This is one of the most popular photography lessons I posted on Pixiq.com, and its time to have it posted on Photigy: too many photographers asking me the same question about how to shoot on a complete white background without photo editing.
This is an answer.
Getting white background for catalog and product photography how to
As a professional studio product photographer, quite often I have to shoot products on a white background. I am talking about pure white (#FFFFFF) background, required by the client. Web-placement and catalogs are the most popular applications for such photography.
I have already post about shooting glassware on white (glassware on white background: high-key in product photography) and macro on white (macro on a white background: simple yet very useful tricks), and now I want to complete the white-on-white trilogy with this article:-)
This should cover all possible scenarios on how to photograph white or transparent subjects on a white background.
First, I’ve tried to shoot a white cream bottle on a professional, large and expensive shooting table. I’ll try to get as white as possible background all around the subject from this setup:
The result is below:
While the issue with the overexposed cap can be fixed with a light from a sides instead of from the top (talking about the ways to highlight our background), the table in front of the bottle can’t be pure white: such amount of light on it will wipe out the bottle as well.
Here how hightlights look like:
Unfortunately, there is not much I can do about this… until I’ve made a DIY shooting table using clear Plexiglas.
Update: As it was pointed by one of the readers: I could get one more light under the table to eliminate the shadow, and I did not mention this in the original article.
However, this way does have few disadvantages: it will spill the light to the bottom of the bottle, if highlighted from under the table. Plus, it is still a headache to get everything completely white without overexposing the subject, simply because the background is too close and subject is too white, like in our case…
The idea is very simple, and I have worked with a clear glass while shooting jewelry. But this time I went further and made a table:
Clear Plexiglas sheet shooting table:
The red dots around the table makes it visible for you:-) Background is lit by a separate photo light (from the bottom, under the table 40 degree snoot), while the subject have it’s own photo lights: one stripbox from the front-left and one behind-right, plus the reflector on right.
Plastic was bent on a heat, formed a shooting-table like surface. Fixed on a place by reflector holder arms from both sides.
The main difference between this and a regular shooting table is that my built does not have anything under the shooting surface, which allowed to position background any way I want without interfering with the shooting table frame.
Below is the outcome.
This is completely unprocessed, directly “from the camera” RAW image:
The background all around the bottle is a pure white, (255:255:255) even if looked in ACR.
Looks nice, right?
Below are few more example out from the same setup. Because background is separated from the subject, we can lit it with any color (gel was used on the image below) we want without affecting the subject.
Green color gel, reflection from the subject becomes visible:
And now, the most interesting: the video from this photography lesson. It will explain even further what I have said previously in this article.
Have done the same shot without using pro gear: The follow-up shot: does the equipment really matter? You may like to check it out, very cool:-)
The photography video tutorial:
More photography tips on how to get white background:
- Glassware on white background: high-key in product photography
- Macro on a white background: simple yet very useful tricks
- Q&A #6: Simple way to shoot silver jewelry on white background