March 28, 2020

How to perfect your whites in baby photography.

Training & Tips

Surround yourself with white.

It seems obvious but white everything! White walls, white floor, white curtains and ideally the client wears elements of white/neutral and baby is in white.

Then you are set up to at least start getting it right in camera.

Using light & angles.

Practice and move around your studio space and see where the light falls nicely on your subject. For this, you can practice with your partner or a child. I love to shoot from the shadows and see a graduation of light. I do not aim for the same level of white throughout an image and expect to see a graduation from bright white to a more grey white further from the light.

Camera settings

I try and keep my ISO as low as possible but in the UK the natural light can be difficult to come by all year round. So this will vary. I tend to start with an ISO of around 200, F 2.5 & SS250 on newborns and F 4 & SS320 on older babies . WB is on auto (if you are studio try kelvin 5800). Throughout the session, as I work natural light I will change it. If I can get away with just moving the aperture or SS a little then that is what I will do. It's much quicker to toggle.

Getting it right in camera

If you are moving around a lot, naturally you will need to check that your settings are correct and you are not under/over exposing as the light changes. In natural light the light is constantly changing. Try and keep that exposure bang on. A little over or under is not the end of the world but overexposing your images is just unforgivable - you lose everything. I have been there and looked back and cannot believe that I didn't constantly check after each image. Stupid!

Lightroom

After culling, import into Lightroom. Adjust exposure. At this point, my WB always needs adjusting. You can use the WB tool as a starter point. Trust your eyes and don't over think it. You can spend hours on WB because your eyes know what white looks like. Does the image you see reflect what it actually looked like? You can then apply a preset. Mastin Fuji Original is great as it keeps your whites white but does make skin slightly red. You can adjust skin tones quite easily. I also love SMAL but this takes a lot more getting used to. But it gives a lovely depth to your images but you'll need to further adjust your WB to prevent yellows and oranges appearing. Make sure your skin tones look good and workable this is the most important part.

Photoshop

Once in PS I use the curves layer to boost the mid tones. I brush off the face at this point as I can do that later or before I focus on the whites. Then you can use the selective colour layer. Change the drop down to white and then pull back the blacks and the yellow if you need to. Not too much though. Get the black brush and brush off the baby/subject. Duplicate the layer. Select the Hue/Sat layer and bring saturation all the way to the left. You image should be black and white. Use the black brush to take off anything that shouldn't be adjusted - skin, hair, clothes etc. Use the curves layer to just give it another boost if necessary.

Adjust skin to your liking. I am loving Totally Rad Pro Retouch right now. Go easy on it but it was a game changer for me.