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Lighting for Background & Colour

Photographing horses has a handful of challenges. Not least is getting our lighting right for the range of different colours of horses. If you've ever tried photographing black horses ... or dogs for that matter, it can be difficult. We get numerous comments from owners of dark coloured horse that they find it difficult.

It's all about how the light bounces off colours in different ways. The darker the colour, the more it soaks up the light, and there's less light hitting the camera sensor. This makes the capture of a good sharp image difficult ... especially if you use a camera on 'auto'. It's all about being in control of the light when you can.

Our images are produced using strong studio flash lights, which means we don't have to rely on the ambient light ... we can control the exposure of the background independently, whilst lighting up the horse accordingly.

Balancing the ambient and flash lighting is a key element of the technique we employ. We can choose to include or not include the background. The image above was taken in daylight with the exposure set for the background to go black, and the flash lights set to light up the horse.

All we have to do is compensate the power of the light for the colour of the horse! Easy! Right? Well, that's the principle, but the reality is that there's often more to it than that. Doing a shoot with a black horse and grey are very different. The way the ambient and flash light bounces off the subject, the proximity and position of the light to the horse ... all about getting the balnce right.

And as you can imagine, just when you think you've got the technique sussed, along comes ...

... guaranteed to test the capability of your camera and getting the technique right.

Over time, there has been a lot of trial and error to get this right, and even now it's still a learning process.

We do get some shoots where it's a little easier ... just because they sit still for longer.

© All images Copyright EqSP Equine Studio . Photography



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