A black or dark background is great for creating pictures that are more classical in style or with portray deeper feelings. It’s not as well suited to fun family photographs partly as the lighting needs careful consideration. However, dark backgrounds are ideal for formal family portraits.
The black background is well suited to photography that is more artistic especially where a human body is more exposed. This could be pregnancy, newborn babies or of course nudes photography. These are all ideal subjects for displaying as monochrome photographs.
I find black backgrounds are perfect for newborn babies photographed for black and white. Monochrome removes almost any trace of deep red birthmarks that simply melt into the baby’s natural skin tones. Here are three reasons why baby photos look in monochrome
How to look fabulous
Assuming you’ve read portrait photography tip #1, you’ve already guessed that dark clothes are better suited to a black or dark background. Limiting the contrast between your clothing and the background draws the viewer’s attention to you.
For example, if you wore a brilliant white shirt (or blouse) against a dark background the shirt would dominate the picture – almost certainly overwhelming you.
However, if your clothes or hair is virtually black they could blend into the background. Sometimes this is desirable. But when it isn’t it must be fixed with additional lighting.
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Lighting is critical – bonus tip
If you’re interested in delving a little deeper
Dark background photographs rely on the visual creation of three dimensions contained within a two dimensional medium. That medium could be an artist’s canvas, fine art paper or finest professional photographic paper.
Controlled light creates the illusion of the third dimension.
Outdoors that could be purely natural light. And artificial lighting could supplement natural light or even become the dominant light source.
In the studio, I have complete control over the lighting. The position of the main light determines its direction and therefore your sculptured form. In order to see the light’s affect, I need to control what happens in the unlit areas. Unlit areas could be virtually black. But more likely, I’ll fill these areas with a less powerful light. Controlling the power of this fill-light dictates how dark the shadows are in your final photograph.
Did you know that photography effectively means painting with light?
The term comes from The Greek word phos, photos – light and graphos – writing. The word photography literally means writing with light or as most photographers refer to it – painting with light!
Separation from the background
As mentioned earlier it’s possible for either your clothing or hair to blend into the dark tones of the background. When this happens, it may be desirable to create separation from the background. Then additional lights illuminate you from behind. This creates a rim of light around you thus separating you from the background. These are rim lights – you may have heard of them 🙂
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