Background Material

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by rmh159, Apr 26, 2009.

  1. rmh159

    rmh159 TPF Noob!

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    I'd like to get something to use a black background when shooting portraits or whatever. What type of material would work best? Adorama has velour which seems logical. Anyone have any recommendations?
     
  2. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Velour will eat light like you won't believe. You won't be able to gel it effectively were you to want to. Beside black backgrounds for portraits is just.........lacks creativity? Boring is what I want to say.

    I would getting gray (Thunder Gray) seamless paper because you then have a lot more options and can make it just about any color except white by using gels on speedlights, strobes, or just flood lights from the hardware store. You can even make it black since with strobes your shutter speed only controls the exposure of the background. You can set your camera to rear curtain sync to stop any motion blur with your strobes if your subject moves yet still control subject exposure with your aperture.
     
  3. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I can make it white easily. ;)
    Just blow it out with light.

    About any background can be made any colour using a separate light and gels... or understanding the inverse square law of light and how it relates to shutter speed... make it pure black.

    Medium grey is a good starting point, so it doesn't necessarily need to be black. But just to let you know, you can take a white painted wall and light your subject and so underexpose the white wall, that it looks totally black... and all for free, without needing to buy black velour or paper or anything.
     
  4. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Personally I have had issues with fabric. Just never had the patience to get it to fall the way I wanted. If you are looking at the background in a box I say go for it. The material sounds like it is versatile plus the price is right. I am guessing that you already have a background stand. In addition I would also suggest 5 or more spring clamps. This material can take on a life of it's own when bunched up properly.

    P.S Checked out whereismymind.net I dig your work.

    Love & Bass
     
  5. bdavis

    bdavis TPF Noob!

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    I would say dont buy a black background, buy a white one because you can make it white, black, and any shade in between by controlling your light. To make it white, blast it with lights so that its 2 stops brighter than the subject and it will show up white. To make it black, shoot in a semi-dark room, use some lighting to light your subject but make sure they are far enough away from the wall so that you don't get light spilling on it, then shoot at your cameras sync speed and you can turn the white background to black.
     
  6. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I say to hell with all fabrics ( :lol: ) ... use the great outdoors or whatever is around you... once you know how, it is easy to control the background either with light, colour, blur or darkness.

    If you just want a fast example, though, a medium grey background can be made many colours:

    From black or near black:
    [​IMG]
    Reds:
    [​IMG]

    Blues:
    [​IMG]

    ... and any colour in my gel pack set. If I wanted a pure white background, all I would have needed to do is place a "stoffen" on my small flash, advance the model and the flash about 2 more feet, increase the power of the flash to something between 1/2-full power and my background would have been so white, it would have been brighter than her white dress.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2009
  7. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    As mentioned, you can make any background look how you want with the right lighting. A dark/black background can still be useful though. For example, I've shot in plenty of tight situations where I didn't have much room to separate the subject from the background...nor did I have enough hands or accessories to fully contain the light to just the models. In this case, having a dark background just makes it easier to underexpose it.

    You can be the judge as to how bright/dark or colorful you want your background to be. Plain black can sometimes be boring...but many clients won't see it that way...they are more concerned about the subject in the photo.
     
  8. rmh159

    rmh159 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks everyone for the feedback!

    The reason I was thinking the plain black background is because I'll be using it to shoot a newborn. So he'll likely be laying right on the fabric while I take the shot which I think would pose problems in exposing him correctly while underexposing the background.

    * Thanks Craig for the site compliments. Greatly appreciated!!
     
  9. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    How so? Don't expose for the background... expose for the baby's skin tones. You should not have any such issues you are mentioning unless you are doing it on purpose. Don't forget to set the focus point on the eyes too... that is just as important.

    For some baby shot ideas, look up the queen of baby photography, Anne Geddes.
     
  10. photograham

    photograham TPF Noob!

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    I like the velour also
    [​IMG]
     
  11. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I think they are saying they need the black fabric so that they can expose for the skin tones while leaving the background/fabric dark.

    Sure, in a typical portrait shoot, you can set a white background to photograph as black...but you can't do that when the subject is right on a white fabric.
     
  12. rmh159

    rmh159 TPF Noob!

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    Right, exactly. Plus that close I'm sure light from the flash will hit the background.
     

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