The Coolest Free White Background Ever

Need a super-quick white-ish background to photograph that little thingamajig you are selling on eBay?

(No off-camera flash ia actually needed for this one, but I couldn't resist. It is too good of an idea.)

Just go downstairs to the closet where you keep your Igloo/Coleman/no-name-brand cooler, open it up and turn it on its side. Stick your item in there, put the whole thing in some shady area outside and shoot away.

So goofy, it's genius.

In case you need the whole concept spelled out for you, here's the money shot.

But again, this can be a much more low-rent (no-rent, actually) operation, as this setup would work just fine (better, actually) outside in the shade. The tones should be smoother on the background that way.

Hey, what could be cooler than a cooler?

And it gets better: This post is a two-fer-one special, as the top photo above also shows you how to make a DIY, Two-Headed Clamp Snake. Just slide some rubber tubing around a thick wire and zip-tie it to two small clamps.

The two, self-supporting clamps can be adjusted to hold still just about any two small items still. Gobos, reflectors, etc., when working in a macro environment.

If you have any ideas for those items, please put them in the comments. Because two small, identical items which could be (painfully) clamped by this pink and orange contraption just popped into my head and I cannot get the mental image to go away...

(Thanks to mmikee for the idea.)



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Blogger SeanMcC said...

Saw this when he posted it. V cool idea.

April 26, 2007 11:16 PM  
Anonymous Ron said...

Let's see... what two small? identical items would that be? Ear lobes?

April 26, 2007 11:25 PM  
Anonymous John Dohrn said...

My ears are already hurting just looking at them =D

April 26, 2007 11:42 PM  
Anonymous mortonphotographic said...

Dave, I have to admit... I am a little dissapointed. Seriously? The orange clamps? We follow your teachings very seriously here on Strobist...

April 27, 2007 1:30 AM  
Blogger Bruko said...

something that rhymes with ripples?

April 27, 2007 3:37 AM  
Blogger malc said...

The small one is saying "Daddy, when I grow up I want to be an umbrella stand." :)

Just helping you get the 'other' image out of your head since your site has done so much for others, Thanks!

April 27, 2007 4:16 AM  
Blogger Wiedebas said...

Another option would to use a semi-transparant white plastic storagebox, as can be seen here (articale in dutch, but includes picture).

April 27, 2007 6:17 AM  
Blogger M said...

I used a cheap translucent storage bin I picked up for under $10 at the local Menards (same as Home Depot)to take these pics:

They're sometimes called a 15 Gallon Crate, but it's a plastic storage bin with a hinged top. Get the one with the black hinged top and use it like barn doors or gobos. Tape up a piece of white paper and you've got your seamless background.

April 27, 2007 7:40 AM  
Anonymous Mike Tuomey said...

... my cooler insides are not nearly as pristine ... time to clean the thing 'cuz this is one faboo idea!

April 27, 2007 8:49 AM  
Anonymous archshrk said...

I love it. Also helps motivate me to keep my cooler clean and not filled with sand from my last beach trip.

April 27, 2007 11:46 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

...and dump out all the beer?

April 27, 2007 1:36 PM  
Blogger Frank said...

Another great way to get a smooth white background is the bathtub...i've used it to shoot items I sell on e-bay...

April 27, 2007 2:11 PM  
Blogger bmillios said...

Clean your coolers with powdered laundry detergent... Ours has color-safe "bleach" built in - gets the coolers WHITE.

I love the snake thing. Off to Home Despot.

April 27, 2007 3:28 PM  
Blogger QorbeQ said...

Oh jheez ... he meant nipple clamps ... erk I think I've been around the internet too long ... I was thinking WAAAY off kilter ...

April 27, 2007 3:34 PM  
Anonymous Michael DeHaan said...

Another option: bath tub.

April 27, 2007 6:37 PM  
Anonymous John Dohrn said...

qorbeq - Me too hahha

April 27, 2007 8:26 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

You should also mention a lampshade. Lampshades are good if you're shooting metal.

April 28, 2007 1:54 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

Why fight it, Strobist, just go with the thought. :-)

Great site, by the way. Superb 101, I've got the book and am starting to improve my shooting game ... in addition, I'm taking better pictures as well.

Question, though, how best (safely) to economically light a dark swimming pool. The only strobe I've got is the one on camera (in the water proof bag) and it just goes nowhere.

You've got pleanty of time to answer; it will take me months to recover from the financial onslaught of brollies, brackets and e-bayed flash guns.

(sorry if this comes at you twice, I'm getting grief from my 'puter)

April 28, 2007 4:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bath tub? My cooler is cleaner than my bath tub!

April 28, 2007 7:26 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

What's the name for the adjustable bounce card thingy you have attached to the strobe?

It looks awfully useful, but I'm having trouble finding them without knowing their name.

I know, I could make one out of cardboard, but if I can find one for $10, I'd go for the durability...

April 28, 2007 1:25 PM  
Blogger tangcla said...

Brian: oipen up the pic, and it will tell you (when you hover your mouse over the bounce card) that it's a DIY foam reflector.

April 29, 2007 1:49 AM  
Blogger Steve Gill said...

Great blog and got me thinking, I was in the bath and looked down, well not right down, but through the water at the white bath. Suddenly thought to try using the white bath as a wrap around white background {When empty of course}. Nice soft shadows, def worth a try!

forgive the hurried shot but I was naked and wet at the time!

August 16, 2010 5:38 PM  
Blogger Mark Crummett said...

I've been looking for clamp thingies like this! That's great! Can't wait to make some!

April 20, 2011 4:17 PM  

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