It’s exciting watching all the action leading up the the Heart of the Carolinas Three-Day Event in Chesterfield, SC; my home for the next week. Over the past two days we’ve walked the Cross Country Course, watched the tree to be sculpted be set up, worked through the photo ops in the show jumping, and so much more. So, it’s time for me to fill you in on the happenings.
The hit of today was the positioning of the tree trunk that wood carver Randy Boni will sculpt into a beautiful entrance to the area where the guest horses will settle in and where most of the activity beyond the competition will take place. Major equipment was used to raise the trunk because of its weight and tractors moved it into place where it was then bolted into a cement base. Now there’s nothing set into the wood but as Randy carves we’ll all have a chance to see just what will develop over the next few days.
Randy’s work can be seen everywhere on these grounds as he’s carved designs into many of the cross country jumps. He’s also done some independent carvings of all kinds of animals, from bears to fox, raccoon and so many more unique creations. Everyone has been impressed not only by what he produces but how quickly he is able to produce the final sculpture. It’s just one more thing that separates Heart of the Carolinas from so many other events to make it just a little different.
Yesterday was a day of Cross Country walking to check out the flow of the jumps. As a photographer I want to know which fences I will have he ability to photograph. At most Three Day Events you generally can only get to one Cross Country fence at a time but here at Southern Eighths for the amateur rider there are actually places where you will be able to get more than one fence at a time. But in order to understand how much time you have in between jumps to reposition yourself, it’s important to memorize the flow of the course.
Since there are three levels, Beginner-Novice, Novice and Training, that means three different courses to learn. I opted for an area around the water jump because I like shooting horses galloping through the water as I think it provides you the opportunity for multiple photos at one jump. So, while I’ve done a first path through to get a sense of my options, I intend to spend a bit more time figuring out the flow of the course.
My next project was checking out the Show Jumping course. Here I have a few things to consider, namely where can I position myself to get the most fences by very little repositioning. What’s made this decision even harder is that there is one jump in particular that stands out above the rest and must be part of that shot. This is a jump with two horse heads as the standards and the Southern Eighths Logo built into the front panel. And right there is yet another thing that must be considered, namely getting in the names of the key sponsors. In this case that’s Southern Eighths and Nikon.
Then the question is how do you do that a maintain the beauty of the place. I think we will do that in a subtle but workable way. While we do have some larger banner signage, we’ve also laminated logos that are smaller and will be just enough to be visible to the public yet not overwhelm the pictures. So that signage will be visible as part of jumps or backdrops so that the pictures include the logos but not in an overwhelming sort of way.
Two other key issues when deciding where to position yourself for shooting is the position of the sun and where to do the presentation shots. Backdrop is key as you want a beautiful, uncluttered and unmarred backdrop. With so much beauty on this property you don’t want to see vehicles or other distracting objects as the backdrop. So, where possible that’s been taken into consideration.
I may have to compromise about the sun and hope that it’s high enough not to be in front of me because the one main jump is where it is. That same jump is what we’ve opted to create as the presentation photo since it’s got the signage and we can add flowers to beautify it and create the perfect winner’s photo.
So, now with time spent memorizing the course and playing with repositioning myself and which is the best lens to use, I think I’m ready for the show jumping.
What was especially fun about today was wandering around seeing everyone in action, from those painting jumps, to others mowing lawns. Numbers were being put up on the show jumping fences and Nikon signage added to the decor. There were discussions about what plants and flowers we should use to beautify the Nikon Photo and Winner’s Circles and how to include the sponsor signage. Everywhere you turned someone was doing something to spruce up the place and it gave me a feeling of excitement.
The day’s not over yet but I have to add one more great ingredient to an already developing lasting memory. Pati Martin is an incredible cook and hostess. I’ve had a chance to witness some of her incredible meals and she has a gift about picking great (but healthy) snacks so no one is ever hungry and can deal with their hunger when they can and her dinners are scrumptious. Easter dinner started with deviled eggs and salad, followed by mushroom lasagna and fresh cooked ham with asparagus and was topped off with strawberries that we dipped in delicious chocolate. It certainly has been a great way to end these very long days.
Well, that’s all for now. I finish this column in time to still do some more running around in hopes of learning a bit more about the Cross Country course. So, don’t forget to email me with your questions at [email protected] and take this daily journey with me as we travel through the lead up to the Heart of the Carolinas Three-Day Event in Chesterfield, SC.