Cutter/Sleigh Images

A couple weeks ago there was just enough snow to hold the annual Manes & Tails Cutter/Sleigh event in Woodbury, MN.  The temperature cooperated compared to the below zero temperature last year.  The event is formally judged based on the presentation of the horse, the sleigh, and the handlers/riders.  The better teams are presented in a particular historical period.  The first image below employs a typical style that I like to use in my vintage images, merging an antique look with a hint of the present.

Rudy is tall, and his fur coat makes him look big and warm in this scene.  The new sleigh was a brilliant blue, but I prefer very subtle colors so I desaturated it in post processing about 80%.  The owner raises these small horses/ponies as a business.

I love to experiment with different post processing techniques. The following images are some examples of my experimentation. I may not continue with the technique on all my images, but its use leads me to other ideas and techniques that I may want to employ in the future.  I prefer to avoid techniques that simply involve pushing a  button on my computer, but rather use a variety of tools that apply changes  like a painter uses a brush. As photographers we have so many tools available to us these days. It is important to experiment with any available tools to see what they can produce, rather than rely on one standard technique.

Friesians are one of my favorite horse breeds.  They are quite large, but gentle.  The pair of horses below are Friesian/Morgan mix.  They cut through the snow pulling the sleigh and riders almost effortlessly.  Last year, the snow was more than four feet deep and these horses moved through the drifts as if it was fluffy cream.

The image blow is a variation on my vintage look.  It contains a stronger background than what I normally use, but it works here because the  background is relatively simple.  I started using these techniques to minimize background distractions, but if the background is something that may support the image, I look for other ways to handle it.  Some are more successful than others. I constantly work at experimenting and transforming backgrounds to see what works, what needs tweaking, and what needs to be left in the dust.

The last image below involved my experimentation with emphasizing a cool environment.  I have mixed feelings about how successful it is, but I wanted to show some more dramatic experimentation.  You can decide whether it works or not.

Submitted by Member John Olson

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