2022 week 01 – Black on Black

This week’s challenge is to take a photo of a black object on black background. This is however not a B&W challenge, it is mainly about lighting. The objective is to photograph black objects in a way that they don’t melt into the black background. This is not difficult if you have access to a large photo studio and a selection of light sources and the know how to use them. If not (as in my case and presumably the majority of our members) it’s quite a different story and not so easy.

EOS 650D – by Klaus Deisenberger

At first we have to find a suitable black (or dark) background. There are several possibilities: black paper, black cloth, a dark wall etc. Which one is the best choice however depends on the object to be photographed, it’s size and the available space (distance). Black objects reflect light surprisingly well, which is an advantage in respect to the object to be photographed but at the same time can be quite a disadvantage if the chosen black background reflects the light to your camera as well.
If we have a suitable background we have to take care to illuminate the object in a way that it stands out from the background which should be illuminated only minimal or better not at all.
The best way to isolate black objects from the black background is to use backlight, which reflects on the outline and various edges of the object but not on the background in addition to the light required to illuminate the object adequately from the side facing the camera. This is achieved easier on objects placed as far as possible from a dark background than from objects placed directly on a black surface. If the background is far behind the object, it doesn’t even have to be completely black to appear black in the photo.

The camera shown in the photo above was placed in a room between the camera used to take the photo and a window (the required backlight) with a dark pullover on a black office chair below the window serving as the dark background. The background has not to be completely black as long it is adequately underexposed.

Some more example photos:

The objects in the following two photos were placed on a piece of black paper on a table between the camera and a window providing backlight.

Ricoh Caplio GX200 – by Klaus Deisenberger

lens cover – by Klaus Deisenberger

dog – by Randy Rodriguez

You may find further tips, examples and ideas for your image under following links:




Challenge Summary

  • Take a new photo of a black object on a black background
  • Take care to illuminate your object in a way that it does not melt into the black background
  • Add a description of your setup, lighting and used background
  • Post your newly taken photo during the week of Sunday, January 2 and Saturday, January 8.
  • Please remember to comment on at least FIVE photo submissions this week by answering the question “why?” in your comments. In other words, “why do I like (or not like) this photo?” or “why did this photo catch my eye?” Thank you!

The friendly community guidelines are pretty simple

  • Take a new photo for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Post your photo each week to our active communities on Facebook or Flickr(or both). Tag the photo:  #2022photochallenge #photochallenge #tempusaura
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2022 Trevor Carpenter Photo Challenge is fun and easy.