|Nocturna Models Le Petit Chaperon against a perfect black background|
First off, the following are some steps which I DO NOT use to achieve that perfect black background and the reasons why I do not use them:
1) I do not use any photo editing software. While I am not adverse to using photo editing on occasion, I believe that by forcing yourself to take photos that look good in a WYSIWYG fashion will in the long run make you a better photographer. You are essentially forced to better understand how your camera works as opposed to understanding how to use a photo editing software.
2) I do not use a camera flash. Now some photographers suggest using a flash which subjects the object being photographed to an intense light exposure which also has an added effect of darkening the background, sometimes to become perfectly black. Personally, I never use a camera flash when taking photos of my miniatures because I find the light source from a camera flash to be too 'harsh'.
3) I do not use a black cloth as the backdrop. There are many suggestions out there in the world wide web which suggests varying cloth materials that are black in colour to achieve a perfect black background. In my experience, cloth tends to reflect some amount of light resulting in a more grey rather than black background. That's good if it's the effect you are seeking but not so if you want the blackest of blacks as your background.
|Setup showing lamp, miniature and LCD screen|
|Rough diagram of the relative positioning of the lamp, miniature and LCD screen|
The key is to understanding the technique above is the nature of light exposure and sensitivity towards the camera sensor which in my case is a Canon EOS 650D - an entry-level DSLR camera. To get your head around why I did what I did, keep in mind these three simple tips:
1) Make use of exposure: A camera can only record a limited range of light or in technical terms - exposure or a measure of how much light the camera's image sensor is exposed to during a shot. Start with the light falling on your miniature, and then think about the comparative amount of light on the background. If there’s a big difference, for example a shadowed area, there may not be enough light reflected back into the camera to register anything on the sensor resulting in a black background.
2) Make use of backdrops: For my purposes, I found the LCD screen on my HD TV to be the perfect backdrop. When aligned correctly (see diagram below) and located at a fair distance away from the miniature I was photographing (see tip three below) it provided me with a shadowed background that would scarcely register on my camera sensor. In this case, using black cloth could be a substitute backdrop but the main issue is to created a shadowed background with the dark backdrop located some distance from the miniature.
3) Subject-to-background distance: By increasing the distance between your miniature and the shadowed background, you are increasing the likelihood of the background going completely black.
|Light is directed at an angle to the LCD screen to minimise light reflections from the lamp|
I hope that you found this post useful and please do share if you have a technique of your own that gives you that perfect black background. Thanks for reading and have a nice hobby week!