BetterPhoto.com - Become a better photographer today!
EMAIL:
PASSWORD:
remember me:     
     


BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

To participate in the Forum, become a BetterPhoto member or Sign In.

 
Photography Question 
Tammy L. Newcomb
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Tammy
Tammy's Gallery

member since: 4/23/2006
 

Black Background for Flower Photos


I am new to this site and I am learning a great deal here, but I still want to know how you get the black background when shooting a close up of a flower. I am very limited with my camera settings, since I have a cheap camera compared to most - Kodak Z740. I usually take way better outdoor pictures under natural lighting. I do not know how to take good pictures indoors at this point.

5/20/2006 6:18:41 AM

 
Margie Hurwich
BetterPhoto Member
margiehurwichphotography.com

member since: 6/16/2005
  Hi Tammy. Welcome to BP. When I started close to a year ago, I held up my husband's tux jacket behind the flowers. You have to be careful doing so as many materials reflect light and you can end up with shiny spots on your black background. What I have found that works just as beautifully is a piece of black velvet. The light doesn't reflect off of it; it is absorbed. Hope this helps and good luck!

5/20/2006 7:14:03 AM

 
George R. Bard
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/9/2006
 
 
  Rose in salt shaker.
Rose in salt shaker.
Fuji
© George R. Bard
Fuji FinePix S5000...
 
 
Agreed, I use black velvet as well. I picked up a piece at the remnant table. My only problem with velvet is lint. I also use a simple piece of smooth black art paper. I usually do my close-ups in full manual and set the aperture for a limited Depth of Field and then adjust shutter speed for a slight underexposure.

5/20/2006 1:46:35 PM

 
Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/27/2004
  Hi, Tammy and welcome to BP! Flowers are some of my favorite subjects in photography, and most of what I shoot is done outside in natural light. The secrets I have learned to make flowers pop and to creating a dark or at least unnoticeable background: 1. shoot either in early morning or during a heavy overcast – never in the middle of the day when colors get washed out by bright sunlight. 2. Use a large aperture (small f stop #) to focus in on the flower and eliminate the background. 3. When necessary, use a piece of dark cloth or even a piece of black foam core as your background. You may also use a photo-editing program such as Photoshop to blur your background or to make it black; however, I find that if I am careful while creating the image I do not need to do much editing. I do not do much indoor work, so have not really explored that avenue to creating these images.

5/20/2006 4:12:38 PM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  Get close to your flower and use flash ... set to illuminate ONLY the flower. As long as there is nothing behind the subject within range of the flash, your background will be black. I've also used the methods Margie and Irene described (felt and posterboards), and it's true that outdoor flower work in natural light works best in heavy overcast. If you meter the flower, the black background will come out black. (Sometimes a tweak in contrast with your software program can make a not-so-black background a little bit darker.)

5/20/2006 4:31:49 PM

 
Shawn Jennings
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Shawn
Shawn's Gallery

member since: 1/25/2005
  Hi Tammy. Welcome to BP. When shooting flowers with a black background I use a black reflector which looks like it might be made of a nylon type material, but you should be able to use anything black that can be place behind the subject and doesn't reflect light into the lens. When shooting close-ups I usually have the flowers in a pot or vase so that I can move the flower around and get any side of the flower that I want to shoot. Most of the time I shoot outdoors in the shade under the front porch of my house. (I'm sure my neighbors think I'm weird, but that's ok) Shooting in the shade gives me a more even lighting to work with. Sometimes I'll use another reflector to reflect light onto the flower if I want a little more light or to catch the texture of the flower. (You can use white poster board to reflect light too) I usually keep the black background at least a foot away from the flowers so that I can keep it out of focus and I shoot with both large and small aperatures (lens openings) to get different depths of field. If you have a macro setting on your camera this would be the situation in which you would use it. Probably the most important thing I use is a tripod. When shooting up-close the slightest movement of the camera is a huge movement to the lens at that close range. If you don't have a tripod set your camera on something sturdy and use your timer to get as clear an image as possible. I use pretty much the same techniques indoors, except that I take the photos near a window so that I have a good amount of light on the subject, but not shining directly on it. A tripod is a definite when shooting indoors since I don't use flash. One last thing - I usually underexpose a little to catch as much detail as possible. I hope this helps and that you have great success shooting flowers. It's a learning process that takes a lot of practice and patience, but don't forget to have fun with it!

5/23/2006 9:59:05 AM

 
Tammy L. Newcomb
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Tammy
Tammy's Gallery

member since: 4/23/2006
 
 
 
Margie H.
George B.
from Irene T
Bob C.
Shawn J.


Thank you all very much for taking the time to respond to my question. It does take effort to read and respond to questions from the ones of us who really need all the tips they can get.

I did try taking a picture of a flower in my garden with black material around it and this was outside in late day direct natural light. It did not turn out well and the flower was sorta dark. I cannot figure out why.

Maybe I used the wrong setting or something.

I will try again until I get it right when I can find a little time when the kids are not home.

My kids find my picture taking interesting while others find my obsession as odd but my children are diagnosed with High Functioning Autism and Aspergers (the highest form of functioning. Maybe the apple really does not fall far from the tree. I would say that I am just as odd as they are said to be.....****SMILES*****


Again, Thanks so much for your time and advice.

Tammy

5/23/2006 8:46:27 PM

 
Tammy L. Newcomb
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Tammy
Tammy's Gallery

member since: 4/23/2006
 
 
 
Tammy

5/23/2006 8:55:07 PM

 
George R. Bard
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/9/2006
  Tammy,
Actually, you did an excellent job. Slightly underexposed but easily corrected in any photo software. Rather than fall into the shoot and then correct mode, next time use something other than auto. I don't know your camera but maybe you can control your light better. As-is however, it's a nice shot, don't knock it.
George

5/23/2006 9:28:59 PM

 
Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/27/2004
  Actually, Tammy, I completely agree with George – the image, while underexposed, is fairly decent. You managed to get the flower sharp – which is more than many people do! (more than I do sometimes, lol) Anyway, from experience I can pretty much figure out what you may have done wrong – I have encountered the same problem many times. First, when you say direct natural light, do you mean that the sun was shining directly on the flower? If so this can be tough to meter correctly, particularly when shooting yellow or white flowers since those colors can be highly reflective. Try shooting when the sun is not directly on the flower – I like shooting flowers when the sky is overcast the best – you can try shooting when the sun is low on the horizon or when the sun is behind a cloud. Now for the actual metering; I often take my reading directly from the flower itself, then step back, recompose the scene and set my exposure not by the overall scene but by the flower. This, of-course, presumes that you can manually set your camera controls. The problem I have found is that when you use some type of dark background and then try to take an exposure reading from the whole scene that the dark background makes the meter misread the scene and you end up underexposing everything. Of-course, as George said, all of this is easily solved in any decent photo editing program.

BTW: after spending 26 years as a clinical social worker, working primarily with abused and troubled children I came to think of kids with Aspergers as some of the most creative thinking kids in the world! So maybe the apple didn’t fall from your tree and you and your kids are simply highly creative!

5/24/2006 5:35:15 AM

 
Shawn Jennings
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Shawn
Shawn's Gallery

member since: 1/25/2005
  Tammy - just want to echo what George and Irene said. You're on the right track!

5/24/2006 6:24:46 AM

 
Kyle 

member since: 9/27/2001
 
 
 
Tammy - To get a blacker black background, you also could use a black piece of foamcore or matboard and angle the black side away from the light source. This will put the black side in a shadow relative to the lighted subject thus making it even darker. Remember to move it back out of focus if you are working with a great depth-of-field. Black velvet is terrific and may work well for you but using the foamcore will be easier to manage outdoors in a gentle breeze. Good luck!

Kyle P.

5/24/2006 12:39:57 PM

 
Tammy L. Newcomb
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Tammy
Tammy's Gallery

member since: 4/23/2006
 
 
 
I did try to get the black background but I may have the picture pulled in a little to tight..

I ended up using a photo program to obtain the black...

Tammy

5/27/2006 7:25:37 AM

 
Tammy L. Newcomb
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Tammy
Tammy's Gallery

member since: 4/23/2006
 
 
 
Ok, the flower I just uploaded looks terrible on here... I am going to include the original photo...

5/27/2006 7:36:14 AM

 
Shawn Jennings
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Shawn
Shawn's Gallery

member since: 1/25/2005
  You did a great job adjusting the colors and the picture is very clear. I'm not sure if you got the effect you wanted for the background, but it turned out well, it gives it a kind of painting effect.

5/31/2006 9:11:34 AM

 
Tammy L. Newcomb
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Tammy
Tammy's Gallery

member since: 4/23/2006
 
 
 
Hey everyone, I finally did it..... I have a picture of a flower with a black background.....


Thanks again for everyone's help...

Tammy

6/12/2006 7:01:21 AM

 
Shawn Jennings
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Shawn
Shawn's Gallery

member since: 1/25/2005
  Looks great Tammy!

6/12/2006 9:37:01 PM

 

To participate in the Forum, become a BetterPhoto member or Sign In.
 

Copyright © 1996-2014 BetterPhoto.com, Inc.® All Rights Reserved.