This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
Horses. One of the most difficult of the domestic animals to photograph is the horse. It is comparatively easy, of course, if it is in harness or held by means of a halter, but to photograph the animal free from all such restraint is an entirely different proposition. The good points of the horse may be shown by photographing it when held by a halter. It is also possible to paint and retouch the halter out after the negative has been made, but it requires careful work to accomplish the best results.
604. The most successful method of photographing a horse is to place it on a slight incline so that the fore feet are a trifle higher than the hind feet. In this position the head is thrown up and by making a slight noise the animal will prick up its ears and at this moment you should make the exposure. Always make the animal look alive in the picture. The ears must never point backward, always forward. Do not have the horse standing with its head drooped and looking as if it never intended to move. When the horse is in harness it should be posed on level ground, or a very slight incline. To make horses look lively, a hat may be tossed up in front of them and at the moment they look up, the exposure should be made.
Horses In Action. To photograph running horses a lens of excellent speed, also a shutter capable of giving from l-1000th to l-300th part of a second is required. It is impossible for the human eye to follow the complex movement of the animal's feet, therefore proper judgment cannot be made as to whether or not the image of the feet and legs secured on the plate are technically and artistically correct. A number of attempts should be made in order to have a number of positions from which to make a selection.
Pictures of running horses should be made with the camera held very near the ground, for this is the only position in which it is possible to secure the proper view of the feet. To make pictures of jumping horses, the same method is employed. The height of a jump may be somewhat exaggerated by placing the camera near the ground. For extreme cases an excavation may be made in the ground for this purpose and pictures made from there increase the actual height of the hurdles and make a small jump look very remarkable.
606. Do not be surprised if, upon development of the negative, your animal lacks a tail, leg or even the head. After a few experiments you will be able to judge correctly the exact moment for releasing the shutter and secure the subject on the plate with proper spacing and margin. If you are using a hand camera, be sure to start releasing the shutter before the horse's head has reached the center of the plate. However, if you are using a reflex type of camera, it is possible to release the shutter just a fraction of a second before the animal is in proper position on the ground-glass.
607. If the horse is to be pictured at work, select the point of view past which he will come, being extremely careful that the camera is so placed to secure a part front and part side view.