My Lovely Guest Kim

Today, I am honored to have Kim from Little by Little joining us.  She is the sweetest woman in the bloggosphere!  She is charming and kind and her blog is every bit of this and more.  I met her  by joining her Little Things Thursday link up- a must visit!  She is always displaying gorgeous photographs of her favorite things!  A visit to her site to view her beautiful photographs will melt your heart!  I’m sure you will love her as much as I do!  Thanks for joining us Kim!
I’m so excited to be guest posting today at new2two! Thank you Kerry for inviting me over to your space today.  My name is Kim.  I am a mother, photographer, and I home school three kids. Yes, my days are quite full!   My blog Little by Little is about all the things I am learning to do, you guessed it, Little by Little. I blog about life, light, and learning.
I’m excited to share one of my photography tips with you today.
I often get compliments and questions on my white background style of photography.  I am drawn to simplicity and a clean look in my images, so a white background can be one of my go-to style choices for still-life.
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Today, I am going to unpack my process for achieving clean, white background images.
Getting started is simple and affordable.
All you need is your camera, a large piece of white foam board, and a window.  Make sure your foam board has a slight reflective sheen to bounce light back on to your subject.  You can purchase foam board cheaply at craft stores.  I recommend buying a few boards at a time because they can tend to get marred easily.
Find a window in your home that has good light during the day.  You do not want light that is pouring in the window, but look for a window with diffused light.  This means the room is well-lit, but not creating a stream of sunlight.  The light is scattered evenly around the room.
Place your foam board near the window.  My board goes directly under the window in a parallel position.  You may have to experiment with angles to find the best light in your space. I do use a small kiddie table from Ikea that sits under a window in my breakfast nook to hold my foam board in place.  I like using the kiddie table for elevating my subject closer to the light source. We have a light challenged home, so the little extra boost helps me greatly. This is optional and any flat surface will work fine.
Next, place your subject on the board.  I usually place my subject at a 45 degree angle to my light source.  I find that this helps me get even illumination.
To shoot, I use a prime or fixed lens.  My go-to lens is a 50mm 1.4.  I set my f-stop as wide as my meter will let me for proper exposure, which is usually somewhere between f/ 2.2-2.8.  I want a smooth background, but want to keep my subject sharp. I keep my shutter speed to at least the focal length of my lens, or 1/50s and above.  My ISO is set to as low as I can go and still be properly exposed. This really depends on the amount of available light that day.  For white balance, I use Kelvin temperatures in the 4000-5000 range. I do not want my image too blue or too orange.  A white balance preset will work just fine.  Try either the direct sunlight or cloudy presets. You will need to experiment with exposure as the settings always depend on your individual conditions.
Make sure to check your meter in your view finder to watch your exposure.  I lean toward shooting one or two “ticks” overexposed, but be careful not to blow out your images.  You can turn on your “blinkies” in camera to warn you when you have blown areas.  A Google search will tell you how to do this for your specific camera.
 To compose my shot, I tilt my camera forward roughly 45 degrees and compose my image in the view finder.  I do this so that I only see white in the foreground and background.  You do not want to see any dark spots from items surrounding you in your view finder.  I often use the rule of thirds when composing my subject for more visual interest, rather than placing my subject dead center. However, I encourage you to play with creative composition to find out how different angles look in your images.   Toggle your focal point where you want it, and shoot!
Lastly, I load my images into Photoshop and do a little tweaking in levels to make sure my whites are clean and crisp.  I crop a bit, if needed, and sharpen.  And that is it!
Once you have your clean image, you can play with textures, overlays, and creative processing as I did in a couple images above.
Don’t be discouraged if your first attempts fall flat.  Keep trying and making little adjustments along the way. You’ll find what works for you!
This tip also works with portraits!  I can achieve the same look with a white blanket on the floor or a bed shooting perpendicular to a window.  Stand directly over your subject and shoot!

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I hope this mini-tutorial inspires you to try images with clean, white backgrounds.  I’ll be glad to answer questions that you may have!  Meanwhile,  get out there and create!