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Thread: Advise sought for "darkening with light" technique

  1. #1
    Member kilkenny's Avatar
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    Default Advise sought for "darkening with light" technique

    Hi all,

    Need some help with this technique. Its a technique i think. I had seen portraitures by some CSers with perfectly exposed subject and a totally black background and had assumed that this was a studio setup and something that i wll try later once i grasp the basics.

    However somehow the desire to capture this kind of shots keep haunting me and i tried searching on line and came up with the below tutorial which was great as a start for me.

    http://digital-photography-school.co...ing-with-light

    However am still trying to brush up on the technique which is supposed to be able to be achieved without a wireless flash. Specifically, that is an advise i would like to seek as well as any pointers that can allow me to finetune this kind of shots.

    Hope all the portraiture masters can give their advise.

    Thanks in advance!

    cheers,
    kilkenny
    Nikon D90 | Nikkor 50mm f1.8 | Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 | Nissin Di622 |

  2. #2
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advise sought for "darkening with light" technique

    the link you post is just simply making use of the inverse square law,

    since the lights source is very close to the subject, so the light will fall off more rapidly, hence, other areas will be darken.

    if you double the distance of lights source to subject, you need to increase the exposure by 2 stops, but the overall lighting will be more even.

    hope this help.
    Shoot to Live, Live to Shoot
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  3. #3
    Member kilkenny's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advise sought for "darkening with light" technique

    Hi Catchlight,

    Thanks again for the advise. I can understand the part about the inverse square law, however my query is how can i achieve it with a significantly darken background.

    Specifically, i would like to ask if i am heading in the right direction if i am seeking to achieve this effect? Or it can only be achieved in a studio environment?

    http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/showt...sual+seduction

    This picture is posted by CSer jleecy , apologises to you and moderators if i am not allowed to quote pictures posted here for discussion. If so, please do highlight and mod pls help to close thread, but i am really interested this knowledge. tks.

    cheers,
    kilkenny
    Nikon D90 | Nikkor 50mm f1.8 | Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 | Nissin Di622 |

  4. #4
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advise sought for "darkening with light" technique

    get a black cloth or paper as backdrop, place your subject far away from the backdrop, no light lights on the backdrop, it will be darken.

    if you have limited space, use black velvet instead.
    Shoot to Live, Live to Shoot
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Advise sought for "darkening with light" technique

    Definitely it'd be better if it's done in a low-lit space. If you do not have access to such, just turn off the lights or start by shooting at the highest sync speed. With lighting, the shutter will affect only background / ambient light exposure.

    Using black material to surround the subject will also help to prevent light from your strobe to be bouncing and hitting on the subject. But if you want almost the type of shots seen in the hyperlink you posted, you definitely need to do off-shoe lighting. The closest would be to bounce the flash to the wall on your back-left but by bouncing light that will mean the light will diffuse more and reducing the harsh (in a good way) highlight effect you see on the pictures.

    The rest like ISO and aperture will really depend on the sort of picture you'd want to achieve in the portraits.
    Last edited by rendition; 16th July 2009 at 02:30 PM.

  6. #6
    Member kilkenny's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advise sought for "darkening with light" technique

    Hi catchlight & rendition,

    Thanks for the advise!

    From your replies seems i am moving in the right direction, just need to finetune my setup and technique. Will gambatte!

    Tks.

    cheers,
    kilkenny
    Nikon D90 | Nikkor 50mm f1.8 | Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 | Nissin Di622 |

  7. #7

    Default Re: Advise sought for "darkening with light" technique

    to boil it down to its essence its basically having the subject and background lit differently, in this case not lit at all..

  8. #8
    Member kilkenny's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advise sought for "darkening with light" technique

    Hi rendition,

    Sorry can i check what is off shoe lighting?

    Tks.

    cheers,
    kilkenny
    Nikon D90 | Nikkor 50mm f1.8 | Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 | Nissin Di622 |

  9. #9
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advise sought for "darkening with light" technique

    Quote Originally Posted by kilkenny View Post
    Hi rendition,

    Sorry can i check what is off shoe lighting?

    Tks.

    cheers,
    kilkenny
    it should be off camera flash set up, please goolge strobist
    Shoot to Live, Live to Shoot
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  10. #10
    Member kilkenny's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advise sought for "darkening with light" technique

    if you have limited space, use black velvet instead.
    Hi Catchlight,

    I went to get black velvet, at least tt's what the person told me it was and it felt like it. (cost 12 bucks for 1X1.5m, i bougth 2X1.5M) used it as a backdrop but the velvet kinda "reflected" the flashes......tried playing around with the strengt of flash but could not come to one whereby the background is black and the subject is well exposed....hmm

    is there anything i missed out? Tks.

    cheers,
    kilkenny
    Nikon D90 | Nikkor 50mm f1.8 | Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 | Nissin Di622 |

  11. #11
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advise sought for "darkening with light" technique

    from dictionary, velvet: A silky densely piled fabric with a plain back.

    velvet won't reflect light, in fact it aborts light, so it won't be shining at all.

    if space permit, the distance of subject to background ≥ flash to subject, you will have solid black background.
    Shoot to Live, Live to Shoot
    www.benjaminloo.com | iStock portfolio

  12. #12
    Member kilkenny's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advise sought for "darkening with light" technique

    if space permit, the distance of subject to background ≥ flash to subject, you will have solid black background.
    this was not enforced either tt or i got cheated by the clotheman

    hopefully its not the latter =p

    cheers,
    kilkenny
    Nikon D90 | Nikkor 50mm f1.8 | Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 | Nissin Di622 |

  13. #13

    Default Re: Advise sought for "darkening with light" technique

    X-sync speed + black background far from the model (relative to strobe-model distance)

    ===========

    oops apparently I didn't read the replies carefully enough
    Last edited by grantyale; 20th July 2009 at 02:24 PM.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Advise sought for "darkening with light" technique

    Quote Originally Posted by catchlights View Post
    from dictionary, velvet: A silky densely piled fabric with a plain back.

    velvet won't reflect light, in fact it aborts light, so it won't be shining at all.

    if space permit, the distance of subject to background ≥ flash to subject, you will have solid black background.
    No matter how you advised, the TS still get light reflected from the backgrd, maybe should shoot the subject using black hole as back grd, that will be guaranteed.

  15. #15
    Member kilkenny's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advise sought for "darkening with light" technique

    No matter how you advised, the TS still get light reflected from the backgrd, maybe should shoot the subject using black hole as back grd, that will be guaranteed.
    i guess this is inevitable right?

    The setup is to help but understanding of how to get the best from the setup and equipment is still the photographer duty. Will experiment some more and seek advise again!

    Thanks all for the feedback.

    Cheers,
    kilkenny
    Nikon D90 | Nikkor 50mm f1.8 | Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 | Nissin Di622 |

  16. #16

    Default Re: Advise sought for "darkening with light" technique

    Is this about using the flash to light the subject so brightly that the background is so underexposed that it appears to be black?

    It's not hard. A little math with exposure theory and flash exposure theory will give you the necessary settings.

  17. #17
    Member kilkenny's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advise sought for "darkening with light" technique

    Is this about using the flash to light the subject so brightly that the background is so underexposed that it appears to be black?

    It's not hard. A little math with exposure theory and flash exposure theory will give you the necessary settings.
    Yes Sir!

    Care to share the math behind it or can u suggest some key word to google? tks

    If i use the camera in built flash, the fastest shutter i can go is 1/200, based on tt shutter speed i tried playing around with the flash strength even try to switch off all the lights to take in a totally dark room but still cannot achieve a satisfactory result

    I put it down to the need to experiment further or limitation without using an external flash. If there is a formula to follow it would be much much appreciated

    cheers,
    kilkenny
    Nikon D90 | Nikkor 50mm f1.8 | Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 | Nissin Di622 |

  18. #18

    Default Re: Advise sought for "darkening with light" technique

    Search for Guide Number and understand what the formula means.

    Oh and if you're doing it indoors, especially in a small room, the flash is very likely to bounce light all over the room.
    Last edited by YSLee; 21st July 2009 at 02:29 PM.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Advise sought for "darkening with light" technique

    Some down and dirty tricks:

    1. Shoot at night - black background automatically.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonkk/2...7602562067741/
    Shot this at 1am when my friend dropped by to visit me.

    2. Shoot in a dark room, and use a fill light
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonkk/2...7602562067741/
    Shot this in a dimly lit room.

    3. Shoot in the shade with sunlight shining on your subject
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonkk/3...7602562067741/
    Shot this at 10am at my porch when my friend dropped by for breakfast.

    4. Kill the ambient with a fast shutter speed
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonkk/2...7602562067741/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonkk/2...7602562067741/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonkk/2...7602562067741/
    Various shots, one of them was taken at a party with bright lights in the room. Simply shot at a low ISO and fast shutter speed and a single keylight.

    5. Black background (:

    But really, the trick is to ultimately control your ambient exposure and the keylight exposure. And find an appropriate setting/background.

    Hope that helps!

    Cheers (:

  20. #20
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advise sought for "darkening with light" technique

    Quote Originally Posted by kilkenny View Post
    Yes Sir!

    Care to share the math behind it or can u suggest some key word to google? tks

    If i use the camera in built flash, the fastest shutter i can go is 1/200, based on tt shutter speed i tried playing around with the flash strength even try to switch off all the lights to take in a totally dark room but still cannot achieve a satisfactory result

    I put it down to the need to experiment further or limitation without using an external flash. If there is a formula to follow it would be much much appreciated

    cheers,
    kilkenny
    did you read the inverse square law in post #2?

    if you able understand and apply it, can easliy solve all the puzzle on lighting set up.
    Shoot to Live, Live to Shoot
    www.benjaminloo.com | iStock portfolio

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