On Monday the events leading up to the annual Chincoteague Pony Swim kick into high gear, culminating Wednesday, July 24, with the pony swim to be followed by the Auction of the Foals held on Thursday. (please see more photos below)
During our visit to Chincoteague this past February, we were able to get much more up close and personal to the famous ponies than usual thanks to Super Storm Sandy.
Apparently to keep the ponies safe, officials opened up gates that kept the ponies in their assigned areas giving the ponies free reign at the refuge so they could avoid flooding and other dangers resulting from the violent storm. For the most part, this was still the case in February.
I shot this portrait shortly after sunrise. A photo seminar (which I was not a part of) was being held in the refuge with a couple of dozen photographers. The instructor leading it
spoke to the group using a megaphone. Myself and another photographer got to this group of ponies before the class did. But when the teacher and students pulled up the horses continued to graze along the main road that goes thru the refuge and ends at the beach. The ponies were very busy eating and rarely looked up except whenever the megaphone beeped and they would glance in my direction, which lead to this particular shot. (above)
The ponies started to walk in the road and at one point, were surrounded by some many of the student photographers it became challenging to get photos without people in them.
Helpful tip on photographing the wild ponies- do not try to stand too close to these animals- especially if you are behind them.You always need to be aware of your surroundings when photographing animals. A volunteer naturalist at the refuge showed us a collection of 4×6 photos posted on a door at one of the refuge visitor centers. What did all of these photos (there were at least 3-4 dozen) have an in common? They all were taken of park visitors who had just been kicked in the face by a pony. Believe me, those were not pretty pictures. I am all about getting close to your subject, but you need to be careful.
Early in my newspaper career, I got hit in the head with a horseshoe while photographing a horseshoe tournament. It was quite a shock. I cannot even imagine what that metal shoe would have felt like on my head if it had a horse connected to it!
The shot below was taken from the road with a 500MM lens which got me as close as I needed without disturbing the ponies.
Until next time, enjoy and thanks for stopping in.