View Full Version : Backgrounds for macro

07-10-2005, 07:27 PM
I plan to make some 8x10 matte finish enlargements of various textured surfaces to use for backgrounds for studio macro photographs of cacti and other small plants.

I think agave would make a good background as well as tree bark and rough textured dark stone. I think an out of focus dark simple textured background looks much more natural than the stark black that is often used in macro work. Does anyone have suggestions for other materials?

David A. Goldfarb
07-10-2005, 07:29 PM
Can you keep these backgrounds in focus enough for the texture to show?

Dave Parker
07-10-2005, 07:30 PM
I use alot of natural green leafy type subjects for this type of work, depending on where your at in Texas another good one that I took while I was in east Texas was all of the various textured red dirt, and it has made for some great backgrounds.

The grey wood of old buildings works great as well.


07-11-2005, 08:09 AM
I prefer simply a suggestion of background pattern to eliminate the clinical stark black that I see so often in macro studio shots. The background sheets will be printed in focus, but I can increase the distance behind the subject to lose focus. I will print each background in several shades of darkness to use with different subjects.

I plan to use these outdoors as well to eliminate unwanted clutter behind flowers, cacti and other small subjects. I will need to make some sort of support for outdoor use.

Peter Rockstroh
07-11-2005, 09:31 AM
Depth of field in macro photography is so narrow that the background rarely turns into unwanted clutter. The clinical stark black you see so often in macro shots comes from the need of stopping down the lens - for maximum depth of field - to the point that you need a flash. With the shallow light from a ringflash or lateral light from a single-flash bracket, too little light reaches the background, resulting in that clinical black. Easier than carrying a series of backgrounds might be a small flash unit with a built-in slave, so you can choose what you want to illuminate as background and how much.

07-11-2005, 10:10 AM
Wallpaper samples come to mind. They are (usually) free and small/light enough to carry and easy to slip in behind the subject. I have seen them in wood and stone patterns. Linolium(sp?) flooring cut to size or maybe even tile if you can handle the extra weight. If you (or someone you know) have left over formica from countertops, that could also provide decent patterns.
Or an enlarged photo of a pattern! Lightwieght and a DIY project.

Andy K
07-11-2005, 10:47 AM
I used an old blue/green nylon tarpaulin the last time I did some macro. See album here (http://photobucket.com/albums/v223/Minitar1/Olympus%20OM10%20Colour/19-04-05%20Minolta%20VX100%20Macro%20fungus%20ornaments/).

John Koehrer
07-11-2005, 01:33 PM
For a support acouple of things come to mind. An "Elmer's" brand display board for school projects. It's free standing & weighs practically nothing. Cost is around $5 at craft stores. Another option is the wire frames used on vote for ? signs. Light & compact you would do the community a service by picking a couple of them up since the politicos never do.

07-11-2005, 02:13 PM
I tried using aluminum foil for backgorund... really interesting

Claire Senft
07-11-2005, 02:33 PM
Why not make or have made for you various prints or transparencies of a natural suject matter? I would suggest that something like Arista Lith filmwhich is reasonalble in price and can be nothing more than a projection made from a negative with the latent image bleached in Potassium Ferricyanide would allow you to create a number of backgrounds transpaerncies that would have no depth to them. If you are working in color then you could use a color print or a Duraflex transparency for a background. The use of Polaroid foils and a Polarizer on your camera would give easy control of reflections at the loss of 4 f stops.

07-11-2005, 02:49 PM
Ray McSavaney makes his own backgrounds using outdated 11x14 and 16x20 sheets of B&W paper. He exposes the paper to room light, then dips the paper into the developer. Through manual manipulation of the paper (letting the dev run over some parts of the paper more than other, twisting it, tilting it, etc) and a quick stop and fix, he makes some wonderful backgrounds.

He uses these backgrounds for his 4x5 flower photography. Stunning stuff.

07-11-2005, 08:58 PM

That sounds like a really good idea. I envision a swirling pattern as on a tie dyed fabric. I will give that a try in addition to some enlarged images. Thanks.