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Old 24th September 2010
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David Gethin David Gethin is offline
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How to achieve 'perfect' whites in Hi Key?

First of all I should say thanks to Radar for letting me use his image and play around with it.

I was browsing Radar's flickr account when I stumbled across the following image taken of some cigars and Radar's question how do you achieve a perfectly white (blown out background) in a product shot like this:

Radar's Cigars

This led me to have a play around with some approaches in Lightroom 2.7 that could be used, including my preferred approach when submitting images for eBay. The reason I asked Radar if it was alright to use his image as an example rather than one of my own is because the tones and texture of the cigars lend themselves to illustrating the pitfalls of the various approaches I tried.

First up was a general increase in exposure of +0.5 - although this is moving toward the desired whitening effect of the background, the dark tones of the cigar are lost and the gold on the band risks becoming overblown. Further overexposure left insufficient contrast in the picture and it looked flat:

Next I tried an increase in Fill Light of +30 - this only exacerbated the problems associated with overexposure leaving the cigars looking bleached and lacking in contrast, and consequently the increase was limited to only +30 leaving the white background looking anything but. A very mild improvement over the original but far less than the general exposure achieved:

My preferred approach and the last shown here is an increase of +80 in Highlights - this produced the whitest background whilst remaining most (but not completely) faithful to the original colour and tones of the cigars. However, the gold band is now bordering on blown:

So how would you approach this problem? Is it down to changing the lighting or metering in the original shot? Or is it addressed by post processing and, if so, how?

Thanks again to Radar for letting me take his photo and play with it.


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