Contests photo
Andrei Stoica
Our horse photo challenge winner Andrei Stoica

Software engineer and avid photography enthusiast Andrei Stoica, 46, has been shooting for the past 10 years. Currently based in Chandler, Arizona, the photographer found that there was plenty of exciting material for his next shoot in his own state. For this majestic image, Stoica traveled to the White Stallion Ranch in Tuscon with Arizona Highways magazine on a photography workshop.

“This photo shows the morning round-up of the ranch horses when they move from their pen to the stable to get groomed,” explains Stoica of his well-planned frame capturing the dude ranch’s daily sunrise routine. To make sure he was posed and ready when the herd made their run out of the pen, he positioned himself against the fence facing the path he knew the horses would take.

Cranking his ISO up to 1000 in order to maintain his 1/350 sec exposure, Stoica prepared to capture this split-second moment with detail and clarity. He aimed his Canon EOS 6D, fitted with a 70–300mm f/4–5.6L IS USM Canon EF lens, at the path and waited until the horses began their sprint to rattle off as many shots as he could manage. To assure he’d come away with the perfect frame, he knew he needed to make as many as possible in the short window he was given.

“The light, the motion, and the dust in the air are all coming together during the brief moment the herd rushes out,” the photographer says. “You can see details of the individual horses, but also get the sense of the herd moving together.”

Stoica’s early morning trip out to the ranch paid off, and he was able to use purely natural light for this beautiful, well-timed frame. “This shot was taken 15 minutes after sunrise,” he explains. “The sunlight was perfect for illuminating the horses sideways and creating depth and contours that might otherwise be lost.”

The natural sunshine also cast a warm orange glow over the horses, and made for a beautiful, prize-winning composition.