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| Wednesday, 09 August 2017 |

Perfect white background for pictures

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Some product photography tips for an all white background

 

How many times have you struggled obtaining the perfect photoshoot background? Why should you choose a white backdrop? Let's go through all the process from choosing the right backdrop to obtaining a perfect white.

When should you choose a white background?

It basically depends on the purpose of your photo. It's better to use white background for photos that have to show the product in a page where there are many other product pictures.
Here some advantages of a white background photo:

  • The items you sell is in a clear and white frame, without any disturbing elements;
  • A white background doesn’t change the color of your item
  • They are perfect for catalogues and websites, as all photos are standardized
  • Amazon pictures have to be on a perfect white background (255,255,255).

What is a white background?

For those who are not experienced photographers, let’s briefly explain what a white background photo is.

Colors are digitally expressed in lots of different ways, and one of the most used online is the RGB Color Model.

It consists in expressing 16 million of possible colors as the mix between Red, Green and Blue; each of this color can be present at its minimum (value 0) or maximum (value 255).

Let’s make some examples:

rectangular black

RGB: 0, 0, 0

is a perfect black. In this case there is no red, green or blue at all

rectangular red RGB: 255, 0, 0 is a bright red. The channel for red is at its maximum, while there is no green or blue.
rectangular green RGB: 0, 255, 0 is a bright green.
rectangular grey RBG: 97,97,97 is a grey, as all channels have the same amount of color, so there is no dominance.
rectangular almostwhite RGB: 245, 239, 236 is almost white. The background in your original photo may appear similar to this.
rectangular white RGB: 255, 255, 255 is a pure white. All color at their maximum. This is what you are looking for.

 

A photo with a white background is a picture where all pixels on the background have an RGB color of 255, 255, 255.

 

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How to check if your product photo has an all white background

Take a photo, import it on your computer and open it with Photoshop or GIMP (a free alternative to Photoshop).

 

Check white background with Photoshop:

Click F8, it will show a panel with the information about RGB channel (image on the right).
Otherwise, on the top menu click Windows > Info.

Move the pointer all around the item, and check if the value is 255 for each color.

If your photo has a good white backdrop, it will have a value like RGB 250, 248, 252; it’s not pure white, but it’s very near to it.

If your value is very far from 255, then you need some more editing.

Be aware that the color can change pixel by pixel, so you may find some that are white and other in the surroundings which are not.

 

 

photoshop check white background

 

Check white background with GIMP:

On the top menu click Windows > Dockable Dialogs > Pointer. It will show a panel with the information about RGB channel (image on the right).

Move the pointer all around the item, and check if the value is 255 for each color.

If your photo has a good white backdrop, it will have a value like RGB 250, 248, 252; it’s not pure white, but it’s very near to it.

If your value is very far from 255, then you need some more editing.

Be aware that the color can change pixel by pixel, so you may find some that are white and other in the surroundings which are not.

gimp check white background

 

How to change a photo to perfect white background

Let's make it clear: it is impossible in the original photo to have both a perfect white background (255,255,255) and the product with the correct colors.

In fact, if you have a white background just shooting, for sure, the subject is overexposed (too bright).

If you have a colored or dark product, you are lucky, it will be easier to have a nice photo with a clear background, but if you are making photos of glass or transparent items, it is more time consuming.

So, how to obtain a perfect white background?

You can either use the Software created for our Lightbox, that allows an automatic white background, or you can follow those steps:

  • First, you have to shoot with the right exposure (no over-exposed! The background will be a light grey, so the subject will be correctly exposed and with good contrast)
  • Download the photo in your computer
  • Import the photos on Photoshop or GIMP to change the color

 

Change grey to white background with Photoshop:

Image > Adjustments > Levels…

You will find three little arrows; click the one on the right and pull it towards left until the background is white and before the item is too bright.

 

photoshop color level white background

Change grey to white background with GIMP:

Color > Levels…

You will find three little arrows; click the one on the right and pull it towards left until the background is white and before the item is too bright.

 

GIMP color level white background

 


 

Now, check again the color of your background: it should be already 255, or very near to it.

If the item becomes too bright and the background is still not white, you probably don’t have a homogeneous background or your item color is very light (silver, white, transparent…).

If this happens, you can try one of the following:

  • Try to make the background more homogeneous (use a more diffused light, change point of view for the shoot, …)
  • Change the setting of camera to under-expose the photo of this item
  • Use our Professional Lightbox instead of your DIY light set up, to have perfect light to separate item and background
  • Select all around the item with the magic wand or other selection tools, feather the selection (5 pixels) and make it white

 

 

Product photography lighting to improve your commercial photography

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The biggest problem in product photography is usually the light. Sometimes too yellowish, sometimes too bluish… if you don’t have a professional light box or a photography light tent, your item will be full of colored reflections and strange tones.

Moreover, if the light is in the wrong position, items will have shadows that prevent from having a white background.

We have our own solution for product photography, designed also for one of the most difficult product to photograph: jewelry.

With the right light, everything is easier: the background will already be very white, you will not have shadows, and the color of your item will not be affected by unwanted colors.

 

Need other product photography tips? Read...

10 tips & tricks for professional jewel photos

How to take product photos with smartphone

 

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