BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Christy L. Burgess
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/8/2006

How to Use a White Backdrop

I have just started using a small home studio. My portraits with the white muslin backdrop turn out yellowish. I've read about a homemade aluminum foil reflector to make the images whiter. Can you offer any advice?

To love this question, log in above
12/13/2006 7:21:03 PM

Raymond H. Kemp
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/2/2004
  It would help if you could tell us a little about your lights, camera, lens, etc.


To love this comment, log in above
12/13/2006 7:42:36 PM

David A. Bliss   As Ray said, we need some more info. Are you saying the entire shot has a yellowish cast, or just the white muslin backdrop?

To love this comment, log in above
12/13/2006 8:11:44 PM

John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
4-Week Short Course: Getting Started in Commercial Photography
4-Week Short Course: Portrait Photography Lighting on Location and in the Studio
  Consider using white seamless paper, available in 4.5, 9 and 12 foot widths by 30 feet or longer. You can get this from most large photo retailers. At least you would start off with a good white. As others said, the problem might be someplace other than your backdrop, which is your lights. Also keep in mind that white will photograph as a very light grey, NOT clear. The best way to get a clear background is by cutting it out in Photoshop. The best way is not necessarily an easy way. Thanks, John Siskin

To love this comment, log in above
12/13/2006 9:37:31 PM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
  mommy and me
mommy and me
Taken with out a back light, just a Main and fill light.
To get that Grey look that was mentioned.Untouched

© Debby A. Tabb
Fuji FinePix S2 Pr...
  Holiday Collage
Holiday Collage
white using backlight/then toned down in PS, just a bit.
© Debby A. Tabb
Canon EOS 20D Digi...
You most likely need a backlight, to get that "white, white" that is so sought after. Paper or muslins, you just can't get it with out a backlight source. And regular light bulbs will also add a yellow cast.
if you are using a regular camera flash, you can go get another off-camera flash and slave them, using one as your main (on-camera) and one as you backlight. If you have a strobe, you need a low watt, for use as backlight.
For more, you may want to visit the "Studio Photography" threads.
Wishing you the best,

To love this comment, log in above
12/14/2006 6:10:21 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
  A beautiful Girl
A beautiful Girl
white muslin/ back light with blue gel.
and 1 main light.Untouched

© Debby A. Tabb
Fuji FinePix S2 Pr...
Then I thought I would post one using a back light with a colored gel behind the muslin- this just adds a diferent look.

To love this comment, log in above
12/14/2006 6:23:51 AM

Scott Stulberg
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/31/2004
  Hi Guys, just wanted to add that if you want a super white background behind your you see on the covers of many magazines...Muslin is nice but won't give you bright white.if that's what you need to be using white seamless....and have 2 umbrellas off to the side, pointing towards the middle of the paper..and that pop one stop more light on it than the exposure on your model. Meaning that the light on the paper is overexposed one stop brighter than your models exposure. This is how it has been done forever and works perfectly....I usually use strobes to do this and you definitely need umbrellas to produce the look that you are talking about.....hope this helps a little...... scotty

To love this comment, log in above
12/19/2006 2:04:13 PM

Deborah L. Ouellette   Can you send an example of a histogram from a lighting setup like this where you get a nice, pure white background?

I can get the drop white and images look nice but the histogram definitely has "clipping" off the highlight end. I don't care about or want detail in the drop so am okay with the results of my images but would be interesting to see what you get in your white drop shots and then what you do in post production if anything to get the drop cleaned up if shadows or inconsistencies in the drop whiteness occurs...if you can't post images on this site, and have the time, I have a job doing some catalogue stuff and really would appreciate your sharing the info I am looking for.

Can send to my email at

thanks much...Deb Ouellette

PS I welcome any white drop/people shot related PS or lighting samples and/or advice to same email address.

Best wishes to all for a wonderful 2007!

To love this comment, log in above
1/4/2007 12:50:33 AM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.