I learned how to achieve beautiful black backgrounds without using a studio!
I don’t know about you but I’ve always loved studio lighting, especially those with sleek black backgrounds. It looks so classy and dramatic! For quite a while, I couldn’t figure it out how on earth they were able to do it. I was certain that you would need a huge studio to make those photos.
Well, you won’t believe what I learned.
You don’t need to have an entire studio full of equipment to make those photos. All you need is a camera, a speedlight, and a snoot (or just a reflector folded to be a snoot). That’s it!
Basically, you need to use a high f-stop, a low ISO, and a shutter speed around 1/200th of a second. Because you’re using such a high f-stop, low ISO, and fast shutter speed, you’re image is going to be really dark. It should look completely black. If it doesn’t look black, play with your settings. I don’t recommend using a faster shutter speed though. If it’s too fast, your camera won’t capture all of the light from the flash. If half of your image is well lit but the other half is completely black, it’s a sign that your shutter speed is too high. So instead of raising your shutter speed, raise your f-stop.
For sake of time, I’ll explain the next part briefly. Sync your camera to the speedlight using a trigger and take a few test shots. Add more or less power if you need more or less light in the photo.
Glyn Dewis does a wonderful job of explaining this technique in a lot more detail. So if you want any more information about doing a DIY studio black background, I highly recommend checking his work out.
When I learned this, I quickly tried them out. Here’s a few of the photos I took using a faux studio black background.
Isn’t this crown just lovely? I know nowadays everyone loves crisp, true to life colors. But I was trying to go for a vintage look so I matted the blacks. This way the black isn’t a true black. Like I explained above, I made this by using a snoot light and a high exposure.
This one was a team effort. I had someone on a step ladder holding the snoot light, making it a sort of spotlight on my model, Jasmine Peery. We had a really pretty pink sequin tablecloth we used as a backdrop. This gave it nice texture while still having some black in it.
After taking this shot, I’m considering doing a little more sports photography. I just love how worn this boxing gloves are. I think this slick black background really makes these old boxing gloves really stand out.
Thanks for reading and happy shooting!