Painting my studio walls

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by MikeGates, Jan 12, 2005.

  1. MikeGates

    MikeGates Member

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    Hey all!

    I have moved into a studio space, and am doing some remodelling and fixing up. The walls are going to need paint. What is generally best to use for studio walls? Should they be black so that I don't get any stray light? Is a neutral gray better?

    Mike in Alaska
     
  2. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    I think preferences vary all over the map on the best color for studio space. Some like white, others neutral gray. I'd think that while black might enable better control of stray reflected light, it would feel very oppressive to work within such a space.
     
  3. Helen B

    Helen B Member

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    It is a bit odd working in an all-black space, particularly for those of us who wear all-black clothes, but black is the best for lighting and reflection control as far as I'm concerned. I wouldn't say that it was oppressive, just difficult to see where you left your glasses. Everybody seems to get used to it quite quickly, and it becomes normal. In fact I thought that black studios were the norm. I know some guys who have a white studio, and that is very convenient for the kind of product and portrait photography they do. It cuts down on the requirement for reflectors, and is easier to work in (ie film loading, lens changing etc is easier).

    I'd say that it was a matter of personal choice, influenced by your lighting requirements. The only thing is to avoid colours. Back in the UK I used to teach movie lighting in a grey-walled studio until the studio owners decided to redecorate.

    Peach.

    Best,
    Helen
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 12, 2005
  4. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    I've been in and rented a lot of studios, so far the vast majority of them have been more or less white. Some have open exposed brick, others have bay windows, or even roll-in backdrops, etc... but when it came to the studio proper or the cove, they were mostly white. Just an FYI.

    Regards, Art.
     
  5. DKT

    DKT Member

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    we have a black studio as well--black ceilings & walls etc--all matte black. the floors are concrete with this dark gray tile. we have a sort of annex type area adjacent to the studio, that has a big roll up garage door going out to a freight elevator--this is black as well. there's a studio nearby in another building that's all black as well, but it has some north facing skylights overhead, with doors that can be opened & closed. I find it easier to light objects actually--you build up from scratch more or less, without alot of ambient light and as far as handling reflections ( or creating them), it's much easier to add with cards than to subtract in a lighter room.

    It's pretty dark though--a real bummer if the power goes out, it's like being in a cave--even those security lights seem kind of puny.
     
  6. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

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    Back in the lovely days when I had a studio...

    I took a Kodak 18% gray card to Home Depot and had them match it for the paint for my studio. It wasn't the best move, I should have gone black...
     
  7. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    After spending more than fifty years in all kinds of studios, I really don't have a favorite wall color. The comments of those in favor of black are for the most part correct. I worked in many studios/sound stages in Hollywood that were painted a battle ship gray, they worked fine, others were black or white.
    I frankly had no trouble adapting to any of them. However my preference
    for a small shooting room is White, for a large, warehouse or sound stage,
    gray or black can be an aid in building your light. I have never been bothered by stray light as I use "cutters" or "gobos" and screens/scrims to correct it. Or reflectors to push light into where I want it. I will completely tent an item with black velvet or use the same to subtract light as Leon Kannamer used to teach. I really don't think that wall color is very important. If one finds that a particular wall bounces light all over the place, paint it flat black, flat black actually reflects more light than gloss black. The gloss has specular highlights and the flat is more defused. I try to build my lighting to be stronger than the ambient light thus eliminating a potential problem of stray
    light. I did many years ago have a studio with a sky blue cealing about 15
    feet high. My first full length brides all wore blue tinted dresses until I found the culprit. :smile:
     
  8. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    & some whites will have artificial brightners that'll give a slight blue cast w/color film.
     
  9. Yuri

    Yuri Member

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    70% gray (flat) would be a good compromise. Not as depressing as all-black studio :wink: , and almost as good in controlling reflection.
     
  10. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Paint it white. Unless you're a gopher and prefer to live in a cave or tunnel.

    The small amount of bounced stray light will be unnoticeable.


    Michael
     
  11. Wally H

    Wally H Member

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    Most of our studios have been what we referred to as as low light efficiency studios (flat black in the shooting areas; walls, ceilings and floors). Chosen because of the our style of lighting we most commonly used (most of our work was product and still life. This type of studio has some cons: 1) it requires more watt seconds of gear 2) flat black is more easily marked and requires more touchup, but the pros (for us) far outweighed them. We also did a lot of multiple exposure photography and the low reflectance managed most stray light.

    We generally turned the shooting space into a high efficiency studio for most people shoots by covering the walls with white materials, (cloth, 8x10 sheets of foam core, etc).

    We made up for the "depressing" black space and clothing with our extremely exhuberant attitudes, loud blues music and drugs (caffeine of course)....