Black Power

To clarify immediately, my title has nothing to do with any political position. Rather, it is to do with photographic backgrounds.

Cygnet Grey Squirrel BuzzardRelatively recently I was sorting through some older pictures taken some years ago on real film – Fuji Velvia 50 to be precise. I came across a few wildlife shots that coincidentally ended up having a black, or almost black, background. Looking at the results, I wish I could claim a level of design in the results but they were down to luck or, at least, circumstances beyond my control. The Buzzard (I think it’s a Buzzard) was a rescued bird in a sanctuary and happened to be perching in front of the very dark interior of its shelter. The Grey Squirrel was in our back garden, which backs onto woodland, and, somehow, the dark light under the trees turned out black. The almost-adult Cygnet with the wet-effect hair was on our local canal, The Grand Union, and the background canal/vegetation has come out not quite black but at least a very dark grey. (I could probably become a photoshopographer and fake it. 😯 Nah!)

Tulip SunflowerCarol is our flower specialist but occasionally I dip my toes into the water. Flowers, of course, have one distinct advantage over wildlife in that they tend not to take fright and run away when you rearrange the world around them. Thus I seem to remember trying to engineer the v. dark background behind these two flower shots, a sunflower and a tulip. If memory serves, I stood a very dark redwood table on end behind the subject which seems to have worked pretty well, considering.

Green-veined_WhiteFinally, into last year and my then brave new world of digital photography. I spent much of 2009 chasing a mixture of lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) and odonata (dragonflies and damselflies). Once again fortune stepped in and produced this shot of a Green-veined White butterfly feeding on a delightfully lit thistle head. I don’t think I could have wished for a better background and, given the quite strong light, I honestly don’t understand how it came about.

Whether by accident or by design, I do like the way that a black background produces what seems like a quite powerful image.

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