Help with exposure on white backgrounds

veggiemar

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I need help! I feel like over time my ability to make a good exposure on white backgrounds is getting worse rather than better.

I shoot product photography of DIY projects that I design for my blog (idlehandsawake.com). My problem is that the white backgrounds almost always end up reading blue/green and pixellated in some areas. (In this example it's the top left corner and left side of the image).

Shooting data:
Canon 50D
EF 50mm f/1.8 II
1/125 sec; f/5.0; ISO 400; Manual; Spot Metering

RAW

I'm including the SOOC file and edited file of the same image, as well as a shot of my typical setup (very basic). I use the histogram on my camera to make sure highlights don't get clipped. Usually I shoot at a lower ISO with a tripod, but for this shoot I was in a rush so I cranked it up so that I could shoot handheld. But I have this issue regardless of ISO settings. Any indication as to what I might be doing wrong or how I could fix it?

sooc_0725.png
edited_0725.png
shoot-setup.JPG
 

tirediron

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Very simple really. You need to illuminate the object and the background separately. Set up your lighting so that you have the desired exposure on the subject, and then use additional lights for the background. You should also ensure that the background is further away so that you don't mix up your exposure. For small objects such as you illustrate here, four speedlights (two for the subject, two for the background), some inexpensive diffusers, and triggers are all you need to really nail this.
 

Buckster

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Make sure the light is even across the background. If it's coming in from one side or the other, the light falloff will result in the opposite side being darker. Use diffusers and/or reflectors to make the light source appear bigger for more even coverage. The whole thing can be done with a single light, if lit correctly.

Shoot in RAW and then in post processing, use the white background to establish your white balance. That will eliminate the blue/green color cast issues. Even better, use a proper white balance device, rather than the background. The background may look perfectly white, but it may still have a color cast to it, and that will affect the colors of the other objects in the composition.

For still shots like this, always use the tripod. Don't get in a hurry and increase the ISO to shoot handheld. Shoot at the lowest ISO your camera will go to and compensate with shutter and/or aperture. This will help eliminate pixellation.
 

FotosbyMike

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One other option if you are not able to light the background separately just exposes for the product then use the pen tool to select and mask out the product and replace the background with a pure white. The options are great and Some times there is more than one way to skin a...I mean take a photo. Keep Shooting!
 
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veggiemar

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Make sure the light is even across the background. If it's coming in from one side or the other, the light falloff will result in the opposite side being darker. Use diffusers and/or reflectors to make the light source appear bigger for more even coverage. The whole thing can be done with a single light, if lit correctly.

Shoot in RAW and then in post processing, use the white background to establish your white balance. That will eliminate the blue/green color cast issues. Even better, use a proper white balance device, rather than the background. The background may look perfectly white, but it may still have a color cast to it, and that will affect the colors of the other objects in the composition.

For still shots like this, always use the tripod. Don't get in a hurry and increase the ISO to shoot handheld. Shoot at the lowest ISO your camera will go to and compensate with shutter and/or aperture. This will help eliminate pixellation.
Is the blue/green cast overexposure or underexposure? And what is a good way to get the background to be lit evenly across when I'm shooting with natural light only? I may need to upload some more examples, it's happening regardless of whether I shoot with a low ISO or not (which I usually do).
 

Designer

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Is the blue/green cast overexposure or underexposure? And what is a good way to get the background to be lit evenly across when I'm shooting with natural light only? I may need to upload some more examples, it's happening regardless of whether I shoot with a low ISO or not (which I usually do).
Turn your set toward the window. Do not make a shadow fall across the set. Alternatively, try reflecting the daylight into the set with your reflector. (This will be hard to do.)

The tint is probably due to a white balance problem. What have you done to make the WB better? An investment in lighting would benefit you in the long run. Moving the board away from the backdrop will lower the shadow.
 
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veggiemar

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If I turn the set towards the window, then my own shadow would fall on the set. As for white balance, I do what Buckster suggested above, shooting in Raw and using the eye dropper to set the white balance. But often times when I do this the blue/green gets more pronounced, and it's most obvious in the highlights which is why I'm wondering if it's over or under exposure. I will need to upload a different example, I'm not sure this one is the best illustration.
 

Dave442

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I try and keep objects away from the background. Prop them up with something else hidden behind the object. I have two windows and sometimes add a diffuser scrim if the sun is coming directly in. With natural light I often have a shadow somewhere and I just make sure it is easy to remove in post.
 

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