month of September: Judging.
  • October 2013: Winners announced in the Fall Newsletter issue. *Sign up for our Newsletter here!


  1. Subscription to our Newsletter is not required to enter.
  2. Merriewold Morgans, it’s partners or sponsors are not responsible for any copyright infringement concerning the entries submitted by you and posted on the website.
  3. Email submittal of your entries warrants and guarantees that you are the original creator and owner of each entry image.
  4. No monetary award will be afforded in lieu of prizes.
  5. By submitting your entry, you acknowledge and give consent for the display of said images on the website indefinitely and without monetary consideration. Consent also applies to any winning images that “may” be used in advertising campaigns; media promoting or reporting on the contest for this, or coming years.


Bob LangrishBob Langrish MBE has established a firm reputation as one of the foremost International equestrian photographers in the world.

After 38 years of specialization in this field, he has built an equestrian photographic library of over 400,000 pictures covering all aspects of the horse. He has completely illustrated well over 100 books and has contributed to over 200 others.

He is most famous for his stunning pictures of horses running free especially Arabs and Andalusians. He has taken photographs at six Olympic games and travels to the United States of America at least 7 times a year and has flown 1.50 million miles in the last 14 years for calendar photography and adds 20,000 new images to his library annually.

He works for top equestrian magazines in more than 20 countries around the World. Bob Langrish MBE lives in a 17th century Cotswold tythe barn conversion. His International business is based a few miles away in a 17th century stone building – once the local courthouse – in a small village called Bisley, deep in the heart of the Cotswolds. Bob is a totally self-taught photographer and uses digital for all of his work. He uses Canon EOS 1D MK IV cameras and lenses from 15mm – 500mm. Please visit Bob Langrish, Equestrian Photographer, to view his incredible photographic images.



Merriewold Morgans, 10515 La Ranchita Lane, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420, 805-473-2356

Morgan Sport and Show Horses for the Competitive Owner and Rider. Breeding Stock for the Quality Morgan Breeder. Family and Pleasure Horses for the Morgan Enthusiast.

Farm Supply Company

Welcome to Farm Supply. We are a farmer-owned cooperative proudly serving the Central Coast’s farm, home and ranch needs for 60 years. Check out our department pages to learn more abut our products and services. Stop by one of our 5 locations in Santa Maria, Arroyo Grande, San Luis Obispo, Buellton and Paso Robles to say hello. Whether you’ve got 100 rolling acres in Paso Robles or a small patio in Pismo Beach, Farm Supply has everything you need for the farmer in you!

Samy’s Camera

At Samy’s Camera, we have all your equipment needs.  Plus, we offer a wide range of photographic services for the professional and amateur alike.  From online digital prints, to wide format printing and even professional quality book binding.  If it has to do with photography, Samy’s can help.  In additoin to our finishing services, Samy’s offers several photo classes and workshops.



Merriewold Morgans Farm Supply Company Samy's Camera
Merriewold Morgans Farm Supply Company Samy’s Camera