12. Creating clean white backgrounds

It sounds simple yet so many photographers struggle with this important lighting requirement, often resulting in flare, overexposure or severely compromised lighting. Karl shows you exactly how to arrive at pure clean white backgrounds that won’t ruin your shot.


  1. Hi
    I have watched your clips on your tube and have joined your courses, I just wanted to tell you that you are a brilliant teacher and i’m learning so much from you

  2. Some really useful tips here on an area that I’ve always found difficult. Not having a studio doesn’t help as I would imagine that once you do it performs a little like your own laboratory where you know your base values better. Anyway, great tips! I may find it in your library here somwhere but it would be useful to see this scenario with speedlights and in a smaller setting. Thanks guys

  3. Karl your teaching is really good and enjoying every minute.
    You mentioned that you are shooting straight into Lightroom tethered in this video but not sure how to do that efficiently. Could you give us some tips please and why do you prefer this to Capture One Pro?

    1. Hi Peter, I generally shoot medium format on a Hasselblad and use the proprietary software know as Phocus. In this course we decided to use only 35mm cameras, Lightroom and the more standard lighting modifiers so that the course would have a wider appeal and be more useful to those using similar equipment. Shooting tethered in LR is quite easy as you just need the right USB cable from your camera and then you choose ‘start tethered capture’ in LR. In fact its kind of a workaround as you still need to have a card in the camera as LR just imports it from the card. Capture One would be a better way to go if your camera is compatible.

  4. Hi Karl, I am just preparing myself and my gear for a consistent corporate head shot (and eventually three-quarter body) session; my plan is to use two speedlights for a PVC white background, each of them diffused by the same size 80-cm octobox centered towards the centre of the image.
    I’ll have only speedlights at hand, still don’t know what the light stand-to-background distance will be (it all depends on location), anyway I’ll put the two background lights just behind the model so as not to influence or flare against the other lights (I plan a 103-cm silver reflection umbrella on a boom arm at 45 degrees triedral angle, camera-right; a 90×60-cm softbox as a lateral fill light camera-left; a 90×60-cm silver reflector raised up to 70 cm from the floor as bottom fill light and maybe an additional hair light).
    My question is if I can attain the pure white background in the correct way, using two speedlights in softboxes as described above, and what in particular I should pay attention to, besides the aspects that I already absorbed and for which I am very grateful to you.

    1. Hi Bogdan I can’t see any reason why not, I would do a test shot first with just your background lights only though to see the power of the flashes is correct. I’d also use them in manual power mode and just adjust them accordingly.


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