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Photography Question 
Darlene Anderson 

Low Key Black on Black

I have several questions.

I have A Novatron 440plus kit with no instructions. I don't understand how to get the guide numbers for asa's 125, 200 and 400. There are three switches on my flash heads a top , a off and either a -1 or -2 what do they mean and which one do I use for the main? What does pin 2020 and pin 2010 mean on the flash heads? What does 1120, 240 and 480 mean on the power pack? How do I know what the full power and what is the ratio to flash?

Low key question
If I shoot a low key scene, a black girl wearing black velvet with a black velvet background how do I get separation without making the background lighter? I want her clothes and the background to be black with some detail in her clothes.

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John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
  Gosh, wish I had seen this question much sooner! You want to put the subject well in front of the background so that the distance from flash to subject is significantly shorter than flash to background.

Light reduction from flash is the inverse square of the distance; twice as far is 1/4th the light; three times as far is 1/9th the light. If you put the backdrop the same distance behind the subject as the flash unit is to the subject, the backdrop will get 1/4th the light, about two stops down from the subject. If you put it twice as far behind the subject, it will get about 1/9 or just over three stops less.

Properly expose, or perhaps very slightly overexpose for the subject to get the full black detail on her and the background should lose detail entirely. With a very slight subject overexposure (1/3 to 1/2 stop) the background should still be virtually completely black with zero detail.

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