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Category: Portraits

White Background for Business Head Shots

I’ve decided that the white background is my favorite for business head shots. This is mainly because they are so easy to produce consistently, but also because a pure white background is so versatile.

Slightly blown-out highlights on the background, 40-inch umbrella to the right, reflector on the left.To create these, I use a simple two-light setup. First I place a 7-foot umbrella with diffuser behind the subject and, paying close attention to the camera histogram, set the flash so that the light from the umbrella is just slightly blown out. I place a smaller umbrella up and to the right of the subject – as close as possible. (I place it so close that it’s often visible in the shots, but that’s OK, it’s easy to remove it.) I find a willing assistant to hold a white or silver 5-in-1 reflector down and to the left. (A bit lower for the girls.) I shoot handheld, and very fast. Being so close to the subject, the flash units are on very low settings, so they recycle in a fraction of a second. I also use a smaller aperture (f8-f10) on the amazing 56mm Fuji lens. I do not want a shallow depth-of-focus in these shots. I want a clean, easy-to-mask image. If it’s even slightly soft at the back, this is much harder to do.

Post-processing is minimal. Often a simple tweak on the highlight setting in Lightroom turns the background to pure white. After a little cropping I can export an image with a pure white or even transparent background. Perfect!

Andrew – Master Marbler

Andrew Johnstone – multi-talented muralist, painter, 3D artist, Alameda County Arts Commission board member, and Man designer – will be offering classes on marbling and wood graining. Andrew is undeniably one of the world’s best at this vanishing craft. I’m really hoping to find time in my busy schedule to take his classes. I’d like to attempt to marble a couple of the concrete columns in our loft. Wouldn’t that be cool? I’m not sure I could pull it off, but least I know that if I fail miserably, I can hire the best there is.

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