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A Black Background Blog

A lot of people ask me how I get a black background on my photos. Is it a drape? Is it photomanipulation? Is it an app?? The guesses are many :) Some of you who are reading this blog probably know the answer already, and if so, you also know just how easy it is! Let me take you through the steps:

In the photo above is Tirana. A gorgeous warmblood mare. Her coat goes so well with a black background, and her dark hair blends nicely. In this photo she is standing in the stable entrance and the lights are shut off inside.

When the natural daylight outside hits her face and body she becomes much brighter than the dark stable behind her. With the right exposure she will be light and detailed while the background becomes black (or almost black). A few touches is usually requiered in a photo editing program afterwards, but if the conditions are right, you might succeed straight from camera! The settings for this photo is:

Aperture: f2.8

Shutter: 1/400 sec

ISO: 1000

Focal length: 140mm

No flash

If you're aiming for the total black background you can adjust the blender to increase the focus area (or just zoom out and approach if possible). Sometimes I think it's beautiful to have a little texture:

This is Tjardo. He is standing inside a rain shed in a paddock. The material of the walls are yellow wood. The intention was to create a photo with a completely black background, but the sunshine was a bit too bright. But looking at the photo in the camera display I saw potential anyways :) The settings for this one is:

Aperture: f2.8

Shutter: 1/500 sec

ISO: 0

Focal length: 195mm

No flash

If you don't have the possibility to find a dark background to work with, you can always cheat.. But there are a few things to think about.

Here I've used the magic wand to mark everything but the horse. Then I've painted it black. Afterwards you have to work your way along all the lines of the horse and blacken the edges. If you're going to cheat there are 2 things you must prepare to get the best result. The first thing is hair! If there's a lot of wind and your horses mane is blowing around, it will be very difficult to cut out and make look realistic. So either braid your horse or find a place not windy. The second thing is the background. Find a place where the background is a different colour than your horse, so it will be easier for the magic wand to mark it afterwards. The photo above was not planned to have a black background. This was actually a practise exercise for myself :)

Here is a good example of the positioning in the entrance. The horse could preferably stand a little farther out than she is here, but there was a "ladder" going down, so the horse would have been standing downhill. There was a lot of light that day, so it worked out fine anyway :) The focal length here is a lot shorter than usual because I wanted to make sure that both the girl and the horse got equally sharp in the photo. I've also chosen to use the door as a natural frame :) Aaaand, the settings are:

Aperture: f2.8

Shutter: 1/640 sec

ISO: 320

Focal length: 120mm

No flash

Beware of the sun!

There are not a very many places to escape from the sun in Portugal, so we had to give it our very best. The sun might not be your worst enemy in a situation like this, but the combo is - the combo of a bright sun and a white horse. Epá has lost some detail on his nose bone due to the light being very bright. In photo words it's "burnt out". With the sun you also risk getting shadows and that might not be very flattering. The best condition for black background photos is light overcast weather :)

Aperture: f2.8 (in this case I should have increased the aperture just a bit).

Shutter: 1/3205 sec

ISO: 0

Focal length: 200mm

No flash

In this photo I've actually used an external flash, for the very first time (and I've never used one since).

My colleague, Jørgen, helped me out. Thanks, Jørgen ;)

After a 2 hour long photoshoot the darkness was falling and we had no more light to work with. So there is no natural light in this photo. I would say it's definately easier to work with daylight as a light source, and in my personal opinion that is also the most flattering. So I don't think I will ever use a flash for this purpose again :)

Here are the settings for you:

Aperture: f8 (I should have lowered the aperture)

Shutter: 1/200 sec (and increased the shutter speed).

ISO: 800

Focal length: 170mm

No flash

-That's all I have for you guys! As always, feel free to comment and ask any questions you might have! Thank you so much for reading :)



(And here's a little photo feature for you):


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