Tennessee Travels, Photography


Awareness of the outside world. “An honor to give the opening keynote at Italia Tech Week. As we face the fears of our present the past can remind us we really have made great progress with things like vaccines, refrigeration, affordable books & education, things our ancestors never dreamed we could achieve.” Ada Palmer, @Ada_Palmer, Twitter, Sep 29, 2022.


“Middle Tennessee Carriage Club was having an in-club Driving Derby at Coach Kate’s house. We went up to help. Greg officiated. I took photos. More on being a show photographer tomorrow.” [Tennessee Travels, Driving]

Coach Kate asked me to wander around taking pictures. I reminded her that it has been a long time since I have done this. She reminded me that people like to see pictures of their horses, photo technique irrelevant.

Fair enough.

First time I’ve done this in years. All my recent work has be interviews by telephone. Photos were either supplied by the subject or a local photographer was dispatched. So, X since I’ve taken any professional shots. X times 2 since I’ve done straight up horse show photos. Turns out, it comes back.

Big camera but full auto. Still calling it a photo day because it was educational. Thoughts and photos follow in no particular order.

I found a place to stand. Until I remembered how much my back hates standing in one place. I sat. I knelt. I moved around. Things I should be doing for better photos anyway [Photo Theory, comments].

Had no luck getting light. Cranked the ISO. Score one for digital. It was overcast but not that overcast. Despite 6400 ISO, the photos were still dark. I decided it was my lens but not my lens’ fault. Zoom in on faces? Fine. Zoom in AND ask for speed? No. Would need another zero on the price tag. It’s a nice lens. It does what it is designed for. It was not designed for that. There is a reason horse show photographers have cameras with long snouts and big glass.

Because of the lack of light and the auto setting, the flash kept trying to turn on. I was deeply annoyed that I could not remember how to turn it off. I had done so just two days earlier. One of my problems with photography is that I can’t keep things like this in my head. The only class I ever truly struggled with was an engineering class. My brain doesn’t work that way. This feels similar.

Since it was a club function, I took people shots as well as competition. Faces. People sitting on the side lines. Not exciting unless you know the people involved. The sort of images that would play well in an annual dinner slide show.

Being able to zoom in for candids meant I could be far from subject but still get close. People were less self-conscious without me up in their faces.

I have good habits. As much as humanly possible, I will stand near an immovable object, such as a tree, or in the case of carts, the dressage railing which they would not vault. The idea is to be somewhere the horse will not go.

Looking for a new angle. I’ll stand here. Get a photo as they go thru that set of cones. Then they will pass in front of me over there. Unfortunately, my understanding of driving courses is not as good as my understanding of ridden courses. I completely misinterpreted the route they would take and was very surprised how close the next cart came. Fortunately, I was already smashed up against the fenceline. The line of cart tracks in the grass right in front of me should have been a tip off.

Speaking of good habits, only one horse spooked at me. I was standing sidled up next to a tree. I am very good about staying still as the horse goes by. The spook was a tiny eek and a sidestep. I decided this was part of the educational portion of the day. Judging by the photos, a few more horses had their ears on me as they zoomed past.

Coach Kate

The photos turned out good! I’m not bragging. I’m surprised. They look way better than they did on the camera screen.

Often the subject was too small in relation to frame. This is a common newbie mistake that I learned to correct with horse with rider. Driving is hard to get right. It’s a long subject. I cut off a lot of rear wheels.

Learned to look for three sets of eyes: horse, driver, and navigator.

Never format a card in the field. Do all of them in the morning before a single shot is taken. Too much is at risk if you cross up your process. I started to format the second set of cards and stopped. Nothing was at risk of being lost. A) I had the correct card & B) I forgot to hit go on the format. It was the possibility for error that gave me the shudders.

Grand total of 413 photos turned over to Coach Kate. Some repeats trying different angles. Not too many flat out duds. I think I got multiple photos of each competitor, which was the whole point of my being there.

Facebook: Middle Tennessee Carriage Club, Derby and 30th Anniv lunch. Lunch pics not mine.


6 thoughts on “Tennessee Travels, Photography

  1. Genetics and history are fascinating. When I met your father, he was the proud owner of a camera with a long snout and big glass. His photographs for his college daily newspaper were well-regarded. One even made it to Life magazine.

    As he made his choices in life, photography was replaced by law school and the long snout with the big glass was sold to buy my engagement ring. You arrived, grew up and now are the proud owner of a long snout with big glass.

    As I have said before, when you are shooting, the resemblance to him is astounding. It’s not just the physical resemblance. Nor is it just the whatever-angle-it-takes-to-get-the-shot postures you take. It is the absolute concentration. Your focus is so…focused.

    It gives me great joy to see the passing of the camera from him to you.

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