Add A Little Color To A Black Background

In the course of teaching a studio lighting class and daily conversations with photographers, the topic of backgrounds inevitably comes up.

I thought I would use this post to show the versatility of the good old black paper background.

We all know black makes a terrific background color for portraiture—usually with a background light added for accent and separation.

What many photographers seem to forget is that the background light need not always need be the standard white we are all use to seeing.

How about adding some color to your black background?

It seldom fails. Whenever I suggest adding color to a black background I get a quizzical look… Add color to black? Can you do that?

And of course you can. By hanging a colored gel in front of a background flash source the black paper takes on a whole new look. (I use a studio strobe with a 20-30 degree grid. See photo below.)

Strobe with grid and colored gel.

You will get a deep shade of the gel’s color where the strobe is strongest, with the color gradually radiating back to black towards the edge of the background. I love this look.

The photographs shown here show how I used this effect in three of my flower images. I have also used this method to create some of my favorite portraits and product shots.

Give it a try next time you are looking to add a little variety to your studio session.

All the best,

Randy

The floral images pictured in this post are available as fine art prints by following the links below.

Calla Lily

Pink Mum

Orchid 01

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2 Responses to “Add A Little Color To A Black Background”

  1. David Says:

    Great post again Randy. Your pictures remind me that spring is around the corner and plenty of photo opportunities !

    • RG Says:

      Thanks, David. These 60-degree days in March and the reappearance of Robbins are a sure sign we made it through another winter. Have a great spring!

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