On the first weekend of June, I went with a friend to Mono Lake to see and to photograph the mustang herds in that area. It was a sunny, warm couple of days. Although we woke up early and went to bed very late, trying to take advantage of the angled sun and cooler hours, the light was still harsh. The featured photograph series above was taken around 7:20 p.m. The shadows, more visible on the foals’ pale coat, are still very strong. This is the kind of light I would expect from a powerful strobe without any diffusion. Despite frustration in photography, we had a good time. It is always a good time with horses.
Mustangs are feral horses that roam in the Western United States’ public lands. For the most part, they descend from horses brought to the Americas from Spain around 1600. Although the original mustangs were Colonial Spanish horses, other breeds and types of horses have contributed to the makeup of the modern mustang herds. This includes stray horses used by the United States Cavalry and escaped ranch horses or animals that were purposedly released into the wild.
Only occasionally do I endeavor to photograph animals in the wild. I am not equipped to do it well, and I lack the necessary patience and creativity to produce out-of-the ordinary wildlife photos. I do, however, get a little more enthusiastic when it comes to horses. I learned to ride when I was three years old, and I spent most of my childhood and teenage years on the back of a horse. Today, I do not have the financial resources and the time to ride anymore, but I still enjoy the presence of these magnificent animals.
I uploaded a different version of the image below in my “Light Matters” portfolio at Artspan, where prints are available for sale.
Location: Eastern Sierra Nevada near Mono Lake, California, USA;
Equipment: Featured Image: Nikon Z50, AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F2.8G; Lonesome Dove: Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm F2.8G
Settings: Featured image: f/8, 1/800”, ISO 750, at 200 mm; Lonesome Dove: f/8, 1/800”, ISO 100, at 70 mm;
Tips: as tempting as it might feel, do not get close to the horses, do not feed them or pet them. They are wild and if they hurt you because you were careless, they are the ones that will suffer the consequences. A 300-600 focal length and fast lens is what you need (I shot at 200 mm but my images are cropped very tight). I like to shoot at f/8 to get more in focus. I set the shutter speed between 800s and 1250s and leave the ISO in the automatic to get the right exposure.
I uploaded two short videos showing some of the open space the West is famous for, the light conditions for photography, and the herd.