Studio wall color

Started Oct 18, 2007 | Discussions
MichaelRoop Contributing Member • Posts: 509
Studio wall color

Just getting my home studio set up now. I was wondering what people did for the walls (and ceiling?). It just occured to me that I never encountered this subject in all the reading that I have done.

My room is all white but I imagine that that will cause light to bounce around all over the place and make it hard to control.

I also need to start picking up some back drops. This is going to be fun.

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dylanbarnhart Veteran Member • Posts: 3,268
Re: Studio wall color

If you're really serious about this, then paint it black. Or have black curtains. It will absorb all the lights. However, the room will be father gloomy.

Next up is gray, and then white. As long as you stay away from colors, you'll be ok.

White or gray isn't too bad, because chances are you'll need some fill light anyways, that is, unless you really want to experiment with very harsh edgy light.

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Onetrack97 Senior Member • Posts: 1,953
Re: Studio wall color

If your room is large enough, white is OK. If the walls and ceiling are close enough to reflect back and affect the lighting ratio, then it gets difficult. You can leave it white and use black cloth/muslin/etc. as needed if the walls are close.
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RDKirk Forum Pro • Posts: 15,676
White or light gray

You want a white or light gray wall because it's FAR more efficient to created a non-reflective environment with black flags than it is to create a reflective environment with white flags.

Moreover, when you're operating under just modeling lights, a black-painted studio is UTTERLY INKY BLACK. Tripping over cords, stand legs, et cetera, will be a constant problem. Anything you drop to the floor will disappear. The subject won't be able to see you, which will be disconcerting to her and make communication more difficult.

When you want general room lighting while not shooting, it will take much more light to illuminate a black room than a white room.

Finally, a black studio is, in the long run, a depressing place to work. We even stopped painting darkrooms black decades ago.

If you have multiple shooting rooms, a black room in addition to a white room would be a good idea, but if you have only one room, make it white or light gray.

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D W Senior Member • Posts: 1,969
Black NOOOOOOOOOOO!

From a lighting point of view black is the best, no reflection.

But it is a darn dark and depressing place to work, you can't see well and the blackness gets to your mental thinking.

I ended up with white walls with black muslin on heavy duty (theater) tracks to black out wall on a as needed basis and I was a happier person since the transition.

If you are using grey of any density make sure the grey that you are getting has only black pigments in it. You can consult you paint store for the right greys. Some greys are not 100% grey and has non-black pigments in it.

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digitalphotoguy Regular Member • Posts: 387
Re: Black NOOOOOOOOOOO!

When lit up it is not that depressing, just very utilitarian. But mine is my converted basement ninto my small studio. I find the commando on the walls gives you great control of light and no bounce to worry about.

LakeMary Senior Member • Posts: 1,193
Re: Black NOOOOOOOOOOO!
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Just leave it as is, white. By the time you hang muslins, paper and all the other stuf we seem to accumulate, It will all blend in to a cluttered room. Well, thats a studio.

Barrie Davis
Barrie Davis Forum Pro • Posts: 21,460
White or light grey -- not black!

Use white, or if the room is quite small, light grey.
WHATEVER YOU DO... DO NOT USE BLACK. !!
It really is the worst mistake you can make.

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Black serves no useful photographic purpose at all ... in fact, more lighting equipment necessary in an all black studio.

--- Because of the need for for extra lights, and the extra time for setting them up and breaking them down. the space becomes inefficient and expensive to work in. Neither can anything be found in the off-set gloom, so the main room lights are always being turned on and off during a shoot.

--- Most importantly of all, an all black studio is a very unpleasant place to work.
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aimpic Contributing Member • Posts: 706
Re: Studio wall color

Black is useful for products & much commercial work.

White is great for portraits where a softer light is needed.

As long as you can accurately measure & totally control what you are doing, you will be ok.

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OP MichaelRoop Contributing Member • Posts: 509
Re: Black NOOOOOOOOOOO!

Wow. Was not the response I expected. I have decided to 'try' part of one wall black. My problem is that my space is so tight (11.5 feet wide) that the wall opposite the fill seems to be acting as a reflector. I have put some black cloth against that wall to see if it helps.

Please do not shoot me, I am only trying it.... and only part of one wall.....

This is what the studio would look like ( the black was to the left)

~---------------------
~
~
~ seat
~ fill

Main
light

I am getting ready to make paper roll hanger brackets that will mount against the back wall to give me whit and black seamless backgrounds. I will probably also add a bar to it to hang cloth.

Would anybody have pictures of brackets that people have made. I have a picture in my head but would like to see other ideas

LakeMary wrote:

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Clark Hampton
Clark Hampton Senior Member • Posts: 2,856
WHITE (of course!!) (nt)
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John Mercer Regular Member • Posts: 210
Re: WHITE (of course!!) (nt)

With a space that small, if you don't control light spill with grids or flags, then you may not be able to achieve correct exposures, especially if you use umbrellas. The proper way to check for this unwanted light spill is to meter your subject with one light at a time. It doesn't matter what color your walls are if you use a meter, otherwise you are really just guessing with your lcd window.

Barrie Davis
Barrie Davis Forum Pro • Posts: 21,460
Hanging the background...

MichaelRoop wrote:
snip

I am getting ready to make paper roll hanger brackets that will mount
against the back wall to give me whit and black seamless backgrounds.
I will probably also add a bar to it to hang cloth.

Background mounting....

Take my tip and do not fasten the background directly to the back wall. Better to leave a foot or so clear for a lightstand to hold up a backlight -- this can then shine forwards over the top of the background without obstruction, while the background does the job of hiding the stand.

Would anybody have pictures of brackets that people have made. I
have a picture in my head but would like to see other ideas.

I hang my backgrounds from the ceiling on a pole/rope/pulley/counterweight arrangement of my own devising. In my present system the pole can also be moved back and forth (nearer/further from camera) so the space behind the background can be increased when necessary. The method allows me to place a heavy roll of seamless background paper anywhere between the floor and the ceiling (which makes changing colours much safer, of course -- no ladders needed, no assistants needed), and anywhere from 1 foot to 6 feet from back wall.

Note: After many years of studio shooting I do believe it is very important NOT to close off access to the back of the set...and not just from a lighting point of view. Set-up of any kind, including table top work, is much easier if you can get get all round the workspace!!
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Phototk Regular Member • Posts: 136
Re: Studio wall color
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phototk I agree that black is the best. But I would use gray just to keep the room lighter.

Barrie Davis
Barrie Davis Forum Pro • Posts: 21,460
Re: WHITE (of course!!) (nt)

John Mercer wrote:

With a space that small, if you don't control light spill with grids
or flags, then you may not be able to achieve correct exposures,
especially if you use umbrellas. The proper way to check for this
unwanted light spill is to meter your subject with one light at a
time. It doesn't matter what color your walls are if you use a meter,
otherwise you are really just guessing with your lcd window.

One thing that people seem to loose sight of in the black/studio white/studio debate...

.....is that 99 times out of 100, white-wall bounce-around is HELPFUL in controlling contrast.

Now, bearing in mind that controlling excess contrast is the PRINCIPLE problem in lighting anything for photography (and always has been!) white walls and ceiling therefore do an important job automatically and without plugging in any extra lights.

This single fact alone saves a VAST amount of time and money !

For the other 1% of the time it is much MUCH easier, and much cheaper too, to hang a black curtain, or stand up a sheet of black card, where it is needed. My large studio reflectors are painted black on the back for this express purpose... and I use one that way perhaps once a year... if that!
--
Regards,
Baz

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John Rayl Contributing Member • Posts: 761
Flat black

Or use expensive grids on all of your lights. The grids from Photoflex can be almost as expensive as the entire softbox..

I painted every wall and ceiling in my studio flat black.

It does not bother me to work in the black studio, I actually like it.

OP MichaelRoop Contributing Member • Posts: 509
Re: Hanging the background...

Background mounting....

Take my tip and do not fasten the background directly to the back
wall. Better to leave a foot or so clear for a lightstand to hold up
a backlight -- this can then shine forwards over the top of the
background without obstruction, while the background does the job of
hiding the stand.

I am really tight on space and I want to leave as much space between the background and the subjects as possible. I have a heavy duty stand and a boom that I can use for a back light. If I place the boom at 90 degrees it will will be outside the picture and I do not loose any room behind the background. I think that this will work for me.

Would anybody have pictures of brackets that people have made. I
have a picture in my head but would like to see other ideas.

I hang my backgrounds from the ceiling on a
pole/rope/pulley/counterweight arrangement of my own devising. In my
present system the pole can also be moved back and forth
(nearer/further from camera) so the space behind the background can
be increased when necessary. The method allows me to place a heavy
roll of seamless background paper anywhere between the floor and the
ceiling (which makes changing colours much safer, of course -- no

Very interesting. I could mount two rails on the ceiling and have any number of rolls hanging from them. I could also have a tube as a roller back towards the wall so that the different colors could be dropped at the same spot. This would be more flexible than a fixed position wall bracket.

Thanks for the input.

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OP MichaelRoop Contributing Member • Posts: 509
Thanks for all the input

What I thought was a simple question brought out a lot of information. Thanks again to all

I am waiting for my light meter to come in so that should help as I decide what will work best in my space. Never though of the white walls as helping contrast. Lots of experimentation ahead.......

Thanks again

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Bartek Senior Member • Posts: 1,408
Re: Studio wall color

If your walls are close enough then whatever color they are will influence the scene the same way if you put the large screen of the same color outside. Grey is probably most neutral. If they are far enough then the effect they take will be minimized. Home studios usually suffer from small size rather then big (same with mine :-).

Mine additionally has the natural wood on the ceiling what gives me some slight orange color cast. I use WhiBall grey card to get rid of the cast with the RAW files (in PP) and it works well. I only must remember to use it with every session (lighting setup) I make.

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