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Thread: Tips, tricks for photographing on a black background

  1. #1

    Question Tips, tricks for photographing on a black background

    Hey everyone..
    i'm doing a project for school and i'm going to be using a black background to shoot on can anyone give me some tips and tricks for photographing on a black blackground.

    2 of the shots have glass in them (martini glass and ash tray) they are the ones that worry me the most.

    also getting the background to look very black and not having any spots on light from lighting on it.

    if you can recomend any everyday items that would make a good black background it would be helpful as well.

    thanks

  2. #2

    Default Re: Tips, tricks for photographing on a black background

    need to do bracketing a bit. meter at the black background. take pictures with 1 stop under, 2 stops under, 1 stop over, 2 stops over. the next shots meter at the glass and take shots with 1 stop uner, 2 stops under, 1 stop over, 2 stops over.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Tips, tricks for photographing on a black background

    You do not need to bracket at all in such controlled situations. Bracketting comes into place when the images are fleeting and you are not sure how to guage your exposure.

    To start with, any black cloth or paper will do. It will have to be big enough, because the strategy is to have your lights close to the object and the black background as far as ia reasonable. Set you camera exposure to manual. Meter the background, and stop down three stops. That will bring your background very black.

    Example: when you meter the background, and the meter says f8 1/60. Then you can either use f8 1/500, or it you prefer f22 1/60. You will have your background very black. Now the other thing to do is to put enough light on the subject you are photographing. If you have a digital camera, use the previous exposure settings and see it you can get enough light on the subject. adjust your light source closer or further to get the right amount of light you need.

    When I photograph such things, I don't even use a digital camera. I just measure the light on the subject and the background, and I get the exposure correct all the time.

    Actually, the background can be very near to the subject. But if it is close, the inherant light differences between the subject and the background will be narrower becuse of light spills, making it more difficult to have a good contrast.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Tips, tricks for photographing on a black background

    the background should be 2 stops under than the subject, you will get a black background regardless of the colour of the backdrop.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Tips, tricks for photographing on a black background

    Quote Originally Posted by jopel
    the background should be 2 stops under than the subject, you will get a black background regardless of the colour of the backdrop.
    er, actually two stops will not get a featureless black. you can correct it in PS, but to get featureless black you need to get three stops under.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Tips, tricks for photographing on a black background

    Quote Originally Posted by student
    er, actually two stops will not get a featureless black. you can correct it in PS, but to get featureless black you need to get three stops under.
    point taken, ya 3 stops will give you RGB = 0

  7. #7

    Default Re: Tips, tricks for photographing on a black background

    in addition, manual focusing would be more preferred than AF

  8. #8

    Lightbulb Re: Tips, tricks for photographing on a black background

    i am sure the colour of the backdrop matters. besides, choosing the proper(common sense needed) colour of the backdrop, another crucial factor is the distance between subject and backdrop. the farther, the better(in achieving your desired goal).

    Quote Originally Posted by jopel
    the background should be 2 stops under than the subject, you will get a black background regardless of the colour of the backdrop.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Tips, tricks for photographing on a black background

    Quote Originally Posted by jopel
    point taken, ya 3 stops will give you RGB = 0
    Is it possible to provide more info on this, so that I may be able to read up on my own? Like, how would you know that underexposing by 3 stops will give RGB = 0?

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Tips, tricks for photographing on a black background

    For really jet black, its better to use felt type of cloth rather than paper. It absorbs light much better. It's actually rather convenient to burn in whatever you want in PS though.
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Tips, tricks for photographing on a black background

    Quote Originally Posted by student
    To start with, any black cloth or paper will do. It will have to be big enough, because the strategy is to have your lights close to the object and the black background as far as ia reasonable. Set you camera exposure to manual. Meter the background, and stop down three stops. That will bring your background very black.

    Example: when you meter the background, and the meter says f8 1/60. Then you can either use f8 1/500, or it you prefer f22 1/60. You will have your background very black. Now the other thing to do is to put enough light on the subject you are photographing. If you have a digital camera, use the previous exposure settings and see it you can get enough light on the subject. adjust your light source closer or further to get the right amount of light you need.

    When I photograph such things, I don't even use a digital camera. I just measure the light on the subject and the background, and I get the exposure correct all the time.

    Actually, the background can be very near to the subject. But if it is close, the inherant light differences between the subject and the background will be narrower becuse of light spills, making it more difficult to have a good contrast.
    student, just to enquire, when you meant put sufficient light, I presume you're not using strobes/flash to light up the subjects? And also when you meant three stops under for the background, the metering is only for the background, how do you gauge/meter the exposure for the subject with 'sufficient lighting'? Did you meant to have sufficient lighting to light up the subject at the same reading as the background for the subject? I'm stumped.

  12. #12

    Lightbulb Re: Tips, tricks for photographing on a black background

    i am a little stumped by your last question. exposing the subject and the background at the same exposure will not achieve 3 stop underexposed for background.

    If your subject's exposure is F11 and background's exposure is F4, assuming other factors remain constant. so, exposing at F11 will achieve 3 stop underexposure for background.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Tips, tricks for photographing on a black background

    Quote Originally Posted by espn
    student, just to enquire, when you meant put sufficient light, I presume you're not using strobes/flash to light up the subjects? And also when you meant three stops under for the background, the metering is only for the background, how do you gauge/meter the exposure for the subject with 'sufficient lighting'? Did you meant to have sufficient lighting to light up the subject at the same reading as the background for the subject? I'm stumped.
    Let me try again. Sometimes it is difficult to put things in words!

    Please bear with me while I give a very brief review of the zone system. This might help others who are little a liilt less knowledgeable in technicals matters.

    All meters are calibrated to give middle grey. Something called zone 5. In the zone system of visualizing light, the range may go from zone 0 to zone 14! Now zone 5, the default standard of all meters, give a middle grey exposure. Every difference of one zone is one stop. So zone 4 is more grey and zone 3 black but details are still discernible. Zone 2 is black with no details. On the other hand zone 6 is lighter than zone 5 and is approximately the tone in our palm. Zone 7 is very light but details are still visible. In zone 8 it is all white and you see nothing (especially with slides and digital - black & white films will still capture details up to zone 14!)

    Now coming back to the situation at hand.

    When you meter the background,ideally with a spotmeter, the exposure according to the meter will result in a grey exposure. When one stops down two stops, it will bring to to zone 3, which is not dark enough (Again it have been mentioned that you can darken further in PS. But we wil try to get exposure right in the first instance). So you stop down 3 stops and that brings you to zone 2. I cannot explain how this impact on RGB! sorry.

    So you arrive at a combination of aperture and shutter speed to make the background a detail-less black (three stops under from themete reading). Actually you can use any background (even white!), meter it and then stop down three stops, and you will get black!) Now this will be the default setting.

    The next thing is to look at how much light you have on the subject. The question the photographer will have to decide is how he/she wants the luminence of the subject. Let us say that you want it to be at zone 6 - meaning light with plenty of details. Which means there will be a 4 stops difference (zone 2 to zone 6) between the metering for the background and the subject. So you meter the subject and see wherre the light/zone lies. And then adjust the light accordingly using your strobes etc.

    A lot depends on where you are photographing the subject. In studio, the distance of the subject from the background and the distance of the light source from the subject all will have an impact on the metering and contrast between background and subject.

    If I am making such a photo outdoors using available light falling equally on subject and background, obviously a white background will not do because no amount of metering gimmicks will reduce the contrast between the subject and background. So a black background is essetial.

    In the studio, you can use the artificial light source to create a lot of contrast difference between the subject and background.

    Hope I have not confused you further!

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Tips, tricks for photographing on a black background

    Quote Originally Posted by juliana24
    Hey everyone..
    i'm doing a project for school and i'm going to be using a black background to shoot on can anyone give me some tips and tricks for photographing on a black blackground.

    2 of the shots have glass in them (martini glass and ash tray) they are the ones that worry me the most.

    also getting the background to look very black and not having any spots on light from lighting on it.

    if you can recomend any everyday items that would make a good black background it would be helpful as well.

    thanks
    The black velvet will adsorb light, so will give you solid a black background when you canít achieved 3 stops different underexpose on background.

    But your glass and ashtray will need to rest on something, I will not recommend you shoot them with a solid solid dark dark black background, because the glass and ashtray will look like not resting on anything, just like glass and ashtray in a black hole.

    It will be more natural rest on a very dark shade of gray, and then fade off to solid black.

    Solution? Get a matt black paper from FANCY PAPER or ART FRIENDS, if you want some reflection of the objects, get a gloss black art card.

    How to light glassware? lighting from top or side is the best, using softbox, go as close as possible, use white cards or mirror to create some reflections on the side or top of the glassware for separation from the background.

    Hope this help

  15. #15

    Default Re: Tips, tricks for photographing on a black background

    Try using a flash at either side of subject and use a small aperture with a black background.

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