Jan 03 2010

Using White Background For Portrait Photography

Published by at 12:45 am under Better Photos

One of the most popular backgrounds for studio photography is a solid white background. One of the hardest aspects to using a white background is when the topic is also dressed in white or is holding a white product. As the shutter-bug you have to separate the white subject from the white background and not tell them they cant wear their choice of clothing. Many photographers seem to never get the separation correct and if you look at ads in many magazines youwill see alack of detail where the white color blends.

What you could need :

Some say youmust have lots of space so that there isn’t any reflection from the backdrop to the subject. Fine if you’ve got the room but depending on your camera settings you continue to could have issues even with 15 feet of space between the white background and subject. This reflection is often referred to as spill, wrap or aptitude depending on where it comes from. Irrespective of what you call it photographers wish to avoid it unless you’re going for a unusual look.

What I do is light the white seamless paper from behind my subject. I attempt to permit about 8 feet so I have room for my lights. I use from 3 to 4 lights. When using 4 lights 2 are on each side. When using 3 I have one on each side and one behind the model hidden from sight. I have used soft boxes and umbrellas with equal results. If using an umbrella be certain to have the black liner attached to stop spill. A black poster may also be used if you feel more light blockage is required.

Using a light meter placed in front of the model just under her jaw take a reading. Point the meter toward the camera and fire all the strobes. If the reading is F11 and you are satisfied with that setting then move the light meter to behind the model facing the background. Take a reading of the flash and it should be 1 stop under. No more and no less. You can move the model closer or further away for easy adjustment or adjust each one of the background lights. At one stop or F8 in this sample you would have total separation of the white background and the white clothing worn by the model being photographed. Whatever setting you require for your subject just make sure the background reading is one under.

A good shutter-bug should be able to photograph any color of clothing with any background or light conditions. If you book a photo shoot and your photographer tells you not to wear white as it is hard to snap I suggest you look for a new cameraman. All that statement shows is a dearth of knowledge about photography lighting.


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