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Thread: What's a good light absorbing background material...

  1. #1

    What's a good light absorbing background material...

    I am looking for blacker than black background material. A photographer I worked for had some sort of material that did not reflect any light and seemed to absorb most of the light that fell upon it. I've tried velvet, but it seems to reflect a lot of light. What should I use? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Re: What's a good light absorbing background material...

    If it's for a tabletop setup, you can get black flocking paper (sold mainly for telescope makers) from Edmund Scientific. I suspect this must be available in larger sheets for other purposes, but I don't have a source for it.

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    Re: What's a good light absorbing background material...

    Black out cloth?

    I've used velvet without any problems.

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    Re: What's a good light absorbing background material...

    For a black-black-black backdrop? Black fleece works fairly well, or a slightly rough woven wool. They are less reflective that black jersey. Some black velvets are very reflective, particularly the silk or slightly-synthetic ones. All of them will show or reflect some light, at certain angles and brightness. Distance and lack of direct light, plus fleece or jersey seems to be the best combination I've found, and I use black backgrounds an awful lot.

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    kmack's Avatar
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    Re: What's a good light absorbing background material...

    Carbon Nano Tubes

    See if you can find some black theater curtains, and a large space helps.

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    Re: What's a good light absorbing background material...

    As black as it gets........Duveytyne aka commando cloth is the usual solution in the movie biz. I'd send you some but i've only got scraps. You can get rolls or by the yard or large sizes from 6x6 to 40x40 feet. It's got a fire retardant in it that you shouldn't get up your nose.
    http://www.filmtools.com/duv54rolx50y.html

  7. #7
    lenser's Avatar
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    Re: What's a good light absorbing background material...

    Black can be an entirely relative situation.

    If you can find a copy of Dean Collin's chromazones info, you see how to actually use an ultra white paper background and have it photograph pure black (or black paper in pure white) in relation to your subject. Same with any colored papers or gelled lights on backgrounds to target and achieve specific zoned gradations of color or gray scale by varying the comparative brightness on the background to that of the subject.

    I've always found black velvet to be terrific, but I make sure to Gobo all light off of it while being sure to properly light the subject. Keeping the background farther away from the subject and/or therefore the main lighting area, will also decrease any brightness values that might spill on the background.

    Remember the rule that brightness decreases by the square of the distance from the source. (I think I said that right...Never liked math or physics much.)

    Collin's info about lighting has the most scientific AND artistic teaching of technical and beauty lighting techniques that I've ever encountered. One hour of one of his seminars taught me more than the previous ten years of experience and workshops.

    Sadly, he is gone, but some of his tapes and publications still show up on ebay.

    Good Luck.

    Tim
    "One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude." Carl Sandburg

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    Re: What's a good light absorbing background material...

    There is black velour flocking paper which comes in rolls. Setshop.com sells it in rolls that are 52" wide and 24 feet long for $55.50 a roll. They also sell Duveytyne.

    Good luck.

  9. #9

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    Re: What's a good light absorbing background material...

    Ditto on the Duvetyne (setshop - NYC). It drapes beautifully, but be aware it has a "nap" to the surface which, although ideal for providing non-reflective properties, makes it merciless in picking up small matter (lint, hair, sawdust sized stuff).

    If your incident metering of any ambient light at the cloth surface is 2 stops less than your key light it registers jet black (on the media I've used - Velvia and Nikon digital). On the attached image, just to register red light on the material (on the lower left and right corners) I had to blast the spots 3 stops above keylight. I think it's amazing stuff.

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    Re: What's a good light absorbing background material...

    Duane, do you think that the Duvetyne would stretch over a frame and be wrinkle free. It might just be the background I am looking for. Thanks.

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