This set uses real sapphires and real rubies, which I got at the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show (back in the days when flying to Tucson was what I did during the first week of February).
I had known all along that this style of bridle uses two buckles to take on and off: both the throatlatch and the poll (crown) buckle must be opened completely. What I hadn't known was how impossible that soft leather was to feed through a tight keeper! I invented something new: coating the underside of the tip of the crown strap with nail polish to stiffen it up. It worked.
Another trick I learned this time was the difference between regular close-up (macro) and using macro while zooming in. My camera has 2 settings for macro and the first one allows zooming, something I hadn't known. I needed to get further back because the lights were in the way, yet zoom in close. I was enchanted to find out I could get this: No long ears!!
Lonesome Glory really does have two romance sides! And, Look Ma no retouches: the blue sapphire and red ruby colors are as they really are.
(This Wapasha has been customized. The Indian warpaint markings were removed and semi-realistic pinto markings left in their place. Technically it's an etch.)
The macro-while-zooming allowed me to solve another problem. Compare the following 2 shots (and try not to laugh). When I finally put the bridle on Altynai/Talisman (he looked so regal and royal without it, it took courage to finally curb that holy beauty), I tried with zoom and without. Take a wild guess which one I now prefer:
Until you see them side by side you would not believe how distorted the plain lens makes him!
The next two colors of Lonesome Glory looked, to my surprise, just as good as the others.
I really like this portrait, another one gotten with the help of zooming in while using close-up.
I have 7 Lonesome Glories. I didn't want to shoot this set on wild Appaloosas, so Quelle Surprise/Riverside Property was out. Likewise the Goin For Gold/Dunrovin, the horse the set was built off of, had that awful white face and an uninteresting color. You would think a golden buckskin would do the trick! but somehow the set did not look good on that one. It was with trepidation I put it on a red Appaloosa, my earliest Lonesome Glory, good old Mardi Gras (appropriate!). Yet somehow this looked the best of all.
Another really lovely portrait, courtesy zoom + macro. Remember those bi-eyes -- year 2000!
Photographing model tack of this level of detail, with actual sapphires and rubies, depends, in the end, on getting close enough. The last shots of this post show much better just what AT3 looks like. Here is the cape and forehead ornament. Those tiny red rubies came from jewelled watch bearings. What better fate!
Again acknowledging amazing patience on the part of my customers, NaMoPaiMo is what comes next. It seems that I really am programmed to paint a horse in three-quarters of a month. I've never done a roan and almost never done dapples, so it will be an adventure. Oh and I still have to get my Christmas letters out!!
But two things at once is better than my usual five.