Backdrops

Started Nov 21, 2012 | Discussions
A. M. Hughes
Regular MemberPosts: 239
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Backdrops
Nov 21, 2012

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.

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A.M.H.

Sailor Blue
Senior MemberPosts: 6,493Gear list
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Re: Backdrops
In reply to A. M. Hughes, Nov 22, 2012

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.

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A.M.H.

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.

Sailorblue - Digital Photography Review - Equipment Guide for Setting up a Small Home Portrait/Glamor Studio

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.

Cheap DIY (Homemade) Muslin Photography Background | DIYPhotography.net

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.

Ed Shapiro - Background Usages and Manaement

Here is a free tutorial that should help you understand how to extract in Photoshop.

B&H - Julieanne Kost - Adobe Photoshop CS6 for Photographers

This video is a very good tutorial about how to use layers in Photoshop.

B&H - Tim Grey - Photoshop CS6 for the Photographer - YouTube

I suggest you check these references on portraiture out. They should help you get better quickly.

Portrait Lighting - Names for different portrait lighting set-ups in photography

Benji's Studio Lighting and Posing Tutorial

Benji - The Rules Of Good Portraiture in PDF Format for Printing

Benji - PS Technique For Checking Exposure (Portraits)

Ed Shapiro - Facial Analysis in Fine Portraiture- Corrective Techniques

Ed Shapiro - The fabulous fill light...an article

How to Handle HANDS

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A. M. Hughes
Regular MemberPosts: 239
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Re: Backdrops
In reply to Sailor Blue, Nov 22, 2012

Thanks Sailor, I'm sure that your suggestions and the links you provided will help greatly.

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A.M.H.

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ekomorgan
Regular MemberPosts: 295
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Re: Backdrops
In reply to A. M. Hughes, Nov 23, 2012

I use backdrops from LemonDrop: http://www.lemondropstop.com/

I get the polypaper, which is the cheapest. It isn't paper like it sounds, but rather a plastic type of material. It is very hard to wrinkle and it also doesn't have any glare. I just tape it to my wall using painters tape. The standard size of 5'x5' is great for a couple of kids, pets or single portraits. You can also get wider sizes as well (5'x6', 5x'7', etc). There are lots of choices too. It seems like kid photographers mainly use them, but there because there are so many choices, you can find appropriate backgrounds for almost any occassion. Check out Facebook or their website for examples. I like these much better than muslin because there are no wrinkles to contend with.

Below is an example of a "Christmassy" background I used to photograpy my boys.

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Amy

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