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2 Ways To Achieve Black Background For Your Plant Photoshoot

2020-12-15

The best way to bring out striking colours in photography is to make sure the subject is well lit and against a non-clashing, single-coloured backdrop of black or white. For this article, we’ll show you two different ways you can achieve beautiful black backdrops not just for your plant photography, but product photoshoots and portraitures as well! The photos are shot with Canon EOS 850D.

 

Felt and Velveteen

If you want to choose the most beginner-friendly black backdrop method, pick felt or velveteen. They absorb light, are denser than most fabrics, and do not crease as easily. Just remember to occasionally iron them flat to prevent creases forming, as even the smallest uneven planes will create light refractions. Each material can also be stitched up to make a bigger backdrop for product photoshoots and portraitures.

For photoshoots at home, position the felt material at the back of your subject. Do put distance between your subject and the backdrop to allow yourself some creative lighting experimentation. We shot our eucalyptus plant with overhead lighting that brought out bright shades of green while showcasing the vein-like patterns on the leaves. The other shot was illuminated from a slightly higher angle and produced a more muted look.

We took the felt material out for a ride and photographed more flowers by the roadside. This time, we depended on a cloudy day for some natural illumination and it gave us a charming series of moody plant photography. Another benefit with using felt or velveteen as a black backdrop is their easy portability. You can fold them and carry them out with ease. Here are the shots:

Bird of paradise with its beautiful red and yellow accents.

Yellow trumpetbush contrasting beautifully against the green leaves and black background.

Princess flower, known as Pleroma Semidecandrum.

 

Flash Method

Before

After

For this technique, you will need your Canon camera set to Manual Mode with an in-built or external flash. We used Canon 850D that comes with the flash control setting, allowing you to dictate the external flash without the need to fix it to the hot shoe. Check out the Easy Wireless Flash setup here!

The uniqueness of this method allows you to create a black backdrop easily with only some restrictions, hence getting the industry name ‘invisible black backdrop’. The idea behind it is simple. By making the scene fully black on your Live view screen (pick a low ISO value, a narrow aperture and sync the optimum shutter speed to your flash), your camera will only have enough time to capture the areas where the flash illuminates, a.k.a your subject and elements, within the same plane. This also means that you will need to place your subject closer to the flash and keep some distance before the background to create the blackout.

The restriction with this method however, lies with the maximum shutter speed sync of a speedlite. You may not be able to achieve the full black scene in your Live view screen when shooting under direct sunlight. However, you can easily solve it by positioning the plant into a shaded area, or shooting during a cloudy day, early morning or late evening.

For our shot, we captured the sunflower during noon (in a shaded area) with a brick wall as the background. You can see that with this method, any elements beyond the flash-lit subjects are blacked out instantly! However, it lit up and captured the pot too as it is within the same plane as the sunflower. This technique will also come in handy for photographing subjects in a messier environment.

Knowing how to create a black background is a great technique to remember by heart, especially if you want to keep your output elegant, clean and simple! Give it a try and see which one works best for you!

For similar articles:
Flower Photography: Useful Techniques and Camera Features
Beginner’s Introduction to Gardening Photography
Here’s How You Can Achieve Black Backgrounds in Underwater Photography