The problem is when I shoot white object, the background becomes much lighter. Besides that, white object "blends" with background.

I'm not aiming for pure white background, slight grey (as on second image) is ideal, consistency is much more important.

My setup - white sheet and two lights on each side, shooting with Nikon camera on manual mode: ISO100, f8, 1/25, no flash.

Please recommend how to achieve consistent grey background color across different objects, and how to avoid blending.

Thank you.

  • \$\begingroup\$ this is a tricky one. but if you are using multiple lights it will be a lot less difficult than if you're using 1 or 2 lights. \$\endgroup\$
    – lalli
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 10:57
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ If your lighting is identical from shot to shot, then you're not as "manual" as you think you are. Are you shooting RAW or JPEG? Is Active D-Lighting disabled? If you're shooting RAW, are you using a RAW processor that can ignore the camera's "I know better" preferences? You will have to reduce lighting on the background (and let it gradiate) if you want to be able to distinguish white from white, but that has little to do with the inconsistency problem. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2719
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 12:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ By the way, is it a typo (1/125 ?) or really 1/25s ? With flash lighting as your only source, the shutter speed will not really matter, so you can go use a faster shuuter speed (but maybe not the max flash sync either, I had problems once). Or is it continuous lighting and you use a tripod ? \$\endgroup\$
    – FredP
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 13:33
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Agree with Stan. If the exposure is manual and the background changes color you most likely have ADL on. If turning it off does not work, try using Custom WB to avoid AWB interfering. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 13:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Still thinking about your consistency issue... what kind of lights do you use exactly ? Are there other "unwanted" light sources (any windows ? etc...) ? \$\endgroup\$
    – FredP
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 14:23

3 Answers 3


Some points to modulate in order to achieve your desired result (I assume the bottom and background is one sheet of paper curved up) :

0) you do shoot manual, with the same exposure, right ?

1) put your lights + object further from the "background" part of the white paper -> the background will become darker (curve the paper less to obtain a nice gradient - and this will also work with darker objects), the subject will remain the same : less blending

2) lower the camera (in order to emphasize 1) : subject is even more detached from grey background

3) "focus" your light sources more on the subject than the background... you didn"t specify what kind, but it looks like lightboxes : try changing the orientation of the sources towards you, or putting opaque masking on the furthermost part of the lightbox.

And if you can opt for a slightly different render :

4) use an additional light (very soft bowl or small box) placed above your subject, oriented towards it (example).


After some thought, here are my ideas regarding the consistency issue...

On the first monitor where I saw your photos the difference was barely noticeable, but on a better one it is slightly more visible, I even wondered whether they were shot with the same exact exposure. And I don't know whether they were taken at "exactly" the same time or not.

Some leads you could check :

  • rig consistency : ensure that your equipment (lighting, background paper, camera) are all in the same exact position. For example changing lighting distance from 1m to 1.4m would halve the light amount (this is purposely exaggerated, but a smaller variation could go unnoticed while shooting).

  • lighting consistency : assuming your lighting equipment itself has reasonably good quality, it should provide relatively good reproductibility (if cobra flash, use manual setting, not TTL-ish). But there might be other sources of light that can interfere, like fluo or tungsten bulbs or windows. While not sufficient to light the scene, a sudden change of sunlight (cloud...) could explain the difference, or the fluctuations due to the nature of AC mains.

  • camera settings consistency : you shoot manual, but there are other parameters you need to anchor, like the white balance (for example, select the one matching your lighting technology) and mind the possible other alterations produced in-camera (here, D-Lighting)

  • image processing software consistency : import and process the images with the same settings exactly (regarding exposure, brightness, contrast, colour...)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you very much, I'll try that. All assumptions about my setup that you've made are correct. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 12:19

I would go for the green screen as a background on the white object.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Do you mean as a design choice, or would use use the green screen and then digitally remove it? For the first, that may not be an option. For the second, how do you make sure the green background does not give any green hue to the product? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 16:21

It seems that everyone thinks you're using flash which you said you aren't. Still you got some good advice. The most important is to make sure the lights don't move, and the background doesn't move. You said the camera is in manual mode and if the exposure settings and ISO don't change the background should stay the same. One tiny thing which doesn't seem significant but the white shoe would reflect more light onto the background than the darker brown tone shoe. As I said this doesn't seem significant. A long narrow piece of black paper covering most of the back side of the shoe would pretty much eliminate the possibility.


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