7 jul. 2009

White Background Photography

I want you to take a look at the picture below. Look at it for at least 10 seconds. Don't just look at it. Observe it. Analyze it. Ok?. Go!.
Now tell me:
1)Is the image a whirlwind of ideas and words-turned-image?
2)Did anything catch your attention? What is it?

The answers will most probably be:
  1. No, it's a normal picture
  2. Yes. The girl with fishnets on her arms and a flowery dress over a black dress, whose sight is directed at a point in the higher right corner of the screen... What the...? How did I get all those details???
That is the power of the white background. All your attention is directed to the colored subject in the center of the photograph. The white background is used by almost all kinds of photographers, to bring out textures, contrast, and to center attention on the subject of the photograph. Even underwater photographers use it to get pictures of tiny, colored specimens like camouflaged octopuses, angel fish, and a whole troupe of crustaceans.

The trick to isolate your subject on a totally white background is, theoretically, simple: you put more light on the background than on the subject, usually done by pointing two lights directly at the background. Example: You measure the suggested exposure on your subject. It calls for an f4 aperture. You must then light the background so that it calls for an f8 exposure. When you photograph the model using f4, the white background will be overexposed, and it'll come out extremely white. Being perfectionist pays here: you must eliminate anything between your lights and the background that can wash it, because if you don't, you'll get a bunch of hazy shadows on the background.

Other useful tips:
Use reflective material. Not necesarily white, but definitely, something that makes light bounce off effectively.
Leave a distance between your subject and your background, around 2 metres, so the light hits the backgound in an angle greater than 45°.
Don't forget to light the subject correctly. Even though the white background is important, it will be of no use if your subject appears like a black hole in a white wall.

Thank you all!

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