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Basically i shoot clothing on a hanger on a white background.

I have everything set up custom that never changes, a light and a camera that also never move.

Yet when i change the clothing item i'm photoing the background never stays the same. Its either slightly lighter or darker and i cant figure out why.

Is there something i need to turn off to stop this from happening? Ive tried turning everything off that i think might affect it.

Thanks Jack

  • 2
    Knowing what camera & precisely what settings is going to help a lot... – Tetsujin Jan 31 at 12:12
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    Are you using a camera that selects ISO automatically? How many stops of overexposure do you have baked into the background lighting? – Blrfl Jan 31 at 12:13
  • Are you relying solely on flashes, or do you also mix in lighting powered by wall-plug AC mains? If you're mixing in wall-plug lighting, what is your shutter speed? – scottbb Jan 31 at 14:02
  • What kind of light? LED or fluorescent both flicker and their exposure will vary if your shutter speed is faster than 1/60. – onacosmicscale Jan 31 at 20:39
  • All those answers so far assume something that we don't even know yet. Please elaborate on what kind of light and camera you use, and if you're truly in FULL (e.g. also white balance and any other automatic-compensation features) manual with your camera. – confetti Feb 2 at 14:30
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The reason why you are getting these variations is because you need complete control over the background light. It needs to be separated from the foreground light to get consistent accuracy.

If you are using flashes, I would advise a minimum of 2 off camera flashes being triggered by a remote trigger. One for the background and one for the product itself. Make sure that flash is not on ETTL/iTTL etc.

  1. Set the Camera to Manual
  2. Set the aperture of the camera based on your required depth of field for the product. f/8 – f16 is common practice
  3. Set the ISO at its lowest setting IE 100 or 200 should be fine
  4. Set the shutter speed that you are comfortable with. Anywhere between 1/100 to 1/250 is common
  5. Place the flash/ strobe either behind the white backdrop for the best white blown out look or facing towards the background (With a reflective hood to stop light spillage) if space is restrictive.
  6. Ensure the Flash/Strobe is diffused so that it does not produce a hotspot on the backdrop
  7. Set the flash to manual (NO TTL/ETTL/ITTL)
  8. Set the Flash/Strobe on group 1 on your trigger (ensure that the Channels and Groups Match)
  9. Set the Flash Power at 1/8 and take a test shot
  10. Check the Histogram in your camera. Your goal is to increase power until the histogram is pushed all the way to the right. You will now have a complete white blown out background. At this stage, you can reduce the flash power if you don’t want a complete white background. Take test shots until you are happy with the background
  11. The flash power and the tonal balance of the background is now set and will not change
  12. Now set up flash/Strobe or Flashes and Strobes which will light up the product on Group 2 (Complete Manual and not ETTL)
  13. Set the power of this flash to 16th power and take a test shot.
  14. If you leave the highlight alert on, you will see if any of the product is blown out and then dial the flash power down. (alternatively, invest in a light meter)
  15. Increase or decrease flash power as required to properly expose your product
  16. Check the test shot for light spillage from the background light and make any final adjustments with both sets of lights
  17. From here on forth, the background flash power does not need to be changed neither does the Aperture Value, Shutter Speed or ISO.
  18. Ensure, that each item of clothing is always hung in the same spot.
  19. The only setting that you may ever want to change, is flash power for the product lights from the trigger. increased power for darker clothes and reduced light for lighter clothes

Hope some of this helps

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Although White Balance should not impact exposure, I find that it makes a lot of sense to use manual white balance to get consistent looking images.

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Your flash will be metered "through-the-lens" (TTL) making its power depend on the clothing you are photographing. If you are not using flash, you might still be using some sort of auto-ISO (or dynamic resolution or whatever automatisms messing with exposure are available on your camera). Make sure to turn off all that adaptive goodness.

This might be tricky for popup flashes: maybe you need an external flash in manual mode for that.

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