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Conquering the Challenge of White on White Photography

Three essential techniques will help you take on the challenge of creating white on white photography – applying the proper amount of back lighting, using a grey card, and increasing exposure.

The way in which you use lighting is the key to your success. In fact, your light source won’t be focused on the subject, it will be lighting the backdrop known as back lighting. Sufficient back lighting is needed to keep the white object from fusing with the white background. This can be achieved by using one light source along with white cards to bounce and reflect more light onto the image.

Place your object on a white surface. Next prop a white board behind the object. You can use up to 4 or 5 white boards to surround the subject. Upon shooting the image, the brightness of the light will be evenly dispersed by the box you created with the white boards. Moving the boards around gives you the ability to create your desired light and regulate the quality of your photos.

A grey card should be used to get an accurate exposure reading. A grey card is a piece of cardboard that is the same tone of grey that your camera meter is calibrated for. It allows you to adjust the white balance yourself. Place the grey card in the area where the subject will be shot, grey side facing the camera. Look through the viewfinder focusing only on the grey card and take the reading off that. Dial in the reading on your camera and you are ready to shoot.

Trying to photograph something white on a white background is viewed by the camera as average brightness. Increasing exposure settings on the camera can help. Since you can’t rely on your camera’s screen to assess exposure and you can’t use auto modes, your camera has an exposure compensation manual mode. You can set your exposure in manual mode by zooming in on the white. Setting it 2 stops brighter than average will make it look white yet not be over exposed. Also, putting your camera on a tripod, positioning it on Av mode, and setting the aperture to f/3.2 will make your image brighter than average without being over exposed.
While creating white on white photographs is known to be very challenging, once mastered the results can be spectacular.

Brisby Cameron

sheldon@backgroundbegone.com
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