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Curse You, White Background!

Posted by meronpan on May 15, 2009

Just finished a massive 200 shot (well, massive for me at any rate) review session.  The trick to a nice white background still eludes me.

lulu01

Above you can see I tried out the fabric background again, curious if the new lights would help in that endeavor.  I guess it did, however my lack of ironing again rears its ugly head.

Maybe I’m just getting lazy with the black bg since in that case the lack of light just helps me ^^;

Simple increasing exposure time has a limit before things start getting washed out…

lulu02

Ah well.  Need to experiment more including trying posterboard again…

Metatron review will actually be my next I think…

metatron01

Followed by lulu…

lulu03

Then… probably horo?

horo01

And finally aschen.

aschen01

Again apologize for my lack of comments outside this blog.  My current priorities are posting, responding to comments here, then commenting on to 50+ blogs I subscribe to.  Unfortunately I’ve been having trouble allocating time for the last part orz.  To deal with my insurmountable reading backlog I think I’m gonna try a new system… sorting by most recent post and then just working my way back in time.  (currently I generally go through blogs one by one and catch up on all the posts I’ve missed before moving to the next one)

以上!

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23 Responses to “Curse You, White Background!”

  1. optic said

    I seem to devote more time in commenting other ppls blog than responding to comments in mine one. Still that doesn’t mean I don’t read them when I see them first.

    Looking forward to ur Holo review. That back picture of her is just teasing me. Show her face. >_<

    • meronpan said

      ah, i also read most comments right away… sitting in front of a computer at work + comments e-mailed to me == lots of 10 second breaks to read new comments ^^;

      sorry to tease ^^; have lulu & metatron’s review pics pretty much complete but i think i still need more for horo…

  2. It looks like the non-white parts of the background are shadows from folds. Are you using cloth? I bet a flat, white poster board material would help. Try moving it back farther if needed and use a wider aperture to blur it. I think that would help keep it uniformly white.

    • meronpan said

      unfortunately i’m already pretty far from the background plane and shooting with a wider aperture than i’d normally do… as you recommend next time i want to try poster board again. i think then it will be a matter of whether or not i can get the bg enough light to maintain its color…

  3. Shiddo said

    Actualy… if you toyed a bit with CG u could use those pics like Lulu in mist ^^
    Funny pick with Sabers head ^^

    That Metatron base looks cool / matrix like on your shot ^^

    Bout blogs… tbh I am happy to manage read some atleast ^^ No time to type many comments ^^ Well you are exception ^^ Still working on my own ~_~ So damn slow… mainly cuz failed on several themes… reworking one own now so I hope its a last one.

    Btw: Came across cool thing on Tsuki Board. I think its on for some time but checked it in detail couple mins ago and its awesome. Its a widget that can suck up several figs from your colection and display them. Basicly a dynamic-variabile banner for Tsuki.

    Good Luck with sorting your online “to do”. ja~ne

    • meronpan said

      the metatron base is nice ^^ not super awesome like senhime but better than average.

      i keep forgetting to update my tsukiboard link. right now i just have that text banner. i’m not sure if i like the look of the dynamic banner, but at the very least i need to sub in their banner or something…

      best of luck on your blog development~

  4. sonic_ver2 said

    Ask ron~ for more detail on white background. He’s just too good with white BG. Or… you could photoshop the non-white part if you’re not lazy enough.

    • meronpan said

      yeah, i’ve actually read ron~’s tutorial… haven’t tried a light box yet and my other problem is trying to make do with the lights i already have ^^;

      in my experiments i was trying to use one of my lights to light up the bg but the folds in the cloth and lack of intensity from a single lamp held me back.

      i also tried draping the cloth directly over an umbrella but the problem i had then was that the light was actually too intense! it was too similar with the main lamp in intensity and didn’t look good either.

      …i guess the moral of the story is i should be less lazy and try out a light box to better control my light. will probably be better even without 4 lamps ^^; or i could be even lazier and buy a light tent :P

  5. Tier said

    I can’t seem to work with light-colored backgrounds either. I have a bunch of cheap fabric sheets that I used on some of my earlier figure reviews but they look awful. I improvised a cardboard light box using a cheap white fabric sheet and it doesn’t look fantastic; I think I need brighter light bulbs (I’ve got three lamps but they only have 60 watt-equivalent bulbs). All I’ve got for a background now is one black sheet which I use for almost all my pictures and a red tablecloth.

    • meronpan said

      hmmm sounds like i should at least try a light box to see what kind of results i can get. unfortunately using one umbrella for a main light i’ll only have the 1 remaining to light the box. my other lamp is halogen, which i assume has a much different temp… i assumed it would throw off the light balance. …meh, i should just test it, won’t take long ^^;

  6. lovelyduckie said

    Is that black fabric you use just normal fabric you might pick up at a fabric store or something special that’s more photography oriented?

    • meronpan said

      it’s just some black satin… no special photographic qualities (unless satin in and of itself is good for photos ^^;). i had thought maybe the sheen to it meant it would be better at reflecting light… which in retrospect i only want for white… for black i want the bg to absorb light ^^; but anyhow, just satin.

  7. Blowfish said

    Man…Those lighting umbrellas improved your (black background) pictures big time.I totally feel the urge to get myself some aswell.HLJ and its Sale are keeping me from getting them this or next month though. ^^;

    Poor Saber beeing decapitated by Lulu :D

    As for the white background:
    Use white posterboard and I think you need to have one light exclusively focused on the white board while you still highlight the figure enough.This should make the board white enough.I think its basically the exact opposite of the black background.
    In any case ask ron~ the master of the true white background

    I think you answered this question already a hundred times but what kinda camera are you using`?

    • meronpan said

      i woulda done something less morbid for the lulu preview but spare figure heads were the most readily available appropriate sized prop ^^;

      i’m trying to follow that simple idea for the white bg… but another problem i was having was that since i was using the umbrella to illuminate it, lots of the light was being reflected off lulu’s collar… too much glare -_- i’m hoping a light box will help me control the light better to avoid that…

      as for the camera, it’s a canon powershot s2 is.

  8. James said

    Your new lamps seems to work great , even if strangely it’s not powerfull enought for you to get it white ? (but even if it’s not so white , the Lulu pic is very nice)

    But with the black one , it’s great :)

    • meronpan said

      i think (another) part of the issue is that in my current set up the the bg is quite a large area, so it is hard for a single lamp to cover both sides. we’ll see how i can do without a third lamp ^^;

      thanks, i like the black, and hope it doesn’t get too monotonous for everyone ^^;

  9. T.I.P. said

    White background is definitely much harder to achieve. But I’ll look forward to your findings and steal the ideas…since I’m lazy to try myself. ^^;;

    • meronpan said

      i have a feeling i just need to follow more of ron’s advice… it’s too bad it’s starting to heat up though. the last thing i need for this summer is addition lights heating up my room ^^; (even if it’s just a fluorescent, every little bit counts :P)

  10. […] only had one lamp, and two, I had no idea what white balance and exposure were. Meronpan wrote of his struggles with getting a pleasing white background, and that reminded me of the lightbox I had improvised for […]

  11. The way I did mine was getting another small lamp (a T5 tube) to very slightly brighten up the bg. You have to have the ability to control/adjust the bg brightness (by wrapping the 3rd lamp with a piece of white paper or increase the distance from the bg in order to reduce overall bg brightness) while leaving the lighting on your figure at constant brightness. On your camera, manually meter only your figurine (if that’s possible so that it’s properly exposed, remember to lock the exposure setting) and shoot with different bg brightness. You will eventually find optimum bg brightness to achieve pure white bg.

    • meronpan said

      ah, thanks for the tips! i wonder if a light box will eliminate the need for a third lamp? ^^;;

      will have to experiment more with my camera to see about all that metering/exposure stuff ^^;; been shooting with spot metering lately but i’m not sure i can lock the exposure settings in manual mode (even though it seems you can set them in every other mode?)

      • Not too sure about using light box but I think it’s less likely to be able to give you desired pure bg, but since you mentioned Manual mode, use it! You can use spot metering to give you an idea of what Shutter speed to use initially, then apply it in Manual mode. While sticking (aka locking) to that Shutter speed, as well as other settings such as Aperture and ISO, adjust your bg brightness.

        PS: If you have Manual mode, it means you already have the ability to “lock” exposure.

        • meronpan said

          ahhh, guess i was already taking your advice ^^; i shoot in manual mode almost all the time ^^; since i’m shooting on a tripod my thinking was to let the shutter speed compensate for the light levels since aperture will mess with dof and higher iso will increase the graininess?

          anyhow, now i get what you meant by locking the exposure ^^;

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