Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dortel, El Caballo Negro

(Click on any of the thumbnails for the bigger, better version)
There are horses everywhere you turn at Silent Knights Farms. And, to top it off, Spring was in full swing when we arrived there April 16—balmy temperatures, sunshine, flowers, horses, seven dogs. For me, it was a little bit of Heaven. Since we drove down on Friday and returned Monday, I had two full days there to soak up all the goodness.

Don’t get me wrong, life here in Bear Valley Springs is mighty sweet; but I had grown quite weary repeating, “Goodbye, Winter. It was nice knowing you. See you next year. Don’t hurry back,” only to have Mr. Winter come roaring back for an unwelcome encore. (It snowed here last night—two days before May.) A weekend of uninterrupted Spring was a lovely gift. And, of course, there is no such thing as too many horses about.

Naturally, I fell in love with a couple of horses that were new to me. That's typical of me, I'm afraid. I’m a sucker for great looks and spirit. But, two of my sweetest treats came in the form of reunions of sorts with old crushes of mine.

One of the sweetest reunions was with the black gelding, Dortel. Dortel, the wild man. Dortel, who puts on the tough guy, I-will-eat-you-alive act one minute, but in another stands peacefully while I croon to him in my nonsensical and butchered Spanish. I whisper “Beunos dias,mi Querida. Usted es muy dulce . Mi caballo negro es muy hermoso. El Caballo es muy grande, muy elegante.” (Good day, my love. You are very sweet .) Okay, laying it on a bit thick, but I’m kinda crazy about the beast; and, as for the next part, he certainly is black, black as coal, and very beautiful. Then, the horse is very large (That’s a lie. He’s an Arabian and far from huge.) Very smart. (Yes, maybe too smart for his own good.)
Dortel doesn’t know what I’m babbling on about and certainly doesn’t care that I am close to exhausting my miniscule Spanish vocabulary. I would feel even sillier talking to him about el gato (the cat) or telling him that el rio es rojo (the river is red). Therefore, the next stage usually ends up being “El caballo es muy loco y El Diablo, Si, uno caballo malo . Muy, muy loco en la cabeza.” Dortel isn’t fazed by being informed that he is crazy, a devil, bad, and even very crazy in the head. He just seems to like the sound of the Spanish language. Well, I think it sounds nice, as well, so we visit that way for a while.
Years ago, I met my friend at Silent Knight Farms, because of Dortel. She was walking him out after an endurance ride in Malibu and the moment I spotted them, I was smitten. She looked friendly and I asked the stranger if I might take some photos of her horse. She smiled, said sure, and that’s how it began. She became a client first, then a dear friend. And all because of this muy loco caballo. It was grand seeing him, this weekend, at liberty in one of the larger turnouts. What a joy he is to watch. Like the wind.

Monday, April 26, 2010

In Spring a Girl’s Fancy...

(Click on the thumbnail for the bigger, better version)

turns to camera gear and accessories. What? Camera gear and accessories?!! That doesn't sound right. Oh, well. Maybe that’s the difference between young girls and older girls. Yes. I suspect that’s it in a nutshell.

Last weekend, while photographing horses and the welcome signs of full blown Spring just a couple hundred miles south of us, I thought quite a bit about camera gear. Mostly my thoughts lingered on horses, flowers, and trees—like the pepper trees pictured here (one of my favorite trees). Occasionally, however, I was distracted by thoughts about camera accessories.

It’s time for a confession. I have never owned an extreme memory card. Yes, I know. Way behind the times. I’m still using SanDisk Ultra IIs. Why? Simple. They are cheaper. Now, I won’t drop below that quality; but, I have yet to splurge on an extreme card. I am curious as to whether or not anyone can vouch for the advantages. This issue comes up for me only when I am photographing horses at liberty, the hooves and dust are flying, and I want to take advantage of a little burst of “spray and pray” technique. Waiting for the buffer on my 50D to clear, I can’t help but wonder if the extreme card might help that along just a tad.

Now, I could switch to Jpeg format to ease the strain, but that isn’t going to happen. I am hopelessly addicted to RAW. I have a great number of old photographs taken in Jpeg format that I would dearly love to be magically transformed to RAW. What I can accomplish in ACR with a Jpeg file doesn’t come close to what I can mine from a RAW file. Of course, the better solution to the problem is a Canon 1D and extreme cards. Dream on, Anita. Not in the cards. The other kind of cards.

If you have any experience with extreme cards and can encourage me that they will make an appreciable difference when shooting fast action, I will go for it. What little I know about extreme cards leads me to believe that their main advantage shows up when you download files to your storage device. But, I may be dead wrong about that. I haven’t bought any yet, because I suspect the only thing that would make any appreciable difference would be that other camera that will have to remain in the “wouldn’t it be nice?” category. That or stop using high-speed continuous shooting mode.

Sigh. Choices. I think I’ll concentrate on pepper trees for a while. It’s easier and much less expensive.