How to shoot Food pictures with a Bright, Seamless White Background

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How to shoot Food Pictures on White Background?

I love to Shoot Food on White Background. Its my favourite choice any day.

One question I am often asked is How do you take food pictures on a White Background , absolutely seamless. Can you share your set up please ? Subject shot on White Background reflects absolute elegance,drama, Christmas-sy ,divine and what not.

This post will walk you through Backlighting Technique for achieving perfect White background images.

I am a part of various food photography forums, where there is a lot of mutual learning involved. Over the last 5 years, I have progressed in my food photography  clicking really unpleasing pictures to nearly appealing pictures now. I am learning every single day with every new post, new images posted trying to understand how the image has been portrayed and why ?

Here is how I achieve it. There are two ways to do it. First method is Back lighting and the Second in Side lighting. For both the methods, we need to understand light  and use reflectors and / or diffusers depending on the light. Side lighting is my absolute favourite method and this lighting technique hardly fails anyone. In this post I am going to share how to achieve this perfectly back lit image.

What do we need for this ? 

  1. Subject | food you are going to Photograph
  2. A window covered with a white linen or a translucent sheet
  3. White Background – It can be a wooden board painted white or a white fabric/ linen or a white foam board
  4. Reflectors / Bounce –  Two foam boards or cardboard’s wrapped with aluminium foils
  5. A camera placed on Tripod with Manual Settings

Here’s how my set up looks like to begin with . 

Today’s weather was cloudy .A white bed sheet is draped on my window , as the light through the window is harsh.  We are looking at a soft, toned light. Eggs tray loaded with eggs are sitting on the White wooden board , overlooking the window.
Basically when we call Back Lighting , our light source ( the window ) is behind the the subject. In this case the eggs.

How to Shoot Pictures with a White Background

How to Shoot Pictures with a White Background ?

Lets begin the fun,experimenting until we achieve the desired white background.
For the egg tray shots , I have picked an aperture setting of f/4 on my canon mm 1.8 lens. An aperture setting of f / 4 lets me sharp focus on the eggs in the first 2 rows , slowly getting shallow at the end of the tray.
EXIF info for Images below:

Lens : Canon 50 mm 1.8 lens
ISO: 500 for all photos
Aperture: f/4 for all photos
Shutter Speed :Varying
White Balance : Daylight  ( you may leave it to Auto, if you are not sure how to adjust it)
Manual Mode 
For instructions on how operate manual mode , kindly read the camera manual . 

Keeping the Aperture f/4 fixed , I fixed my camera on my tripod . Looking through the view finder, when the exposure value was right in the middle, I snapped the button .It was at 1/125 s, as in the first image. The image looked dark . Reducing your shutter speed further  to 1/60 s – Slightly better than the previous one , but still dark.

How to Shoot Pictures with a White Background

Lets reduce the shutter speed further down to 1/ 40 s and we see the image getting brighter than before. Still not convinced .

I reduced the shutter speed further down to 1/25 s , looks much better with enough light in , isn’t it ?

How to Shoot Pictures with a White Background
How to Shoot Pictures with a White Background

Fixing my shutter speed at 1/25 s , I added a white board on to my left side to get rid of the dark area on the eggs . Much better  and we are nearly there ain’t we ?

With a little shadow on the right side too , I have added one more white board on the right .

How to Shoot Pictures with a White Background

And here is how it looks like finally with shutter speed 1/25 s.

How to Shoot Pictures with a White Background

Keeping the foam boards in tact , Just to avoid any further doubt, if we could have gone any further, I lowered the  shutter speed further – 1/20 s, 1/15 s and 1/ 13 s . Find the images below.

How to Shoot Pictures with a White Background

I found the image with 1 /13 s  slightly over exposed.Hence eliminated it from my choice.While comparing the images with 1/ 25 s , 1/20 s & 1/15 s – I loved the little extra brightness I am obtaining at 1/15 s.

How to Shoot Pictures with a White Background
 At f /4.0 aperture and shutter speed 1/ 15 s , I am satisfied with the brightness and the crispness of the image. Having it more brighter or darker , is one’s personal choice.

Freelancer Food Photographer, Recipe Developer & Food Stylist

Comments (30)

  • Sandhya, how u call an image over exposed ? I couldn't find any difference between 1/15 s and 1/13 s.

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  • Thanks for the detailed step by step tutorial Sandhya. Very helpful for a amateur photographer like me.I have never used shutter speed manually. Though I have 1.8 mm lens for my cannon camera whenever I take pic in white background its a disaster. Will try your techniques and let you know:-)

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  • Very well written & explained sandhya and beautiful photography, lovely clicks

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  • nice tutorial,Sandhya..looking forward to more of these in coming posts 🙂

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  • wonderful tips and ideas thank you for sharing

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  • thankyouso uch for the tutorial. It cleared most of my doubt. I have a problem as i cook most of my food in the evenkng as I am a working profesionals..I t would be much help if u could guide how to take photographs in artficial light

    http://www.culinaryxpress.com

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  • Thank you so much for tutorial.It clears most of my doubt.however could u guide me abt how to tke pictures in artificil light a I tke most of my photogrph in the evening..

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  • Really useful photography tips..thank u

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  • Thank you sandhya for such a helpful tutorial, looking forward for much more on motion photography, the one with steam.

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  • so well explained… I struggle with my light all the time… gotto see how I can work it out…

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  • AMazing article dear. And beautiful photography

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  • AMazing article dear. And beautiful photography

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  • Great post! Indeed useful for food bloggers! 🙂

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  • great post Sandhya, thanks for the tips..

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  • This is simply amazing! I love your pictures and yes, I believe white lends a certain depth to pictures like no other colour. Thank you for this very insightful post 🙂

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  • wow awesome post with a good info…thanks for sharing Sandhya

    Cheers
    Anu@RasA-svAda

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  • very useful post and thanks for sharing…

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  • Very helpful post, will definitely try..

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  • Wow, Such a nice informative post!! Loved your tips and will sure follow them. Thanks for sharing dear !!

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  • Very useful post, Sandhya! YOu have explained it very well. thanks for sharing.

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  • Hi Sandhya. Thanks for visiting my space and leaving a lovely comment. Your pictures are stunning. Loved the tutorial. Everyday is a learning experience for me. This was very enjoyable. thanks for sharing 🙂

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  • Thank you for writing this. I assume you have used a tripod to shoot the eggs in the last triptych. I loved the 1/15 shot more than the rest. A brilliant effort this post is. Kudos

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  • Thank you Sandhya for sharing the insights with us. I love the crisp lighting in your pictures.

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  • nice click sandhya r u photographer or cook?? !! brilliant
    http://www.hungerszone.com

    Reply
  • This has been one of the best photography tutorial I have read so far. I have steeped in to the blogging world recently and this post is going to make a definite change in my future posts. Thank you!!

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  • Thank you for sharing such an amazing article! I will bookmark and follow to T!

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  • Very useful tutorial. Thanks for sharing.

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  • Sandhya – Thanks for the tutorial. I love white images as well. I pinned this post and going to take help from it when I shoot my next post. Thanks again.

    Reply

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