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We decided to spend one of our meetings shooting black objects on black backgrounds. Since we had practiced shooting White-on-White our previous meeting, we figured this would be a good time to get acquainted with how each of our cameras would handle such an opposite extreme situation: how much, if any, exposure compensation will each of us have to enter into our cameras to get dark and other low key images. We each brought in black objects and discovered that sometimes, what looks black at home, is either a warm or a cool black or dark color when placed onto a true black background.

But keeping a black background truly black we discovered isn't easy. The black cardboards sometimes looked very light gray while the black objects looked black. Window light bounced off the cardboard and made it register as various tones of gray. So did the overhead fluorescent lights. We tried turning off the lights, but then it was difficult to focus! Sometimes on-camera flash actually made the backgrounds go dark, but other times, depending on the angle of camera-to-background, made the backgrounds too light.

Below are some of the results some of our members obtained. As you can see, when the background looks black and the object is very dark, our brains tell us that this is a black-on-black image. But if the background, even though it really is black, registers as some shade of gray that looks lighter than the objects, then our brains tell us these are black objects on a gray background.

So in the first three images in the first row below, the backgrounds did register as black. But in the first image, there seems to be both a black and a gray background. However, that is the same black mat board, only reflecting light at different angles. In the remaining images, the cameras read the reflected light and made the images too bright. The exposures should have been set to not allow as much light to reach the sensors. BUT, if no one told the viewer what the real colors and shades were, then these are perfectly acceptable exposures. The bottom line: Set your exposure to show your goal, which for this shoot was to show black objects on black backgrounds.

Earring-necklace statue-Flo Mini cast iron teapot-Flo Nearly black ashtray-Denise Black items on black-Denise
Black & nearly black items-Denise Black kitchen tools-Denise Black items on black-Diane

See this article, Shooting Extremes for more info on how to shoot black on black.

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