BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Sarah Springer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/18/2009
 

How to Get a Black Background?


I have noticed several very nice images with an all black background, it makes the images really pop, so how is this achieved?


To love this question, log in above
4/22/2009 5:37:03 PM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
Contact Carlton
Carlton's Gallery
carltonwardphoto.com
 
 
  glass_0178x
glass_0178x
© Carlton Ward
carltonwardphoto.com
Canon EOS 40D Digi...
 
 
Hi Sarah,
There are a couple of ways to do this, but select the background and create a new layer and then you can Edit>Fill and use black as the fill color. There are some cool effects you can do with the gradient tool as well with backgrounds.
You can also select the background and create a new layer and add an empty layer mask and use the brush tool to color over the existing background. I believe this is how I did this photo...
Hope this helps,
Carlton


To love this comment, log in above
4/22/2009 5:48:05 PM

 
Dennis Flanagan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  I simply use a muslin black backdrop.


To love this comment, log in above
4/22/2009 10:32:41 PM

 
Sarah Springer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/18/2009
  Good Morning Carlton and Dennis- Thank you for the info Carlton. I will try that. Dennis, I know that would work in studio but I have seen captures of subjects that look like they were taken outside and then manipulated in the dd.


To love this comment, log in above
4/23/2009 9:47:23 AM

 
Carolyn  M. Fletcher
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/6/2001
Contact Carolyn
Carolyn 's Gallery
PickYourShots.com
  I just use the magic wand tool to select the background (or as much of it as is easy to do) and then, like Carlton said, use the brush tool to get the rest. If you have to get close, just enlarge the photo enough so you can see what you are doing better and also it keeps your hand steadier if you're wiggly like me.


To love this comment, log in above
4/23/2009 11:31:24 AM

 
Sarah Springer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/18/2009
  Hi Carolyn- Thanks for the additional info it all helps!


To love this comment, log in above
4/23/2009 12:14:29 PM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  Use flash at your camera's maximum sync speed ... positioned at a distance to illuminate only your subject. As long as whatever background is far enough behind your point of interest that it doesn't reflect the burst from the strobe, it won't record and it will render as black.


To love this comment, log in above
4/23/2009 4:11:10 PM

 
Sarah Springer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/18/2009
  Thanks Bob- I will try this as well.


To love this comment, log in above
4/24/2009 10:14:08 AM

 
Donald R. Curry
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2006
wildlifetrailphotography.com
  When I photograph wildflowers, I place my black backpack a few inches behind the flower. It works great.


To love this comment, log in above
4/25/2009 7:32:06 PM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  A small piece of black felt can also be utilized as background material. It can be easily rolled to fit into any camera bag or backpack. If you like shooting bug macros (...and who doesn't?), the felt can even be used to attract insects to photograph.
If you lay out the black material flat on the ground on a cool sunny morning, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, arachnids and a host of other tiny critters will hop on to warm up their tiny little bodies.
This wolf spider was attracted to my black tripod bag.


To love this comment, log in above
4/26/2009 2:25:29 AM

 
Sarah Springer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/18/2009
  Thank you Bob and Donald. All the info is very helpful to me.


To love this comment, log in above
4/26/2009 8:57:13 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Bob C's suggestions will go a long way toward helping you solve that problem because rather than fixing it after the fact, you create the image the way you want it.
In addition, however, use a pure black background, either muslin or seamless paper or even the black side(s) of a 4x8 sheet of foae core. Get your subject moved forward of the background and control your lighting to keep it off the background unless you want to lighten it up by various degrees.
Trying to use a black background outdoors during daylight and to get a pure black appearance is tough to do. You really need to control that with exposures and f-stops. That kind of shot seems to obviate the need for a background altogether or PS it I guess. In fact, I don't think I've ever used any type of artificial background outdoors. I just rely on nature or architecture for that.
Take it light ;>)
Mark


To love this comment, log in above
4/26/2009 11:34:09 AM

 
Sarah Springer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/18/2009
  Mark-Thanks for another helpful tip.


To love this comment, log in above
4/26/2009 1:55:01 PM

 
Donald R. Curry
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2006
wildlifetrailphotography.com
  Mark,

I agree a natural background is usually more appropriate and that is my typical choice. There are times when that doesn't work well. Just this week, I photographed a wild azalea. The flower was above my head and the background was a bright sky. I was able to hang my black backpack from a limb just behind the flower. I like the idea of the black felt. It could easily be placed in position with some alligator clips. Just another tool for the right situation.


To love this comment, log in above
4/26/2009 2:43:19 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Whether you use felt, muslin or canvas, if you have to fold it (rather than rolling it) to make it portable, take along a small spray bottle of water and a couple of extra spring clamps to act as weights. Spritz any wrinkles with water, hang a couple of clamps from the bottom for a bit until the wrinkles disappear. No starch, fluff and fold gently for restorage.
Heloise.


To love this comment, log in above
4/27/2009 10:31:02 AM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  ...and make sure you shake off all of the bugs before you pack it away.
(spoken from experience.)


To love this comment, log in above
4/27/2009 5:34:51 PM

 
Log in to respond or ask your own question.