DIY Black Reflections / by Neil Alexander

Plum and lime Chrysanthemum arrangement (Click for larger)

 Inspired by this post from the Cheap Shot man, Larry Becker, I decided to try and throw my own slant on the process and see where I ended up. So I swung by B&Q, grabbed this Rust-oleum direct to plastic paint, and a large sheet of clear perspex. I think I spent around £25 in total. Spraying the perspex was straight forward enough though it did take 3 coats to come even close to making it completely opaque. And before you ask, the shoes on the right are not mine and were black before I started - they were the first "paper weights" I put my hands on once I'd finished spraying.....

Spraying clear perspex black

Once I was satisifed with the finish I brought the perspex inside and placed it on a table. I hung a black cloth up for a backdrop and, for the flower shot above, set up a couple of shoot-through umbrellas either side. Gauging an exposure that would completely kill all the ambient light (1/125 @ F5.6 ISO200), I then began adding light via a couple of SB900s. I brought the umbrellas in as close as I could to the flowers to light them with as soft a light as possible.

Chrysanthemum set up with blackened perspex

I applied a similar technique to the wine bottle shot below, but just used one umbrella and a grid on the other strobe to give me a more controlled and concentrated light in order to better pick out the lines of the bottle and the glass.

Casablanca Valley Pinot Noir red wine with wine glass (Click to view larger)

Quite an interesting experiment and I learnt quite a lot about shadow in the process and controlling the strength of the reflection in the painted perspex. Definitely a technique that I could use in the future so the perspex is now safely tucked away behind the sofa in my office.

As usual, feel free to post in the comments if you've got any questions.