Make a Black Background From A White Wall

On this Adorama video, photographer Mark Wallace shows a very simple way of getting a dark background even when the one that you have is white.

This video is really getting back to basics when it comes to lighting. So what do you do when you are trying to shoot a model or even a product in the studio and your background is white (think white wall for example).

Well, the answer is really simple actually – you need to find a way to separate your subject from the background in such a way that the light hitting your subject will not hit your background.

There are actually a few ways of doing that. One simple way which Wallace didn’t mention in this video is getting your subject far away from your background – this way the light that hits your subject won’t affect the background. Now, this isn’t always possible – you need a very large distance and in most cases, you would still want to light in some sort of angle which brings us to the second option.

The more practical way and the one that Wallace shows in this video is using the light in an angle in such a way that the beam will hit your subject on the side but will not hit the background. This is limiting in a way since you can only lit your subject at certain angles (having the light shine downwards from above can also do the trick in certain scenarios).

It is worth mentioning that the same principle also applies when you are lighting a green screen – you want different lighting for your subject and your background as it will give you much better separation.

You can find many more helpful lighting tips here and also check out more of Wallace tutorials here on LensVid.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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