Tuesday, February 27, 2018


When we do portraits of horses and their owners we often start them in a barn or out building.
This serves two purposes:
  1. If we’re starting photography at a less than ideal time of day when the light is flat, and thus directionless, we use “barn light” to create dramatic portraits.
  2. These interior portraits give our clients additional choices with a really different look than the outside portraits; and that usually gives us higher sales!
For some reason I rarely see other photographers use barns properly for equestrian portraits with their owners. These photographers often put the horse and owner IN the barn’s doorway using it as a framing device. Then with their subjects facing the outside or inside of the barn all they get is Flat Light!

My basic rule:
  • For interior barn portraits the barn is Not the Subject the barn is the Light Source! 
  • And just like studio or window light portraits I do not photograph my Light Source; why? Including the light source in your portrait will only create a large, over exposed, distraction that you never want in a low-key portrait.
The open door of a barn creates a light that is just like a large window, which is probably the Best light for portraits. And just like the light from a window barn door light is softer near the opening and harder as you move your subjects deeper into he barn—provided there are no other light sources in your barn.

I usually place my subjects from 1/4 to 1/3 of the way into the barn—depending on what I find as a background for my subjects…

f8.0 @ 1/250 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 50mm - You don't usually see me at 50mm, but this was a really small space!

I’m extremely picky about my portrait backgrounds and will only allow tools or tack on the background walls if they’re not too distracting. I prefer the simplicity of nice bare barn wood like the above portrait of this hight school senior with her old horse.

NOTE: Just like the I do window light I do not allow the use of barn door light if there is Direct Sunlight flooding the opening. I only want Sky Light on my subjects!

Don’t hesitate to ask if you have questions….’Til next week…

Author:  Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman
Training site: http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com
Client site: http://www.TheStorytellersUsa.com

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