Portrait setup in basement?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by rollerbones, May 27, 2009.

  1. rollerbones

    rollerbones TPF Noob!

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    I just purchased a 50d a few months ago and now thinking of building a simple portrait setup in my basement. (2 daughters to take pics of) :D

    My basement has 9' ceilings and are unfinished. I will actually be using a section under a morning room above which will be aprox. 15' x 20' x 9'

    Money is not really an issue but I have a few questions...Should I leave the walls the poured cement gray color or paint then darker? Ceiling?
    As for lighting, I am finding all sorts of different setup's online but not sure what i should start off with..

    Thanks for any direction.
     
  2. TheMightyGoat

    TheMightyGoat TPF Noob!

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    I'm no professional, but I'd say you're putting too much effort into it. All you need to take a portrait is the right background, which you can do with a couple backdrops. Painting the poured cement will never yield the same result because it's porous and that texture will come through in the picture.

    You can take perfectly fine portraits with a big clean sheet of white paper. Of course, paper gets dirty, trampled and torn easily, so like I said above if you get a few simple backdrops I think you'll be way ahead of trying to paint/build anything in your basement. As for lighting, someone can probably advise you better than I - but knowing how to light evenly is most important.
     
  3. rollerbones

    rollerbones TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the reply. I see where you are coming from and I will just start off a little slower. I guess I need to find out about lighting next.

    Thanks again.
     
  4. TheMightyGoat

    TheMightyGoat TPF Noob!

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    One thing you could do if you just want to build something is build a lightbox. Basically a lightbox is just a structure that holds a white surface with no corners so that you can take a full picture of something (from the ground up) without showing any texture in the background.

    They're usually done for photographing small objects, but there's no reason you couldn't make one for people too. You'd just have to keep the floor clean and free of tears.
     
  5. djrichie28

    djrichie28 TPF Noob!

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    I am not a professional either, but I think that leaving the walls poured concrete will help with lighting conditions. The grey will reflect light better than darker. Not sure how much, but it might save you from an extra fill light.

    I know that you can do quite a bit using light reflection.

    I'd leave the walls and focus on cool backdrops.

    I've actually seen a professional portrait studio where the floor was concrete and walls were left unfinished. It all about the lighting when it comes to what you want to do.

    Good luck.
     
  6. Big Mike

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

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    I wouldn't worry too much about the walls. As long as they aren't s strong color, they should be OK. A colored wall might introduce that color into your images via bounced light.

    An unfinished ceiling might be nice for mounting your lights from above, rather than using stands. Light stands and cords are a tripping hazard and can be annoying...but they are certainly easy to move around.

    Personally, I might put in a flat white ceiling (drywall with pot lights) so that you can bounce light off of it when needed.

    You may want a backdrop support. One option is two stands with a cross bar. Easy to transport but it takes up room because the stands can't get right close to he wall. You could keep the bar but use hangers to mount it to the wall. Or you could put in a certain system for fabric backdrops.

    What is your budget? Would you just use the lights 'in studio' or would you ever take the lighting out of the house, outside perhaps?

    For entry level studio lights, I'd suggest looking at Elinchrom D-Lites or maybe Alien Bees. There are other good brands as well...but I would avoid anything that seems too cheap.
     
  7. rollerbones

    rollerbones TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the reply's.

    I will most likely just use this at home.
    Like I said the ceiling is 9' high with Open joists so I think it would
    be very easy to hang lighting from. I will try and get a pic of the area
    I plan on using.
     
  8. iadubber

    iadubber TPF Noob!

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    Does anyone have any pics of their small home studios?
     
  9. Big Mike

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

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    Keep in mind that while hanging the lights is great, it can also be a huge pain if they are not easily mobile. Sometimes you just have to move your light a couple inches, then a couple more, then you move it to a different spot altogether. I've seen some slick studios that have a multi-directional trolley system for their lights....very cool but expensive. Unless you can be really creative with it (or can spend a lot of money) it might be easier to just go with light stands (but get good sturdy ones).

    One thing to keep in mind is that length is really helpful for a studio. At times, you will want to have your subject rather far away from the background and still leave room for you to shoot.

    I wish I had 9 foot ceilings in my basement, that would be sweet.
     
  10. Sherman Banks

    Sherman Banks TPF Noob!

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    I'm surprised Tharmsen hasn't chimed in here. Didn't he just finish his basement studio?
     
  11. ANDS!

    ANDS! No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Colored walls might be nice if you want a simple "background" for more involved portraits (where you're setting up the whole scene and not just headshots). If all you are going for is static headshots then sure, the above set up is cool.
     
  12. DaleCozy

    DaleCozy TPF Noob!

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    When i've been experimenting with portraits i've just got a clean white bed sheet and stretched it along the wall and the floor it works wonders if you can get a nice clean stretch with no creases and its cheap and if it gets dirty you can just wash it :)
     

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