Lighting Techniques 1: Getting that White Background

Day Two Hundred Fifteen:  It's Friday!

Here’s a non-obvious problem that photographers come up against all the time – I bought a white background so why doesn’t it look white in my portraits?  The reason that it’s a non-obvious problem is that you have to remember that the camera doesn’t see the world the same way you do.  The internal circuitry of the camera wants to meter for neutral grey.  So the cure is simple as long as you have an extra flash unit – you have to use it to light up the background.  One important thing to remember if you’re using a small flash (speedlite or speedlight), you need to pop a diffuser cap on that lens to spread out the light over the whole background.  In fact, if the background is wide enough you might need two or more strobes.  Another tip is that it may help to put your flash unit into manual mode so the flash itself doesn’t try to make the background neutral grey.

Lighting Diagram
Lighting Diagram for this post