Friday, August 1, 2014

It's All About the Background

Honeybee Feeding on a Blackberry Flower
For quite a while now I've gone out of my way not to get a black background in my photos -everything from holding the subject in front of grape leaves to fence posts. But one of the things that I've wanted to do for a long time is simulate a blue sky. So I bought a piece of light blue plexiglass and experimented with putting different materials behind it to reflect the light from the flash back to the camera, but nothing seemed to work. One day while driving home I was looking at a blue sky that was being diffused by some very thin clouds and it dawned on me that what I really needed was something that was going to diffuse the light before it passed back through the plexi. Something like a white card, but what did I have at home that acted like a white card? Then a little voice in the back of my head said:

"What about all that photo paper that you don't use, you idiot. You know, the stuff you have laying around from ink jet printer kits that you had to buy when the store ran out of individual ink cartridges."

The voice was right -suddenly I was getting that light shade of blue that I wanted to see in my backgrounds and all I had to do was gaffer tape a piece of photo paper to the back of the plexiglass, glossy side to the camera. If you try this trick yourself be advised that if you get the subject too close to the plexi that there will be a visible halo around the critter that's gonna be impossible to remove in post. I try to keep the subject at the same distance from the background that it is from the lens (maybe a little more).

Here's a short video of me using the plexiglass in the field to shoot the image included with this post. Pretty basic stuff really, but the results are pretty nice.

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