This project was quite intimidating for me. I didn’t have a lot of studio lighting background before attempting, and I wasn’t quite sure how it would turn out. Still, I knew if I could get it right, the studio black background would make for some incredible photos.

Studio Lighting Photography

For all of these images, I shot on my Nikon D3200, an entry-level camera. My settings for these first three photos were ISO 100, F.22 with a shutter speed of 1/200. As you can see in my setup shot, I also wasn’t super close to her, it’s the position of the light that mattered most.

Studio Quality Black Background image taken by Merritt J. Jones

Bubbles cross Wandile’s face with a studio-quality black background as a contrast.

Studio Quality Black Background image taken by Merritt J. Jones

Another photo of Wandile captures a Studio Quality Black Background. This is possibly one of my favorite shots ever.

For this next photo, I took out a reflected and used the black side to place a sliced orange on. I spritz the front with a spray bottle to add more texture. Normally when you’re inside, you should adjust your settings and have a lower f-stop, but I ended up moving the light closer to my subject and that did the trick.

Something else to keep in mind is how close your subject is from the background. We had this sitting on a table, so we needed to pull it way forward in order to get the desired effect we wanted — aka: an image with a completely black background.

Studio Quality Black Background image taken by Merritt J. Jones

Oranges contrast the studio-quality black background

Studio Quality Black Background Setup

The setup for all the shots was basically the same. A camera placed right in front of our subjects and a light in whatever direction we wanted it coming from. Having someone hold the light, with the snoot firmly wrapped around in the shape of a cone is key to good lighting — beyond your settings of course.

setup shot for studio quality black background photography by Merritt J. Jones

Setup shot for studio quality black background photography with snoot on light

Studio Quality Black Background at Home

Because I didn’t have a third person to hold the light for me, taking pictures at home was a lot more challenging. It took me a while before I came up with pictures that satisfied what I was looking for. I ended up loving each of these because of the unique lighting and of course the humor. These last three even remind me of book or movie covers.

If you can't laugh about something then you're not having enough fun.

angled lighting from a triggered light rest on Nate’s face, inviting mystery to the photograph

If you can't laugh about something then you're not having enough fun.

The light placed right in front of Nate’s face with a snoot attached allows for studio-quality black background

If you can't laugh about something then you're not having enough fun.

A triggered light reveals the handsome Nate Jones with a beautiful black background

This last photo actually has a cute story. I was frustrated at this point, feeling like I wasn’t getting the quality images I wanted, so to cheer me up, Nate made this face to which I couldn’t stop laughing. If you can’t laugh at something hard, you’re doing it wrong.

All in all, it was great to better understand lighting in this way. Whenever I need a clean crisp background, I feel a lot more confident in being able to accomplish that on my own.