The other day I wrote about my attempt to obtain material at a local fabric store that I could use with my great Westcott X-Drop background kit. (http://www.infotor.com/blog/backdrops-for-flash-photography/) I have a black backdrop, but want to add a white one. I got the material - micro fiber - but it is not pure white and how I had my light set up - the focus of the exercise is to use only one light in many different setups to get different looks in the resulting image(s) - was rendering the material more light gray than the white I was looking for.
Today I revisited my makeshift setup in my basement studio (in the midst of cleaning out old boxes, so all is pretty messy!) to give it another go. First, I pulled the material more taunt to eliminate some of the shadow-producing ripples in the material. Second, I moved my stool very close to the background. Third, I moved the light stand with my $38 Neewer flash head mounted on a Cowboy Studio radio trigger receiver and pointed into a reflective umbrella very close to my stool. I positioned my Olympus OM-D E-M1 mounted on my tripod so the umbrella was not in the frame. I have the Cowboy Studio radio trigger transmitter attached to its hot shoe.
This is where the wi-fi functionality of the E-M1 comes in very handy! I started up wi-fi on the camera, connected my iPhone to its ad hoc network and could control the camera from my iPhone while I sat as my own subject. A serious "selfie," if you will! I checked all the settings to make sure they were as I wanted them: f/2.8, ISO 200, 1/60 shutter speed. I also changed the white balance from Auto to Daylight at the suggestion of a friend on Google+. That also helped a great deal! I had the flash set to 1/8 power - this is where I usually always start. Then, I simply pose myself and tap the iPhone screen to fire the camera and the flash.
First shot was a bit overexposed, so I decided to dial down the flash power to 1/16 and increase my stop my aperture down 2/3 stops. Fired again. Better, but still a bit hot. I stopped down to f/4. Basically I had removed a stop of light by decreasing flash power from 1/8 to 1/16 and now
I have decreased it by another stop by going from f/2.8 to f/4. I thought it would be too dark. However, I liked what I was seeing, but the background still had some shadows and grayness to it. I repositioned the light stand so that the umbrella was closer to being on axis with the camera, that is, almost right in front of me. Took a shot. Much better, but still some shadow over my right shoulder (camera left).
Then I got the idea to pull in my "Flash Flat" (http://www.infotor.com/blog/diy-flash-flat-and-a-self-portrait/) to serve as a white bounce surface to send some light into the darker areas of the background. That did the trick! Fun stuff!
Take a look at the last set of images and you can see how much improved the background is, that is, closer to all white, than in my previous attempt.
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