One of the most common questions we get here at Fovitec is how to create a seamless white background. You would think that simply having the background would do the trick, but as we all have experienced this is not so! It takes the right lighting to get the clean seamless white look that you are going for. The seamless white background look, also known as High Key Photography, is great for many types of photography such as portraiture, product photography, and anything else that needs to bring the attention directly to the subject. It provides a clean and modern look that many photographers and clients love. Let’s take a look at how we can achieve this look in camera, and save us hours of post production editing.
1. Start off with a clean white background
A clean white background is still the first step in creating the seamless look. You need this so that the background can be white. For those who have more studio space, we recommend our white paper background. It is a clean photo white and provides a non-reflective surface (aka no glare or shine). You will also need a background support system to hang the roll of paper. This is a great set up, because the paper is wrinkle free (yes!), and it can be disposed of when it gets dirty from shoes etc.
The second option would be to use a white muslin. Muslins are easy to hang and transport. They fold easily for storage, and can be washed when dirty. We sell them individually and as background support kits to hang them. These take a little more care, and usually need to be steamed before use to remove the wrinkles. Please see our previous blog post to learn how to remove the wrinkles from your muslin.
2. Light the background separately
In order to create the look we are going for, you will need to over expose the background 1 or 2 stops more than the subject. To do this you will need at least two light sources and the source on the background needs to be brighter than the light on the subject. This can be done with continuous fluorescent lights or strobe lighting. Place the subject four to six feet away from the background so they will not cast shadows onto the background. Place the light directly behind the subject, or light the backdrop evenly from both sides. Light the subject with your light set up of choice.
The best way to check this is with a light meter. First meter for the background and then meter for the subject. Another trick is to use your camera’s built in highlight alert function. On a Canon digital camera, this can be found in the menu “Highlight Alert - Enable.” When you take your photo, the background should flash nearly all black in the playback meaning the background is overexposed, or completely white.
If the subject is low contrast or too washed out then the background light is too high. Adjust it to the lowest setting it can be without loosing the bright white background.
Knowing how to get it in camera the first time will save you hours of editing time used to whiten up those pesky white backgrounds. This may take some practice so don’t worry! Keep trying and you will get it right.
Photographs 1 and 2 courtesy of Tony Northrup & Digital Photography School.