Studio Quality Invisible Black Background or SQIBB. This has to be one of my favorite types of photography. The idea is to take an image any where the light shines, underexpose your camera settings, and take an image with a pitch black background. Lighting comes from a speelite and attached flashbender for selective lighting – otherwise the entire background could be visible. Here are some example images with attched setup and process shots:


This was my favorite selective lighting picture I took in this series.

I took this image using the mirror above the vanity in my apartment. I underexposed for a black background and selective lighting. At first, I held the camera up to my eye to watch my focus. The problem with that was the black camera blended into the background. I finally locked my autofocus on myself and brought the camera down near my waist and pointed the lens towards my face. It took a few tries to get the right framing, but it turned out beautifully! I attached a diffuser to the speedlite to soften the light and not make it so harsh.

For this SQIBB shot I used a 45 degree angle for the light. It perfectly covered the subjects eyes, giving him an intimidating look.

I participated in a portrait shoot where we practiced SQIBB. The model had a beautiful golden tiara with a blue velvet dress. I used the selective lighting by having a friend point the light on her from above. I wanted to mock lighting that reflected something you might see in 1930 black and white film, just a little more dramatic.

My last SQIBB shot was a singing bowl I bought in India. It is an interesting object with lots of imagery and text about it. I took the image with two speedlites – this was because a shadow would be cast if it wasn’t directly aligned with the center of the bowl. By placing a speedlite above the lens and one below the lens, we got the right type of selective lighting where the edge of the bowl cast no shadow.

Check out another example of this type of lighting here: