I have recently ventured into the terrain of equine photography; aka “horse photography”. A friend of mine has several ponies located at a nearby rural spot. He was kind enough to let me have a go at photographing his horses.

It’s nearly November, here in the UK. Which generally means cold and wet. On this particular weekend day the sun was, however, shining….after it had been raining heavily! So it was a tad “soft underfoot”, and the ponies were of course a bit on the muddy side. But I knew this could potentially make for an interesting photographic result when using black and white film stocks.

I had one roll of Ilford HP5+, and two rolls of Berger Pancro 400 (which I have never used before) both of which are readily available from Analogue Wonderland. The time of day was about one hour before sunset, so the light was ideal, and rather “contrasty” which is the light I like to use, typically with Kodak Tri-X 400. But as these two other films are the same speed, technically, I figured a one stop push to EI800 would allow for some nice contrast, and that often suits HP5+ in particular. But, of course, there was a minor snag…I’d misplaced my Sekonic incident light meter! Still, using a combination of the Sunny 16 rule and a reflective measure off the grass using my iPhone, I just about got the light readings good enough. The photos are a bit underexposed here and there but not so much as to ruin them.

A fun hour or so was spent with the ponies, who seemed to like my general Dr Doolittle nature, even if they did want to eat my film canisters and my boots! I got down on my knees at several points, and then went SAS-style, laying flat on the floor and rolling over to get new compositions quickly. This was less than ideal in horse poo and wet mud, but hey…this is what serious photography is all about!

The Hasselblad came away unscathed and I got three rolls of film shot with what I hoped were some OK results. A few hours in the lab of alchemy, aka “Teds kitchen with a bunch of chemicals”, and after a 24 hour drying spell, followed by a few hours scanning, we have a selection of what I think are some quite nice horse (pony) photographs. I like these real-life, gritty, pony photographs. I think they give a look of sincerity, and show them how they usually were during and before our older industrial revolution times. I also like the fact that with the exception of ones where a sense of scale is added (e.g. a keepers hand), it is quite hard to tell how big (or small) they are. If they could see the photos themselves, they’d probably think they look quite grand.

Anyway, here they are…