I thought it would be nice to share the stages of editing one of my black background images. There are lots of ways to do it, but this is how I do mine!
First of all, here is the image straight out of my camera. As you can see the background isn't black, and infact we have used a barn to create the shadowed effect as the horse gets further away from the camera. In this instance it was quite a sunny day, so I was sure to make sure none of the horse (Archie) was in the sunlight, however you want to make sure you're exposing enough to ensure the owner isn't lost in the darkness, hence why the background doesn't appear black to begin with!
When photographing just the horse, the angle of the horse is particularly imporant in these shots to ensure that the studio like effect is created. As you can see I only use natural light and some magic post-production! I like to have the horse bending round at an angle to create the natural shadows and variation of tones across their coat. However, you may notice I have a preferred angle for bareback shots too!
So, I'll open up my favourite image in PS (Photoshop) and using the clone tool, I'll remove any snot from the horses nose, and in this case I removed some of the marks left behind by the bridle. Quite often I'll photoshop out leadropes and reins too, however Marianna was brave enough to try this compeltely tackless!
Using the curve tool, I'll select and area using the black dropper tool to set a high contrast of shadow. There's nothing worse than seeing a black background image created out in the open and then heavily photoshopped (it can be done, well, if you pay attention to detail and know the process to create a believeable black background portrait!) OR an edited image lacking enough depths in the shadow.
The image is then cropped and straightened as necessary. The next stage is to begin blacking out the areas around the horse. For this I use a black paintbrush of varying sizes and hardness.
You can see the image is starting to take shape now - I'm super careful not to cut in to any part of the horse with the black brush. I will use the burn tool set to shadows, at around 30% to burn in to the areas around the horse, building up several layers as I go. The burn tool will darken the shadows whilst leaving lighter areas, such as the whiskers, visible.
The final stage of the edit is to have a quick glance over the image and then add my chosen actions to make the colours pop! Here is the final image: