Backdrops

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by Rlibersky, Oct 9, 2005.

  1. Rlibersky

    Rlibersky Subscriber

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    I am in the market for a backdrop. What are some of your favorites?

    Is it worth it to have one that is 20" long?

    Where can I get a quality one that won't cost me my marriage? :smile:
     
  2. agGNOME

    agGNOME Member

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    Hi, I was on the same quest no too long ago. The length is going to be something you have to determine based on your shooting style and needs. For example, if you're shooting kids or models sitting on the floor you may want the extra length. You can lower the height and extend the length, but if someone is standing in the same scene it may become a hassle. Also, if you plan to drape the backdrop over furniture etc, you may want the extra length. So, you need to ask yourself questions like these.
    Here's the path I took (money being an influence): I started with paper rolls; a couple of 4' x 20'+ and 9' x 20'+ . Available from any of the big photo stores. These work great and they're cheap. The problem, they're a PIA to go anywhere with. If you ever want to incorporate texture in your background you can't ( at least using the backdrop). If you have creases and you don't notice, they stick out sorely in prints being that the rest is seamless and flat.
    Later, I went to a local fabric store and bought some duck cloth canvass. This is a nice alternative; solid rich colors, seamless, and thick fabric. Similar characteristics as paper, but more portable. The limitations here are: width ( about 4' or 5' by any length); though not a big deal if it fills your frame. Plus, if you don't need the length you can just use it horizontally. Another downside is creasing caused by folding the canvass. Of course you can iron this out.
    Finally, I decided I would to just go ahead and invest in the typical muslin backdrops. Mind you, this is the same material available in fabric stores with the exception of size and dyed patterns, for a few dollars a yard. But, since it’s for photography the price is ten fold. The advantage of using muslin is that the possibilities are endless; you can incorporate texture, it’s very portable, you can drape it, and you don’t have to worry about creases. The caveat is that it’s difficult to get the same flat/solid appearance of paper or canvass. A place you may want to check out for muslin backdrops, cost being a factor, is Owens Originals( owens-originals.com ) . No affiliation, but they seem to have decent quality to cost ratio.
    Hope this helps. Good luck.
     
  3. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    A lot depends on what you're shooting. Plain or painted muslin or canvas is often preferred for portraits. Seamless papers, or various substitutes, are still preferred for fashion and most commercial work.

    The 10' x 20' size of muslin is really handy. My approach with the muslin backdrops is not to fold it, but stuff it in a large bag. That produces random crinkles that can be lit for added texture, rather than the regular pattern created by folding. Another alternative is to roll them on the tube core from a seamless paper background.

    Faux texture or patterns can also be created on seamless backdrops via projected images. And, the color can be changed at will by using gels on the background lights. Again, just depends on what you want. The variations are virtually limitless.
     
  4. Rlibersky

    Rlibersky Subscriber

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    Thanks for the info, and name of company to start with.

    Randy
     
  5. thedarkroomstudios

    thedarkroomstudios Member

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    You can also get a white fabric backdrop... gives you the wrinkle/crinkle/texture advantage and you can change colors as easily as changing the gel on a light or strobe (also the plain-jane whites tend to be cheaper). Sorry to say but I think most of us usually end up with a combo of each type and use situation dependant.

    -Brad
     
  6. blaze-on

    blaze-on Member

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  7. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    Black, White, Gray and Brown works best with flesh tones. Blue and other colors are not as complimentary to flesh color. ..........Charlie
     
  8. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    You might make one. It's fun. I used a big canvas drop cloth from Home Depot. I bought some black and white latex paint and a tool called "the woolie". This is basically a double roller. You put one color on one roller and another on the other. When you go back on forth in different directions this gives you a mottled look. Thin the paint with water, about equal parts of each. I made mine a mix of light grays. That way I can have any color I'd like with gels.
     
  9. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    The complimentary color to white people flesh tone is close to green.

    Thats why people often look good in green areas like trees and bushes.

    Brown tone is competing and makes a monotonic print. Yellow usually sucks.

    A nice dramatic looks is often black with a red gel over a background light which creates a red to black look. Subject should usually wear black as well.

    I usually use a grey mottled background in black and white, and control it with a background light. You can also use it for color and use color gels on your background light.

    Michael
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 18, 2005
  10. rexp

    rexp Member

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    Since you didn't mention if this is for color or B&W, and being the cheap turd I am I will give you the "el-cheapo" marriage saving option. I looked at the drop cloths from the local construction outlet, but didn't like the seams. I went to the fabric store and bought some muslin, it is available 10' wide (or more). I bought about 20' and a bottle of black Rit dye. I filled a 5 gallon bucket with HOT water, poured in the dye and stirred it with a stick. I opened up the fabric, wadded it up & stuffed it into the bucket. Again using the stick, I poked & prodded the wad of material for about 15 minutes. I poured it all into the washtub and rinsed it with cold water. I ended up laying the fabric out flat on the driveway and rinsing it with the garden hose. Wrung it out & tossed it into the dryer. I keep it stored all wadded up in a bag, which keeps it uniformly wrinkled. It turned out a medium gray, which has worked very well for B&W portraits.

    Don't be mad at me if this "marriage saving" technique causes problems because you spill black dye on something of your wife's!
     
  11. Peter Williams

    Peter Williams Member

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    I just bought my first background about a month ago at a camera show in TX. I purchased a seamless black background for $40 and a set of stands for $75. The stands are not really impressive, but they certainly do the job. The company that makes them was selling an assortment of overstock and it may be worth your while to check them out.

    J&K Company
    Plano, TX
    1-800-476-3864
    http://jandkgroup.com/

    It looks like the prices are higher than that on the website, buy there is another camera show January 14th and 15th. If you can make it to Grapevine (near Dallas), a good deal can probably be had.

    Peter
     
  12. John C Murphy

    John C Murphy Member

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    I find that backdrops is one area where internet searches fail me. While there are plenty of companies that make inexpensive backdrops, most of them look poorly when photographed. I guess you get what you pay for...
    I recommend starting with www.bhphotovideo.com and checking out what they have first. After that, consider Won in Korea (www.artwon.co.kr) which are pricey but nice ($150-250 per backdrop), or Charles Broderson in NYC (www.brodersonbackdrops.com) which is really expensive ($350 per day to rent, $3000 to buy).
     
  13. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Once upon a time I was the Norwegian agent for these backgrounds: http://www.colourscape.co.uk/

    They are very good - and I'm thinking of buying a few again since I sold out all my stock!

    BTW, I stopped representing them due to having filled the local market: Norway has few people and lots of nature, there just isn't all that much of a market for backgrounds. That, coupled with a worsening exhange rate, made it uneconomical to keep selling them at the prices I wanted to sell them at.
     
  14. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    Blansky, I did not say "white people flesh tone" I said that the browns were complimentary to flesh tones. I ment all flesh tones!

    A "monotonic print" indeed is the result with any color of background if you have little or no skill at properly exposing and developing a piece film. I strongly believe that might be the source for your failures in using a brown ground. J Karsh would sure roll over in his grave if he knew that the hundreds of his portraits that he had made over his lifetime were
    "monotonic" because he used brown grounds through out his career.
    Charlie...............
     
  15. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Go to a shop that sells goods for making drapes. Material 52 inches wide is easily found in many colors and in patterns.