Monday, June 20, 2011

Photography Tip: Pure White Look

Donna Hay Spinach Ricotta Dill Mini Pies
Photo from Donna Hay's No Time to Cook via Style At Home
My good friend, Kulsum, from Journey Kitchen asked me today how to create the pure, almost ethereal white background of Donna Hay photos like the one above. To be truthful, I'm not certain. Heck, if I could make photos like this, I'd have done so already and would be working for Donna (a girl can dream, right?) =p. But after noting that there are almost no shadows in this photo and also remembering some photos I'd seen of the Donna Hay studio, I was fairly certain that the lighting conditions were key to this effect. And since I'd already uploaded the studio photos for Kulsum, I thought I might as well share with everyone :). As you'll see below, Donna's studio is surrounded by large windows on all sides which gorgeous white light spills through. All these windows have sheer white screens over them which diffuse the abundant light. This essentially turns the studio into a huge natural light softbox in which these dreamy white photos can be captured. Or that's my best guess anyway 8). If anyone knows better, please chime in!

Donna Hay Food Photography Studio and Prop Room
Photos of Donna Hay Studio and Prop Room from Issue #50

32 comments:

  1. Xiaolu, thank you very much for sharing this great tips :)

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  2. I love such pristine pictures!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  3. I agree with your theory.
    And I bet you could take pics like those if you had access to that studio! You're very talented :)

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  4. Thanks for sharing this Xiaolu. I think a small soft box that allows light from all four sides could help us to click such pictures. But still we may or may not get the studio quality. And yes we can dream to work in such studios. It could become true someday.

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  5. Thanks for the comments, you guys :). Radhika, I think anyone with a room that has large windows in more than one direction might be able to achieve this similar effect. Unfortunately my best shooting location in the apartment is still just one large window. Reflectors can do a lot, but it's usually hard to provide as much fill light as actual light sources.

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  6. I've seen photographers using those things that look like inverted umbrellas to diffuse light. A room with 4 windows would be perfect. In my apartment it would be quite difficult for me to put a window on one of the walls. Investment in those upside down umbrellas might be better:)

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  7. oh Xiaoluuuuu! Do you realize I might be falling for you now :-D??? You are the kindest person to share every knowledge you have! As for the picture I think I agree. The light in studio pictures is certainly perfect and it is difficult to fill light the same way at my little one window apartment.

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  8. Amazing pictures....I would love to learn a bit more about photography to make my blog look a lot more nicer...one day....

    -Shilpa

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  9. I have started to try diffusing my light lately! Still experimenting but it is fun and exciting to give these new techniques a try! Thanks for the tips!

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  10. Great tips XL!Agree with Kulsum, I'm in love with you too :) You are awesome!

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  11. LOL you guys are too much -- muah!

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  12. Thanks so much for sharing photography tips. They are very helpful

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  13. Now I just need a new house with better lighting :P

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  14. White background has always been my nemesis. Dark background somehow, are easier to manage. Yes lighting is always key but not everyone has that luxury.... Sigh... XL - thanks for taking time to share this with us!

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  15. I was JUST talking about Donna Hay with my best friend. Love the pictures, sooo crisp!

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  16. Food photography is very interesting. There are so much to learn still, for me. Thank you so much for your generosity in sharing your knowledge with us.

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  17. Precisely why I buy DH's magazine. Her signature all white look is one of a kind.

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  18. It could be that the photos are digitally retouched..

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  19. Glad you guys are finding this information useful!

    Spoons and Chopsticks - I'm sure they do some processing on the photos, but I doubt the general effect is from retouching. I used to think that a long time ago, but there's really no faking that type of lighting except perhaps with an artificial lightbox, but I don't think retouching would be enough.

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  20. I agree with you - you need a TON of diffused light to pull off white on white - in the pic above I also love how cool the white is compared to the warm food - we all know blue goes well with food, and turning the white background slightly cool I think really makes the food pop with color contrast - something I've seen in a few of her latest issues, and love. But yeah my guess is the key is all in the lighting....

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  21. I would love to have windows on all sides for all of that natural light! Beautiful.

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  22. I just had a look through my Donna Hay cookbooks and can see that the shadows seem to fall primarily forward and to the left, which makes me think the primary light source is large and towards the back right, probably with a reflector in the front left to soften the shadows?

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  23. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. Thanks for sharing! The all-white look is difficult, especially if you subject has a lot of white in it as well.

    Donna Hay's magazine are so inspiring! Sure wish I could afford a subscription.

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  24. Thanks so much for the photography tips--you rock! :)

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  25. Xiaolu, thank you for sharing your knowledge and giving us tips! This was a very nice post. My kitchen is dark, dining room some light....it's a dream house to have a room surrounded by windows!

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  26. What great tips, Xiaolu! Thank you! I always struggle finding the perfect spot to take pictures in my home... Most rooms have windows only on one side. Lots of shadows. I am working hard to get good pictures in spite of it! :) This helps!

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  27. What a lovely collection!

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  28. Two years, well done. your site always impresses me, i absolutely love it!

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