Thursday, March 24, 2011

Creating Bright White Backgrounds—03/28/11

DPMag Published in Tip Of The Week
Creating Bright White Backgrounds—03/28/11
- Fight flare too. Flare is an insidious problem when working with multiple lights, and it's made worse by shooting on a white background. It's amplified even further when photographers in search of a brighter white background start overexposing the back light, causing extra flare since, in effect, they're turning a white wall into a large light source aimed straight at the camera. To fight flare you've got to keep the subject far from the background, and then be sure not to overexpose a white background by more than a stop-and-a-half (compared to the subject's exposure). Also, use flags to block as much light from the camera as possible. In practice, that means moving large black flags (or in some studios, flats or curtains) positioned to the sides of the subject, as close to the frame edges as possible. If the subject is ultimately going to be clipped out of the background, you can move the flags even closer to the subject for more flare fighting power.

- Negative fill. Many photographers, when faced with a light subject on a bright white background, utilize negative fill from flags or dark flats placed close to the sides of the subject to help darken the edges of the subject and create a more distinct separation from the background. To do this, turn flags at a 90-degree angle to the camera (so they are perpendicular to the sensor plane) and as close to the subject as possible. Not only can this be accomplished while also fighting flare and spill, it can be done with the very same flags.

- Make it seamless. If you're going full length, say a head to toe portrait of a standing subject, you'll need a white background created with a roll of seamless white paper. Roll the paper out far from the background—again, at least ten feet is ideal. Then you'll need a shiny white surface on which your subject can stand. Why shiny white? Because it needs to reflect light from the background in order to remain pure white. Standing on the seamless makes it darn near impossible to get a pure white surface at the subject's feet without adding additional lights targeted specifically to that area. I use white plexi, but some folks prefer tile board, or melamine, from a home hardware store. As long as it's white and shiny it will pick up the reflection of the bright white background to stay bright white from head to toe.

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