...taking photographs on white...
Today was dark, gloomy, and wet so what a perfect time to try my hand at a different type of indoor photography. As I look back on the pictures I have taken over the past several years, I noticed that very rarely, if at all, have I set up a photo shoot with an all white background. Along with the fact that the company I work for has asked me to take some product pictures for their new marketing plans this year, both thoughts pushed me into trying this new photography style.
The company's products are very technical and are moving their business accounts into various medical fields. After trying some product photo attempts on black with different lighting, it dawned on me that these product images would look best on a clean, crisp, and sharp white background. I am thinking white will be more appealing to the medical industry and will work in a variety of marketing materials for both online and print.
The color white has been a much loved favorite of mine. It is astounding the various shades and tones in the white color line and how each will react differently in a variety of lighting situations.
After exhausting Pinterest for new ideas for images on white, I thought it best to start simple with my set up. Using two large softbox lights on either side of a small table, I created the standard white "infinity" background with a double layer of white parchment paper. Since the weather was so crumby I did not feel like venturing out just for a piece of white poster board and the parchment paper worked just fine for this attempt.
My ultimate goal in today's shoot was to play with the lighting to get as much white as possible right out of the camera, minimize editing in the post processing stages, and to gauge my Fstop for a crisp focus across the entire image.
As you can see the 5.8 fstop did not fully meet the focus expectation (I secretly knew that would be the case but wanted to capture the green wood handle with a shallow depth of field), but I was pleased with the white balance after a small bit of tweaking in Lightroom.
I was also very curious about shadows and the potential to blow out highlights, both I TRIED to be very careful with. I like to see subtle shadows from an object as that makes the image look more dimensional and not flat on a sheet of white. I also know that shadows can become an awful nemesis if not handled correctly. Again, another learning process.
After capturing the 5.8 Fstop images, I then bumped it up to 8 for more solid focusing. In addition, I wanted to play with glass on white and to watch how the light responded along with the shadows. I also noticed that this made my background much more grey and almost gradient in effect. This is an area I can play with more in Lightroom and Photoshop but overall, despite the grungy little paper capped milk bottle, I am a bit taken with this look.
Notice on the left side of the milk bottle, the highlight is soft and the right side shows a clear reflection of the soft box. I experimented with a white bounce care held up on the left side to take some of the soft box reflection away. Knowing this, I am trying to devise a dual sided bounce card system so both sides are equally soft.
Moving on to colored glass with raised lettering, I played around with getting a clear image, sharp focus, and making sure the lettering popped out. I was not overly concerned with the softbox reflections for this image as this time I used a black bounce card held by hand in front of the jar to reflect off of the letters and make them pop a bit more. I learn best by taking small bites of experimentation rather than trying to remember the ingredients after the "cake is baked".
So of course I had to dig in the vintage baking basket and found this old flour sifter. Due to the texture on this sifter combined with dull and very tiny areas of subtle shine, I was curious about how this would come out. I liked this for the most part but I always find my eyes looking for that subtle shadow and next time, I will try to achieve a bit more while keeping the "white" white.
Well, you had to know that once I started scrounging in the vintage baking basket, my favorite Swans Down flour cake pan would make a debut...
A rusty old tiny muffin tin that has some fantastic patina was next on the list.
Another green wood handled kitchen tool just because.
My old Rumford doughnut cutter was a bit of a challenge due to the shiny areas of wear on the edges. Some of the images taken of this piece almost looked as though the edges were covered in white paint. I continued to play around with the bounce cards and got what I feel is an accurate representation of the finish on this piece.
The little aluminum Jello cup was feeling left out so she got a shot too.
To round out the photo shoot, I found my little sponge painted stoneware bowl. The reason I selected this piece is due to the softer color which almost behaved like the glass jars against the white background. If you look closely to the top right edge of the bowl, notice how the edge almost disappears? This is maybe an area for the black bounce card to help with defining the reflection edge? - I am pretty sure there are other methods to try but again, I'm taking small bites to absorb the learning.
I also want to work on shadowing for this shaped piece to retain the softness while allowing it to pop off the page. Some may argue that the white background is not full #fffff white on any of the images and I agree. I also am thinking that I like the white a bit "off" for some reason and perhaps this will become part of my signature style??
All in all I am quite happy with how the images turned out for a full-on first time attempt with indoor softbox lighting as opposed to daylight/natural light that I usually shoot in. I also took various images of the company products and will keep those a secret until they are (fingers-crossed) approved. This is such an exciting opportunity I have been given and (fingers-crossed again), what a dream come true if my pictures become part of a company's marketing.
I better get to jotting down my "lessons learned today" list as tomorrow is another day and I am quite sure I will have more ideas to try. Bumping that Fstop to 11 perhaps while being mindful of the ISO? Developing consistency in the white background tone if not moving in the solid #fffff background goal?
Thank you so much for joining me today and if you have any suggestions or critiques, I would love to hear them.