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  1. #1

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    How to get a white back ground with color film?

    I want to shoot some fruit. How do i light the back so it is totally white-read blown out-but keep the fruit color saturated.

    I will be using velvia or Provia F in 4x5. I don't even know where to begin.

    Would aiming a soft box at the camera and having a flash on camera work? I can't find an example of what I want as an example.
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

  2. #2
    jd callow's Avatar
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    Light the background so that it meters at least 2stops over exposed and slightly under expose the scene so that the saturation will be maxed.

    *

  3. #3

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    Darn it! That was too simple. Thanks.
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

  4. #4
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    Be sure that you have a good lens shade on, too, as "high key" work tends to promote lens flare, which can reduce the color depth in the image.

  5. #5

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    Mark, after forty years as a studio (film) photographer I can tell you that it can't be done. At least not in the camera.

    The bright background light bounces around inside the camera, even with the best lens shade, milking-out (fogging) the image saturation. If you like a hazy, washed-out look then go for it.

    A secondary problem is that the background light partially wraps around (diffracts) the silhouette of the subject, causing a fuzzy edge. I tried for years to photograph blue S&W handguns against a pure white background and could never achieve a sharp silhouette.

    Anything like this you may have seen in print is the result of adding a silhouette "mask" in the lithography preparation progress to "drop out" the background and make the product "float". Common printing terms for common procedures.

    In my very early years when all products were shot on 8x10 b&w and contact printed, the negatives were often painted with Kodak Red Opaque to get this effect. Nobody is good enough to do this to small format and then enlarge it.

    Plan B is to do it with some modern digital method, like Photoshop in post-production. But not in the camera. I don't do digital so am no help in that department.

  6. #6
    jd callow's Avatar
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    With all due respect to John's experience. Do some tests and see for yourself. The results may meet your expectations. I have had very good results lighting the background separate from the subject and achieving or coming close to the look I think you are after.

    I will admit that the background can bloom into the subject silhouette, the background will effect the subject lighting (especially where the background is close to the subject) and the more background in the frame the more it will be like shooting into a light.

    Having said all that, I will repeat that I have had good results. There is almost always a balancing act involved when shooting. You may or may not need to adjust your expectations as much as you will need to adjust your setup. I can assure you though, you gain nothing by not trying. I would also recommend shooting lots of polaroids and taking notes on the polaroids.

    If I can find the time I will try to dig up some flower shots I have taken in this manner as well as model shots.

    *

  7. #7
    Stan. L-B's Avatar
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    Hello Mark.
    My method may well go against the grain so to speak but, I suggest you consider using nothing but ambient light with a reflector. Take a duplex light reading on the subject matter and the backdrop and expose to have the backdrop about one to two stops over. I prefer overcast ambient lighting which is so kind and in keeping with these type of subjects. All my pictures on this site are ambient daylight. Good fortune, Stan. L-B
    'Determine on some course more than a wild exposure to each chance' The Bard.

  8. #8

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    Mark,
    The color(?) of the white background may also have some effect.
    If you'e using paper, a "super white" will have brightners added which will give a blue cast with color film. Same with some white painted walls.

  9. #9
    Charles Webb's Avatar
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    Should pay attention to what John Cook says, he is absolutely correct and dead nuts on with his statements. Hand cut masks of amber or rubylith, floride, Chinese White, opaque, corcein scarlet were the norm. Most often cut on the print to make a mask for the halftone to be dropped in by the stripper. I frequently hand cut amberlith masks directly on the 8X10 ground glass, the mask then placed in register with the negative and contact printed. The mask was always used on the base side of the film to slightly diffuse the mask edges when printed. The same principal as making a "spread" mask.

    Working with "high key" is seldom very good as the white background unless 30 feet or so behind the subject will indeed wash out or give an eroded effect to your subjects edges. Ask Peter Gowland about his photos of Anita EKberg and others of his "high key" images. His studio was totally designed to do the "high key" images but he never quite could get a pure white and a good black with out the wrap of light creating edge erosion. Ansel and his egg on the white plate had to accept the gray. I go with John Cook on this one!

  10. #10
    MenacingTourist's Avatar
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    I should look closer at my books for the edge erosion thing, but how did Avedon do this?
    Last edited by MenacingTourist; 08-09-2005 at 05:46 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: vocabulary change

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