Thoughts on chroma key backgrounds

Started Aug 27, 2014 | Discussions thread
Mr McClicky
OP Mr McClicky Regular Member • Posts: 195
Re: Thoughts on chroma key backgrounds

AlbertInFrance wrote:

Mr McClicky wrote:


I would consider myself a beginner/intermediate photographer. I think that I do know when to use the priority settings just not quickly enough yet to be efficient. I generally shoot in manual mode including focus.

Good start, but you need to be fast and confident. Nothing practice won't fix.


I'm currently learning with the d3300 but would like to upgrade in about 6 months to a year to either a Sony A7s or the Nikon 810.

Don't worry about moving 'up' to full frame until you can see a business reason to do it. For studio portraiture it is very unlikely to improve your profitability.

Absolutely, and my upgrade is likely going to be to mirror-less system, but thats down the road.

My lighting currently consist of 3 inexpensive fluorescent bulb lights with their stands, 3 Yongnuo 560III manual flash guns with triggers and wireless controllers, a couple of shoot through umbrellas, 2 or 3 reflectors and a couple of dollars budgeted towards a few more lights if necessary.

A reasonable start, but you should start learning about proper studio lighting, with a range of modifiers including soft boxes and beauty dishes. Start by viewing as much as you can on the internet but if you can find a proper taught course then I'd recommend that on top.

I can't wait!  I have a little 12x12 space that all white and well lit that I can double for a make shift studio at home but I think that I would rather and likely be shooting at the clients place or a location more often than not.  I would like to incorporate the home into my family portraits as much as possible to give a more personal sense of memorabilia to the image.

I have some but very little experience with photoshop and none with the other software you mention.

You will need to get to grips with PP software. It can make a huge difference to the final impression.

This part is very challenging but I think my telecine colorist days will hopefully kick in and help me here.

Studio portraits? none yet but that will change very soon because I will be starting out with taking beautiful portraits of my awesomely supportive family and friends. Fortunately for me, there are plenty of these victims, I mean subjects to choose from ; )

Again, practice is important, but you could do with finding someone who can give you independent feedback on your results. Read the Portrait and People Photography forum and try asking for recommendations for a more active site where you can learn from other portraitists.

Will do!

I've been using macs for many years but I'm far from being any sort of super computer ninja guru.

I edit in final cut and can play around a bit with web design and that's about it.

OK, that's sufficient.

As for the business side, I do hold a BA in Business administration but I realize that doesn't automatically equate to success in running a freelance photography company.

Most Business Administration graduates I know are working in big companies. Life is very different as a one man band. However, you should know enough to put together a business plan covering the first three years. Have you researched the potential market, seen what competition there is and how much they charge?

I kind of wish I could say I was one of them. I took an online business course 4 years ago and graduated 2012, figuring that It could help me move into the administrative arena of construction, but it hasn't panned out yet but I did acquire some helpful knowledge I guess. $35000 in student loans later...

Maybe I'm teaching granny to suck eggs, but you are aiming to enter a very competitive market. You don't say where you are in the world, but you sound American. Most retail photographers in America seem to be feeling the pinch as far as I can see.

I'm in Miami, Florida. I really haven't researched the market here but soley based on my own observations as a resident, there seems to be no shortage of beautiful people here looking to model, act, enter into show business etc. I will however, be doing a market analysis at some point and go through all of the mundane blah blah blah swot analytic elements of a business endeavor that I hate. But you know, its really not so much about the money for me. Right now I'm getting by doing backbreaking handyman home repairs and improvements as an independent contractor. It's not really paying the bills as I would like and after so many year, I'm just not really in to it any more, at least not the labor side, design or administration maybe. I figure if I invest a few thousand dollars in equipment and it doesn't pay off as a business the worst that could happen is I have a $5000 hobby that I'll probably love for the rest of my days, things could be worst.

I will take your suggestion to read trough Pro Digital Talk.

Again thanks for the well wishes, but your feelings about me looking for a magic bullet is with all due respect, way off the mark. The reason I posted this question is because I'm currently looking to invest a bit in backgrounds so I simply wanted to know which option would be the most effective for me and my goals before investing in a background stand, muslins, background paper, software, etc.

Concentrate on getting the basic portraiture sorted out first. The important thing is the person, especially for that person. The background is something that most sitters take for granted

Most people have a small range of backgrounds and use lighting to ring the changes. One of the things that rang an alarm bell for me was the small size of the background flats you bought. They might be OK for single headshots but as soon as you get to 3/4 length they will be cramping your options and two-shots or more will be difficult. Remember that if you want to use CK green or blue the background should ideally be well behind the subject and separately lit.

Backgrounds are a business expense and you could get set up quite well for 100 beer tokens. I'd go for a setup capable of taking a 3m (10ft) roll.

I was considering paper as well, however I already pulled the trigger (or better said pressed the shutter) on my popup backgrounds and they're already due to arrive tomorrow. I ordered a black and white and the blue and green ck they're 2-two sided 5x7' portable backgrounds that setup on a single stand. I like the portability and affordability ($60 each $120 total) of this type of system and thought it could be a good start. They seem to be all the rave on youtube.  Also these really affordable, really easy to use ck software demos I see online kind of had me thinking that they may be a pretty cool option.  I think it would be interesting to shoot my own backgrounds to key behind my subjects, just sounds like fun. I know I will likely ad a full background frame, 10X12 large muslins for full body shots and large products and definitely paper at some point.  I'm thankful for how relatively affordable all these products are these days.

My fast track comment was just to emphasize that because of my youthful age of 52, I don't have a lot of time to waste.

I don't know when you plan to retire. Let's say you have another 10 years. You could spend a year learning and preparing and then have nine good years in business. Or...

Or...what?  Or I could kick the bucket?  I got a good laugh out of that, I guess thats possible but I'm not planning for that... good laugh though! I think the dreamer creative has once again awakened in me is restless and now has the rational analytical me tied up captive in a basement somewhere and has running amok ; ) I need to be talked down off the ledge Al. lol  But seriously, I figure my kids are grown, I'm alone and inspiration is leading me down this path.  Every day that goes by is a day less so I might as well go for the gold.  I really miss production work.

I hope this helps to clear things up a bit. I've watched tutorials online by done by notable photographers who take the mystery out of professional quality photography. I admire some of these guys because of there positive attitudes towards photography, some go as far as to say "it's easy" they shoot beautiful portraits with one lite source, minimal equipment and there stuff looks great. They take the mystery out of photography and instead encourage the audience to shoot, learn and have fun.

All true, but you still have to understand what you are doing with lights. Yes, you can have fun, but you are talking about earning a living. That means giving the customer what they want, rather than satisfying your own creative drive. Of course, if you can do both then that's great.

I run basic hands-on portraiture courses at the local camera club, using simple studio kit. The general response at the end of the session is 'it looks a lot easier when you do it!' And I'm not a portraitist!

Don't believe anything is easy until you've tried it.

Good luck.

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Every photograph is an abstraction from reality.
Most people are more interested in the picture than the image.

Words of wisdom Albert! I think lighting is an element that like riding a bike you never really forget, I've been involved with creating lighting scenes that would light up nearly an entire city block back in the day and I miss those days.

Im so anxious to start creating looks with light again, especially experimenting with my flashguns. I like to think Im pretty meticulous when it comes to design.

Albert this post was a great exercise for me. Beside being really therapeutic, it also helped me put things into a better perspective with respect to a possible photography career for me. I really appreciate you taking the time to lend me your expertise. Maybe I'll attend one of your courses one day. I already feel like I've received a complimentary consultation from you, your awesome thanks again! BTW where in this world are you?



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