Background question

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by lucki85, Mar 11, 2008.

  1. lucki85

    lucki85 TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2008
    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    New York
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    So I have a possibly stupid question, but I am really new to photography and trying things out. I love the look of the pictures that have black backgrounds (kind of just looks like space). Anyway how do I get it to look like that? Is it all in photoshop? I do have a black background but obviously it just looks like a black background straight out of the camera. Anyway, I guess I am assuming it is done in photoshop, but would love to hear how to actually do it. I want to try to practice doing it with my children this week. Thanks!
     
  2. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2007
    Messages:
    6,111
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    Montreal, QC, Canada
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Four ways to do it:

    1 - Yes, you can do it in photoshop... but thats the longest way to do it.

    2 - You can use a backdrop that is a black material. Velvet works best for this but it is expensive.

    3 - You can use flash. Surprisingly, not many people know that light has a depth of field too. You set yourself up so that the DOF of the light is shallow and everything behind it looks dark/black.

    4 - A combination of the above.
     
  3. lucki85

    lucki85 TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2008
    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    New York
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Okay...I have a black backdrop that I can use for now ( but velvet sounds like an awesome idea..def. going to get some). Maybe you can expand a little about the flash? I guess I'm not really sure what you mean about making the depth of field of the LIGHT shallow....BTW...I am using a 50mm and don't have an external flash. Thanks, I really want to try this out!
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2003
    Messages:
    33,818
    Likes Received:
    1,811
    Location:
    Edmonton
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Welcome to the forum.

    Actually, you can make any color/shade background look black...even without photoshop. Black (non reflective) is easier though.

    Objects show up on a photo because they have light reflecting off of them. So if you don't have any light reflecting off if a background...it will appear black in the photo.

    By adjusting the settings of you camera, you can control the amount of exposure...so you can underexpose the background...making it appear dark/black on the photo.

    That's all well and good...but you still need to see your subject in the photo. This means that you need to light up your subject...but avoid lighting up the background as well.
    There are several methods to achieve this. One is to move the subject as far away from the background as you can. Light falls off over distance...so the farther away the background, the less light will be reflected off if it. Also, if you move the light source closer to the subject, you get more light, which means you can turn down your exposure (thus making the background darker).

    Another thing that you can do, is to constrain the light that is lighting the subject. In a studio, you can use things like barn doors, grids or snoots...which keep the light where it's pointed...so that it doesn't 'spill' onto the background. You can also use something to go between the light and the background (or any other any that you don't want to be lit up).

    So, it can be done without Photoshop.

    However, it can still be hard to pull that off and you will get some light reflecting off of the background...and yes, you can use Photoshop to make it black. If it's close, you could use the levels adjustment and use the black point eye dropper and click on the background.

    That will affect the whole image...so you might need to adjust the background separately from the subject...so the use of a layer mask would be the way to go.
     
  5. lucki85

    lucki85 TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2008
    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    New York
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Yay! thanks so much bigmike...I would really like to use the least amount of photoshop as possible (still trying to learn that too!) Anyway I planned on setting my backdrop up in my dinning room...There is a window across the room from where I will be setting it up. I will try to move them (children) as far away from the background as I can without seeing the edges of the backdrop or the walkway to the kitchen (I'm thinking they wont be able to move away too far...I guess I really don't know until I get it set up). Anyway......should I try to shoot with the flash off, small aperture, and maybe a light in front of them....I'm not sure if this really makes sense or would be any different then me using the flash....I was thinking the flash might light up the background too, and I could adjust where I put the light so it's not to bright....maybe I won't need an extra light since there is some sun light coming in through the window? Okay I am obviously thinking "out loud"....care to add anything?
     
  6. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2007
    Messages:
    6,111
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    Montreal, QC, Canada
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
  7. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2003
    Messages:
    33,818
    Likes Received:
    1,811
    Location:
    Edmonton
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    There are a lot of factors to think about here. In a studio, where you have lots of equipment and full control...it's easier than when you are working with limited equipment and avaliable lighting.

    If you are using window light...I would suggest trying to find a way to have the kids lit by the window light but also having something to block the light from the window hitting the backdrop. It could be a curtain, a piece of cardboard etc...just something to block the light.

    If you are shooting with natural light, you will likely need a wide aperture in order to get shutter speeds fast enough to freeze the movement of the kids.

    Using flash, for fill, may help...but be aware that flash might not be the same color temperature as the window light, so the colors many come out weird. And household lamps etc. are certainly a different color temp, so don't mix them with window light or flash.

    You will just have to experiment and do the best with what you have. Remember that you might be looking at shots there were created in a professional studio...and trying to recreate them in your living room with limited gear...which is fighting an uphill battle.
     
  8. lucki85

    lucki85 TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2008
    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    New York
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Alright, I think I will try starting out with using the window light and go from there. Of course it makes sense to experiment :) I know I wont get anything near professional looking seeing as I am far far far from there ( maybe throw in a couple more far's) I am just looking to get some nice pictures of the kids that at least my friends and family will be super impressed with :) I do have this dream of being really good someday, but I guess I need to start somewhere! Thanks for the advice ! And thanks for the site Jerry...I'm off to check it out now....(I always feel like spend so much more time researching than actually doing LOL)
     

Share This Page