Photographing in low-light conditions can be a challenge for any photographer even with today’s high-tech DSLR cameras. The more expensive the equipment the better quality image a photographer can capture with almost no ambient light.
Film cameras required photographers to choose an ISO rating for light sensitivity of the film before they loaded it in their camera. In a low light situation the highest rating they could achieve was about ISO 800. In contrast, high-end DSLR cameras can push the ISO setting up to 25,000. That allows a photographer to capture a lot more detail and have more control over depth of field and shutter speed in poor light.
But being able to capture an image in low light doesn’t guarantee drama. The light source hitting the subject in specific ways does that. The spotlight on stage is the most dramatic lighting there is because of the strong contrast between black and white.
The B.W. Pickett arena on Colorado State University’s foothills campus can host a variety of equine sporting events. However the light within the arena can be flat and challenge photographers to capture action without using a flash that would distract the horses.
The best lighting occurs when there is bright morning sunlight pouring through the garage door that riders use to enter and exit the arena. It also spills down in beams to the arena floor through transom windows on the east side of the building below the roofline.
Still, great equipment and lighting won’t guarantee the right shot with horses. It can take a photographer hundreds of shots at an event like the Silver Jubilee to produce a handful of good shots and a couple of “wow” shots. It also requires the riders to ride their horses through the light beams.
During the reining class the required pattern required riders to cover a larger area of the arena including passing through the light. Knowing the pattern helped me capture the pictures that I wanted. In the cow work class, the light was changing and most riders worked their cow at the far end of the arena and down the west wall. Overall, the competition was an exciting challenge to photograph.
The Colorado State University Ranch Horse Versatility Team hosted and competed at this weekend’s Silver Jubilee collegiate and open event.
Members of the team competed individually in ranch horse pleasure, reining, cow work and trail categories.
The Jubilee was sanctioned by the American Stock Horse Association, which included a cow work clinic on Friday with the event judge. Competitors not only had a chance to get pointers, but also improve their cow work skills before Saturday’s competition.
Unlike other events in the industry that require the horse and rider to become more and more specialized such as cutting horse competitions, the ASHA’s mission is to provide opportunities for competitors to highlight the versatility of the working stock horse.
Cadavers have played an important role in the advancement of human medicine. Early students sometimes paid grave robbers for bodies or took on that role themselves, as they were so desperate for the opportunity to learn about anatomy and disease in a time where autopsy was taboo.
Fortunately my equine science classmates and I don’t have to do any late night pet cemetery runs in order to learn about horses.
The majority of the time we are able to learn how to do procedures or study the behavior of our program’s horses, a small crew of animals with various pedigrees and medical histories. We also have a full-size horse skeleton; several horse skulls assorted bones, and prepared specimens at our disposal.
There are a group of mares that live at the equine reproduction laboratory that put up with gynecological exams and ultrasounds so we can learn how their anatomy changes to prepare for pregnancy. The stallions have also taught us how horses behave during the breeding season. Together, they have taught us how we can step into manage breeding to perpetuate bloodlines.
Occasionally, we have the opportunity to perform a necropsy on a recently euthanized horse that has been donated for the purpose of educating equine, pre-vet and veterinary students.
I’ve worked in a small animal veterinary practice and a wildlife rehabilitation center and participated in euthanization of terminally ill animals or animals with no quality of life or chance of recovery. It’s always sad for me. I suppose it brings up the mortality of my own beloved pets.
I can’t even begin to express my gratitude for the people who donated their horses to us for necropsy. It is very sad that these horses were so ill and had little or no quality of life. At the same time it is kind of wonderful that their death can serve a purpose, and can impart knowledge to young scientists.
The bodies are always handled with respect. It is a completely different learning experience to explore the anatomy of a horse through necropsy than from a lecture or book with pictures. The scale and the complexity and interconnectedness of the organ systems really illuminates how disease processes interfere and contract a life that could have gone on many years but for their specific problem. It helps us learn to recognize disease early, to see the damage it wreaks on the animal, to treat it more effectively in the future and will drive many of my peers to make new life-saving discoveries.
We respect the anonymity of the donors, but we want to thank them for contributing to our learning experience. It is not a sacrifice that everyone would or could make. It is a day I will never forget.