Home studio photography – white seamless part 2
For many years, the white seamless background style has been the bread and butter of studio photographers. Despite fashions changing, as many clients and photographers look beyond the clean and clinical white look, it's still popular enough to warrant mastering. As discussed in our last post, this style is a technical challenge at the best of times, but in a small home studio environment these problems are exacerbated by the space restrictions. This week we'll look at some of those potential issues, and offer simple solutions for you to test out at home.
Control the light
Controlling light spill in a small space is tough, but learning how to do it will make you a better photographer, and allow you to easily produce the goods time after time. This is especially important with a white seamless shoot because there’s so much reflected light bouncing around the room.
Wrap is a photographic term for the light that bounces back off of the background and wraps around the back and sides of your subject. It's an inevitable result of firing this much light at a reflective surface, and very much a part of what makes this style unique. Your aim, however, should be to try to limit it as much as you can, to maintain contrast on your subject and prevent nasty looking chromatic aberrations (coloured fringing) appearing around their hair.
This is achieved by making sure that your background lights are just bright enough to blow the background and light the floor. That may sound easy, but the limitations of a home studio space could mean that your subject is a little closer to the background than you'd ideally like, making excessive wrap a very real danger. Fortunately, we do have some other cool tools to help us ─ flags and gobos...
Flags and gobos
Flags and what?? Don't panic! Flags and gobos are simply shields that are traditionally placed between your strobes and camera to keep your light under control. In a tight space we recommend that you also place something between the light and your subject to allow you to light in layers ─ that is, keep your exposure on the background and subject separate, which will provide further control.
If you're still struggling with washed-out looking shots with little sculpting or contrast, you may find that pinning black satin curtains to the walls surrounding your shooting area helps. This simple step can dramatically improve the quality of your final product by absorbing most of the errant light that's bouncing around.
All of these tricks of the trade should go a long way towards solving your white seamless headaches, and allow you to create images that you can print onto canvas, and rival the biggest high street studios! If all else fails, you can always wave that little white flag and add some contrast back in post production ─ or buy a bigger house!