Greig Houghton Photography
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Irish Landscape and Travel Photography Blog

The National Stud Portrait Session

Ireland is synonymous with horse racing and some may say no more so than in Co Kildare.  The county is home to Punchestown and the Curagh Racecourses but also to the Irish National Stud.  The stud farm, located just outside Kildare town, is home is six stallions who can solicit top stud fees having proved their stock on the racetracks around the world.  Racehorses are conceived, born and raised on the stud, which has long been and continues to be the source of thoroughbred champions and to this day continues to be associated with Monarchies for the sport which is affectionately known as the Sport of Kings.  King Edward VII's Minoru spent the early part of a life before going on to win the Epsom Derby.  Sun Chariot, owned by King George IV, was born and bred in the Stud going on to complete the fillies' Triple Crown in 1942  with wins in the 1,000 Guineas, Oaks and St. Leger.  In 2011, on her historic visit to the Republic of Ireland, King George IV's daughter Queen Elizabeth II continued the royal connection by visiting the stud.

 
 

As well as being a commercial stud, the stud is one of Ireland's premier tourist attractions complete with the ornamental Japanese and St. Fiachra's Gardens, horse museum and the equestrian superstars Vintage Crop, Moscow Flyer, Kicking King and Beef or Salmon who are all living out retirement on the stud.

For one day only, the stud was also home to several glamorous fillies of a human kind as the stud hosted South Kildare Photo Club for a portrait workshop.  Working is small groups of three, we worked with a group of models, rotating the groups regularly amongst the models and various locations across the stud.  Hats off to the models as the day was miserable with some rain showers as well as being a generally cold day.  They battled through the weather on occasions but we generally shot indoors as much as we could.  For my group, this was mainly inside the museum.  We were shooting with small flash and reflectors for the speed of set of up and also to move around and shoot in different locations.  This also meant we kept the disruption to an absolute minimum to the stud to which we were guests and which was also open to visitors during our shoot.

The best natural light arrived late in the day, the late sun streaming low through the some light cloud, to provide some warm soft natural light.  We were fortunate to be at the waterfall in St. Fiachra's Gardens just as this occurred providing up a nice set upon which to place the model in the great light.