Embracing the Darkness – Creative Photography

The Darkside of Photography is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.

My mentor Caryn Esplin calls this style of photography: SQIBB. Studio Quality Invisible Black Background.

Camera settings are key for this type of photography. You will also need a speed light. I used a YONGNUO flash speedlite and a YONGNUO trigger. They are very inexpensive for their quality. You will need to set your shutter speed somewhere between 1/60th of a second and 1/200th of a second. I like to put mine at 1/200. This higher shutter speed helps create the darker image. I also close my aperture to 1/22. My ISO is set at 100. I used these same settings for all three images below. I then adjusted the brightness of my speed light according to what looked best. There was some post processing in Lightroom. I did have to raise the exposure slightly and darken the background a little to my taste. I chose to lower the saturation, especially in the Hunger Games photo, to try and give it a more gritty look.

I am a big fan of contrast, and this is a great way to get an intense almost cinematic look. That’s a key to intense photography: if you want to control the light, you need to know how to control the shadows. The darkness is what draws us to the light. If you are going to do portrait photography, you are going to want a speedlite. This is an expensive way to get some really cool photos. And they don’t have to be quite as dramatic as mine. You can have harsh light, you can have soft light. If you want to learn how to create this black backdrop for yourself, there is a great learning tutorial by Glyn Dewis which inspired me to create these photos. Also, be sure to check out Peter Hurley’s explanation on using light to create soft or harsh vivid shadows, simply by your placement of your lighting.

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Set-up Shot:

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