Ace Ventura, American Azteca

A friend of mine unexpectedly lost her much-loved horse, Ace, to severe colic this week. This post is in  his honor.

Ace was rescued from a local livestock auction when he was a yearling. His rescuer asked around and managed to find out a bit of his history and his breeding. Turned out his sire was an Andalusian and his dam was a quarterhorse, so she set out to acquire the necessary documentation and get him registered as an American Azteca. Lacking some of the finer details such as specific birth date, she arbitrarily gave him April 1 as his birthday and named him Ace Ventura. He not only lived up to his name but also his assigned birth date, and never outgrew either! He came to live with my friend when he was around two years old, I believe.

Ace was a beautiful, kind and charismatic prankster, and far too intelligent and athletic for his own good. My friend really had to “up” her horsemanship skills to keep up with this special horse, but his antics always kept her laughing, and he proved to be a solid and reliable, and much admired, trail companion.

Ace’s person and I met through our shared enthusiasm for Iberian horses. My own much-missed Oporto was a purebred Lusitano, Portuguese cousin to the PRE (Pure Spanish horses, sometimes known as Andalusians), and at the time we met there weren’t many Spanish and Portuguese horses around where we live. So the loss of Ace has really hit me hard, too – he felt like extended family to me. It almost feels like the end of an era.

We’re going to miss you, Ace…

Equine impressions

Time for some more creative blurs. This pair of images was captured while visiting a nearby equestrian centre. I intentionally moved the camera while shooting in combination with a slow shutter speed to achieve the effect. I particularly like how this technique can produce ‘ghosting’ in parts of the image.


crop view of horse and rider

This is an image of a horse and rider waiting their turn at a classical riding workshop. I captured this image a few years ago and it’s languished in my photo library ever since because altho there was something about it that I liked, the background in the original was really not attractive and the exposure was a little off. At the time I didn’t have Lightroom or NIK or some of my other go-to software that I use now. So when I came across the image a couple of weeks ago and casually played around with the exposure settings, then let NIK loose on it, and then added a custom bokeh background, I was rather surprised by how much I suddenly liked the image. I love how the light catch’s the horse’s eye. You may need to view the larger image to see it.

I’m posting it today to remind me to make up a print for the rider in question. She’s going to love it!


Bilbo – Monochrome Madness Week 39

This isn’t the first time you’ve seen images of Bilbo, mini horse and tormenter extraordinaire of regular sized horses. He has shown up in several earlier posts and will doubtless show up again in posts to come.

Click on the images for larger view.

mini horse looking back over shoulder, view from behind, black and white


The top image is my submission to this week’s Monochrome Madness Challenge over on Leanne Cole’s blog. Click on the link to see what everybody else came up with — it’s always interesting to see the great variety of styles!

Below I’ve also included the color version and a couple of images of Bilbo at large.

mini horse looking back over shoulder, view from behind mini  horse galloping away mini horse standing looking



SPEED – Monochrome Madness Week 38

galloping black horse, creative blur, black & whiteClick on image for larger view.

This is Espada, a lovely black Andalusian mare, channeling a racing Thoroughbred. I love the sense of raw energy in this image.

Hop on over to Leanne Cole’s blog to check out all the submissions for this week’s Monochrome Madness Challenge. The variety of styles is always really interesting!



Watercolour effect on iPad

mini-horse teasing a larger horse

This is, of course, Bilbo-the-mini harassing Oporto yet again!

I can remember when Photoshop was really the only game in town for photo art, then came various plug-ins and other software, but it was, some of it still is, horribly expensive. Plus the learning curve was steep, so a lot of the options were out of reach for the average person. Now that there are cheaper (even free) and easier options just about anyone can play digital artist. We all know this is not always a good thing but it is what it is. The advent of free or almost free yet sophisticated mobile apps has totally changed the game.

I’ve been checking out some of the iPad art apps this year and this week I took a cute but quite underexposed image to see what I could do with it on my iPad without any processing on my desktop. I only used apps that were free or under $9.99, and with a very shallow learning curve, ie apps that anyone might use. I was really impressed with what could be achieved, and I still haven’t yet used the higher rated ones that I have (that have a slightly steeper learning curve). I think having Photoshop experience definitely helped. Yes, I could have cleaned up parts of the image a little but watercolor paint can act like that and this was a quick experiment.


Babysitter – Monochrome Madness Week 36

Horse intereacting with pony, dark sepia treatmentClick on image for larger view.

Here is Oporto with one of his little pony friends. He was a feisty late-gelded stallion (never “just” a gelding) but acted like a solicitous mother mare around the ponies. They adored Oporto, but were a little rough on him. This pony had just finished biting him on the shoulder, and you can see Oporto is gently twanging a fold of skin on the pony’s neck to remind him to be a little more gentle. I loved watching them all hanging out together…there was always something going on!

I chose this image as my submission to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness Challenge, week 36, published today. Click here to head on over to Leanne’s blog to check out all the great submissions.