Shooting bikes on seamless white

How can I shoot bikes on a seamless white background? I received an email with this question after creating my seamless white background video. The challenge was to shoot a mixture of shots, for example close ups of components, and a shot of an entire bike, with a white background. So here is the tutorial.

For these shots I decided I needed to come up with a way of blowing the ground white as well at the wall. Something I had not previously done. I have adapted my technique from that of Zack Arias who has been shooting portraits on seamless white for years. He has used a technique of positioning the subject on tile board that is sort of glossy to give some grounding to his subject by providing a reflection. It is a great medium for blowing white and it is also very cheap. I picked up 2 sheets of white melamine mdf (1200 x 900) for $14.50AUD each at my local hardware shop. I think you can get it in larger sizes also.

Here is the setup I used for the latest Bike shots. I have 2 Cactus KF36 strobes pointed at the back wall both set as 1/4 power. They are also both an equal distance from the back wall to give an even coverage of light. The wall will now become the 4th light source as it reflects light back at the camera and onto the floor.

The bike must be positioned further from the wall than the 2 cactus stobes so that no light from the strobes directly hits the bikes frame. You may need to flag your strobes like I have on the right hand strobe.

Another Cactus KF36 is used to expose the bike with the use of a shoot through umbrella. This will give a nice wrapping light to the bikes components. This would probably be best positioned directly behind the camera. The lower to the ground your camera is the better the reflection you will get from the mdf boards.

For the close up component shots, like gears and derailleurs, keep your camera settings the same and zoom in or move yourself closer to the components. The lights will work the same as long as you don’t directly stand in the path of the umbrella.

When it comes to the post processing it is much the same as I explain in my video blog post about white seamless shots. Simply up your exposure so that more areas are blown out white and then bring back some of the detail in the bike by increasing the blacks. Then run a curves adjustment layer and do a sharpen to the image. In the end I decided to delete the reflection the mdf boards gave me on the entire bike shots as they didn’t fit in with the eventual advertisements my brother will use the shots for.

If you have any further questions or want me to do a post processing video on the bikes let me know. I’m more than happy to do tutorials on anything you guys want. Just drop me a line on the contact page.