The Seamless White Experiment Weekend

Richard Charpentier Lightroom 3, Photographing Arizona, Photography, Portrait Work, RLC Design 3 Comments

Also known as, “The way to work really really hard in your studio for two days just for kicks.”

Yeah, it was totally for kicks.  But you know something?  We had a truck load of fun!  Seriously, Nick, Jodi, & Mags all enjoyed themselves the past two days.  Many outfits, axes, guns, knives, and Jelly Bellies were on hand.  All to toy with the seamless white setup (which took up the entire space see below), and see about creating some stock images for composites down the road.  The words, “put that into some kind of zombie apocalypse image” kept popping up, even when we shot Nick who was decked out in his “Hot Shot” uniform.  If you don’t know what Hot Shots are, you’re not in the Southwest.  They’re the guys who keep up from burning up during wildfire season.  Thanks Nick!

This whole project has been inspired on two fronts.  Number one?  Yeah, more than a year of immersing myself in all things off camera flash.  Number two?  Loving some amazing composites made by some super creative photographers that blow me away.  Eric Curry got my attention last year with his multiple exposure alternated lighting approach.  Discovering James Quantz last year didn’t help at all.  Then there’s works from Drew Gardner…..oh yeah!  My mind kept saying, “I want to try that, I want to try that!”  And images create by the likes of Zack Arias and Joe McNally left me knowing I had to learn more about using portable light.  Wrap this all into a big roll of carpet and call it inspiration.

Finally, before we get into a lot of shots and verbage, this weekend’s project is my reward to myself for being a controlled person who shouldn’t spend willy nilly.  See, Zack Arias will be in town soon for his One Light Workshop.  I’m sorry to say I’m not going.  Gotta put money to where it’s needed (bills), and while I know I’d get a ton out of a day with a photographer like him, supplies and work take priority.  Bummer, but true.  So since I can’t go to Zack’s class (donate to me now and I will…, I figured I could treat myself to testing out my own learning process…..  🙂

Alrighty…..let’s talk about shooting the past two days.

Now, tonight’s first image is from in studio.  When you look at it you’ll say, “Geez Rich, you got a small studio.”  To which I’ll answer, “Yes, I do.”  What’s up with the shot of me in the small studio?  A little fun.  Softboxes on display that make me think back to Zack Arias’ “Sucksessful Commercial Photographer” video (I do have some sizable softboxes, but they’re not the biggest out there).  That cracked me up.  My 40D on the monopod as a scepter was Jodi’s idea.  The shotgun?  Uh, this is Arizona people.  What do you expect in a photo studio but a shotgun and softboxes.  And setting up the shot made me think of another photographer who I’ve found interesting for quite some time, Merkley???  Sure I’m not in a green suit with pickles all around me, but that’s okay.



Alright, you’ve now seen my working space.  Tight.  The seamless roll ate almost the whole studio space.  The door (behind the seamless roll) was locked so no print clients could totally nuke everything.  And the self portrait took place after all the shooting (with a camera) was done.  🙂

Let’s get to the unedited shots……

Mags waiting patiently on the slow photographer

As you can see, I’ve got to work out illuminating the seamless better from one side.  Don’t like the light drop off on the right side.

Jodi sporting the red jacket.


Yeah, you can see the halo of light fall off here.  Work to do on my part.  Easy to clean up in Photoshop, but gotta get it right in camera.  😉

I said jump, Mags didn't ask how high

Having a good time? Yeah.


The light fall off isn’t so bad here.  Still, not too bad.  🙂

Set up for a future composite


This one is slated for a composite.  I’ve already got the background selected.  So, clip the model out, set the scene, work on blending the exposures…….yeah, an hour or two easy.

Yes, this was shot in front of the white seamless. Grid spot play here.....


I included this one to demonstrate that on white seamless paper you can totally get a black background.  Shot Nick with a grid on the 580EX II.  The flash was super close to him, and really low power.  1/160th of a second.  Can’t remember the F stop.  Bottom line?  Day into night without high speed sync in front of a roll of white paper.  Pretty cool.

An edit of Mags for the composite below.


This edit went into the next image.  My composite experiment.  15 minute edit on the overall image.  And yes it needs work.  Hey, I always share the good, the bad, and the indifferent.  I think it’s nice to see other people’s learning process now and again.

A 15 minute composite. Practice, practice, practice.......


Want the whole rundown on setting up a white seamless background?  Go to Zack Arias’ website.  It’s on his blog, and it’s a series.  I learned a ton.  He might not want to claim my learning experience……but I am grateful for all I learned on his site.  Still learning too.  🙂  It will improve every day.  And you know what?  I think I’m progressing just fine!  🙂


Comments 3

  1. Another way to get a similar “high key” effect is to put a really large softbox behind the model and then one or two in front of the model. There’s no light fall off from this way.

  2. Post

    Yeah, I’ve got a Lastolite Chroma Key that I can pop two strobes into it and get super white. But it’s a narrow one (tried to save $$$). Next time I’ll get the super big one with the train and everything.

    No trouble Jay! Trying to edit today, but print clients are coming out of the wood work!!! Hooray!

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