A. M. Hughes wrote:
I'm setting a small studio in my home to get into the portrait, grad, kid and pet market.
What should I start with in backdrops? Muslin or paper? Which colors, patterns?
Will working with green screen be the way to go or ill it add greatly post production time?
I'd be thankful for any opinions.-- hide signature --
First, forget using a green screen. No matter how carefully you work in Photoshop there is a very big chance that green will show through translucent areas of clothing or through hair. To use a green screen successfully you need to buy extra specialist software.
I bought cheap low quality studio strobes the first time and they wound up in the trash can. If you are buying studio equipment you should read the article I wrote to help other photographers avoid the expensive mistake I made.
If you want to extract an image for compositing you are much better off working against a white or gray background than green. The type of background you need depends on what you are going to do. Paper, fabric, or a brick wall may be best.
Paper will give you a very smooth background and is the best type if you want to extract images for compositing. The typical choices are white, thunder gray, and black. You can get lots of different looks depending on how you light these three colors of backgrounds.
The same color choices hold for fabric backgrounds. Fabric backgrounds are more compact and easier to store than paper but can show wrinkles so they are not as good for extraction and compositing. The wrinkles in fabric backgrounds can be used to good effect by lighting the background from the sides so that you get highlighted and shadowed areas, resulting in a mottled appearance. If this is what you want simply wade the fabric up and store it in a large trash bag.
For classical portraiture a mottled background that is out of focus is frequently used. You can buy a painted mottled background or you can make one yourself.
You can color a background by placing gels on your background light(s). A white background can give you soft pastel colors, gray will give you nice medium density colors, and black will give you deep rich saturated colors. Of course the darker the background the more power you need for your lights.
Here is a good article by a master photographer on backgrounds.
Here is a free tutorial that should help you understand how to extract in Photoshop.
This video is a very good tutorial about how to use layers in Photoshop.
I suggest you check these references on portraiture out. They should help you get better quickly.
Living and loving it in Bangkok, Thailand. Canon 7D - See the gear list for the rest.