John Lechner is a photograher and writer with a particular focus on Equestrian, particularly Eventing.

Welcome to the ESJ Photo | Eventing Photography Blog

As a photographer and writer I get to do a fair bit of travelling whether at home in Australia or around the world. Seems kind of silly for me to have a photography site without an accompanying blog. This blog is the sister site to my photography site I hope your enjoy both.


Not quite to plan…… Prague and Poland (Strzegom)


A great thought, this is on the Lennon Wall in Prague.

There is no question one item has dominated my trip to Prague and Strzegom, RAIN. It has rained every single day. I had one afternoon of perfect weather which was Friday when the cross country for CIC1* & 2* ran.

But that is it, no more mentions of the rain. My first few days in Prague were just unbelievable, this city is just stunning. I could spend weeks exploring every new nook and cranny.


The Vltava River was still rising this morning when I went for a walk. The Charles Bridge was closed.


This is the lock in the Vltava River, normally there is a difference in the water levels at either end.


This is a very cool piece of engineering, it is a temporary flood wall that can be erected in hours in case of a flood.

At night Prague took on a whole new character, it truly is a 24/7 city I was walking the streets both late at night and very early and there were always crowds out and about.

Heading to Strzegom in Poland I honestly wasn’t sure what I was in for, the information I had received before the event was limited but I could not have had a better time, even with the weather.

The Strzegom team is diverse, but every single member of the team bent over backwards to make sure everything possible was achieved. In the end we did not complete two classes the CICO3* Nations Cup and the CCI2* class, this was simply because cross country was no longer safe. Every effort was made but you can only have so much water on a track.

The experience and quality of the riding was more diverse than I have seen before. I saw the best riding I have ever seen on cross country in Niklas Lindback’s round on Cendrillon.


Niklas Lindback and Cendrillon on cross country.

By the time Niklas went out on Cendrillon 30 horses had been before him, the going was deep but this pair saw distances 6-10 strides out and were is complete harmony throughout. If you can find some video it is worth a watch.

Having left Poland early after the cancellation the CCI2* which I was the TD of I spent some more time in Prague this time to do some shopping (not for me but everyone else). After a very late dinner the weather had cleared so I decided to head out one last time to shoot the Old Town Square in the dark.


Prague’s old town square by night.

There is much more to tell but I am currently sitting in Prague Airport and the internet is not so reliable.

Signing off from Prague.

John (ESJ)


You are being watched.


Heading to Prague and Poland this week

I am well aware that I lead a privileged life, I have a great family, a job I enjoy and the opportunity to pursue my dreams no matter where they are or what they might be. So this week I am heading off to Europe for a short 10 day trip on my own, again to pursue my dreams.

Thanks to the FEI Global Education Program for Eventing Officials I am off to Strezgom in Poland to be the Technical Delegate (TD) for the CIC2* and CCI2* classes. This is slightly daunting, not the least because every single rider entered comes from a nation where English is the second, third or even fourth language spoken. Personally I speak very poor German and slightly better Italian but realistically I would struggle in both of those countries. My Polish is non-existent.

As a traveller that gets slightly fanatical about research and flight bookings, I learned very quickly that the closest International Airport to Strezgom was Prague, BUGGER!!

Prague is a photographers dream, so the plan was easy, I leave early catch a few days in Prague then drive up to Poland. So this Friday I fly out of Sydney via Dubai and then on direct to Prague. Gotta love that Emirates do it direct, no going through a second or third airport just two flights.

I arrive in Prague on Saturday afternoon and then have until Tuesday morning, it was Wednesday morning but I am needed in Poland early ;(. Never mind after the event finishes on Sunday arvo I will head back to Prague for an extra night before flying out Monday afternoon.

I am currently studying another level in my photography and already have my portfolio list which is great, so I have a plan for my time in Prague.

Need to shoot: 

  • Landscape
  • Long exposure
  • Dramatic black and white
  • Environmental portrait (hopefully)

Anyhow I have about 60 hours at the start of the trip in Prague and I plan to use them all. Sunday morning I am off on a Segway tour of Prague which should be fun and will help me scout some sites for shoots.

That said, I have some great inspiration in these shots from Miroslav Petrasko on his site HDRShooter while I wont be aiming for HDR I will be aiming for some great night scenes, fingers crossed.

Anyhow three more days at work, two more sleeps (please let me sleep), a PT session, photography class, soccer & music lessons for the boys plus another day trip to Sydney before heading off so I should sleep well on the plane. 

No pics for this post but I suspect the rest will be very pic heavy and light on for words, see you in Prague.



A family holiday to Phuket, getting there

Singapore Airport Orchid Garden, the amazing colours and variety were breathtaking.

One of the greatest gifts a photographer can have is the capacity to travel. These days I average two overseas trip per annum, but normally they are equine related. In other words I leave family at home and chase my sporting passion as an Eventing Official. Recently we went on our first family proper holiday really since 2005, as a family we had a relaxing week in the sun in Phuket.

First things, first I can tell you there is nothing more satisfying than the tropical heat when you have left behind a cold and damp winter. In Phuket it is hot and steamy most of the year and I did sweat a lot, it is humid. For a bit of karma, the morning after we arrived home my whole car had a layer of ice 5-10mm thick on it.

So as a family, my wife Kim and our two sons E who is nearly 7 and K who is a mature 8, we packed up on a Thursday headed to Sydney where we crashed before the flight first thing Friday morning. We crashed at the Airport Sydney International Inn, they offer an awesome parking deal for anyone, not just guests of the hotel. They charge $10 a day for parking, yes not a misprint, it is incredibly cheap.

Just stunning and meticulously maintained.

There is a BUT, the Inn doesn’t offer such a good deal to its patrons. If you stay at the Inn, you get your first 5 days parking free, after that it is $15/day. However that starts when you checkin so we paid $90 for parking for 11 nights. But the killer was the family room, a normal room with 4 beds jammed in, we barely had room for our luggage and using the bathroom required yoga. Not worth the $200 for the accommodation, next time we will crash somewhere else and dump the car for $10 a night.

Anyhow key message the Airport Inn is great for cheap parking within 3 mins drive of the airport but don’t bother staying there.

Neither of our boys had done a long trip, well K had as a 14 month old toddler but toddlers are much easier to entertain than the young men they are today. So we were armed with books, puzzles and of course they each had their own iPod Touch. After an uneventful transit through Sydney Airport we boarded our Singapore Air flight to Singapore.

The boys were lost in the movies and other TV on the inflight system, and once they mastered the controls for the system I didn’t hear another peep out of E. Except for his regular trips to the toilet, boys love toilets and aircraft toilets are even more fun (I get it). Anyhow a two hour stopover in Singapore’s Changi was fantastic for the kids, a great opportunity to stretch the legs.

Been a long day, a weary Kim at Singapore

I loved the Orchid Garden which was fantastic to shoot, they must have had 30-40 different orchids, and despite my fatigue (I barely slept at the Inn) dragged out my camera and shot some of the orchids and some of the boys. I guess now is as good an opportunity to describe our kit. Both Kim and I are photographers so we took a lot of gear, although most of it stayed in the bag for the duration.

Our kit for the two of us:

  • Tenba Shootout Medium Backpack, (this is a serious bag)
  • Nikon D7000 with 18-200mm fitted (Kim’s)
  • Nikon D3100 with 35mm 1.8 fitted (mine)
  • Nikkor 18-55mm
  • Nikkor 55-200mm
  • Nikkor 50mm 1.8
  • Spare battery for each camera, plus cards, chargers, adapters, cables
  • External 1TB 2.5 HDD
  • Flash
  • Giotto blower & other cleaning gear
  • Cheap ($12) tripod with Manfrotto ball head
  • MacBook Pro
  • iPad 2

Craploads of gear and to be honest most of it stayed in the bag. Every day I carried the D3100 with the 35mm on it, once I put the 55-200mm on for some reach but I love the 35mm especially in low light. Kim only got her camera out twice in the trip and I can tell you now we will not carry 2 DLSRs on a family holiday again. Plus the boys each had a pocket Lumix, which they shot some interesting stuff on too.

This family seem to have no problem fitting on a moped.

Once we arrived at Phuket, we found a young lady with a Club Med sign who directed us to our own air conditioned mini bus and we were whisked off with cold water offered to Club Med. Because of our morning departure from Sydney we arrived in Phuket at about 5pm, so everyone was travelling home from work and school which added to the traffic but certainly made the experience interesting.

Seeing a family of four on a moped is quite eye-opening, it looks so natural and strange all at the same time. Plus as an equestrian I am a little bit of a safety nut, don’t get on your horse without a helmet. Here you can have a whole family from infants up, none have a helmet on.

Just getting around

If you have never before arrived at a Club Med you need to experience it. You step out of your bus, are greeted by pumping music, a smiling staff member GO presented with a necklace of flowers and then whisked upstairs to a lounge. At the lounge is cold water, sweet tea and a refreshing chilled towel.

Then while you are sitting down and relaxing you are talked through the checkin process (it didn’t even feel like we had, it was so easy and never once did I leave the lounge) the General Manager of the Village was introduced to us, he was a smiling Frenchman dressed in head to toe white clothes and then we were shown to our rooms.

This water feature is one of the first things that greats you at Club Med Phuket, it is stunning at night.

Our rooms were adjoining and on the second floor (quite a good thing given all the food we consumed during the week), we settled, then headed out for dinner in the main restaurant of the resort before heading down the street for a wander around Kata.

I think this a good spot to finish up, the story continues….


Adelaide Pics

Earlier this week I uploaded some of my Adelaide pics, although despite the Photoshelter uploader telling me it had completed the job some images are missing. I need to work out which ones, more work.

Anyhow, I have been on my 365 project for about eight months now and I can see the difference in my photography in that time and I hope you can too. On reflection, my Adelaide pics are not nearly as good as my most recent Sydney pics. This is good. That said there are some standouts for me, some I like purely for the moment they capture rather than the quality of the image like this one of Megan Jones and Kirby Park Irish Jester or Festy to his friends. This was just after cross country in the 10 minute box. This was Festy’s first four star after his fateful trip to the US for WEG and probably his last four star. You can see the love in both their eyes. Best thing is Megan didn’t know I was shooting so it was just a perfect moment, just the two of them.

The kiss

Megan & Jester, in a beautiful moment, image by ESJ Photo

But then again I do I do love a good galloping horse pic, and there were a few I liked from Adelaide, both close ups and at a distance.

Jaymee is the eldest daughter of gold medalist Stuart Tinney

Jaymee Tinney starting her two star run at Adelaide 2011

And this one of Seamus Marwood up close I do like very much.

Detail shot at a gallop

Seamus Marwood & Wild Oats up close

Here is the full gallery, please help me out if you like this post and my pics, share it with your friend on your social networks.

Thanks, yours in Eventing


Sydney Three Day Event

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Another weekend at Sydney watching Shane Rose blitz an event. I had a great time coming to SIEC for the first time in many years without an official role at the event. I was there purely to shoot, record and write, I had fun. There was lots of fun in our very small Media Centre where Lauren, Michelle & Harriet from Equestrian Australia based themselves as well as Alison & Deb from An Eventful Life (I wasn’t working for them at Sydney), Anna & Julie from Horse Deals and myself, plus a few who popped in and out.

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I was lucky enough to sit in the Judges box at C to shoot my Dressage pics, thanks to the lovely Christina.

The new Mike ES designed cross country course looked awesome despite the fact it was missing the new signature complex, a water element right in the centre of the park. It wasn’t finished in time thanks to the horrid weather we have had since Christmas.

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Nonetheless the action was great and the final result I believe added more questions than answers for the Aussie team selectors for the London Games. I loved watching Shane and Taurus tear up the event from start to finish but my favourite performance of the weekend was Emma Scott and Mustang who looked awesome and came in a deserving second place.

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I finally got to meet @Cazdrop who I felt like I had known for years thanks to twitter, we hung out and shot XC together. Got to do that again Caz.

Off to Camden next for the Eventing Equestriad, until then yours in Eventing.


Kihikihi Horse Trials

In April I headed to New Zealand for the Kihikihi Horse Trials, this was my first trip to NZ and my brother Michael came along for the ride. I had a busy trip as my primary reason to be in Kihikihi was to be upgrade my training as a Technical Delegate in Eventing.

Over the weekend I was taking part in the training course during most of the day, plus I was writing for An Eventful Life, working with the wonderful Libby Law as my photographer. In addition I was also doing a daily story for Eventing Nation, where I was both writing and shooting.

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It was a busy weekend, most days were 5am til 10pm. I’m afraid I wasn’t much company for Michael who managed to read a couple of books. Mick got some great video on cross country day as Libby let him tag along with her so his first ever day watching XC was inside the ropes standing besides Libby.

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Here is my favourite of Mick’s videos on XC, a funny moment.

Until next time, yours in Eventing.


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