Photo Essay

On Black Photography

'Seed Temples'

This series was inspired by photographer Elfreida Fulda, a flower/nature lover that you may know here at JPG!

I love the way objects look on black with morning or evening sunlight... They pop off the screen and the colors are incredibly brilliant.

First off find a non reflective black surface, preferrably a black cotton or muslin material. I use a black cotton t-shirt attached to cardboard.

I prefer to shoot during the evening when the sun is heading far west for maximum color and contrast effects. By using side-lit subjects and placing the black cloth behind the object, make sure the material is leaning away from the lighting so it is shaded black and not picking up any light from the sun.

I usually hold the item as still as possible or if it is still attached to the plant/ground that is even better... you can always get a bucket of sand to stand the object up as well.

Shoot a couple shots, composition is important here and also that your camera is not facing the sun flares on the lens.

Post process is simple, just bring the exposure down a bit to give it deep blacks and a bit of color boost, not much though or it becomes too saturated. I will occassionally go into full resolution and remove any jpg artifacts from the blackness and save...

I really enjoy these images and they are very classic framed in black with a white border/white matting...Plus, they are hot in the markets!! They Sell!



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17 responses

  • Cindy Coubrough

    Cindy Coubrough said (24 Aug 2009):

    I was wondering how you were getting the great black background. These look stellar in the new lightbox feature here on JPG as well. Thanks for the lesson. =)

  • Gail Anderson

    Gail Anderson gave props (24 Aug 2009):

    thanks! i want to give this a whirl!

  • Gail Anderson

    Gail Anderson gave props (24 Aug 2009):

    elfie is quite the inspiration!

  • Karen Foto Fiddler

    Karen Foto Fiddler (Deleted) gave props (25 Aug 2009):

    Love those Black backs! I voted yes print it!

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (25 Aug 2009):

    Hell YEAH! Rad!

  • Litz Go

    Litz Go gave props (25 Aug 2009):

    Love this series! Kudos to you and you got my vote!

  • pdtnc

    pdtnc said (25 Aug 2009):

    really excellent stuff... did you also have to experiment with exposures?

  • elfriede fulda

    elfriede fulda (Deleted) gave props (25 Aug 2009):

    Hey JH...thank you.. to be an inspiration to you is an honor JH...this series rocks....:-)

  • Nelson Campbell

    Nelson Campbell (Deleted) gave props (25 Aug 2009):

    It rocks for sure - Great work JH...

  • Arwan

    Arwan gave props (25 Aug 2009):

    cool.. thanks for sharing :)

  • J. Harris Blacklist

    J. Harris Blacklist said (25 Aug 2009):

    @pdtnc, if you angle the background material enough and the lighting is spot on, it needs very little exposure adjustment...just a bit. Technically any camera will come out with the same effect with very minor editing and contrast adjustment. The light on the subject forces the background into a deep black naturally and it is precisely dependent on the distance from the black background. It takes a little experimenting, but is easily achieved with practice.


    JOE FAILK gave props (26 Aug 2009):

    Great photos enjoyrd them all!! Vote

  • Jeets Photography

    Jeets Photography (Deleted) gave props (27 Aug 2009):

    Nice essay , I am gonna try this.

  • Melissa Thorburn

    Melissa Thorburn gave props (28 Aug 2009):

    Great, thanks for sharing your secrets.

  • Sonia Adam Murray

    Sonia Adam Murray gave props (28 Aug 2009):

    A great tribute to the talented Elfriede and an excellent story together with fabulous photos no wonder they sell, congratulations. I voted.

  • Andrea Petersen

    Andrea Petersen gave props (30 Aug 2009):

    This is really wonderful...I am inspired...Thank you for the good tips. I am voting!

  • Jason Platt

    Jason Platt gave props (11 Sep 2009):

    Now I really do want to try this inspiring technique!

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