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Black And White Wall Background Black And White Photography

Black And White Wall Background Black And White Photography Black And White Wall Background Black And White Photography

We are talking about a couple of techy things in hopefully, a non-techy way. These two ideas will give you tips for how to make black backgrounds for your portraits.

Share your images and questions in the comments below. I’m happy to try to help further if I can.

Flash duration is really short. Think of it as a short, bright “flash” of light. It doesn’t matter how long the shutter is open, the light from the flash is gone by the time the shutter closes. So shutter speed only controls how much ambient light will enter the camera.

The flash was powered manually at full power and configured as a slave. In a studio environment where I have total control of the lighting, I always set flash output manually, rather than letting the camera control the flash via TTL.

While we were always able to accommodate those wanting a white wall studio by painting the cyc wall in Studio A, this change meets the increase in demand for this type of space.

The image on the left has the background close to the subject, about three feet (one meter) behind her. Then, on the right, the white background is about thirteen feet (four meters) back. You do not need me to do calculations, quote some nice formulae, to prove what is happening above. It is obvious, isn’t it?

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There are a number of advantages to this permanent change in Studio B, including the acoustic treatments in the space.

One of the best bits of advice I ever received, which I sometimes manage to apply, is to ignore the numbers. You should move those sliders till they give the look which you think suits the picture. Look at the photo and see what happens, take a breath, pause for a moment, and make some judgment as to whether it gives you what you’re looking for. Often this involves going a bit too far (whether it be with sharpening, or exposure, shadows, or whatever) and then dialing back a little.

In respect of the black cloth, most advice will suggest that you buy black velvet. I am sure it does an excellent job of absorbing light from all directions. But it is expensive, and with careful technique, it seems to me that another dark, non-shiny cloth can do the job too. One thing to pay a little attention to is making sure that you stretch the background cloth out a little. Try to get it as smooth and even as possible, with no creases, as any imperfections are liable to catch the light.

When trying to achieve a black background, you are interested in the amount of light hitting it. Again, pictures tell the story best. Both these photos had only white balance and very small adjustments to balance exposure done in post-processing.

It might suit some if I illustrate the same point with a graph (which, in the past, I have tended to introduce to students as a Mathematical picture).

We wanted to create a space that helps you achieve your vision, whether that’s product photography for your upcoming launch, or interviews for a profile video or documentary. A white wall studio can help you achieve that neutral, clean space, and we’re thrilled to better accommodate your needs with this change.

In this post I will share a simple two-light technique that you can use to create a high-key headshot in your own home, using only a plain white wall as the background. I made this portrait of my wife in a small room in our house.

The background for this photograph was the inside of a room. The teenage Filipino boy was standing in a doorway, getting full benefit from the light source. The background, the far wall of the room, might be only eight feet (just over two meters) away, but it is getting very close to the blackest of blacks, isn’t it?

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III Lens: Canon EF 100mm f/2 Background Light: Canon 430EX II bare flash Key Light: Canon 430EX II in 24″ Lastolite EzyBox softbox Flash Trigger: Canon ST-E2

Because the flash duration is so short, the only thing that matters in terms of flash exposure is how large the aperture opens during that short burst of light.

These improvements have helped transform Studio B into a perfect space for your next commercial or interview shoot.

Please understand that the numbers I am using here are approximate. They do vary from camera to camera, and from the conclusion given by one source to another. But I am going for using what is easy, what is really needed to make the point so you understand.

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The final image had only a couple more, tiny, detailed tweaks.

This is the photograph from the top of the article, as it first appeared out of the camera. You do not want to hear my excuses, but I did not get it as completely right in-camera as I would normally like to do. However, it turns out that is lucky, as it makes a good example for a post-processing in this case. Because the file was produced with the application of the ideas talked about above, it is very workable.

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Firstly, please think of stops of light as units. Using the term stop is like saying that something weighs 12 kilograms or that it is 10 miles away. As photographers, we tend to talk about stops and stopping down, but it is just as valid to say units. The thing is not to get bogged down in technicalities, the term stop is only a unit of measure.

I managed to do just that with this image. It makes me smile when I look at it now, a few weeks later, as I am slightly surprised at how far I went. I adjusted the color balance, brushed some negative clarity onto mom’s face, rotated the image counter-clockwise a little, but the exposure was not adjusted at all as the faces looked fine to me. Then I started pushing the sliders around.

I was also a bit surprised at how far I moved the black point. It seemed to work, though. As I say, I think it often works best if you move the sliders, without too much concern for the numbers they represent. Try to look at each photograph individually, rather than apply some sort of formula.

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The first concept might be stated simply as light falls off rapidly. Fleshing that out just a little, the amount of light available decreases greatly as you move away from the source of the light. But we are photographers and we do tend to think that a picture is worth a thousand words, so look at the diagram below:

How you decide to throw some light onto the subject of the photograph is for other articles. There are many other great Digital Photography School articles, which offer a huge number of suggestions for illuminating subjects. I thought you should know that I do very much like my LEDs, as I like being able to see the light. I also use reflectors. However, the first source of light in all the photographs above is natural light. You do not necessarily need a fancy kit.

The height of the softbox was such that the flash itself (in the centre of the softbox) was about 10 inches above the model’s eyes and I angled the softbox downward. The flash in the softbox was set manually to full power.

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I processed this photo in Lightroom 4 and Photoshop CS6. Total post processing time was about 15 minutes. As this post is focused on lighting, not post pro, I won’t go into too much detail on the retouching. But in brief, here are the steps I followed:

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Here is the setup for a portrait, with only natural light hitting the subject. It is not as obvious in this reduced jpeg as in the original RAW file, but the background is rather muddy, certainly getting towards black, but not the pure black you are looking for. In the original, you can clearly see folds in the cloth.

This is my first post on dPS, and I hope it’s been helpful for you. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Here’s a comparison between the straight from camera JPEG with only contrast and curves adjustments, and the finished image, retouched from a RAW file.

Combine this reasonably straightforward science, the way light falls away, with the science of the dynamic range of camera sensors and you will be a long way towards achieving black backgrounds for your portraits.

Due to popular demand, we recently converted Studio B at Meets The Eye to a white wall studio. This permanent white wall offers a better solution for your video and photography shoot needs. And, we now can offer you the opportunity to use Studio B’s white wall and Studio A’s pre-lit green screen simultaneously, giving you more flexibility.

  • retouched stray hairs
  • curves adjustments to increase contrast and colour
  • glamour glow affect using layer blending
  • subtle skin smoothing using gaussian blur and layer masking

With flash photography, your shutter speed controls the degree to which the ambient light will contribute to the exposure, and your aperture value controls the flash. This took me years to fully understand, but it’s actually quite simple:

7 Different Situations Where You Can Use Fill Flash Effectively

Dynamic range is the measurement from the darkest to the lightest item which can be seen. Your camera has a great deal less dynamic range than the human eye. It is much less capable of seeing into dark and light areas at the same time. That is why, when your camera produces an image with blown out highlights, and blocked up shadows. But your eye can still see the detail of a bird, which sat in bright sunlight, and you can also see the black dog which sat in the darkest shadows. Your camera simply cannot see both at the same time.

  • White wall studios create the appearance of infinite space, making it ideal for a non-distracting background during shooting.
  • A white wall studio gives both product photographers and larger scale productions the flexibility in how light reflects off the walls.
  • Because Studio B is already white, your production can save the expense of painting Studio A as previously needed. (And direct those funds towards higher priority items.)
  • A white background offers more control and minimal setup, whether for video or photography.
  • By using tweaks like draping backgrounds or slight adjustments to lighting, productions are able to create welcoming, warm environments for their shoot.
  • Using a white background in product photography isolates the object, making it easier to extract for compositing.

To light the model, I used a second flash fired through a 24-inch softbox. The softbox was on a light stand positioned between the camera and the model, just outside the frame on the left. To get the softest possible lighting, I put the softbox as close to the model as possible, without it being visible in the frame.

Still not happy – most people would describe the background as black, but it is not the blackest of blacks, is it?

The key to pure white backgrounds is to light the background separately from the subject. For this portrait, I placed a single flash on a light stand, hidden behind the model, and pointed the flash directly at the wall. The flash was zoomed to it’s widest setting, and I also flipped down the built-in diffuser to further spread the light onto the wall.

It was a bit of a surprise to see just how far towards the negative I had moved the contrast slider. This may be counter-intuitive when you are trying to make parts of the image darker, but because we have got a reasonably well-produced file, we can get away with reducing the contrast, and this has the pleasing effect of lightening the hair and separating it from the background.

Most of the way to being processed in just a very few steps.

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I am referring to Lightroom here, but there are equivalent tools in other software.

  • reduced clarity to -10 to smooth skin tones
  • spot removal to remove skin imperfections
  • curve (s-curve) to increase contrast
  • increaser contrast slightly
  • subtle split tone to add blue tint to the hair

As an erstwhile teacher of Mathematics, I should not apologize for numbers, should I? There is quite a lot of Mathematics in photography. However, you may be pleased to know that I think you can achieve everything, without thinking much beyond the basics. If you have a broad understanding of the concepts you will be absolutely fine.

It might be stating the obvious, but it needs to be said – the first step to getting a black background is to use a black backdrop. Then, if you can get the subject lit more brightly than the background, that will push the background into the underexposed, dark areas, outside the camera’s more limited dynamic range.

I think the point is illustrated. Is it clear that the background is worthy of the classic description “inky”? Other things could be improved with a few post-processing tweaks. They are presented to show the backgrounds, not as finished portraits, and I’ve only changed color balance and tried to balance the exposures.

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Of most significance to this exercise is the shadows slider which was moved in the opposite direction to usual. It was moved to the negative, to block up the shadows, rather than to the right, to try to pull out some detail.

It’s possible to produce quality studio portraits without a purpose-built studio or expensive lighting equipment. I captured the above image using two hotshoe flashes, a medium-sized portable softbox, and a white wall as the background.

In the example above, one unit of light arrives at our subject, one meter away from the window. If she moves two meters away, just one-quarter of a unit of light will now be arriving at her. Then, if she moves three meters away from the window, which is the source of light, there will be only one-ninth of a unit of light. The available light disappears very quickly.

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Here is the same set up again, with some extra light on the subject.

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Aside from using a green screen, black and white are the two most common studio colors. Each has their benefits, though due to black’s properties, it’s less desired in most applications. Black absorbs all color, making a space seem smaller.

If you can throw some extra light onto the subject and have them exposed correctly, in the brighter end of the dynamic range, that will help to send the rest of the image into darkness. The brightly lit subject should be properly exposed. Then there is a good chance that the background will be outside of the part of the dynamic range for which you are exposing. It will, at the very least, be heading towards black.

Jason Weddington – American photographer currently based in Japan. I enjoy portrait, fine art, street, and travel photography. I’ve been shooting seriously since 2001 and I began doing commissioned work in 2010.  I am now in the midst of a career change to pursue photography full time. You can find tips and videos on my blog, and connect with me on Google+, Facebook, or Flickr.

  • A painted permanent wall will last much longer and offers you the chance to capture superior quality shots.
  • No more seamless white paper background that can rip or crease.
  • Studio B also offers improved acoustics due to a specially built white wall.
  • We can augment and tweak the white floor to achieve the specific appearance you’re looking for.
  • The acoustic wall features isolated studs and a dual layer of drywall, offering less bounce and better sound wave isolation.

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In these photographs, the subject hasn’t moved and the exposure does not change. The background moves farther away, and the amount of light reaching it reduces rapidly. Even when the background is white, rather than the desired black, it gets much darker the greater the distance it is positioned from the light source.

Written by Meets the Eye Studios on May 25, 2017. Posted in Blog

In the practical world, there may be limits to what you can do, perhaps by the shooting space you have available. However, the message is simple, push the background as far away as possible, and even a seemingly small distance will help make it appear darker.

In addition to the acoustically treated white wall, Studio B also features 12’x12’ leading doors, a lighting grid, and all Meets the Eye Studios amenities. Our San Carlos studio is near the Bay Area and features plenty free parking and office space so your time here is painless and productive. We’d love to show you our space.

Use the natural law (it is called the Inverse Square Law) which dictates that light falls away rapidly from the source, and the limited dynamic range of your camera and you are a long way to getting a good, deep black, background. Next, you can help complete it further in post-processing.

The power of photography! 25 years after the event, I paid a bit of homage to Annie Leibowitz’s photograph of Demi Moore. I was not trying to replicate it as such, just nod in the photograph’s direction. But I did manage to get a really black background, didn’t I? Please give it a go yourself.

The exposure settings for this shot are 1/200sec @ f/8 on ISO 100. A shutter speed of 1/200 kills the ambient light in the room so that only the flash is contributing to the exposure. For flash photography indoors, 1/200 at ISO 100 is usually fine for overpowering any ambient light in the room.

To get started with this kind of photography, set your flash manually at half power. With your camera also on manual, dial in some starting settings like 1/200sec @ f/8 on ISO 100, and take a test shot. If it’s overexposed, stop down to a smaller aperture like f/11. If your test shot is underexposed, open up to about f/5.6 and try again. If you’re way off the mark, increase or decrease the flash output. Throughout the experiment, keep your shutter speed constant, and only adjust your aperture or flash output. Adjust one thing at a time, so you can see the result of that change.

Who does not love a crisp, deep black background for a portrait? You can achieve this with the application of just two ideas, and just a little post-processing too.

A white wall studio can also be lit to appear grey, helping you achieve just the appearance you want. A black studio will always appear black, even with a flash or heavy lighting.

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