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Quick Tip 7: Whiter Whites #1

I know I’m going to sound like a washing powder ad, but an essential part of creating beautiful clear images, is making sure that your whites are whiter!

There are 3 ways to tackle this, which I will explore in 3 separate Whiter Whites posts.


Make sure that the only light coming into your shot is white daylight. Switch all electric lights OFF!!!! It doesn't have to be direct sunlight, in fact pure sunlight is usually too bright. Overcast lighting is good for most photos. But what is essential is that electric lights are turned off. Use a window!

Why? Because generally electric lights are not white light, unless they are photographic studio lights. A photographer's studio lights are specially designed to mimic daylight, but other lights leave a yellow or green cast on your images.

Don't trust your eyes, because your brain overrides what you actually see. When you're in a restaurant and your plate of food is placed on the table in a pool of warm yellow light, your brain takes one look at the plate and decides: "that's a white plate, the salad leaves are green and the tomatoes are red. I know better than your eyes. Let's just ignore them - shall we?" Obviously! It then creates a mental filter that cuts out any shades of colour in the lighting, that you're actually seeing. Your phone or camera is not quite as clever as your brain however and it might try and find a white balance, but it's seldom successful. When your phone or camera try to create a white balance, by taking out yellow light, blue tones are often exaggerated, which can mess around with the colour balance in your shadows and things just turn a little murky. See the white jug in the images below:

White Light Photography tip
White jug with electric lighting

Lamplight makes the white jug appear yellowy

Natural lighting
Natural daylight from window

In the images above a lamp was used to provide additional lighting, while to the left I only used natural daylight.

Neutral lighting is especially important if you want food to look appetising, but is also important for photos of your products. White daylight will make your images look clear and bright.

If it is really not possible to switch off electric lights - possibly because the restaurant manager will come at you with a carving knife - Whiter Whites #3 in next week's post will help you, but it really should be your last resort.

(For the Story about the Nougat see my post called Sardinian Treats)

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