Introduction: Quick, Cheap, and Awesome Macro Photo Background!

About: I'm a husband, a father, an engineer, a maker, a business analyst, an accountant and business leader, (yada, yada, yada ...) and a catalyst for community driven innovation. Greetings and my hats off to the In…

I recently made a very simple Instructable about how to convert a child-resistant bottle cap to adult friendly. The inspiration was not only to present that neat cap conversion process, but to utilize a really cool method of creating a super simple, endlessly versatile macro photography background using an extra monitor that I have on my computer. Obviously this only works for small subjects capable of being photographed where the entire background is no larger than the monitor, but I’m super pleased with the results and ease with which you can change and experiment with backgrounds for your macro photography.

Step 1: Parts and Materials

  • A computer monitor (connected to a computer, of course). Ideally, in addition to your primary monitor.
  • Parchment paper
  • Two quick grip clamps

That's all you need to get started!

Step 2: The Concept

As I pondered making that child-resistant cap Instructable, I was fiddling with different backgrounds for the pictures. It seemed no matter what I tried, I couldn’t get it just right. As I sat in front of my computer and poked at the images I had taken, it dawned on me that I didn’t need to waste time changing the physical background of the image if I could utilize the luminous and colorful nature of the monitor itself during the photo session.

To accomplish my vision, I simply placed the subject in front of a monitor embellished with some parchment paper.

Step 3: Fire Up an App...

First of all, you need to utilize an application that can easily and quickly change the color of the screen or embellish it with whatever pattern or design you so desire as a background for your photos. I chose MS Power Point because I had it, and it’s quick and easy and versatile enough to do what I want as a backdrop.

Start Power Point, or whatever app you choose to use that can control the screen color. Select a suitable background color or pattern for your photos. Be careful, don’t get too gaudy or your subject will be lost complexity. Simple is usually better.

Step 4: Smoothing Out the Madness

Whenever you create a photograph that happens to have a monitor or TV in the frame, sometimes the LEDs within the monitor screen can show up in your photo as a distracting hashy, wavy pattern as the pixels of the monitor create a resonant interference with the pixels of the camera. You’ll want to smooth out the background a bit and bring the focus of your photo back to the subject of the picture and eliminate that wavy distraction. Parchment paper, available at the grocery store, makes a pleasantly defusing filter for the monitor image while eliminating that interference and casting a pleasingly soft background for your photos.

Step 5: Place the Parchment -

Using a couple of quick grip clamps, suspend the parchment paper across the monitor screen. Place it as close as possible to the screen, touching it if possible. CAUTION! CAUTION! CAUTION! Do NOT place the clamps directly on the screen. Clamping the screen itself will probably break it and you will be very sad. Don't become sad. Only place the clamps along the framed edge of the monitor, and if you're not sure, then please just stop here.

Step 6: Shoot, Shoot, Shoot...

Now place your subject in front of the parchmented screen and adjust the photo composition as your creative instincts and experience guide you.

Take your shots, and here’s the really cool part: want to change the background? A couple of clicks and you have green, or blue, or red, or yellow, or a color transition, or pattern, or, well you get the point. An endless variety of background possibilities await your creative soul.

Now, consider the creative expansion possibilities – make the monitor a part of a tabletop studio like this one, or this one. Please enjoy, and please let me know how you have adapted this in your own creative way.


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