What Fabrics Make Good Backgrounds?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by rachell, Oct 18, 2006.

  1. rachell

    rachell TPF Noob!

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    I would like to buy some material from a fabric store to use as a background -- are there do's and don'ts to doing this?

    (I've done this before, and the felt-like tan colored fabric worked great, but the one that was similar to polyester and a dark red wine color turned out aweful. I don't know if it was the type of material that made the difference or the colors, so before I buy any more material I would like to make sure what I'm buying will work.)

    Thank you so much!
     
  2. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    In my experience fabric makes a difficult background to work with. it gets wrinkled and, unless you can throw it out of focus in the image, ends up calling too much attention to itself. I assume you want to use fabric because you need a large background. Go to the photo store and pick up a roll of background paper or two. I think you'll find it will do a better job. When you're finished shooting just toss it and take some more off the roll for the next shoot.

    Portrait photographers often use fabric but I think they use it in sets that don't change very often so they don't have to fight the wrinkling. If they shoot full figure portraits, I think they would use a paper sweep or a hard manufactured one, though, and not fabric. Whenever I shoot formal portraits - not very often - I use background paper.

    Colors would depend on the subject. For human portraits I would choose both a very light paper and a very dark one just to set the mood you want to capture - light for high key lighting and dark for low.
     
  3. EBphotography

    EBphotography TPF Junkie!

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    Check out the article section, nice article about making your own backdrops. Thanks to Corry I believe.
     
  4. Pirate

    Pirate TPF Noob!

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    I have to respectfully disagree with fmw on the question. My very first backgrounds were pieces of muslin that I bought from a fabric store and dyed to suit my needs. I have never used paper so I have no opinion on paper. I have 11 backdrops and all are a fabric of one kind or another. I have several that are professional drops purchased from Backdrop outlet, but I also will dye one to suit my needs as it's fun and it's custom to fit your needs. Go buy a piece of muslin or even a painters drop cloth from Home Depot. They dye well and don't worry about the wrinkles, they are easily removed with a portable steamer, or even a steam iron. If taken care of they last forever, and can be easily stored away when not in use.
     
  5. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    The trick to using fabric is to either use a frame to stretch it on or to use thumbtacks to stretch it. Fabric with sag and wrinkle if not stretched but thumbtacks on a sheetrock wall work well and a bit of toothpastes hides the tiny holes..

    Done it a thousand times,

    I used painted canvas I did myself for a studio drop when I didn't have to take it down and muslin or something similiar when i worked in the house in the early days \.
     
  6. rachell

    rachell TPF Noob!

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    Thanks you guys! With the fabric I used in the past, I put a bunch of nails in the wall, hung small A-clips from it and used that to hold the fabric up. I then drape it like a sweep down the wall and on the table, and then weight down the sides.

    As to wrinkles, all I do is throw the whole thing into the dryer for a little bit, or do a little ironing. My whole problem was knowing what fabrics photograph well before I spent money and time on something that doesn't work (which is what happened when I bought that aweful polyester stuff that seemed to suck up all the light)

    So muslin is the trick -- thanks you guys so much!
     
  7. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    muslin works well so does most any other cloth with a loose or flat surface.... I bought one that reflected the light nothing worse than a reflective black background. It was supposed to be dead black of course.
     

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