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Video: What it’s like photographing subjects against one of the blackest fabrics in the world: Digital Photography Review


Photographer Mathieu Stern is most known for his experimentation with weird lenses and cameras, but for his most recent video, he tested out what photographs would look like if you used one of the blackest materials available as a backdrop.

The blackest material in the world right now is believed to be Vantablack, a material made by Surrey NanoSystems from randomly-aligned carbon nanotubes that absorbs 99.965% of visible light that hits it. Unfortunately, the artistic use of S-VIS is available exclusively to the studio of British Indian sculptor Amish Kapoor, so getting your hands on it isn’t exactly easy.

A product photo of KoPro’s Visible Light Absorbing Flock Fabric in a sheet.

Since Vantablack is all but unattainable for us mere mortals, Stern opted instead to use Visible Light Absorbing Flock Sheet, an ultra-absorbent nylon/rayon fabric from Japanese company KoPro, which its creators claim absorbs 99.5% of all visible light.

As shown in the five-minute video, the difference in the light absorption capabilities of the Visible Light Absorbing Flock Sheet compared to traditional black fabric used for photo shoots is dramatic. Stern says the images captured using the fabrics make it appear as though the subject is ‘floating in a black void,’ and he’s not wrong. Based on the example images he shows off in the video, every object capture looks as though it’s been masked and placed on top of a perfectly black background layer. Below is a gallery of screenshots from the video showing off the comparison between the ‘Pro’ photo backdrop and the Visible Light Absorbing Flock Sheet:

It’s a fun watch with interesting results. It also leaves us wondering how absorbent the light material on the inside of camera bodies and lenses is compared to Vantablack and KoPro’s offerings and whether or not using a more light absorbent material would make a noticeable difference in image quality.

You can see more of Stern’s videos on his YouTube channel and check out his archive of work on his website. If you want to try the Visible Light Absorbing Flock Sheet, head over to KoPro’s website, where you can purchase the fabric in various shapes and sizes.



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