White Background And Photography Lighting

August 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Photography Tips

One of the most popular backgrounds for studio portrait photography is a solid white background.  One of the most challenging aspects to employing a white background is when the topic is also dressed in white or is holding a white product.  As the shutter-bug you’ve got to separate the white subject from the white background and not tell them they cant wear their choice of clothing.  Many photographers appear to never get the separation correct and if you look at advertisements in numerous magazines you’ll see a scarcity of detail where the white color blends.

Some say you must have plenty 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 still may have Problems even with 15 feet of space between the white background and subject.  This reflection is often referred to as spill, wrap or flair depending on where it comes from.  No matter 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 allow about 8 feet so I have space for my lights.  I use from 3 to four lights.  When using 4 lights two are on each side.  When using three I have one on each side and one behind the model concealed from sight. I’ve 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 can also be used if you feel more light blockage is necessary.

Employing a light meter placed in front of the model slightly below her jaw take a reading.  Point the meter toward the camera and fire all of the strobes.  If the reading is F11 and you are happy 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 one stop under.  No more and no less.  You can move the model closer or further away for easy adjustment or adjust each 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 need for your subject simply make sure the background reading is one under.

A good shutter-bug should be able to photograph any colour of clothing with any background or light conditions.  If you book a photo shoot and your portrait photographer tells you not to wear white as it is hard to photograph I suggest you look for a new photographer.  All that statement shows is a scarcity of knowledge about photography lighting. In addition if you would like more information on marketing photography please follow this marketing photography link.

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