How to Make a Pure Black Photography Background

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Introduction: How to Make a Pure Black Photography Background

About: -----------------------------------------------------------------16 year old, sick with a deadly disease called DIY-itis!-----------------------------------------------------------------Hi FTC! My I'bles con...

If you've seen some of my other Instructables, you would know that I'm a bit pedantic about the thumbnails of my Instructables. My pictures have to be PERFECT.

I was inspired to try a black background after practically giving up on white backgrounds. In my opinion, taking a picture on a white background is one of the best ways to make it look really professional, though, unfortunately, after months of experimenting, I'm not able to set the white balance and contrast on my DSLR camera, and even on a pure white background, with 200+ watts of LED light, the background always looks grayish bluish. Since editing all of the pictures manually is A TON of work, and still doesn't turn out well for me, I've decided that I want to experiment with a black background. Why not?

I'm really happy that I said that "Why not", because since then, I found out that pictures that are taken on black backgrounds can turn out really well too, And in this Instructable, I will show you how to create a pure black photography background, and how simple it is!

I'm also giving away a FREE PRO Membership to Instructables, so don't forget to check out the top comment (in the comments section) for more information.

Note: I am not a professional photographer-- Far from that! I've learnt all of the skills that I know through experience, while taking pictures for of my Instructables. You DO NOT need any expensive equipment to do this!

EDIT: I've also made a quick Youtube video. If you'd like, you can click here to watch my video about it. If you liked it, make sure to check out my new YouTube Channel, as I upload quick videos of my projects in action, and more!

Step 1: What You'll Need:

Below is a list for everything you'll need to complete this project. If you don't see something that you think should be here, please let me know in the comment section below. If you would like to know more about a specific tool/part that I used, feel free to ask in the comments.

Hardware & Materials:

A black desktop computer (that you don't need)

A moist paper towel

Tools (+Attachments):

Powerful lighting

Screwdriver

Electric/Power Tools:

A Computer with access to https://pixlr.com/editor/

A Camera

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Subjects: Electronics Teardowns, Photography

Approximate Time: <5 Minutes

Cost (for me): FREE

Difficulty: Simple

Step 2: Find a Black Background

If you want to photograph an object on a black background, you'll need something that is black, which will as a black background, right?

"A computer?"

Yes! I found this desktop computer (for free, obviously!), and the sides of its case are made black of black sheet metal.

We don't have a TV, but if you aren't able to find a black desktop computer, I suppose a screen, when combined with great lighting, should work too.

Step 3: Take It Apart!

Keeping the whole computer made no sense, so I used a Philips screwdriver to remove the sheet metal panel. I had to remove only two screws, but your computer might be different.

I will be taking the whole computer apart soon ;)

Step 4: Clean It!

The sheet metal wasn't very clean, so I used a moist paper towel to wipe off all of the dust.

Step 5: Take a Picture (Or Two... or Six!)

Now is a good idea to set up lighting. You will need powerful, yet fairly warm lighting. If you don't have access to the sun, I've got you covered with these awesome DIY panels!

Just take a picture, as you normally do. All of these have been taken in the sun with no previous experience.

If you look closely, you can see that they're black, but they don't look pure. Do you have this problem too? I'll show you how to fix this in the next step.

Step 6: Fixing Mistakes (<1 Minute Per Image)

Picture #2 - Before editing

Picture #3 - After editing! (Incredible, right?)

You might not have an amazing camera. Your background might not be pure black. Your background might have some scratches. You might not have the best lighting. What do you do? Does this mean that your picture won't turn out amazing? Absolutely not!

If your background has a some signs of wear, I recommend taking a Bokeh picture. If this still doesn't help, I recommend going over them with a black paintbrush color tool, in an editor.

If your background isn't pure black, like what I showed in the previous step, you'll need to open https://pixlr.com/editor/. After you've opened the image that you want, you need to click on Brightness and Contrast, which can be accessed through Adjustment. I find that lowering the brightness, and raising the contrast (as much as you think), make the picture look about a million times better.

Note: I am not affiliated with Pixlr in any way. I've just learned about it (the website) several weeks ago. I'm showing you what I did, which is what I recommend doing. Other editors should work just as well for tasks like these...

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I read ALL comments, and reply to as many as I can, so make sure to leave your questions, suggestions, tips, tricks, improvements, and any other ideas in the comments below! - Thanks!

5 People Made This Project!

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94 Discussions

FREE PRO Membership Giveaway!:

If this tutorial has helped you, please post your "Before & After" pictures! If more than 6 members do this until 10/21/16, I will be giving out a free ONE YEAR membership to the member that posted my favorite one!

1 reply

Just saying, dunno if the option is there, probably is, when you upload a photo to an instructable, there's an option to edit it in Pixlr, so that kinda makes things easier if you want to have a black background in instructables.

2 replies

I've had several issues with that editor, so I prefer using the online Pixlr editor. It's also faster for me.

This I'ble will probably also get quite a bit of traffic in the future from Google search, so I preffered to keep it simple :)

I think I know what you mean - I'bles Pixlr can be a bit slow...

Anyway, great instructable, I like it - will be trying it out too.

Thought it might be a bit long when I saw it (it was in the Photography class somewhere!), I thought it would involve messing around around with photoshop or gimp or something ?, but it's quite simple....phewh...

Cool instructable. It would be great to provida a similar instructable for mobile devices.

3 replies

I think I've downloaded PicsArt for my phone once. Not sure.

Thanks, it shouldn't be very different for mobile devices. Why?

I know that it will not be very different but for the users who use mainly mobile devices it would be great to provide exact steps for mobile devices. However the instructable is really cool and I will try to make it. Thanks for answering.

It depends on the editing app that you use... I don't there should be any difference, other than the quality...

Still have to edit every photo. would be just as useful, if not more useful to use a green screen. the fabric is relatively cheap now and will rol up easier than using a piece of sheet metal. Just a suggestion. Nice work though.

3 replies

Thank you, I don't have to edit every photo, it just looks better when I edit it. I don't have a green screen, and don't know how to use one. I think editing it from green to black would be a bit harder (and I think green is a more pupular color...)

green screen is not a screen, but a piece of green fabric, used as a background. It is usually a green fabric because most objects and skin tones are not similar to the color used so it can be selected as a color and edited out in a photo or video program. leaving you with empty space tha can now be any color or background you wish to insert. It is a fun trick to learn.

Yup, I know. I've seen these being used before, but don't know how to use them...

I have been taking pictures for 72 years. I have never had a problem finding suitable, cheap, matte black backgrounds.

Your arts and crafts store or stationary store is a good place to look.

So is a fabric store. But beware, some fabrics can have a shine that will appear in your photo. A polarizing filter might correct that. And don't forget your clothes closet.

A small can of black matte paint can render many objects acceptably black.

By adjusting your exposure by making it as short as possible but still properly exposing your subject you should get a proper black field. You might also try that old film users' trick....Over expose. Proper exposure. Under expose. Since you are not burning expensive film it may be worth a try.

Make sure your camera reads the exposure directly from the subject. Do not include the black background.

Photoshop or some similar computer programme can sometimes make the necessary corrections to achieve perfection.

1 reply

Wow! You've been taking pictures for about 80 times more than me! ;)

Thanks for the great tips!

I always hated the edge bleed I got when taking a picture with a white background. My DSLR (Kodak SLR/n Pro) would get severe purple fringing if I tried to take a picture of an object outdoors on white fabric or paper.

2 replies

What exactly is edge bleed?

I don't recall getting purple fringing (You just taught me two new terms) with my DSLR. However, if you take a look at some of older Instructables that were taken with my phone camera (Moto G), the white background would almost always be purple. Back then, I didn't have a lot of lighting, so tat might be the case...

I hope that this black background helps! :)

The white would be too bright and cause the nearby pixels that should be dark to be way lightened up. Kind of like if you took the 20 pixels at the edges of the object, went into "levels" and cranked it up. I'm thinking there are too many photons and they are bouncing off the sides of the lens and inside the camera body and hitting areas they shouldn't
1st image: purple fringing
2d image: chromatic aberration