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:
- 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.
- Use a flash, but avoid flash light spilling onto the background. You do that by using flash modifiers such as snoots, grids, or gobos.
- Move the flash close to the subject if possible. The Inverse Square law makes sure the background receives little light.
- Move the subject away from the background; as far away as possible.
- 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.
- Want to learn this stuff? Sign up for my flash course, 6:30pm on 3 October in Oakville; or buy the flash manual
- Like my images? They are for sale as limited edition pro prints, unframed or framed: www.michaelsmuse.com.