Black backgrounds have their own special place in photography. Whether it be portrait or product photography, black backgrounds add a glamorous, elegant and luxurious look to their images. But as easy as it may sound, working with black backgrounds requires you to pay special attention to your lighting. In today’s video, we have professional photographer Karl Taylor who shows you some of the key things you need to consider to when using black backgrounds:
“Black backgrounds can look very effective in photography. They are a popular choice for everything from portraits to products.”
One very important thing to consider when working with black background is to ensure that there isn’t any stray light. And for this, the material that the background is made from matters quite a bit. Taylor recommends trying to get a velvet background, as they absorb light quite effectively. For cost-effective solutions, you can even paint MDF boards black or dark grey. But be sure to use matte paint to avoid any unnecessary highlights or reflections.
Also, keep an eye out for the relative position between your light, subject, and background. In case the light is spilling over to the background, place the subject at a further distance from the background and move the light accordingly. As Taylor suggests, avoid using umbrella lights if you really want a black background to work with. The stray light from an umbrella can make it nearly impossible. Instead, working with grids and snoots are better alternatives based on what you’re shooting.
Taylor also shares some of his go-to lighting setups for black backgrounds and how he makes his subject stand out. He talks about techniques like using rim lighting, how you can add a glow behind subjects and how you can effectively create a separation between the subject and its background. Remember, you need to light the subject properly to make it stand out.
“Ensuring that the subject is lit sufficiently with or without rim lighting is crucial for separation of the subject from its background.”
Towards the end of the video, Taylor also shares some quick tips on how you can edit images with a black background for a better look. So be sure to go through the entire video. And don’t forget to try out these tips the next time you need to work with a black background.
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