Saturday, January 24, 2015

Beginner's Guide to Model Horse Photography

If you're new to the model horse hobby, you may wonder how to take beautiful pictures like you see online. You know the photos; realistic looking horses prancing along the seashore before crashing waves, or running through meadows with soaring mountains in the background, or going through their paces in an arena that looks like it should have flies, it's so realistic.

When I started showing my models in photo shows back in 1978, everyone stuck their models on their front lawns and took pictures. The grass was up to the horse's hocks, but if you got close enough to the model to frame it well within the picture, it was all good - cameras back then were really basic, and anyone with a 35MM with telephoto lens was like the photo showing queen!

Today, even the most basic digital camera has double the features of those primitive film cameras back in 1978. Editing software enables you to trim down the pictures sizes, cutting out extraneous items in the photo and focusing better on the subject.

For model horse collectors, this means a renewed emphasis on the entire photo. When all else is equal and we all have cameras capable of taking good, clear images, the entire picture framing your best horses models will enhance their overall appearance and make them show-ring winners.

Today's photo shoot backdrop and props were created with:

  • An old cookie sheet we were going to throw out
  • Clean clay kitty litter
  • Rocks from my garden
  • A few leaves from a fern on the windowsill
  • Two clipboards
  • Two photos that I took of local areas, printed out onto regular paper and affixed to the clipboard

And that's IT!

Here's how to set up the photo shoot like I did in the picture:

  1. Print a photo that you took for the background.
  2. Affix it to a firm surface such as a piece of cardboard or a clipboard.
  3. Place it in the cookies sheet, balancing it vertically against something (in this case, I balanced it against a floor lamp which I moved behind the backdrop to offset the shadows cast by the flash).
  4. Fill the tray with fish tank gravel or clean cat litter. Sand can also work well.
  5. Add some props to improve the 3-D effect. A few rocks and twigs from the yard can serve as simple props. Without the props, the picture tends to look too flat. The props help the image seem more realistic and the background more realistic, too.
  6. Experiment by moving the props around. The position of the props should enhance, not detract, from your models. 
  7. Take several photos of each model - right side, left side. Make sure you can see the hooves as well as the whole horse. Don't bury the hooves in the base material.
  8. When you're done, download the images to your computer and resize for showing. 

I moved the set up close to a natural source of light and turned on ALL the lights in the room. This enabled me to try some photos with a flash and some without. If you take pictures of your models with a flash, you must make sure that they are far enough away from the backdrop so that there are no ugly shadows on the "mountain" or "field" behind the model.  A flash may also add shiny patches to your model that detracts from its beauty. Try to take pictures using natural light only if you can.

This backdrop is sized well for Stablemate scale models. I always photographed two Little Bit scale models, some Breyer Mini Whinnies, and some of my dog collection today.

My set up today: an old cookie sheet filled with clay cat litter, a photo I took printed out and affixed to the clipboard, and some rocks and twigs. Cover the area where the clipboard meets the base sand to make it look more natural.

Breyer Mini Whinnies are so tiny the cat litter looks like boulders!
I like this background better with trotting horses. It is a trail near my home that I photographed. I just put it on a second clipboard and switched it out. It works well with the Breyer Stablemate Morgan mare.

This is a Little Bit scale resin called "Anton". I did not use a flash for this picture, just natural light. I think it makes the whole image look more realistic. 

PLEASE DO NOT copy my pictures to your pages etc. Feel free to share a LINK to the post or use the social sharing buttons. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

EquinArt Creations Model Horse Sales Is Closing

EquinArt Creations will stop selling model horses on December 15, 2014. We are shutting down our website for model horse sales, and will be transitioning to a new business model in 2015. Moving forward, I am going to focus the company on selling my own nature artwork and photography, as well as selling model horse magazines, books and other publications.

As we begin the shut down process, some of our artists are building and launching their own sales websites. Still others, such as Michelle Platt, are closing out many of their molds. 

Please check our Facebook page, Model Horse Sales Pages, and our website for details on any sales. 

Thank you for your support these past 10 years!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Why Do Artist Resin Horse Models Have Wires in the Legs?

Newcomers to the world of artist resin model horses are sometimes shocked to receive their copy of a "holy grail" resin. The pristine white cast portrayed on the artist or company website isn't in the box. Instead, the cast the collector receives has ugly bits of metal showing on the legs, and sometimes the tail. Is the model defective in some way?

The Amirah artist resin sculpted by Cathy Bercier Choyce. This is a good example of a resin where wires tend to show in the legs - the Arabian has very thin legs. It's not a flaw or a mistake. It's for durability and support.

Those ugly bits of metal are actually important support "beams" showing from the infrastructure of the resin casting. If you've ever looked closely at a horse - I mean really closely, not taking the image of the horse for granted - you may notice that horses balance a great deal of body weight over relatively fragile leg bones. Horse models are no different, and artist resin model horses, especially solid casts and larger models in Traditional scale, balance a great deal of resin weight over fragile legs. Tails that extend away from the body or in an artist flourish over the horse's back may also need reinforcement so that they do not break during shipping or handling.

Better quality resins, even rotational-cast resins which are cast on a machine that creates a hollow space within the barrel to lighten the weight of the final model, almost always have wires inserted into the legs to provide extra support for the piece. If wires aren't use, the legs can bend over time. That's what's happening to my beloved Black Horse Ranch Thoroughbred weanling artist resin, produced in 1990 - here he is, and if you look carefully, you can see some ugly bending starting in the legs, especially the front left leg. It's bending inwards more than it should under the weight of the solid piece:

Most prepping artists and model horse collectors simply sand down the areas near the wires. If the area is particularly bumpy, fillers can be used to smooth the area.

Wires showing on raw cast artist resin model horses are normal and pretty typical within the hobby. It's certainly not unusual.  If you love artist resin horse models, you'll appreciate the support and longevity they add to your prized work of art.

For more on prepping model horses, Feldman Studios has a good instructional sheet online.