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Old 18-10-2007, 18:41   #1 (permalink)
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Question Studio backgrounds/backdrops

I'm currently researching studio kit - mainly just so that I can do some studio style portraits of my daughter, now six weeks old.

If I'm a very good boy, I'm hoping Santa might help out with some Elinchrom D-lite 2s...

But I wanted to ask if anyone had recommendations regarding backgrounds.

It seems that a background support - cross bar with vertical supports either end - is the way to go if the kit is to be at least semi-portable.

But what to hang from it? Muslin seems to be recommended in plenty of places. I think I'd be looking for white, grey (or slightly textured grey) and possibly black. I like the idea of using coloured gels to make the white background more flexible, rather than buying a coloured BG.
I think I'd be looking for a long background or one with a 'train' so I can get that effect of being in a big space without the giveaway of a corner where floor meets wall.

Does this sound sensible? Does anyone have tips to share on pros and cons of various background materials and colours, please?

I'm a little confuzzled (easily done!), so any help would be much appreciated.
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Old 18-10-2007, 19:01   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Studio backgrounds/backdrops

Not really an answer to your question, but some thoughts I've been collecting.

Been thinking about making a small "studio" myself @ home, and have thought of different "solutinos". Backgrounds/backdrop: I'm on the cheap side (I guess you could call me a bit stingy, but it's just a hobby and I'm an amateur). Roller curtains of different colours. Simple, easy to setup and take down and available in most colours.
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Old 18-10-2007, 21:11   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Studio backgrounds/backdrops

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Originally Posted by Geir Andersen View Post
Not really an answer to your question, but some thoughts I've been collecting.

Been thinking about making a small "studio" myself @ home, and have thought of different "solutinos". Backgrounds/backdrop: I'm on the cheap side (I guess you could call me a bit stingy, but it's just a hobby and I'm an amateur). Roller curtains of different colours. Simple, easy to setup and take down and available in most colours.
I hear ya! I just use This or you can buy 2 for 7.99...Height adjustable and easily dismantled, bought a cheap curtain pole hooked the two together for horizontal adjustment + 3 or 4 meters of cheap fabric, bought both black and white. Cost less than 20 altogether......and all just to practice.

You can view some of the shots I got near the bottom of the page Here using this set up.
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Old 18-10-2007, 21:59   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Studio backgrounds/backdrops

I'm sure some of the cheap hanging rails you can get from places like Ikea and Argos as suggested by Ken would be ideal, but you might find them a bit narrow for longer shots unless you extend the width as he suggested. His solution looks really good to me

The studio that our photographers use has a similar (but custom made) design that holds three rolls of material on the bottom that can be raised and clipped to the top. They use black, white and light blue most of the time. I'll have to have a look and see what the material is, I suspect it is paper.

If you use Ken's idea, you could put the roll on the top pole and not only bring it to the bottom, but also extend it forward to act as a FG too.
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Old 18-10-2007, 22:13   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Studio backgrounds/backdrops

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You can view some of the shots I got near the bottom of the page Here using this set up.
Looks like it's definitely worth spending the money on if this shot's any indication Ken, that's a cracker!

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Old 18-10-2007, 22:18   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Studio backgrounds/backdrops

That shot blew me away as well .
Just amazingly adorable
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Old 18-10-2007, 22:34   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Studio backgrounds/backdrops

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Originally Posted by Sonsey View Post
Looks like it's definitely worth spending the money on if this shot's any indication Ken, that's a cracker!

I'd love a proper set-up but just wouldn't use it enough to justify the cost when there is so many other things taking my money + all the other things i'd like/need to buy as well......and you don't learn unless you practice, thought this was a cheap alternative.
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Old 18-10-2007, 22:51   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Studio backgrounds/backdrops

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thought this was a cheap alternative.

Certainly seems so Ken, I might have to invest in the same myself
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Old 18-10-2007, 23:48   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Studio backgrounds/backdrops

When considering background sizes think in terms of the combination of lens focal length and background width. Since one effect of long focal lengths is to 'pull in' the background, the longer the FL is the narrower the background can be for the same subject to background distance.

For head shots, a method used by some beauty photographers (including me several years back) was to use A2 sized graduated coloured sheets of paper from a graphic supplies shop and a 200-300mm lens. The paper was placed quite close behind the subject but soft due to short DoF.

Many studio photographers create interesting backgrounds from the cheapest of materials, plain white fabric, muslin, anything really. Matt emulsion paint on 6x4 foot plywood sheets works well and can be changed quickly for any colour you have paint for. Also, interesting abstract BGs can be created easily with matt paint.

Experimentation is the order of the day.

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Old 19-10-2007, 01:05   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Studio backgrounds/backdrops

I use a Falcon Eye background support from

Falcon Eyes Supports & Stands - Morco

The wife bought some black velvet material and this is very good for small group and single portraits.

I did try using a collapsible background but found it very frustrating trying to fold it up single handedly.

I have just today bought a Sigma 17-70mm as at the last portrait session at the weekend I used 3 different lenses, a Sigma 30mm for a 5 group, 50mm for two people and a Canon 60mm macro for Head shots. The problem was that there appeared to be a colour shift between the 3 lenses. Hence the purchase of the 17-70 lens to cover all shots. I also purchased a new Canon 30D (but don't tell the wife or I am dead).

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Old 19-10-2007, 12:18   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Studio backgrounds/backdrops

Quote:
Originally Posted by emmettleffel View Post
don't tell the wife or I am dead
I know that problem. Your secret is safe with us.

Thanks for all the tips and advice, folks. It seems the best type of support depends on how collapsible/portable it needs to be. A couple of hooks on the wall with a pole in between might be tidier - and just as cheap - as the 'tidy rail' solution... if it could stay up on the wall in a permanent studio or the garage or summat.
The Falcon Eyes Support as used by emmettleffel looks to be much more suitable for folding up for the car boot to take to a location and the price isn't as bad as I'd expected. Some more pondering for me on this one, I think.

As for backgrounds, muslin or cloth in at least black and white would seem to be a sensible start - at least that's the general consensus I reckon.

Nice tip from Les on using a much longer focal length to reduce the amount of background in the shot... it's typical of a tip which is obvious when you think about it but I'd not have considered using a telephoto in a studio (I guess just due to my own habit/prejudice!). I'd like to snap my bro in front of one of his artworks this way - cheers Les!

KenCo - you've got some really nice portraits of the kids there. Very inspirational as that's exactly the type of thing I'm looking to achieve.
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Old 19-10-2007, 12:27   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Studio backgrounds/backdrops

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...I'd not have considered using a telephoto in a studio (I guess just due to my own habit/prejudice!).
Most pro portrait and fashion/beauty photographers prefer to use quite long lenses as it gives facial features a better look. On 35mm it is not unusual to see pro's using 200-300mm lenses and on medium format 250mm is used a lot.

As previously mentioned this use of the long lens also allows greater control of backgrounds: especially 'busy' BGs.

Obviously, longer lenses indoors requires a longer shooting distance.

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Old 19-10-2007, 14:24   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Studio backgrounds/backdrops

Let me know what you get for backgrounds GS , OH thinks its a good idea to change 1/2 our garage into a studio lol yipee
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Old 19-10-2007, 14:36   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Studio backgrounds/backdrops

No doubt my missus would think it a good idea too, if it forced me to clear out the garage...

... nah, that's not gonna happen; who am I kidding!?
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Old 19-10-2007, 15:06   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Studio backgrounds/backdrops

pmsl Luckily ours hasnt got much in it appart for motorcycles and they can sit at the front if I MDF it in 1/2 Mwhahahahahaha
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Old 19-10-2007, 18:57   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Studio backgrounds/backdrops

Quote:
Originally Posted by KenCo View Post
You can view some of the shots I got near the bottom of the page Here using this set up.
Ken.
What lighting equipment did you use here Ken ?
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Old 19-10-2007, 20:52   #17 (permalink)
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What lighting equipment did you use here Ken ?
Only lighting I have and used was the 580ex mounted on camera set on fill, bounced off ceiling no defuser.
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Old 20-10-2007, 12:33   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Studio backgrounds/backdrops

Impressive results with that
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Old 22-10-2007, 17:01   #19 (permalink)
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Impressive results with that
Lucky I think!
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Old 22-10-2007, 17:40   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Studio backgrounds/backdrops

wish i had room for a background to go up!
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