Fake fire backdrops
PhotoPlus : The Canon Magazine|February 2021
Dan Mold lights his fire like Hollywood’s method for shooting fake backdrops, but on a much smaller silver screen at home
Dan Mold

THE MISSION

Use a monitor to provide interesting backgrounds in your still-life photos

Time needed One hour

Skill level Beginner

Kit needed

• A computer and monitor with HDMI ports

• Tripod

• Macro lens (optional)

• A glass and wine (or squash)

Green screen is so last year, with many film studios now preferring to shoot with a live background on a giant LCD screen behind the cast of actors. This not only helps the actors and actresses feel more grounded to the scenes they’re in, but the light emitted from the screens helps them look more natural too and no Chroma key cutouts are needed when editing.

We’re going to try the very same principle at home, albeit with a much smaller screen. We used a 23.5-inch Samsung display, though as we’re hooking it up via HDMI you could even use a full TV screen if you needed an even larger backdrop.

We wanted to take a warm and cosy picture of a glass of mulled wine in front of a fireplace this winter, however, we ran into a slight issue – we don’t have a cozy fireplace! Not to worry, we’ll show you how to fake the effect, by loading up a large hi-resolution royalty-free fire image on a computer screen to use as a backdrop. Stock video footage of a fireplace also works well!

We suggest following this project and using the fire as your background for dark and sumptuous lighting, but when you’ve got the hang of it you could use any image you like. We’re going to be using a shallow depth of field to blur the image in the background, so you’d never be able to tell that it was a picture on a computer display. Here’s how you can pull it off…

THE SETUP HOW TO SHOOT FAKE FIRE BACKGROUNDS

Use a computer monitor, or even a TV, to add an interesting backdrop to your still-life scenes

01 COMPUTER WITH HDMI PORT

To display the image on your laptop to the TV or monitor you’ll need to connect it via HDMI. Our MacBook didn’t natively have this port, so we used an Anker PowerExpand Direct 7-in-2 USB-C PD Media Hub to connect the HDMI cable.

02 LARGE DISPLAY SCREEN

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