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HORSE PAINTINGS BY KAREN BRENNER
Photographing White Horses of the Camargue in France
Posted May 21, 2016
Sometimes dreams do come true....I love painting white horses and have a table top photo book filled with the famous white horses of the Camargue in France. I dreamed of going there to take photos for paintings... and guess what! I just got back from my dream trip! And it was WONDERFUL!
Getting thousands of photos of the horses was my goal and, thanks to Serge - and his Create Away photography workshop - I have 4,205 photos! Not all are "painting worthy" (thankfully) but on the plane trip home I sorted through them and tentatively selected 370 that I would be delighted to paint! (Still way too many, so I have further refined the selection to 124... and I really want to paint ALL of those!)
See some of my Beautiful Horses of the Camargue paintings!
Here are a few photos from my trip:
The first morning we met this Camargue dressage stallion on the shore of the Mediterranean. Here he is with Serge, our Create Away photography workshop leader.
The stallion was lead out into the sea and released. Whe took photos as he galloped toward the beach... and his bucket of grain.
The stallion's owner free lunged him on the beach so we could get photos of him racing in front of the waves.... and also rearing.... Those shots will be future paintings!
You can see we got to be very close to the action! Isn't this stallion beautiful!
That afternoon Serge drove us out into the countryside. Local guardians (cowboys) gently herded these Camargue mares down the road to the pasture where we would be taking photos.
It was raining on and off - which was perfect for moody photos. Here the horses stand in a shallow lake. The region was filled with lakes, marshes, rivers and of course the sea. We were soon equipped with waders, and sludging through the water getting close up shots of the horses as the rested in the water.
And then the guardians drove the horses right toward us. Oh, so fun to photograph!
And yes, we did get splashed!
Here's a second lake in the pasture with the horses racing toward us.
That evening we were luck enough to be invited to a Ferrade - a bull branding ceremony usually off limits to anyone other than local families and friends. The guardians raced toward the guests chasing a young bull, which they roped (before it got too close!). Then young men wrestled it to the ground and it was branded.
After that, the crowd made their way to a round, cement fenced arena. Riding through the open gate were these closely packed riders...I did not understand what was happening until.....
Someone told me that there were four bulls in the center of the pack. I was told that this closely packed riding formation is how bulls are escorted into the streets of the 12th century walled city, Aigues Mortes (where our old world hotel was located) for celebrations later in the year.
It was fun to see these ladies at the Ferrade in their traditional outfits.
We also got a close up look at the traditional saddles - still used by the guardians. Will, I and another workshop participant went riding one morning, and I can vouch for the comfort of these saddles. The high back is really nice!
The Camargue is famous for its flamingos. And Create Away does a workshop for bird photographers as well!
The next morning we were up around dawn and photographing horses in the wonderful morning light. Here you can see Serge and the other photographers in our group wearing our waders. Ros, who coordinates the workshops, had warned us that we would gradually sink into the bottom of the lake as we stood taking photos....and to be very careful as we moved about - so we didn't fall and drop our cameras in the water.
That evening we got to photograph yearlings. Camargue horses are born brown or charcoal, and gradually turn white. The gray colors of these yearling will be fun to paint! These youngsters looked super galloping through a shallow lake in the evening light.
The final morning we got to photograph these two stallions along a pure blue lake. This is the area where we had ridden the day before. You can see flamingos in the distance on the left. . . and perhaps a few of the swans on the right. Of course I am focusing on the horses!
That morning we also got to visit the mares and foals nearby. Here is the herd stallion patiently observing his herd. That youngster was the friendliest... following us all around .... and getting in LOTS of photos!
Yes, there he is again!
The final evening we headed out late in the day to the Mediterranean. The guardians transported 10 horses to the private beach - five for the guardians and five to run free.
We waded across a river, and first stopped at this shallow lake where the guardians had the horses run toward us for photos. Unlike the pastures with the lakes, there were no fences here. It was a vast area, and the guardians were great at directing the horses.
This is the horse I got to ride the previous day! He recognized me at the evening photo shoot!
Check out this photo. . . The horses are glowing in the beautiful light of the setting sun.
What a grand finale to a wonderful workshop!
Want to see more photos? Click here for my Facebook photo album.
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