Backdrop Colour?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by Joze, Nov 15, 2005.

  1. Joze

    Joze Member

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    I need to buy a new backdrop as my old one is worn out. It is a lovely deepish purple chenille and I have very much liked the quality of blackout it has given to the back of b&w portraits, in both natural light and flash.

    My question may sound rather simple, but... can anyone recommend the best colour to go for, for b&w? I have never actually used black, for example, (is it a bit severe?) and I am wondering about getting dark or mid-brown because I like these tones for occasional colour. Or will it make little difference?

    Any comments on this would be welcome - I'm probably trying to kill more than one bird with one stone.
     
  2. ggriffi

    ggriffi Member

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    Joze,

    I will preface this with "I don't have one but". I have been told that a grey is a good all around choice. I do have a black, white, and mottled brown one though. Maybe one of these days I will get the grey one. That is if I could quit buying gear for the 4x5 I just bought.

    g
     
  3. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    A background "color" or shade really depends on how much light you put on it or how far it is back from the subject. I use a middle to dark gray mottled about six feet from the subject, and the way it comes out in pictures is dependant on what I mentioned.

    With no light, it comes out black with lots of light almost white. In the middle, mottled grey.

    If you don't use a background light then people often use it closer to the subject and let the falloff from the light hitting the subject, light the background.

    The reason we use a mottled type background is because it creates the illusion of depth. If a subject is just in front of a black background they look like they are simply pasted on the black. With a background light, it looks like you can actually walk around behind the subject.

    With gels on your background light you can also use this for color if you wanted blue or green etc.

    One of my favorites it this one

    http://www.handpaintedbackgrounds.com/splatter_mus/spl475.htm



    Michael
     
  4. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    Brown or mottled browns are very kind to flesh tones in color, and also work very well for B&W. As mentioned earlier can run from black to near white depending on how you light the ground. I personall use White, Black, brown and gray. Though the browns are my favorite, there is a place and use for the other three. Charlie..........
     
  5. Joze

    Joze Member

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    Thanks for your helpful replies.

    It's interesting about the mottled effect - I tend not to light the background out of preference and also lack of space (!) Maybe that's why the chenille works well - a bit like velvet only irregular.

    I'm tempted to go for the brown...
     
  6. zenrhino

    zenrhino Member

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    How big does one of those need to be do you think?
     
  7. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    I like a mottled grey for portraiture, too. And, I often use a "Thunder Grey" (close to 18% grey) seamless paper for other work. The grey, as noted, can be lighted (or, not) to virtually any tone by controlling the subject:background lighting ratio, and takes color from gels nicely, as shown below.

    The best size depends on whether you want to do full-length shots, or just head and shoulders. Go for 9x20 for the former, smaller (shorter) for the latter.

    [​IMG]

    For background lighting in tight spaces, try mounting a Matthews Grip "baby plate" on a piece of plywood, so the light can be placed on the floor behind the subject. Then, add a modified reflector, and maybe some diffusion, to better control the spread.

    The Matthews Grip Company site
     
  8. Joze

    Joze Member

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    Thanks, Ralph!
     
  9. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    I use gray as well. I made my own with muslim, (or use canvas), from a fabric store and Ritz dye.
     
  10. Joze

    Joze Member

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    Thanks Wayne. (I hope you mean 'muslin' :smile: ) - I think I'm going to look for some muslin aswell - though not sure of the maximum width I can get here. If it's plain white muslin, is single thickness too thin, I wonder??
     
  11. sionnac

    sionnac Subscriber

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    Has anyone tried making their own mottled drop? I'm thinking about a home-made backdrop. Also, I've been reading a lot about daguerreotypists and love the variety of studio backdrops (pastoral to classical to architectural) they used. Just curious if any company out there still produces or sells vintage drops.