Monday, 28 October 2013

Photographing Flowers on White Background

In the previous article we discussed how to photograph flowers with a black background, now let us consider the opposite; shooting flowers on white background.

Photographing Flowers on White Background
I don't like the way Google auto enhance is playing with images being uploaded on blogger, click here to view the original version

While photographing flowers on black we noticed that our equipment requirements were minimal, however to shoot flowers on white you’ll need a bit more equipment in terms of lights and modifiers.

The secret of creating a Clean White Background

The real secret behind a clean white background is the lighting. Arrange your lights so that they overlap at the center and produce even lighting throughout.  The following lighting diagram will give a better idea of how this is done.

Photographing flowers on white background lighting diagram
Photographing flowers on white background lighting diagram

The two lights pointed directly at the background will illuminate it evenly; two black V cards are placed next to them to prevent light from spilling on to the subject. Now we light our subject using a key light and use a white reflector to reflect light back on to the other side of the flower to act as fill.

Once the lights are all set up you need to be careful with the light ratios. To get pure white backgrounds you’ll need your background to be overexposed by a couple of stops. Play with the light power until you get the desired effect. As regards to you flower, since the background lights are effectively shielded they do not spill on your subject, adjust the power of key light to properly expose the flower, You can increase the strength of the fill light by moving the reflector closer to the flower and decrease it by moving the reflector away from the flower.

Now this setup will require three lights at the minimum, more if you need precise control over how your flower and vase is lit. The background material could be any colour from medium grey to white; it could all be made to look pure white by controlling the amount of light hitting it.

An alternative to the above setup is to use a softbox as your background as shown in the diagram below, this method however is a compromise, you will get a pure white background for your flowers but you will have limited control over how your subject is lit.

Photographing flower on white background
Photographing flower on white background

Photographing Flowers on Pure White Background

  1. Set your camera to manual mode
  2. Shoot in RAW file format
  3. Set white balance to Flash
  4. Set ISO to ISO 100
  5. Set Shutter speed to your camera’s Sync Speed
  6. Set Aperture according to Depth of Field requirements.
  7. Now Turn on and Adjust power of key light for proper exposure
  8. Introduce Reflector or another light for fill
  9. Once you are satisfied with how your subject is lit turn on background lights
  10. Adjust power of background lights till you get pure white
  11. If needed use cutters to make sure background light is not spilling on to your subject
  12. Check histogram and ensure there is no clipping.

When photographing flowers it pays to not only check the luminescence histogram but also the RGB histogram since even if you get luminescence right you could be clipping any of the colours without knowing about it, meaning loss of detail.

Post Production

Open the image in any image editing program and look closely by zooming in for any areas than are less than white. Make a selection of those areas, feather your selection to avoid any sharp edge to your adjustment and use brightness/contrast, levels or curves adjustments to make the correction.