How to shoot black backgrounds without a backdrop | Macro & Product Photography Tutorial

in this video I’m going to explain how
you can get black backgrounds in your images using only some artificial lights
and the settings in your camera no need for a backdrop stick around and I’ll get
started in just a sec hi guys i’m Ben from adaptalux and this video is all
about getting black backgrounds in your images whether you’re in the studio
whether you’re taking portraits or macro you can do this pretty much anywhere
because it really only involves some artificial light and choosing the right
settings in your camera this is one of the most common questions that I get
asked after showing off some macro shots I’ll have a nice bright subject in the
front and a black backgrounds how did you get that black background because we
didn’t see you put a black backdrop behind your images you didn’t talk about
it well it’s because it’s deceptively simple it’s all in the settings it’s all
in the lighting so I’m going to grab a subject grab some lighting and show you
exactly how to do this in your own images I’m not going to spend long
talking about what our subject is today because it really doesn’t matter you
could be shooting macro or portraiture or products the principles of what we’re
doing today stay the same you might need to scale it up and use different
settings but the idea behind it will be the same no matter the environment no
matter the scale that you’re shooting at and no matter the subject so my subject
today is going to be a little bit of everything he’s a person he’s also a
product and he’s really small so it’s macro if you know who this character is
let me know down in the comments I want to know whether you’re all as nerdy as I
am but if you’re not it doesn’t matter he’s just a stand-in for whatever you
want to shoot with a black background we’ll be taking a couple of portraits of
this guy and I’ll explain how we set up this shot to get a black background no
matter what is actually in the background what’s going to be in the
background of my shot today is just what’s naturally there these bookcases I
won’t be moving anything out of way I won’t be putting in any back drops
or all that we’re going to do today is add some lighting and change our
settings and this shot that you see now is going to become a nice moody black
background shot the first step towards getting a black background image is
basically to ruin your shot what we want to do is massively under expose our shot
so that everything in the background is absolutely black that means changing our
settings so the settings that we were just shooting on ISO 500 F5.6 and 1/60 of a second gets us a pretty average looking shot and a pretty
average looking histogram now you’re going to want to bring up your histogram
on your camera most cameras have this function it’s probably buried in the
settings if it doesn’t come up automatically but what that’s going to
allow us to do is check on our next shot how much of our image is actually black
so you’ll see here that our histogram is actually if most of the pixels are in
the middle with the exception of a few Dark One’s where the background is
already quite dark where the where the shelf goes in on our next shot though
you’ll see that it’s pitch black we’ve got nothing in the shot and most
of the pixels are all over on that extreme left-hand side of the histogram
the settings that we’ve changed to are 1/200 F13 and
ISO 100 so much better settings we’re going to get a deeper depth of field
we’re going to get less grain because of that low ISO and we’re not going to get
any camera shake at all with that one two hundredth of a second shutter speed
this is all pretty good and because of that really extreme histogram it means
that our image is completely black and there’s nothing in our background to
worry about the next step is going to be lighting at our subject to counteract
these settings I’ve moved over here to start lighting
my subject and by doing that I’ve actually changed the lighting situation
in my room just a little bit by moving my studio lights so that you can still
see me I’ve added a little bit of ambient light to my scene and also my
background so that’s something that you’ll have to watch out for as not only
the time of day changes and the ambient light changes around your shooting space
but also when you’re adding light to your scene you’re going to need a lot of
control to make sure that no extra light spills over onto the background
something that gives you an advantage here is having a big distance between
your subject and your background whether that’s a full-size person make sure that
there’s nothing immediately behind them or whether it’s something small like
this make sure that you’ve got a good distance before you get to any objects
in the background so this distance between the subject and the bookshelves
is pretty good and I can start adding some light to my scene
the aim of the game here is to get our subject as bright as possible without
letting any of the light fall onto the backdrop and to do that we’re going to
need some artificial light that is highly controllable I’ve got that in the
form of the Adaptalux Studio but if you don’t have an Adaptalux then you can
use your studio strobes your flash guns any continuous light that is bright
enough that you can light your subject really really bright without letting it
spill on to the background and light that up as well so I’m going to get my
Adaptalux studio out I’ve got my control pot down low on a little mini tripod here so
that I can add lighting arms and still be able to shoot over the top of the
control pod and onto the upper half of my subject so first thing I’m going to
do is add a white lighting arm-s the brightest version of the white lighting
arm that we have that should give us a really good starting point to to start
thinking about how we want our lighting to fall on our subject now all of your
normal lighting techniques still apply here if you want to diffuse your light
you can go ahead and do that if you want to get some rim lighting coming in
from the back go ahead and do that just don’t shine the light on the background
I’m going to add a couple more lighting arms here I’m using lighting arm-s’ all
across the board so that we can get maximum out of the light onto our
subject I’m also going to diffuse this second light and just move it around a
little bit to figure out where I actually want this light to sit to make
sure that it’s not in the frame now that I’ve got those two lights set up I’m
actually going to add a red light as well to give it a little bit more
atmosphere and a little bit of color on the dark side of his face
now that gives it a little bit more Menace but I’m actually going to move my
studio around and bring these lights in from a couple of different directions
try them out and figure out what I like best I found a pretty good at lighting
setup here that I like I’ve got one light coming in shining up from the
bottom another my key light coming in from the side and then that red light on
the dark side of his body just giving it some really red menacing sinister look
one thing that the red is doing though is spilling onto my background not sure
if I can find it here but there is a little bit of red coming back here and
shining onto the bookcases behind the subject the way that I’m going to deal
with that is to narrow the beam angle on my lighting arm so that it’s only
shining on the subject exactly where I want it to be now that we’ve got our
lighting setup and our settings decided we can play around and make sure we can
get the perfect image without compromising that black background you
can change your settings at this point if your image is too bright up your
shutter speed have a smaller aperture by all means change those to make your
image darker if you want to make your image brighter do that using your
lighting increase the intensity of your lights give more power to your flash or
in the case of the Adaptalux Studio connect it to the app and change the
intensities of each lighting arm so that you have the perfect image with the
maximum amount of light on your subject and the the least amount of light on
your background what we’re doing here is taking
advantage of our cameras dynamic range cameras only have a certain range of
exposure that they can handle at one time so if you’re taking a photo of
something really really bright like we are today then everything else is going
to be really really dark it’s the same effect that you get if you’ve ever taken
a silhouette of a tree against a sunset or trying to take a picture of the
inside of a room whilst it’s light outside the window is going to be really
really bright because the camera can’t handle both of really bright areas and
the really dark areas if your camera can handle the really dark areas and the
really bright areas it might have a HDR mode you’re going to need to turn that
off for shooting images like this your camera might try to automatically pick
out the darkness of your background when we actually want it to be deliberately
as dark as possible so that’s one last little tip there but to recap the main
principles that we’re working with today is to get a really really bright subject
and expose for your subject while leaving your background to be as dark as
possible you can do this by manipulating the settings in your camera and setting
your exposure only for your subject while also adding extra light into your
scene without it hitting the backdrop this is kind of the opposite to shooting
a white background photograph like we did in our other product photography
tutorial where we were lighting the background as much as possible so that
it blows out the whites instead of dimming down the blacks and taking
advantage of the shadows I’ll link that other video up here if you want to see
another style of product photography for things like selling on eBay and Amazon
that’s really good this works just as well for a more moody and a different
kind of product photo as well as portraits and macro I use this technique
all of the time in my other macro videos which I’m sure some of you have seen
because I get quite a lot of questions on how to do it hopefully this video has
answered those questions for you and if it has make sure to leave me a comment
down below telling me what you’ve used this for subjects you’ve been shooting
with a black background if you’ve enjoyed the video make sure to give it a
like and remember to subscribe we’ve got lots more videos coming in 2020
hit the bell button so you don’t miss any for now I want to say a big thank
you to Lord Shaxx from Destiny if you haven’t already guessed that by now you
can go in the comments and pretend like you knew it earlier on a big thank you
to all of you for watching this video and I’ll see you next time

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