Smartphone Photographer


Love snapping shots with your smartphone? We’ve rounded up 10 of the best photo apps on the market to help you capture your horses and western lifestyle in unique and creative ways.

Facetune – $8.49
Improve your selfie shots with the tools in Facetune, from whitening teeth, improving skin, brightening dark circles and even reshaping noses and intensifying lips.


Hipstamatic app.

Hipstamatic – $3.99
Get vintage looking photographs by choosing between different films and flash settings. When you’re done, share your prints with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr and Tumblr, with a few simple clicks. There’s even an option to order hard copies of your favourite photographs.

Instagram – Free
The online mobile, photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking device that has taken the world by storm. Enables users to take pictures and videos and share them privately or publicly on the app, as well as through a variety of other platforms. Follow Western Horse Review on Instagram @westernhorsereview


Mobile Monet app.

Mobile Monet – $2.79
Give your photos an artistic touch and convert a photo to a beautiful artistic rendering employing a creative interactive process.


Over app.

Over – Free
Arguably the classiest app for adding text or artwork on top of your photos. A full set of unique fonts and artwork to use and when you’re done Over lets you easily share your creation via email, text message, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or you can also send it as a postcard.


Pic Stitch app.

Pic Stitch – Free
Quickly combine multiple photos into one beautifully framed picture. Use Pic Stitch to create a before-and-after sequence, combine great photos of your horses, or produce a photographic series.

SketchGuru – Free
SketchGuru is a professional app to make you an artist by creating pencil sketch of your photos.

 Pick a picture from your gallery or capture one from your camera to generate the sketch.


Snapseed app.

Snapseed – Free
A great app for enhancing and transforming photos, including an Auto Correct and Selective Adjust and Tune controls. Try one of the filters which offer up Drama, Grunge, and Retrolux, Vintage Film, Tilt-Shift miniaturization effect and HDR for landscape shots.

Vapp – Free
Taking a selfie with your favorite equine and need a hands-free approach? With Vapp, all you have to do is make a sound, and the app will take a picture for you. Of course, your iPad or iPhone will have to be sitting in the right position to begin with.


Vintage Deco app.

Vintage Deco – Free
The neat app is designed to give your images a retro scrapbook feel. Great fun to be had by importing a picture just to play around with the nostalgic stamps and borders.

Western Wedding – Douglas Lake Ranch

A beautifully styled wedding set at the historic Douglas Lake Ranch.


Their story: Tina Stone grew up on Vancouver Island, a long way from Douglas Lake Ranch. But rodeo and ranch life drew the B.C. girl to the stunning rolling hills, and in 2003, she took a job on the illustrious ranch. Little did she know that’s where she would find the person she would begin to share her life with 10 years later.

Cameron Jacobs is the son of Stan Jacobs, well-known cow boss of Douglas Lake Ranch. Born in Merritt, British Columbia, and guided by his father, Cameron spent his entire childhood cowboying.

When the two met during the first week of Stone being employed at the ranch, her first reaction was hesitant.

“I remember thinking, ‘Wow, he’s cute!’ But being that he was three years younger than me, I held my thoughts to myself. After about a year of being close friends, it wasn’t too long until he had me convinced that he was worth it!”

The next eight and a half years took them on some great adventures. They had a stint living in nearby Kelowna; they spent two months in Oklahoma while Cameron attended horseshoeing school; they lived in Alberta, working and making new friends; then ended up back home in Douglas Lake. After that many years and that many miles, Stone knew that Jacobs was what she wanted.

“Finally, he took me for a picnic lunch at Quilchena Falls and popped the question. Then it all began. I had waited a very long time for this moment, I wasn’t waiting any longer, so I decided to plan our wedding in four months. He proposed on May 25th and we were married September 14th. There were some crazy times but it all came together . . . and I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day.”


Dress: Bought at Viva Bridal in nearby Kamloops, Tina's dress was a beautiful fit and flare with a sweetheart neckline. It was made from a 'romantique' colored satin under an ivory lace overlay with a gorgeous matching belt that added a little bling. Perhaps her favorite part was the stunning nine-foot, satin edged vail. Bridesmaids: Trina's ladies wore locally sourced 'rosewood' coloured dresses from David's Bridal, accented by great boots. Their jewelry was handmade by one of the bridesmaids, adding the perfect personal touch.

Dress: Bought at Viva Bridal in nearby Kamloops, Tina’s dress was a beautiful fit and flare with a sweetheart neckline. It was made from a ‘romantique’ colored satin under an ivory lace overlay with a gorgeous matching belt that added a little bling. Perhaps her favorite part was the stunning nine-foot, satin edged vail.


Bridesmaids: Trina’s ladies wore locally sourced ‘rosewood’ coloured dresses from David’s Bridal, accented by great boots. Their jewelry was handmade by one of the bridesmaids, adding the perfect personal touch.


Men’s Attire: Cameron, along with the other guys in the bridal party, sported unwashed Wranglers with ivory shirts and grey vests from Moores Mens Wear. The groom and the best man wore a paisley tie, setting them apart from the others, who wore burgundy. Cameron’s western inspired jacket was lent to them by a friend for the big day.


Boots: Nothing less than Macie Beans for the bride.

Make-up: Trina enlisted the talents of Sheeradiance Salon, based in Kamloops, for a flawless face.

Cake: The beautiful western-inspired cake was homemade by Courtney Brewer, a young girl was also resides on Douglas Lake Ranch.


Favours: Trina and Cameron’s favours were little white buckets with a hand written date and names, penned by Trina’s mother. They were filled with a little candy, and could also be topped off at the candy bar.


Flowers: Only $160 was enough to deck out the wedding with stunning flowers, which included calla lilies and gerbera daisies.


Date: September 14, 2013

Photographer: Captured Moments Lifestyle Photography and Design

Ceremony Location: Douglas Lake Ranch, British Columbia

Reception Location: Salmon Lake Resort

Equine Photography

Photo by L.Haughton, Epona

Photo by L. Haughton, Epona.

Love pictures like the above? So do I!! Horses and beautiful photography. Whether you choose to embrace it on the walls of your home or keep a mental image of it forever in your mind, with beautiful imagery like this you just can’t go wrong.

“Photographers deal in things in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson.

I had the privilege of working on a special project this summer, one I would like to share with you. Introducing Western Horse Review’s Special Interest Publication – Equine Photography:

Equine photography book

Inside the covers of this special coffee table book, you can peruse a medley of photos – each a visual stunner, featuring the horse. Equine Photography profiles 19 photographers. Every one is a leader in their field and altogether, are some of the industry’s most talented equine photographers.

Within the pages, you’ll find beautiful photography like this:

Photo by

Photo by Nicole Wade Photography.


*And this:

Photo by

Photo by Billie-Jean Duff.


Can’t you almost feel yourself wrapped in mud and adrenaline in the above image?

And you’ll also find amazing pictures like this:


Tony Stromberg is an equine photographer with the ability to bring out the true essence of the horse, his authentic spirit, his strength and his archetypal nature. His images never show tack or saddles of any kind. Stromberg has found his niche (and subsequently, a large audience) in capturing the horse in his most essential form, at the deepest level of his being.

It is photographers like Stromberg and many talented others, who give Equine Photography an inexplicable edge. I can’t even put it into words… You simply have to flip the pages and let the horse imagery grace your eyes to understand.

Altogether, the stunning work inside makes this one, gorgeous coffee table book. Yet, what also sets this publication apart from all the others is its insider information and advice from each of the pros. From amateurs to seasoned professionals, Equine Photography offers how-to secrets for capturing the most alluring equine images on the back of your viewfinder.



Such celebrated photographers as Neville Palmer share their tips for embracing light to compose the best possible shots at rodeos:


Cheryl Smythe discusses all the little nuances of equine conformation, head shot and profile images that best help to market individual animals:

Image by Cheryl Smythe Photography.

Image by Cheryl Smythe Photography.


And Krista Kay talks about the beauty of women and horses. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, the picture below is enough said:

From Equine Glamour, to Immortalizing the Senior Horse, to photographing Western Weddings, this book has everything you could possibly imagine about photographing horses. Even I was surprised upon interviewing each of the photographers to realize that not one person spoke of the same thing – every photographer profiled had something very individual and unique to offer.

And yet the common denominator between each of them was the horse and the lifestyle unique to the passion that surrounds these beautiful animals.

Photo by Rob Kendrick

Photo by Rob Kendrick.

Robb Kendrick is a photographer who uses the latest high-tech gear but is partial to an old fashioned feel. Kendrick is one of the only photographers in the world who shoots Tintypes: a wet-plate process photographers used in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It gives his images an authentic, vintage feel and helps keep his technique alive. If you’re interested to see how Kendrick does it, check out this video from National Geographic:

Equine Photography even delves into the concept of Smartphone photography and features 12 of the most popular Photography Apps – and how they can be applied to equine photography.







*If you’re looking to perfect your portrait, learn essential digital photography techniques or for secrets on how to capture beautiful moments in western weddings, Equine Photography from Western Horse Review is the perfect book for you! Be sure to pick one up before they’re all gone! You can either visit the link here to order now, or check out your nearest Walmart, Rexall, Chapters or various other locations that carry Western Horse Review. Happy Reading! (And snapping!!)


A High & Wild Adventure



People often talk of amazing places they have seen or their own adventures to foreign places, but this experience and my own adventure to Glenn Stewart’s High & Wild is one that I will treasure forever. And it is only the first day.

Flying out of Calgary to Fort St. John’s B.C. I had no idea what to expect. The website created an epic picture in my mind of horsemanship and beautiful scenery, and so far it has definitely delivered.

We started the morning off early to drive a quick three hours to a landing strip down the Alaskan highway. We sat at the treeless clearing meeting and greeted each other.

Questions like: “Where are you from?”, “What do you do?” were obvious favorites and then the inevitable, “What kind of horses do you ride?”

Quickly our small red and white airplane landed and loaded the first couple of people and their bags. It was only about an hour until the plane came back to pick up it’s second load of baggage and people.

Sitting with my camera lens pressed to the window of the plane, the view was breathtaking. Pure green with openings of water and some random cutlines here and there. We were headed for the mountains and they were spectacular. The further and further in we flew the harder it was to believe that people actually were out here. There were no highways, no roads, and barely a trail leading us to our destination as we floated high above.

Across the river and at the base of Gary Powell Mountain lies the Big Nine Outfitters Lodge. Truly a little oasis in a mountain range, the lodge is a two story house with the most beautiful mountain ranges for a backdrop. Home of the High & Wild Adventure with Glenn Stewart, the lodge is laid out on over 640 acres of wooded area, streams, rivers, marsh land and open grass.


The plane touched down just in time to put our bags in our rooms and come back out for lunch. With a quick bite to eat we headed out to the pen of multiple shades and sizes of horses that were really the reason why we were all here.

When you picture wild horses that have lived on their own all year, you might picture (or at least I did) scraggly, flighty, and well, wild! But these horses were quite the contrary. The plump horses obviously wintered well and there were still weanlings suckling from their mothers.


That is not to say they aren’t wild, because they are but it is very easy to forget that tiny detail.

After a quick head count of the 87 horses the wranglers managed to bring in this year, Glenn gave us a run down of the place. This included an introductory walk around the expansive perimeter of a fence that keeps the wild horses in while they are being used. After a couple of hours we made it all the way around with tips and great stories from Glenn.

We made it back to the corrals just in time to see some elk grazing and a big mother moose wander across to our side of the river. We got an up close encounter with her before she sauntered back across the river to find her calf.

Next was picking out tack to use on our horses for the week ahead. Although we haven’t been assigned one yet, we all point out the horses that look promising and secretly hope we get.

While we had a quick inspection of our saddles and tack, some of the wranglers and Glenn’s daughters came over the hill with 20 more head of horses that had been missed in the initial roundup. Thundering hooves pounded the ground and another herd was brought in.

Their grazing range in the off season spans the whole size of the valley from the mountain peaks we can see poking the skyline on one end to the big towering range off in the distance to the other end. They wander from place to place in their own packs and herds until it is time to round up for another year.

Pushing and shoving around salt licks, the latest batch of wild horses appear to be happy to be back. They run out of the corral and over the hill into the distance just as the sun sinks behind the distance westward mountain.

After a juicy moose roast and a homemade spread for supper, the events of the day begin to sink in.

“Is it really our first day?”

“Did we honestly just all meet this morning?”

These were common comments around the supper table. And it was true. It did feel like we had at least been here for a week when we hadn’t even spent the night and our group really felt like friends even though we had just learned each others name.

Our first day left us in awe of what we accomplished, what we learned, and where we were. I write this from the front porch of the lodge facing the horses grazing around the “yard” and the mountains in the backgrounds and sounds of the river making a quite rushing sound, to truly remind myself where I am and that today wasn’t a dream and that tomorrow promises to be even better!

Here is video of our day or you can find it here.

Check out Glenn Stewart on Facebook or at his website.

The Muse


“Wow, how does it feel to find out you’ve won Best Overall in the Cowboys & Indians Annual Photo Contest?”

That was the question I posed to Billie-Jean Duff upon hearing her photo had been chosen as the overall winner in the magazine’s prestigious annual photography competition.

“Surreal. Exciting. Awesome. Humbling. I anticipated Muse (the title of the photo) would do well in it’s category, but I never expected to be chosen for the top prize. Seeing the spread yesterday for the first time certainly made it ‘real’, so much so, I almost cried,” she related.
I’d been working with Duff, a southern-Alberta based rodeo photographer on a Buck Brannaman piece she was working up for the Jan/Feb issue of the magazine, when she initially divulged her win to me. Out of deference to the magazine’s newsstand date and the element of surprise, we kept her news under wraps until the C&I issue released.
Billie-Jean operates out of Rough Stock Studio, just outside of Claresholm, Alberta, and when she isn’t at her day-job, she’s shooting rodeos and western events.
The Muse was shot at the Rainmaker – an amateur rodeo in St. Albert. Duff relates she had been spending time behind the chutes that day, testing out a new wide angle lens she had recently purchased, when she came across young bull rider, Clayton, mentally preparing for his ride.
“Without disturbing his preparation, and without hardly two words said, I looked to him, motioned to my camera in hand, looking for his permission to shoot while he was so focused. With a quick nod, he gave me the go ahead.”
She only snapped one frame.




Art, Whisky & Cake Contest

A few weeks ago we announced the Art, Whisky & Cake Contest. It was your chance to nominate an up-and-coming artist as Alberta Whisky Cake’s newest Unbridled Spirit selection. It’s been fun working with the Whisky Baker, Kamla McGonigal, and her company’s mission of promoting the western culture, especially in light of the recent flooding devastation in Alberta. The theme fits beautifully with the “unfolding the real West” mission statement of Western Horse Review, and besides, who could resist partnering with such an enthusiastic entrepreneur as Kam.

Check back here for the original post, but the gist of the contest is that each Alberta Whisky Cake comes with an exclusive AWC Unbridled Spirits certificate, which can be presented directly to a select list of AWC artists to receive $35 off of your purchase price, on an individual piece of art valued at $100 or more. Viewers were charged with nominating their favorite artists to be the next Unbridled Spirit. These artists are folks who are involved heavily in the arts, and have not yet become renowned or rewarded for their exceptional dedication to their creative work.

Kam was charged with choosing three finalists, and via this post and Facebook, you get to determine one final Unbridled Spirit winner.

When she wasn’t testing out new recipes in her kitchen, Kam poured over all the nominations and began to make her choices. I could tell she was having a difficult time; given all the amazing talent that had been dished up, choosing three finalists was going to be difficult.

Sometime during the process she wondered in an e-mail to me. . . ” if I should just go with using ALL of these (love them all!)”

No, Kam, you have to choose three. Those are the rules.

So, she did. She picked three artists, and I’m going to show you a piece of each of their work here. In the comment section, go ahead and vote on your favorite. The bonus: all original nominations notes and all votes will go into a hat and we’ll draw a winner for an Alberta Whisky Cake.

I suppose I can’t really vote, but if I could, I would be all over this for that reason alone.

Meet the finalists:

Take Your Eight and Shove It by Karen Coe.

Karen Coe is a Lethbridge, Alberta artist who recently received the distinction of having two of her pieces juried into the prestigious Calgary Stampede Art Auction.

Ranch Branding by Julia Palmer.

Julia Palmer is a photographer and rancher who lives in southern Alberta. Her subject matter is primarily cattle, cowboys and the changing seasons.

Between Classes by Heather Gessell.

Heather Gessell is a fine artist from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan with a focus on pets, horses and vintage cars.

There you have it, three talented western artists. Vote for your favorite in the comment section below and be entered to win an Alberta Whisky Cake!

Embrace Your West Photo Contest

Have you heard about our Embrace Your West Photo Contest yet? Have a look at the details – and big change, we’ve opened up the contest to all photographers – amateur, professional – y’all can now enter. And thanks to those photographers who contacted us to let us know they wanted to participate but, couldn’t because of their professional status. We listened, deliberated, agonized (not for long), and decided you were all correct – the contest should be open to all, and so it now is.

That’s not what this post is about though. What I really wanted to let you know is the outstanding piece of art we have up for grabs for this contest. This stunning oil painting measures 36″ tall and 48″ wide – it’s a showcase piece. I know this because at this moment it lives in my living room. In fact, it has resided ringside to our editorial meetings for the past year or so, as we’ve deliberated what event or competition might warrant a prize of this magnitude.

We finally decided on a western photography contest. Doug’s artwork speaks to western values and traditions, so we found it a beautiful fit.

The icing on the cake was learning that Doug Levitt was selected by the Calgary Stampede Western Art Auction Committee as the 2013 Outstanding Artistic Achievement Award Recipient. Completely serendipitous, and welcoming news for us. For the artist chosen for this award is recognized in the international art community as being a master of their craft. Doug’s high artistic standards and his remarkable talent make him more than qualified for such an award.

Congratulations, Doug Levitt!

Read more about this award and the work of Doug Levitt here or visit his website here.

P.S.  You might find it interesting to know the Calgary Stampede commissioned Doug to paint the 2008 Calgary Stampede poster. The original oil painting, “A Man of His People,” sold for a record $63,000. Given that perspective I wouldn’t want to guess at the value of this piece, but it does make me pine for a little leeway on the “employees of WHR” clause. . .

Canadian Artists Featured in Calendar

7 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

The great gift idea I have for you today is a photo book. With nothing more than a selection of your own digital or scanned photos of hand, these are a cinch to craft online. As posible inspiration for your own creation, I’m going to share with you the one I just completed.

When Teenager graduated from high school earlier this year, I decided to gift her with a photo shoot to record the occasion. On a lovely sunny mid-summer’s day, Krista Kay showed up with all of her camera bags, creativity and lust for a good shoot crammed in the back of her car. Enroute, she had sped by a landscape of golden canola fields, punctuated with a few falling-down old buildings, and I sensed as I met her at the door, the seed of an idea had already been planted. As it turned out, boyfriend and I had to leave to attend a Calgary Stampede function, hence we hastily snapped a few family shots and then we left Krista, Teenager, Wee, and my son to their own devices. The results were stunning and crazily in tune with my wildest desires. You see, in the back of my mind I had pined for a series of photos which reflected the country life which has been so much a part of Teenager’s upbringing, tossed in with a bit of her redneck nature, and accompanied by the equine who has most shared her journey – the infamous Blue. Krista delivered tenfold, and the resulting 100 or so photos blew us away visually.

However showing them to friends via my laptop slideshow began to feel a teensy bit like subjecting them to a very long and squirmy home movie. I decided I needed a better venue to showcase these photos. I’m not a scrapbooker and my photo albums feel somewhat antiquated these days, so the idea of a photo book gradually formed.

My initial inspiration came in the form of an e-book Nancy Lowery of The Natural Leader shared with me a year or so ago, entitled Great Expectations – detailing her reflections of the past year.

After viewing the latest of Nancy’s beautiful series, Breathe, and then subsequently flipping through a friend’s photo book detailing her trip through Russia, I decided to give it a try myself.

To clarify, Nancy’s e-book is a slight riff from the photo book in that the former is not a tangible object, but lives online. The photo book I just created for Teenager is a real book, two copies (one for our own and the second for Teenager’s Gram. Hint, great gift idea!) of which are currently in print. I wish I had the actual book in hand to snap some photos for this post, but it won’t arrive for another three weeks. I decided, if I’m going to throw this out as a gift option, I best do it now, for it takes a bit of production time to pull it all together.

I used Blurb to create my photo book, primarily because it provides tons of custom options, but there is an endless list of choices in the matter of photo book purveyors. Have a browse at Shutterfly, which is a popular choice, as is Mixbook and Snapfish.

So, while this isn’t the hard cover item we’ll soon have in our hands, these are a few examples of the pages within, and gives you an idea of the choices when creating your own book. These screenshots are taken from a PDF file, which is a $2.99 option in the Blurb order form process.

I chose not to add text to the layouts, though it’s simple to do so. In this case, I desired the photos to flow visually without the distraction of copy. It’s easy within the layout options of Blurb to choose whatever combination of photos you’d like, simply drag-drop them on the page and then choose a structure from the templates provided. You can change your layout with every page, and, as illustrated above, drop in a background color to the white space.

Alternatively, you can opt for “full bleed,” which allows the photos to run right to the edges of the pages. I liked the idea of profiling Krista’s shots against my own older digital shots and thus, portraying Teenager’s journey with Blue.

On the right, Krista having fun with the country side of Teenager, and an earlier shot of the kid, which may have been our first inclination of that hayseed side of her.

Another of what we in publishing refer to as a dps (double page spread) portraying a full color shot on the left, with a sepia tone and a couple of black and white shots on the righthand side page.

Compiling the now-and-then shots was just so much fun. You could apply this concept to a horse and rider’s journey together, or the compilation of a lifespan of competition – that sort of idea.

I chose similar poses from earlier years for a pretty juxtaposition.

And chronicled a bit of Teenager’s journey with the friends who have shared her horse passion over the years.

Photo by Krista Kay.

P.S. I must add this photo from the shoot, as it illustrates Blue’s perfect co-operation on the day of, but then he always seems to know when a camera is focused on him and profiles his best side as only he adeptly can. He’s such a ham.

I rounded out the story with photos of the grad ceremony, dance and a selection of family shots, both old and new. I suppose I could have gone on forever, but I capped the book at 58 single pages, including covers, chose a hard cover option, added on the PDF option and the cost came to approximately $50.00 for each of two books. Great value for a beautiful keepsake.

Some examples of other great equine blurb-created books you might like to view include:

– The Equine Art of Debbie Flood (stunning example of an equine artist’s book)

– Equine Photo Paintings

– Or, you can even create your own yearly horse journal. 

Blurb promised to turn my online order into a real book in about 4 weeks, and while I didn’t check delivery times of other purveyors, it might be diligent to begin sooner rather than later if you’d like copies of your creation for Christmas. Then again, after-Christmas gifts are always a fun surprise.

So friends, I hope this gift idea is one you can grasp on to and make your own and if so, I’d love to hear of the results.