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Fade To Black: Experimenting With A Black Background


Most of the photos I’ve been taking with my new photo studio gear have been on a white vinyl background – mainly because the background is easy to clean when working with dogs.  But I did want to experiment with using the black cloth background that I have, which I had the opportunity to do this past weekend.  Here’s a few shots of my dog Zeus Sohn Von Holbrook Von Krafthaus against the black background:




And here’s a few of our younger Rottweiler Maximus Sohn Von Holbrook Von Krafthaus – Zeus is a little older and more developed than Max so I shot Zeus’s photos a bit more shadowy and dramatic.  Max still has a “puppy face” so I lit his shots just a bit differently :




Shooting on a white background is in some respects easier than shooting on a black background.  To get your background to be evenly white, you can “brute force” a solution – just point a strobe at the background and crank the power.  But black requires more finesse and light modification.

To get the look of the dogs emerging from the darkness (yet well exposed on their faces and heads), I shot with two Einstein E640’s on either side of my subject.  On my key light, I used a 32″x 40″ softbox with a grid attachment.  This created a nice punch of light on the dogs face and head, with nice falloff on their bodies, and kept light spill to the background to a minimum. On my fill light, I used a 10″x36″ softbox also with a grid.

If you’ve not shot with strobes before, you might be interested to know this shot was taken in a relatively brightly lit area, and not in dark conditions.  In fact, I shot this in the great room of my house, which has a skylight directly above the area in which we shot.

I was extremely pleased with the outcome – do share your own thoughts in the comments below!


About John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of, as well as and *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.

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