Kill Spill!

No – not “Kill Bill”… “kill spill”.

What I mean is this: if you want to shoot pictures with dark backgrounds, the essential trick it to keep light from lighting up the background.

I mean shots like this, that depend on not lighting things that you do not want lit (strategic bits, as well as the background):

A shot like that is easy if you do five things:

  1. Set your camera up so that the available light does nothing. I.e. set your camera to manual exposure mode and the “studio setting”: start, say, at 1/125th second, 100 ISO, f/8. Try a test shot: it should be all black. If it is, good, proceed.
  2. Use a flash, but avoid flash light spilling onto the background. You do that by using flash modifiers such as snoots, grids, or gobos.
  3. Move the flash close to the subject if possible. The Inverse Square law makes sure the background receives little light.
  4. Move the subject away from the background; as far away as possible.
  5. Try to use a dark background.

That’s how you Kill Spill!

So in this case, the setup was:

Both flashes have a grid – this is essential, or the shot simple will not work.  I used Honl Photo 1/4″ grids. The distance of the model to the background is not great, but the background is black, so things will work out.

The flashes also have gels, because I wanted colour. But: a free tip here: when using multiple flashes, also use gels to analyse what light is spilling where!

And I wanted colour, so I get:

You see, as Antoine De Saint-Exupery said: perfection is achieved not when we have nothing left to add, but when we have nothing left to take away.


End Notes:


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