Black Back Drop Help

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by MckenzieMontague, Jan 7, 2007.

  1. MckenzieMontague

    MckenzieMontague TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2006
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0
    HI,

    I normally shoot high key photography, but I want to learn how to shoot on a black back drop.

    I tried setting up 2 of my lights, one for the hair light and one light positioned in the front facing the subject. Basically it was disaster. The image was extremely noisy.

    My camera was set to ISO 100, WB- A, Shutter- 200, F 11. I really have no idea what I am doing. Can you refer a book as well. or give me an easy set up for a black back drop. I really want to make this work.

    I have 4 Alien Bee strobes with soft boxes. Thank you for your help.
     
  2. niccig

    niccig TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2006
    Messages:
    276
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Lexington, KY
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I'm still learning when it comes to lighting, but "Matters of Light and Depth" (I forget the author) is a great lighting book.
     
  3. Big Mike

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

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2003
    Messages:
    33,817
    Likes Received:
    1,811
    Location:
    Edmonton
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Can you show us an example?

    What are you using to determine your exposure?
     
  4. gizmo2071

    gizmo2071 TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2006
    Messages:
    861
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Toronto, ONT
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    I'd like to see an example aswell.
    I shoot regularly with a black backdrop and two lights, with pretty much the same settings with zero to very lttle noise.
     
  5. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,598
    Likes Received:
    137
    The meter tries to expose subjects to a medium gray. If you shoot a black object and expose it enough to make it medium gray, you will have overexposed it pretty severely. How your camera reads the reflected light from the subject varies from model to model and I don't know how yours works but, if your images come out light with a gray background, then you are simply overexposing. Trying to correct that in post processing could be causing the noise.

    Since you are shooting portraits then you want a natural skin tone against a black background. The histogram should be stacked to left because of all the black. If that is what you are seeing, then you shouldn't have any noise at ISO 100. If you are seeing noise after post process corrections then you know you have overexposure and your mouse to blame.
     
  6. Big Mike

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

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2003
    Messages:
    33,817
    Likes Received:
    1,811
    Location:
    Edmonton
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    To get the background to be black...it just has to be considerably darker than your subject. If you subject is exposed to mid grey...then I think that 2.5 to 3 stops below that, should be close to black. It doesn't even matter what color/tone the background really is...it could be white...as long as it sufficiently darker than your subject. Of course it helps if it's a dark tone that reflects less light. So the thing to concentrate on, is to have less light falling on the background, than on the subject. Then make sure you properly expose, as Fred mentioned.
     
  7. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2006
    Messages:
    6,071
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    in the middle of north carolina
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I did bridal portraits on black for years and years. The problem with the background wasn't really the light on the subject it was the light reaching hte background. Thats what you have to try to control. In my case I used direct strobe with a defuser to cut the carry of the light, and spaced the bride as far as possible from the background.

    Now I do the same but rely a lot of the airbrush in photo shop type programs to finish the job. I'm not shooting any more but going back and scanning some of them.

    More to teach myself how to do it than anything. What I have found though is that airbrush works wonders because you have a black background already around the model you don't have to get too awfully close with the airbrush color to take care of any imperfections.

    It's also why you could seam a black cloth background without it showing. Black hides sins.
     
  8. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2004
    Messages:
    5,346
    Likes Received:
    65
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Move the subject far enough away from the background that no light (or very little) is hitting it. As said, it should be at least 2-3 stops darker. This might mean isolating the strobes so they don't blast head on, if you don't have enough room. Side lighting is an option.
     
  9. MckenzieMontague

    MckenzieMontague TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2006
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0
    Where should I position my lights? Thats one of my main concerns. Do they go on the side of the person? I have 4 strobes, 2 big and 2 small. Where do I go from there?

    Thank you so much for all of your comments. You are all so helpful. I will try to post some of my photos online.
     
  10. Big Mike

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

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2003
    Messages:
    33,817
    Likes Received:
    1,811
    Location:
    Edmonton
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Where you position your light, depends on how you want your subject to look. I think that is more important than how the background looks. That being said...you still want to control your light As mentioned, move the background far away from the subject...or the subject away from the background.

    What do you have on your lights for control/diffusion etc? Umbrellas are much harder to control than something like a softbox. Maybe something like barn doors or honeycomb grids. The possibilities and accessories are endless.
     
  11. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2004
    Messages:
    5,346
    Likes Received:
    65
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit

    I highly recommend that you buy this book: Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers

    [ame]http://www.amazon.com/Master-Lighting-Guide-Portrait-Photographers/dp/1584281251[/ame]
     
  12. MckenzieMontague

    MckenzieMontague TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2006
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0
    I use just soft boxes. Should I use the big ones or the small ones. I really don't care how I light it. I like to photograph kids if that helps any. I just want my subject to look sharp and clear. I really hate the noise thats happening in the pictures I have posted. I feel a really long ways from getting a good picture.

    In the picture that I have posted I have the chair at least 3 feet or more away from the background. My big soft box is set around 1/2 power.

    ISO 100
    WB- A
    Shutter- 200
    F- 11

    Do I need to place the lights more behind my subject or or more on the side of the subject. Right now they are more on the side/ behind and light facing forward.

    http://www.mckenzie-photography.com/test1/
     

Share This Page