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Retouching Photos – Before And After

-In this blog I'm going to go through some of my photos, explaining to you what I have done and why. How I edit a photo depends on a lot of things, but first of all the weather and the season. Second I think it's important to enhance the subjects depending on their color next to the natural surroundings. I'll take you through it step-by-step so read on :)

1. Ready, Set, Go!

There are a few basics that I apply to almost every photo I take, and that is:

Sharpness – Contrast – Lighting.

The sharpness tool is pretty forward, and so is the contrast. The lighting however can be a bit tricky for some, depending on your editing skills. I usually use this tool to lighten my subject (horse) and darken parts of the background. That way you'll draw the attention of the watcher towards the horse. On a sunny day it can be very hard to photograph dark horses, and you might have to “cheat” a little bit when you edit it.

Here's Vincent – a black Friesian. Mainly I have selectively lightened him, and selectively darkened the sky. This is a good example of dark horse/bright sunny day.

Process: Sharpened, straightened, removed lunge line, increased saturation, filled in burnt out sky, lightened the horse – done.

2. Creating A Mood

A lot of colours and textures in the background can often be disturbing, so you can start by finding a spot that's not so “busy” and then set the mood when you edit.

After living with Cushings, Loretto turned almost blind and his disease got worse. The only humane thing to do was to let him go. I was honored to give Emma one last photoshoot. Seeing her lead him into the freezing water was so touching. He trusted her completely and stepped so careful around her bare feet.

This photo represents Loretto's time here on earth, and his eternity in heaven. With the water and the reflection of the sky, the symbolics are pretty strong.

The selective lighting comes out much more in this photo, since Emma is leaning her head towards Loretto she's not catching any light. I have gradually lightened both of them, and desaturated the blue colors in the photo. I felt a more subtle colour on her dress would give it a dreamier touch. I have also cleaned up the reflection at the top of the photo.

3. Weather, Schmeather...

The weather will not always cooperate with you, and sometimes you have to take matters into you own hand! In PaintShop there is a tool called Picture Tube that I (very rarely) use to swap out the sky when I want to play! This is a big no-no if you want to enter your photo in a competition, but when you have an urge to be creative and mess around – try it out!

The sky is from a photo I took from my balony at home. At first I didn't plan to use this photo of Siri and Finorio at all, but they were both so sweet in this shot, so I challenged myself to make it work. Sometimes it does, sometimes it don't ;) This is no easy task with a horse/girl with wind in their hair, but in this frame they were pretty easy to “layer” out. When I try this with different photos, I usually discard half of them because it didn't work out the way I wanted. It's important to not give up though.

Editingwize you can see that I have lightened them up. Also, I've removed some of the blue shades on Finorio. And last but not least, I've added a warmer tint.

4. The Black Background

This is a popular way of photographing horses, and it's easier than you think!

Let me know if you'd like a tutorial on black backround photos :)

In both examples I'm going to show you, I have edited out a person.. Both times the horse looked smashing, and they didn't (no offence, beautiful girls)!

First out is Camilla & Tjardo. I was actually shooting some test shots here, so Camilla doesn't really care much about me :p Tjardo on the other hand had gotten his eye on something and arched his neck so beautifully! I couldn't discard this one.. So Camilla had to go..

Process: Used magic wand to select everything but the horse, added black, increased contrast, sharpness, enhanced the colour in Tjardo's eye a wee bit.

-The second one is of Marthe and her Harley. Same thing happened here and Marthe had to go :)

This second one is a bit more complex, because I had to “reconstruct” what was behind Marthes arm. In that case it was easier to remove the yellow stripe on his blanket, and his body had to be fading into the background. That was achieved by a little bit of clone tool and mostly increasing contrast.

5. Seasons Are Changing

This fall I scheduled my yearly photoshoot with a professional model. I engaged two girls with their horses. So, we were 4 people who had to time this to a day that would work for everyone. It could not be too sunny and it could not rain. The problem with shooting more than an hour away is that you cannot check out the conditions on forehand, and kinda just have to “wing it” when you get there. This shoot was supposed to have autumn colors but I can't command the weather, so when we got there we got mostly green surroundings (damn you, global warming). Well, my point is that I had to change the season myself..

I have cropped the photo on both sides to get a bit closer to the subjects. Also I have muted the greens, and given them a yellow tint. I think this goes well with the colours of the models hair, tattooes and skintone. It also goes well with Baco's nose and tail.

So to sum it up: Sharpened, cropped, muted greens.

This was the last part of this blog I hope you liked it, and I hope it was helpful!

The photos selected is based on your wishes (from Facebook post). If you have any requests for what else I should blog about, or you have any questions regarding this blog – please ask me in the comment field below :) If you like, I can go more in depth on a single subject. I realized this blog is quite general about editing, and may not be very helpful to some. But remember to use your own imagination and creativity. And trial & error is the best way to learn :)

Thank you for reading!


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