Fine Art Equine Portraits BTS

Here's a behind the scenes video of me photographing Stella. Stella is an amazing appendix quarter horse owned by Sher-Dee Pleasure Horses.

I love capturing these black background images because they make the horses pop so nicely and they make for beautiful wall art. I even have a canvas on my wall of each of my favorite horses that I rode and trained throughout my years of showing in the American Quarter Horse Association circuit.

When post processing this image, I currently do everything in Lightroom. I could definitely use Photoshop and that would maybe even make it a little easier or quicker for me, but I find that Lr does the trick for me. I first grab the brush tool and turn the exposure all the way down as far as it can go. Then I just paint around the horse, and make sure to zoom in to get the smaller corners and gaps. Once everything around the horse is blacked out, I go and adjust the colors, hues, saturations, tones, white balance, and overall exposure of the horse. This will make the horse pop out even more and really draw the viewer's eye right to the subject (if blacking out everything but the subject wasn't enough!) Lastly, I do some detail touch-ups of the horses face and just make sure everything flows really nicely and is appealing to my eye. The total time to edit one of these photos is about 20 minutes per photo. This is if the horses owner/rider isn't in the photo with them. If it's a horse+rider black background image, the editing time would go up to 1 hour or even 3 hours for one photo.

One thing that's super helpful for keeping the time shorter on my editing is that I know how to set these shots up to make the post processing as easy as possible. What I mean by that is first making sure the horse is well groomed and clipped, they have their face paint on, and their leather headstall or halters are clean. Then I know to put them in the entrance of the barn facing towards the light and have the back doors of the barn shut so there are no hard-to-edit spots of light showing in the background. Lastly, I always make sure I have at least one assistant to help perk the horses' ears. Every once in a while I can get a very cheerful pony who just naturally stands with their ears up, but generally we will need to do some work to get their ears up and them looking happy.

I absolutely love working with horses and their owners! I also love it even more when people bring their dogs along! I'll be posting more behind the scenes videos in the future, likely including people with both their horses and dogs, so stay tuned!

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