DIY Seamless White background

Everybody wants to do this at least once right?  We’ll after a few false starts I finally got a result which is pretty usable.

DIY White Seamless background test
DIY White Seamless background test

Ok so the white shorts were a mistake but still the result pleased me given that it was just a white sheet and some boards painted white to stand on.  Two SB-600 at half power are about level with the model (me) pointing one a bit up and one a bit down to cover the area behind me until it is almost blow — RGB around ~250, and under foot is a large (8×4′) board painted with flat white paint.

Key light is from an SB-600 in a 2′ softbox at camera right 45 degrees in TTL EV+ something or other.  Giving me RGB of around 245 under foot.   So it needed some levels to totally wash out the floor (which also contributes to loosing the right side of the shorts).  Also a white brush to clean up bits of light stands (one bamboo, one in the edge of the frame.  But importantly no need to trace around the model or do masks, paths or any other kind of clipping!

Shot this all tethered of course as I really needed to see details with the eye dropper to see where I was up to.

Would never have got anywhere with this without reading Zack Arias’ guide , so many thanks to him.

Also by getting the lighting on the background sheet right I basically wash out all the wrinkles in the fabric so that was good, saved me some ironing.

Now I need to do this again with a better model and non-white clothing!  Next time I’ll take some setup shots as well.

Bamboo backdrop stand

The other day I saw this nice post at about a simple backdrop stand, and it made me think how I do this with bamboo.  Nothing bamboo specific about it I think, and in fact really not much to it at all.

Basically I leverage chairs , specifically any chair with straight legs (so no sofas or lazyboys or office spinners).  Why?  Because chairs are everywhere, and they tend to stay put — they are easy to weight down with a few books or you can even have someone sit on it.  So you it isn’t anything extra, it’s just using what you have.


  • Three bamboo poles — at least 6 foot long, dirt cheap where I am
  • A roll of 3M scotch bundling wrap — this is GREAT stuff, strong yet soft enough it doesn’t damage fabric it rubs against.
  • Couple of pieces of elastic cord tied in long loops — I carry some of these everywhere

And then the backdrop, I have a few meters of sheet material from a fabric shop which is almost completely white — and once it is blasted with enough light it is white.  For colour backdrops I just ad gels (to the flash).

Then I need to find two chairs — dining chairs are great though I also use some rattan arm chairs  — then put a bamboo pole upright next to leg of the chair and bind it top and bottom of the chair-leg with bits of velcro.  If the chair back has exposed poles you can bind to all the better for stability.   That gives me two uprights.

Now I take the third pole, stand on the chair to reach, and bind the horizontal pole to the upright with elastic cord giving me an “H” shape of poles.  It takes longer to write it down than to do it and it’s lightweight yet sturdy and all I have to carry about is three poles and the rest goes in my pocket.

I guess this is one up on the “clamp the sheet to a bookcase” in terms of flexibility of where you can put it, but is similarly basic.  But then that’s all you need really isn’t it?

Having said all that — I’ve lost interest in the idea of white backgrounds and really want to find more interesting textures out in the real world to be the backgrounds in my portraits.  But that’s another story.