Along the northern most end of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, the barrier island chain that protects mainland NC from the wrath of the sea, there lives about 120 wild horses. Acording to National Geographic, these horses once numbered between 4 and 5 thousand back in the 1920’s, but loss of habitat and roundups have brought there numbers down to where they are today. In fact, it wasnt until the 1980s that any real measure of protection was afforded these horses.
The Banker horses, as they are known (as in Outer Banks) are like no other horses in the world. For starters, recent DNA studeis have shown that they have only 29 alleles – which means that the Banker horse is the most genetically homogenous breed of horse in the Americas. Or stated another way, they have the least amount of genetic diversity of any horse known to exist in the New World. Thuse, the horses of the Outer Banks are not simply ferral horses like those “mustangs” of the west or even the horses of Chincoteague and Asseteague island from the Misty of Chincoteage fame which are a mix bag of different genetics from multiple breeds of ferral horses and ponies. Instead the Banker horses are considered to be thier own unique breed unto themsleves. The Banker horse is also considered to be the oldest of all the horses in the Americas.
Driving along the beach heading home from work I noticed a heard of the horses making their way atop of the dunes next to the beach to browse on the sea oats and American beach grass. Knowing that the sun would be setting soon, I stopped my truck and grabbed my camera and tripod.
I photographed the group of horses for about 30 minutes before the sun began to set and brought about some nice color into the sky. With the light perfect, I simply waiting untill this stallion made his way to the cres of one of the dunes and distingueshed itself from the landscape. The key to making succesfull silhouettes is to have either a striking or imeadiately recognizable form to silhouette. Considering that you have but only a couple of seconds to grab the attention of our over sensitized 21st century ADD minds, you dont want the viewer to have to figure out what the silhouette is. Instead, it must be imeadiately recognizable.
With this photograph, you can see that the legs are spread with light coming in between them, the head is raised just high enough above the grass for it to be defined. Contributing to this composition is the slope of the dune and the grass itself.
I will soon be offering photography workshops on photographing the wild horses of Carova Beach and Sackleford Banks. Stay tuned for more inforamation over the coming weeks.