Brooke Competition Prize Part 1
The prize for the Brooke competition win was to spend a day with Matthew Seed the professional Horse Photographer and to have a Hasselbald X1D on loan for a couple of weeks. With the excellent organisational skills of Anne-Marie, the Director of the photo studio it was arranged that the photography day and the start of the camera loan period would take place on the same day.

I actually got up early to go up towards the studio in Cheshire and took some early morning photographs of Jodrell Bank and the lake at Marbury Park, so photographically the day had already been a good one.

Arriving at the photography studio I was made to feel very welcome and after a cup of tea and biscuits I sat down with Matthew to talk through his philosophy on taking his amazing horse pictures and other photography genres in general. I was also introduced to the Hasselblad X1D camera by Nicky, the Hasselblad representative. What was on loan was the first version of the X1D and two lenses, the XCD 30 and XCD 90.

A little wander around the gardens of Arley Hall followed, which is where the photo studio is located, mainly to get used to the feel of the X1D and how it works. Then after a very nice lunch in the Arley Hall restaurant it was time to move to a local stables and start the main photography session of the day.

After looking around the stables and selecting the location for the shoot setting up equipment, lights, power packs, etc. we asked the subjects of the session to take centre stage. Trying to capture the special bond between horse and rider is always going to be tricky, but factor in all of the photographic equipment, calculations of settings and keeping an eye on the rain that was heading our way, all contribute to the reason that Matthew is a respected professional in the field of horse photography. Of course you have to add to all that he was giving me some great tips and information at the same time !

Matthew took a series of photographs first in his preferred style and location. Then it ws my turn to try and put into practice what I had learned throughout the day. I started off using the same position and style as Matthew, but I did have another idea of my own to try and make my shots a little different. Where we were shooting was next to a large hedge which had developed some lovely autumnal leaf colours. I asked if we could swing everything around and use that hedge as a natural backdrop to the images.

I will leave it to you to decide if that was the right decision after viewing the images. After a little more time taking photographs in the new position, unfortunately the rain then started quite heavily and we had to break for cover and end the session.

All that was left was to pack away the equipment and to have a warming cup of tea before saying our goodbyes. I have to thank Matthew and Anne-Marie for a most excellent day I throughly enjoyed my time at the studio discussing photography and the practical session at the stables was a really great experience for me. Especially as I got to work with some professional equipment which make my own setup of a couple of cheap flash guns and soft boxes look a little underpowered !

I will write some more words soon about my experience with the Hasselblad camera, finally for now though my favourite photograph of the session is below, the most interesting thing for me is that this is straight out of the camera (via Lightroom) without any alterations, something I strive to achieve but usually don't manage with my current setup.

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