about More Musing

We are focusing on building a community, bringing the Mortal Muses photographers together, and making the world a bit smaller. On this page, you will find mission: MUSE, muse university and special features.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

muse university - white backgrounds

white backgrounds
by muses kat and april with guest karen

Have you ever wanted to create professional-looking shots on white backgrounds, but aren't sure how to do it? This week, the muses are here to help! These shots with white backgrounds, also called "high key" photos, are commonly used in product photography. To capture a good high key image you need both the white background and a strong light source. Fortunately, these images are easy to create with a few simple supplies.

Both of the shots above were created on Kat's kitchen table, shown below. With the white table, white wall and a big window for natural light, she has everything she needs to create a high key shot. Once she moves the kitchen chairs and the table decorations out of the way, she's ready to set up her subject.

If you don't happen to have a white table and walls nicely convenient to a big window, you can create your own white backgrounds. Karen of Random Reflections created this beautiful still life of lemon drop cookies using foam core board.

Karen doesn't have good light in her kitchen, so she set the foam core up by a north-facing window on her dining room table.  She scored the foam core in half so it folds, and props it up with anything handy. To eliminate the seam in the folded foam core, she runs a piece of freezer paper down the foam core, matte side up, taping at the top and tucking it at the bottom. You'll notice how she allows the freezer paper to flow along the surface of the foam core, so there are no creases to create shadows.

April uses a similar idea as Karen except she uses a white poster board.  It is easy to move around the house to chase the best light and it can be slightly bent so there are no lines in the background.  Another wonderful thing about poster board is that one side is usually shinier than the other so you can get a nice little reflection if it is desired in your shot.

Poster board is very inexpensive and easy to store so it can be handy anytime you want a clean, high key shot. Just keep toddler hands away so they don't bend (see below) and goobers all over :)

Styling by an 18 month old!

and guest Karen of Random Reflections

Join us every weekend for a new muse university post! 
If you would like to provide a post for this series, please contact kat [at] kateyeview.com


  1. I have used foam core but will try some poster board since in bends so nicely. I also like that it's shiny on one side. Thanks!

  2. I use a tri-fold board from my son's science fair project. I like how it stores nicely and the wings keep the surface protected when not in use. Great post ladies. xo tam

  3. I currently use my white table for a lot of my shots but I've been meaning to get a piece of white poster board for the full effect. Great tips.

  4. Thanks ladies! This is a wonderful post. I like how you've shown that a fancy studio with props and lights isn't necessary to create stunning, professional looking photos. This should inspire many folks!

  5. You can also brighten up any background if it's not quite bright enough or not perfectly white. I used to have an eggshell-colored wall that I used for all my "white" backgrounds. Just a little tweaking in post and it became pure white.


  6. Foam core is such a good idea. I'm always waiting for the right light so I can shoot on my kitchen counter - like for this:

    But now I'm just going to start finding perfect light and plunkin' my foam core down.

  7. Thanks for a great post with great ideas. My favorite spot is a white enamel topped table in my kitchen with a white wall near a wall of windows. I also like to use a sheer white curtain to diffuse the light occasionally.

  8. Wonderful 'tips'...and accompanying images. Thank-you!!!

  9. i use my big white chopping board! lol it works wonders too =)

  10. I have some white poster paper and I am going off to give it a try. Thanks so much for the tutorial. V

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