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Category: New Questions

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Photography Question 
Katrina L. Awbery

member since: 4/1/2006

How to Get a White Background

I am just starting out and I would like to know how to get the shots with all-white backgrounds (like Tim McGraw's video "Live like you were dying"?). Please give me some tips.

4/1/2006 7:53:24 PM

Mike Carpenter
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/9/2004
  I don't know what this video looks like, but if it's all white, it's probably white seamless paper or white muslin.

4/1/2006 8:37:33 PM

Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/14/2005
  I'm not familiar with the video either, but in addition to getting either a white muslin or seamless paper background, you're also going to need to light it. In order to get the background to look white in your pictures, you need to get more light on your background than you have on your subject.

4/1/2006 10:34:28 PM


BetterPhoto Member
That video was made by overexposing Mr. McGraw in a white shirt against a white background. This was a very powerful effect for the video, but usually doesn't work for most circumstances.

In most cases in photography, you want to show some detail. Facial detail is usually utmost for portrait work. It's rare to find an overexposed portrait that works, unless done in black and white.

Have fun and keep shooting,
Mark H.

4/2/2006 4:58:09 PM

Maverick Creatives
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/1/2004
A high-key portrait setup would involve the use of a white or off white background and brighter clothing. A high key portrait can be challenging as it requires a great deal of light control and has the most risk of overexposure and loss of detail. In general they would have a low lighting ratio near 2:1. A common background for high-key portraits is paper or muslin which is slightly overexposed resulting in a pure white seamless background and a feeling of cleanliness. Great care is usually taken to separate the subject from the background to eliminate shadows. These portraits also tend to require more light and thus more power and lighting equipment to create. Hope this helps you.

4/2/2006 5:46:43 PM

Maverick Creatives
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/1/2004
  sample of high key lighting
sample of high key lighting
© Maverick Creatives
Canon EOS 20D Digi...
perhaps an example will help

4/2/2006 5:48:54 PM

Steve Mescha
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/22/2002
  Hi Katrina, I'm glad you posted this question because I also like the high key look and was interested to see the responses. However, you may also be able to digitally enhance photos to get the effect you want. Try using the levels adjustment in Photoshop if you have that program. Use the white eye dropper and click the background where you want it to be all white. This will probably also blow out some of the subject but you may be able to get it back using the history brush. Good luck :-)

4/4/2006 5:12:38 AM

Kathy C. Tugwell
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/16/2005
I have taken quite a few portraits with a white muslin background. We had a lot of problems at first with it turning pink or gray. What we have learned is to light all most every inch of the background.Then you need to do a preset on your white balance with a white card. It should work for you.
Good luck

4/4/2006 9:57:32 AM


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