Hardy Konik ponies graze the Wicken Fen nature reserve, keeping the wetland grasses at bay and adding their own brand of fertiliser to the land. I snapped a clutch of photos of these beasts on a recent visit, but there were so many reeds between them and my camera lens that I had to duck and dive to try and get a shot of a head toss, or a gallop or a noisy splash in the marshy water. Of 52 photos taken from various positions along the footpath trying to capture the equine essence all but one captured a story of wild life on the fen I feel.
Of course, it was the first photo of the contact sheet. It’s often the way, the subconscious brain frames the shot, sets the settings by instinct and clicks the shutter at just the right moment. Everything after that is just tweaking the concept it seems. The first shot is often the creativity in the raw and almost always, I find, the best photo.
In this shot, there are reeds between the ponies and the camera eye, which might be somewhat distracting in some ways, but the pony on the left is in plain sight and staring right at the camera. We are thus engaged through that direct eye contact with this one pony. His companion is distracted, partially hidden by the out-of-focus reeds, but looking to the right of the frame, off-stage, as it were, looking at something else waiting in the wings. It was the other ponies of course, but they’re not in this shot, there’s just an implied presence by the pony on the right with his head turned towards them.
Also, I did little to the levels and curves in this photo, nudged the “vibrancy” ever so slightly to make the most of it being almost golden hour, but rather than push the bottoms in and bring down the tops I let it ride to capture some of that evening haze. The other photos were all fun, head tosses and the like, but none so evocative as this one…to my eye, at least.