Am I wasting my time and money?

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by stwb, May 16, 2009.

  1. stwb

    stwb Member

    Messages:
    43
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2008
    Location:
    Saskatoon, S
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I'm interested in taking some portraits with bright white background. No one in town sells white seamless paper so ordering online is fairly expensive when shipping costs are added on. Is there an alternative to white seamless? Can a guy use white foam board with similar results? Will the seams show? Should I just bite the bullet and get the paper?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,458
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
    Location:
    northern Pa.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You dont sayhow large your project is. How about a white bed sheet? Maybe a 4'x8' sheet of rigid foam insulation painted white? I'm sure there are several other ways to achieve your purpose.
    Rick
     
  3. archphoto

    archphoto Member

    Messages:
    1,066
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2008
    Location:
    Holland and
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    How about a store in Calgary ? Don't they have anything ?
    Otherwise ask McBains in Edmonton, spend some phone calls on it.

    Good luck,
    Peter

    Addition: nothing in Regina ?
     
  4. jmcd

    jmcd Member

    Messages:
    715
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    Are you shooting b&w or color?
     
  5. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

    Messages:
    625
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2006
    Location:
    Canmore Ab C
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    White foamcore! 4ft. by 8ft sheets.....cheap, big, very white!
     
  6. jmcd

    jmcd Member

    Messages:
    715
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    I am thinking the benefit of seamless over the foam board is the flat,non-reflective surface of the seamless. Perhaps the foam board would work well, painted with a flat white paint.
     
  7. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    20,212
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    the background that avedon used was white fabric on 4 sides
    and very easy to make ...
    all you need is white cloth lathe and a staple gun
     
  8. BradS

    BradS Member

    Messages:
    4,219
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Location:
    S.F. Bay Area
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I have used a plain white bed sheet tacked to the ceiling in the garage. A strobe can be set up behind the sheet to make it really white...if desired.
     
  9. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

    Messages:
    5,682
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    That's the trick anyway: overexpose the white background by a stop or two (extra lights on the background only).
    Seams, small marks, smudges, etc. will disappear.
     
  10. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,727
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    *****
    Bed sheets "never" work because it is impossible to get them completely smooth. The creases, folds, and billows always seem to show, now matter how out of focus.
     
  11. nyoung

    nyoung Member

    Messages:
    371
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Check around your local sign/screen printing shops for a product called profile board. It's basically a plastic board made like corrugated paper. The sign shops use a lot of it to print campaign signs, house for sale signs etc. It's available in a very white white in 4x8 sheets and I've bought it around $10 (US) per sheet from a local printer. An added attraction is that it is very flexible and makes a good reflector as well as a very clean white background.
     
  12. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The key is really lighting. You can "fake" a seamless if you light a big thing (preferably a light thing) in a way that will render it plain and bright white. Not that white b/g= Avedon, like some people tend to think automatically whenever they hear "white b/g", but from a technical standpoint, he is worth mentioning. For "In the American West", Avedon had the advantage of the largest and farthest away light source on Earth, taking his portraits/typologies outside in diffuse light. The distance of the sun and clouds made it so that the differences between subject and backdrop were not huge in a relative sense. You don't have that with basic studio lighting. The falloff due to the inverse square law is far greater in the studio, due to the relative distances between lights, subject, and b/g. This means you need dedicated b/g lights, in other words, and ones that are stronger than your main light. If you just have a main light for the subject, and maybe one for a fill, you will have a tough time even on a white seamless.

    Also, don't forget that Avedon used very little of what he shot for that series, and trashed the rest. So, practice and repetition can be key as well.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 16, 2009
  13. jmcd

    jmcd Member

    Messages:
    715
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    If 4x8 is used vertically, that isn't wide at all by the time you separate your subject from the background. For shoulders up, this would work horizontally.
     
  14. gerryyaum

    gerryyaum Subscriber

    Messages:
    475
    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    Shooter:
    Med. Format Pan
    Hey from Alberta, All you need is something white (paper, cloth, wall etc) without a pattern and give it extra exposure as QG suggested. When I was in Asia I used 2 speedotron heads on my background along with 2 soft boxes on the subject to make these white background portraits.

    http://www.gerryyaum.com/sex worker.html

    Gerry
     
  15. Edwardv

    Edwardv Member

    Messages:
    397
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2005
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Buy some canvas and paint it with acrylic paint, thin it out some, to heavy will crack. Use titanium white. Before painting make sure you have a 4-5 hem to run the crossbar through.

    Good luck.
     
  16. fotch

    fotch Member

    Messages:
    4,813
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2005
    Location:
    SE WI- USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yes, bite the bullet and get the paper! Stores easily, many uses per roll, works perfectly, no labor needed. The KISS principal (Keep It Simple Stupid):rolleyes:.
     
  17. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,462
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Montgomery,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Just before I left the camera biz there was a rep touting a folding background. As I recall it was almost 8' and had a metal loop in the hem, like those light shield you would use in the windshield of your car to keep it cool. Check with Helix, B&H and Calumet.
    These things fold up small enough so they're relatively inexpensive to ship. The cost of shipping an 8' long roll of paper is obscene.
    What about using two short rolls(63") & tape them together on the back. Or just use 63" rolls, it would be wide enough for head & shoulders.
     
  18. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    18,000
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    As others have said, the key is lighting. Light the background so it's about two stops brighter than main light, and you'll get a clean white background, even if the background isn't actually white.

    On the other hand, seamless is a handy thing to have on hand. I keep super white, grey, and black, and depending on how much you use it, it can last for years.
     
  19. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

    Messages:
    1,926
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    Location:
    Maryland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    How about a pull down projector screen?