Reducing Your Dark Background From Your Flash

On my first live chat show, one of the critique submissions from William was perfect for a deep dive video. He had a beautiful bug image that was shot with a flash. The background was underexposed because when you get up close with your flash, the light will drop fast so the background will go really dark to black. I told him that I would like to do a deep dive video to show him how I fix flash problems.

There are other ways to help you fix this problem…I know it’s frustrating when you really want to have the background exposed properly. The best way to fix this problem is on the camera while you’re photographing. So let’s get to it…

Adjust your camera settings to Manual Mode.  Do your best to get the best f-stop, shutter-speed and ISO to have the subject and background exposed properly. If you’re shooting bugs or need to stop motion because of wind and other movements happening while you’re photographing, a flash will be needed.  With the manual settings you’ve done previously, do a test shot on ETTL ( Evaluate Through The Lens). This is basically your flash put on manual mode.  Next…put your flash on Manual and play with your ratios.

If this fails, it’s time to be creative. You can bring in a matte picture you’ve shot previously and put it behind your subject or photograph backgrounds that can be added in post production. Look around the subject’s location and see if you like anything and then shoot away. In post you’ll merge them together. I show how to do this in Photoshop during the live show.  Check it out here, it’s about 33 minutes into the show.

I used my Macro Ring Light in the behind-the-scenes. I really like the soft feel I get with this flash. But like I always say…light is light. You don’t need this lens to make a great Macro shot. You just need to understand your equipment and it’s limitations.

fix dark backgrounds

How to fix dark backgrounds from your flash

 

How do you work your flash situation when you have these problems? I’d love to know 🙂

 

Cheers to beautiful backgrounds!

Janice Sullivan

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Hello Abe…yes, light will fall fast no matter what equipment you use when you get up close. From what I’m reading I’m not sure if you manually set your camera and lamps. If you did and are still getting a black background it’s time to light up your background using another light or a reflector. Since you already have the black background for this shot I would add a background from another image in post. Texture images (soft or hard) that don’t have a lot of distractions look great for backgrounds in post work.

  • ABE says:

    I JUST MOVED UP FROM A NIKKOR 105MM 2,8 MICRO TO THE FAMOUS 200MM F/4 IF MICRO, MOUNTED ON A D750, WHILE SHOORING SMALL FLOWERS IN FULL SUN THE BACKGOUNDS CAME OUT PURE BLACK. ISO WAS 800-2500, F 16-40, BUT I DID NOT USE A RING FLASH. I HAVE A TWIN LAMP CANDIED, SO HOW DO I GET SOME BACKGROND COLOR?
    THANKS

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