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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 29 Aug 2009 (Saturday) 09:08
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Black Background

 
DBOi
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Aug 29, 2009 09:08 |  #1

I tired search for Black background but didn't come up with what I was looking for, I'm probably using the incorrect technical term for this effect.

I'm trying to learn how to achieve a background like the picture below.
Is this achieved by a black background? Or is this just a case of the backwall being n meters away and the flash light is underexposed at the time it hits the back wall?

If someone could provide some input or point me in the right direction it'd be appreciated.

Thank You


Edit: I have a 480EXII off camera and a 580 EXII on camera

IMAGE NOT FOUND
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Gatorboy
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Aug 29, 2009 09:15 |  #2

Put the light source close to your subject, and put your subject far from background (e.g. 6-8 feet). You can achieve this with white, black or a poke-a-dot background.


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RichNY
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Aug 29, 2009 09:15 |  #3

You are pretty much on to it. Black is achieved by having little or no light fall on it in relation to the amount of light falling on your subject. So, that gives you several things you can do to achieve black:

-Move the subject further from the backround
-Put more light on the subject (higher power flash and stopping down)
-Move the flash closer to the subject (so that it falls off quicker before hitting background)
-Shoot with a faster shutter speed (like 1/200th- don't go over the camera's max. sync speed) to decrease the amount of ambient light hitting the background


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TMR ­ Design
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Aug 29, 2009 09:31 |  #4

RichNY wrote in post #8543749 (external link)
You are pretty much on to it. Black is achieved by having little or no light fall on it in relation to the amount of light falling on your subject. So, that gives you several things you can do to achieve black:

-Move the subject further from the backround
-Put more light on the subject (higher power flash and stopping down)
-Move the flash closer to the subject (so that it falls off quicker before hitting background)
-Shoot with a faster shutter speed (like 1/200th- don't go over the camera's max. sync speed) to decrease the amount of ambient light hitting the background

Rich,

When working in a studio environment, such as the image posted, it's not going to make a difference whether you shoot at 1/125s or 1/200s. That's not going to help achieve the pure black background.

Moving the subject away and having no perceived light fall on the background is fine but if you do this you'll find that the histogram and image on the LCD don't tell the whole story and are a bad way to gauge whether you've achieved a pure black background.

With a light meter, the easiest way is to take an incident subject reading and then a reflective background reading. If you have 4 stops less light (reflective) on the background than the incident subject exposure then you've got pure black.

Example: If the incident subject exposure is f/11 then you want to see a reflective background reading of f/2.8. No guesswork or trial and error.


Robert
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Curtis ­ N
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Aug 29, 2009 09:31 |  #5

All good info above.
Plus, get yerself a big piece of black velvet.
That stuff sucks up light like a sponge.
:D


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DBOi
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Aug 29, 2009 10:27 |  #6

thanks for all the knowledge, I've been scouring for some nice open areas in the house. Too much furniture in the way:D


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PhotosGuy
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Aug 29, 2009 15:06 |  #7

Same white background - different looks (external link)

More of his white seamless tutorials (external link)


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TMR ­ Design
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Aug 29, 2009 15:23 as a reply to  @ PhotosGuy's post |  #8

Zack is a good guy and has a lot for great info but the technique he takes advantage of is the size of his studio space and distancing the subject from the background. Many, if not most people with small or home studios don't have that much space.

Zack states a few times in his site that he's not the most technical and not the best at explaining things. Unfortunately he's really not giving a universal solution that will guarantee black backgrounds in any situation.

Using a light meter is still the best and most reliable way to achieve pure white or black backgrounds no matter what. 4 stops reflective under your incident subject exposure always works. Tutorials from Zack are good but not great and leave much to be desired.

I've seen so many people that blindly follow his white seamless tutorial without knowing what any of it really means and they end up with wrap, flare and clipped highlights.


Robert
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RichNY
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Aug 29, 2009 23:00 |  #9

TMR Design wrote in post #8543811 (external link)
Rich,

When working in a studio environment, such as the image posted, it's not going to make a difference whether you shoot at 1/125s or 1/200s. That's not going to help achieve the pure black background.

Moving the subject away and having no perceived light fall on the background is fine but if you do this you'll find that the histogram and image on the LCD don't tell the whole story and are a bad way to gauge whether you've achieved a pure black background.

With a light meter, the easiest way is to take an incident subject reading and then a reflective background reading. If you have 4 stops less light (reflective) on the background than the incident subject exposure then you've got pure black.

Example: If the incident subject exposure is f/11 then you want to see a reflective background reading of f/2.8. No guesswork or trial and error.

To achieve a pure black background one still has to use one or more of the controls that I posted. Why assume that someone is shooting at 1/125 and not 1/60th when using flash? My post wasn't intended to imply that shutter speed is the primary or best way to control the light but rather to give a more complete post on the various ways to control the light.

If someone has a meter I agree with the method you posted to determine whether the background will go black or not. Switching back and forth between reflective and incident readings like this certainly helps make the case for a Sekonic 558 or 758.


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TMR ­ Design
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Aug 29, 2009 23:05 |  #10

RichNY wrote in post #8547404 (external link)
To achieve a pure black background one still has to use the controls that I posted.

Who said you don't? My point was that in a studio which typically has no ambient contribution, you'll get the same exposure regardless of shutter speed.

Without knowing the technical aspects of the points you made, it's all guesswork. Far too many variables. Using the inverse square law and a light meter removes all the guess work and makes the process fast and simple.


Robert
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TMR ­ Design
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Aug 29, 2009 23:24 |  #11

RichNY wrote in post #8547404 (external link)
To achieve a pure black background one still has to use one or more of the controls that I posted. Why assume that someone is shooting at 1/125 and not 1/60th when using flash? My post wasn't intended to imply that shutter speed is the primary or best way to control the light but rather to give a more complete post on the various ways to control the light.

If someone has a meter I agree with the method you posted to determine whether the background will go black or not. Switching back and forth between reflective and incident readings like this certainly helps make the case for a Sekonic 558 or 758.

Rich,

You're still missing the point. I haven't assumed anything. If the person is shooting at 1/20 or 1/200s the exposure is going to be the same. I'm commenting on this one point you've made because it's incorrect. The other methods are fine to point out but to tell someone to increase shutter speed when there is no ambient contribution is not sound advice. As I said in my original post, in the studio environment, shutter speed will not be one of the ways to control the background exposure.

I'm not sure why you want to keep arguing that point. The other methods work but the photographer has to be very careful and perhaps use the inverse square law to know for sure that he/she has actually rendered black. I can shoot tons of images that appear to have black backgrounds based on the image on the camera's LCD and I (or a client) would be very disappointed once I viewed them on the computer if I didn't at least have something scientific or defined to know that I achieved black.


Robert
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Gentleman ­ Villain
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Aug 29, 2009 23:37 as a reply to  @ TMR Design's post |  #12
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this stuff works great
http://www.calumetphot​o.com/item/SG1020/ (external link)




  
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TMR ­ Design
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Aug 29, 2009 23:55 |  #13

Gentleman Villain wrote in post #8547531 (external link)
this stuff works great
http://www.calumetphot​o.com/item/SG1020/ (external link)

That looks pretty cool Mike. What about it makes it good or better than black seamless? I've never had any trouble rendering black seamless as pure black and a roll of 53" Savage Super Black only costs about $25.


Robert
RobertMitchellPhotogra​phy (external link)

  
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BCRose
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Aug 30, 2009 00:27 |  #14

I have always used the 4 stop difference with a black Savage seamless backdrop and gridded softboxes. I realize any colour BG will work if you stay with the 4 stops rule but I have often wondered if you even need a backdrop at all? If at certain distance (say 10 feet) the meter reading was 4 stops under the reading on your subject it should go black as well shouldn't it? Maybe a test is in order for Monday morning :)


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RichNY
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Aug 30, 2009 00:48 |  #15

TMR Design wrote in post #8547499 (external link)
Rich,

You're still missing the point. I haven't assumed anything. If the person is shooting at 1/20 or 1/200s the exposure is going to be the same. I'm commenting on this one point you've made because it's incorrect. The other methods are fine to point out but to tell someone to increase shutter speed when there is no ambient contribution is not sound advice. As I said in my original post, in the studio environment, shutter speed will not be one of the ways to control the background exposure.

I'm not sure why you want to keep arguing that point. The other methods work but the photographer has to be very careful and perhaps use the inverse square law to know for sure that he/she has actually rendered black. I can shoot tons of images that appear to have black backgrounds based on the image on the camera's LCD and I (or a client) would be very disappointed once I viewed them on the computer if I didn't at least have something scientific or defined to know that I achieved black.

Robert- I gave some thought to why I'm arguing the point and the best explanation that I can come up with is that I don't agree with you;) First, I don't believe that the OP has a light meter so while I agree with you that it would be the ideal way to go, it isn't always an option. He's shooting with two Canon flashes.

In your studio you may not be getting much ambient contribution but that is not to say that in another studio with more, larger, and different facing windows than you have that someone else won't be getting much more ambient light. Hey, I'll call you tomorrow and we can argue this out over the phone :)


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