Balancing black

I'm setting up my first still life, in the shadow box, but I have a problem:
I have got the white balance right (white near the top of the subject in the shadow box matches white on the color checker, in terms of value). Tone can be different.
However, black paint on the color checker is much too bright to match the darkest areas in the shadow box. Problematic spots are for example the black fabric-background, and shadows in the lower parts of the subject itself. 

The only place black matches black, is near the top of the subject, where white also matches white. This leads me to believe that the shadow box must be uniformly lit. But then what is the point of a shadow box? 

I have placed a desktop lamp inside the shadow box itself, bacause I liked the shadows the subject made, when the light source was nearby. I know the light is supposed to come from quite high up, but even then the box would not be equally lit in all places, right? Which makes me believe I would still have a problem with matching black.

It seems it is only possible to match either white or black, but not both at the same time.

Any thoughts?

Regards, Espen


  • The shadow box does not need to be evenly lit.  It should be a light wave wonderland creating something special for you to paint, and isolated from the studio lights.

    Reality can be brighter than white, and darker than black. In each case you just use what you have, white and black.  It works out.

    I would match the black. You don't really need pure white in a painting. You might want a dimmer bulb.
  • I use a dimmer bulb to vary the light to something interesting, usually dimmer looks better to me.
    ive found it is hard to get real dark black.
    i use a higher % if ultra marine blue to Brent umber.  I do not recommend using Black paint. It will end up looking like a black hole that swallows up your painting.
  • You can also make a really dark chromatic black with quinacridone crimson and phthalo green. 
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