Instant Black Background Trick

Light is an fascinating thing, and artificial light is just fun to play and experiment with.  One thing that never ceases to amaze both clients and newer photographers I teach is exactly how much control you can have in your scene with artificial light.


The example below shows just that,  I wanted to demonstrate how I can make a perfect black background without the background!

Danielle Black Background

I did this using Profoto’s B1‘s strobes (before they had the update for High Speed Sync).  My subject was placed in a very…. ugly parking lot behind a grocery store, and put in a nice piece of shade.  The shade was important to not only give me soft indirect lighting but also to allow me to keep my camera shutter speed below the sync speed of 1/200 of a second.  Also to make it easier on the strobes I placed her in a position where I had a dark background behind her.


The next step is simple, using Canon’s Evaluative metering system on aperture priority I under exposed my scene by about 3-4 stops took a picture and saw that the frame was black or dark enough to lose detail behind her.  Next I placed my key light to her right and set it on channel A and set it to ETTL and set it to 0, and then set my rim light to +1.  On the first shot the Profoto lights did the trick and I got that shot.  I will say looking back I wish I would have dialed the rim light to +2 or +3 so I would have gotten more separation from her hair, but the point is instant black background outside with no background.

Shot with:
Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 70-200 2.8L-IS II
1/200 @F4