There are five basic photos required of each hoof for accurate review; a lateral view, a toe view, a rear or heel view, a sole view and a sole plane view. The lateral, toe and rear views are all to be taken with the foot on the ground, with both feet squared up and equal weight in each. The camera (not your head and camera, but only the camera) should be placed about one inch above the ground and the camera lens in perfect alignment with each specific view and held right about 12 inches away from the foot. (You can measure the distance if you wish. It is valuable to have almost the same distance from the foot each time pictures are taken.)
If you break the foot down into clock positions, it should always be easy to take accurate pictures. Dead center of the toe is the 12:00 position. At each perfect right angle to that should be the 3:00 position and the 9:00 position. (On the right front foot, the lateral view would be the 3:00 position and on the left front foot, the lateral would be the 9:00 position.) Dead center between the bulbs of the heels would be the 6:00 position. Rarely is it necessary to take a medial shot of a foot. One reason for this is because if both front feet are squared up, the camera can’t get between the legs and backed up far enough to take a valid picture. There are exceptions to this rule, but by and large, the medial views are not necessary.
The last two hoof pictures will be necessary with the foot in the air. For the sole view, the camera lens should be held as directly above dead center of the foot as possible. Imagine the lens looking straight down at the center point of the hands of the clock. Dead center will usually be just behind the apex of the frog. For the sole plane view, the lower leg (for the front leg) must be held parallel to the ground, the leg held at the fetlock joint, and the hoof dangling loose and free. The camera lens should be sighting between the bulbs of the heels looking towards the tip of the toe. The sole most likely will not be in view, only the bulbs of the heels, the surface of the frog and the ground surface of the hoof wall. The view should be something like sighting across the level surface of a table or sighting the rim of a bowl. You shouldn’t see inside the bowl, only the rim. This is a hard picture to get accurately, but is vital to seeing whether or not the hoof is flat and level. Your diligence and accuracy will be rewarded though.
The sole plane view of the hind feet are viewed the same way, meaning you should only see the ground surface of the hoof wall, the frog, etc. The difference between the taking the picture for the front vs. the back feet is that the back legs must be lifted and held in much the same manner as your farrier would. There should be no tension on the pastern joint and the toe of the foot should be pointing towards the ground. You will very likely have to manipulate yourself (or more likely the camera) so as to get just the right angle. Again, the idea with this picture is to determine if the foot is flat and level. Without the correct angle, this is not possible to do accurately.
Once all the pictures have been taken, they can be emailed to your specialist for review and evaluation. If the pictures have been taken accurately enough, it will be possible to add lines, markings and perhaps instructions to each picture. These edited pictures can then be sent back for review by you and your on-site team. So the more detail you can provide, the better the editing of the pictures can be.
Detailed Picture Examples & Directions: