Figure/doll photography 121 – How to produce black background

I’m going to call this a figure/doll photography 121. It’s not a 101 because even though what’s presented here is what I know of, it may or may not be correct. It’s not a 123 since I’m not really providing a step by step instruction. So some where between 101 and 123, I hope this becomes helpful to someone. And through that, the knowledge is transferred from one to another, and hence the name 121.

Black background, there are a lot of myths about it. There are talks about how to use black seamless paper, black cloth, or even black velvet behind the subject to create it. Then there are talks about using post production editing tools such as Photoshop to achieve it. However, neither of these approaches produces what I would call a true black background. Black background material is always visible due to light reflection, even black velvet shows up under some lighting conditions. And then there are many cases where the use of background material is just not practical or not possible. Photoshop on the other hand, will product a true black background, but typical masking technique to mask out your suject will produce an unnatural edge around it, this is on top of the amount of work needed to mask the fine details. In this post, I will try to walk through my technique in creating what I would call a true black background, just like what I have done below for Dollfie Dream Kanu Unchou. I’ve used this technique for many years now, mostly for floral photography but used sparsely for figure photography as well. however it can easily be applied to much bigger subjects such as dolls, real people and even other bigger subjects that you might want to photograph. And it’s all done straight out of camera with no background material and no Photoshop work.

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No telescope, no problem! Canon 7D doing astronomy

Today is the first full moon of 2010. That large beautiful moon up on sky is calling out to me to try out my Canon 7D DSLR on it. So despite the -15°C (with wind chill -20°C) weather, I geared up and went to my backyard for a bit of backyard astronomy. Okay so it is not the ideal place to do any astrophotographing since I live right in the city. The large amount of light pollution from city lights and the air distortion in the city are all enemies of astronomy. But in such cold weather, I really don’t want to drive up north just for a few photo of the moon. Not to mention, just as the title suggests, I don’t actually own a telescope. I was merely trying to see how much my Canon EOS 7D can capture when combined with my long lenses. I have a Sigma 100-300 F4 and a Sigma 1.4x teleconverter. The Sigma 100-300 F4 @ 300mm coupled with the Sigma 1.4x teleconverter gives me a focal length of 420mm. On the 1.6x Canon EOS 7D it gives me an effective 672mm focal length.

I started with my daily tripod / head combo, the Gitzo GT1541 Mountaineer carbon fiber tripod and Markins Q-Ball Q3 Emille. Now that’s one big mistake. The little 4 section light Gitzo tripod is obviously not stable enough to photograph something that’s some 380,000 kilometers away, which is how far the moon is away from the earth. And the Markins Q-Ball even though stable enough to shoot earthly things but definitely slips a bit when having the big lens aimed upwards. So even with mirror locked up, and remote release cable, the image is still very blurry. Here’s the result, click on the image to see in full resolution.

Canon 7D, Sigma 100-300 F4 @ 300mm, Sigam 1.4x teleconverter, manual exposure @ ISO 100, F8, 1/100 sec, manual focus using live view.

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“White” animal in the zoo – Arctic Wolf

Metro Toronto Zoo opened the 10 acre Tundra Trek show casing a lot of arctic animals. So what “white” arctic animals are there? Well, there’s Polar Bear, Arctic Wolf, Arctic Fox, Snow Goose, and Snowy Owl. However only three of them are on display when I visited.

This is the third and last post in the “white” animal series. And the star of this post is the Arctic Wolf. I’ve had posted my photos of the Arctic Wolfs at the Toronto Zoo before in this post. But the new exhibit is much bigger and the wolfs looked much happier in there.

Looks like a big white dog, but this is actually the Arctic Wolf.

Arctic Wolf

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“White” animal in the zoo – Snowy Owl

Metro Toronto Zoo opened the 10 acre Tundra Trek show casing a lot of arctic animals. So what “white” arctic animals are there? Well, there’s Polar Bear, Arctic Wolf, Arctic Fox, Snow Goose, and Snowy Owl. However only three of them are on display when I visited.

This is the second post in the “white” animal series. And in this post, Snowy Own is the featured animal.

Here’s a shot of the pair of Snowy Owls on display.
Snowy Owl

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“White” animal in the zoo – Polar Bear

Metro Toronto Zoo opened the 10 acre Tundra Trek show casing a lot of arctic animals. So what “white” arctic animals are there? Well, there’s Polar Bear, Arctic Wolf, Arctic Fox, Snow Goose, and Snowy Owl. However only three of them are on display when I visited.

So this first post of the series and the featured “white” animal is Polar Bear. Toronto Zoo now has three polar bear. All of them were little cub that spent some time in the Toronto Zoo before. I have photo of them when they are just few months old. There are two female Aurora and Nikita. This pair of twin sisters were just little cubs then they first came to Toronto Zoo in 2001. You can see my photos of them in this posted titled ‘Polar bear cubs at the Toronto Zoo’. There’s also a male named Inukshuk who also came to Toronto as an orphan bear in 2003. You can see my photo of Inukshuk when he is just a little cub in this post titled ‘New polar bear cub in the zoo‘.

Out of water, Refreshing…

Polar Bear

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