Photography Friday: Black Background Photos Behind the scenes

Black background images are all the rage right now, and it’s easy to see why. So simple in their essence, they are a study of the horse as a form with an extra dash of drama.Any photographer worth their salt will tell you that the best way to do these images is in camera, and I completely agree. They mostly require a center aisle that allows light to be blocked in such a way that you achieve a distinctive difference between light and dark (shadow and well, not shadowed). Even better if either the aisle then is a very long one, or has doors at the opposite end that prevents light from seeping into the background. This is less commonly available, so is a nice-to-have rather than a necessary component.

So at the risk of ruining the magic, here are a couple examples of what I see in-camera versus the final product.

In this photo, and the image below, you can see a frequent participant in my photoshoots: a giant blue squeaky toy. Sometimes the horses could care less when something so bright and blue and loud is seemingly dying beneath their nose. Other times, you get what I call the dragon pose, where the horse elongates and arches his neck and there becomes a definite spark to their overall expression. That, as Cinderella demonstrates below, is my favorite way to show off these horses as the athletes they are.

As you can see, there is a variance in how much editing a particular shot will require. My job when I show up to do one of these images is to utilize the given environment to the best of my ability, then consider the horse/model’s best features and how to pose them and show them off. Then, it’s about reading the light, making the right decisions for settings on my camera, and spending time in post-processing (I use both lightroom and photoshop) to create the final image.

And there you have it folks! A peek behind the curtain on the ever-popular black background photo! Happy Friday all!

5 thoughts on “Photography Friday: Black Background Photos Behind the scenes

  1. I’m so lazy with these, and typically will just do a headshot if the lighting takes a lot of photoshop work. Then again, I’m no pro and I can be lazy when I’m doing it for shits and giggles 🙂 You take excellent black background photos. I’ve seen a lot floating around lately that are obviously so heavily and badly photoshopped that I die a little inside.

  2. Very cool, this is how Mike does them, too! The most important part is how the horse is lit, IMO, Which is a huge challenge in and of itself. Once you’ve got that and the background is dark enough, you’re pretty good to go! LOVE the way you do these, and I will echo Lauren in saying that there are A LOT of really, really bad attempts at this out there. You do them so well!

    • I agree- and that’s a good point to make- the horse needs to be lit properly. Watching for shadows, hopefully allowing for the light to fall away from the horse into black, all those things are important!

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