Yet another backdrop question...

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by schuylercat, Feb 6, 2008.

  1. schuylercat

    schuylercat TPF Noob!

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    Hi all,

    This is probably a retread, but I gotta ask: I need to work out a bit on my portrait skills and haven't a dime to spend, specifically on backdrops. Muslins run over my range. Sheets, on the other hand...

    Well, I know some people have used them, so I wanted to ask about your experiences. 1000 thread count egyptian cotton sheets are as much as a muslin and too dang shiny. What about flannel? Maybe el-cheap-o Wal-Mart 120 TC grey ones? Any feedback is welcome...

    Tx!
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    I just use cheap bed sheets but the more important part is how you light them (or keep light away from them).
     
  3. Cinka

    Cinka TPF Noob!

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    Experiment a little. You can use ANYTHING as a backdrop if properly lit. I plan on using bulk fabric purchased from the garment district in LA.
     
  4. butterflygirl

    butterflygirl TPF Noob!

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    I love seamless paper! It comes in all sorts of colors and has no wrinkles! Plus a four-foot roll (length-wise) is around $40. You can't go wrong!
     
  5. BHupp

    BHupp TPF Noob!

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    I haven’t tried it yet but have talked to a few photographers that use linoleum remnants. They use the front and back side. It would be pretty bulky so you would need storage space.
     
  6. schuylercat

    schuylercat TPF Noob!

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    Big Mike - I experimented with sheets (back before my hard drive blew and I lost my examples) and found a few things: really expensive ones, 1000 thread count, really are just shiny enough to be unuseable. Cheap-cheap-cheap ones, including flannel, work WAY better. Oh, and Buzz Lightyear sheets didn't work nearly as well as The Wiggles...

    Cinka - I'm thinking Wal-Mart - the ones here have massive fabric sections. Problem is, they sell it a yard wide, so I'll have to sew. Still worth looking, thanks!

    Butterflygirl - my daughter has an easel with a roll of paper on it. It's kind thin, but as a test I gave her some paints and said "go nuts." She did. What was left was a backdrop that was absolutely remarkable: grey where colors mixed, deep reds and browns and purples, and spots oif brilliant colors. VERY cool backdrop! Not very big, though. I think I will find a big peice of flat cardboard and cut her loose on it...

    BHupp - Since Big Mike recommended it months ago, I've been surfing strobist ( http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/ ) and have tried a few of their workshops...although I have no strobe, just my built-in flash and a Canon 430EZ that isn't compatible with my EOS 40D (but set to 1/4 power and popped, it makes neat things happen). Strobist had a portrait workshop for background spot lighting, and the best setups came from the weirdest places: one guy set his walnut coffee table on end and used it. VERY cool results. Can't imagine the right linoleum wouldn't make interesting things happen...

    All cool thoughts - thanks again!
     
  7. nicfargo

    nicfargo TPF Noob!

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    Go buy a cheap piece of drywall board. Plenty big enough, and cheap. Also, you can paint it if you really want. I'd go gray so you could easily blow it out or not light it and get black. Just a thought.
     
  8. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Drywall painted 18% grey (flat paint), is perfect for technically good photographs and I plan on using those, however there is a local store that handles all kinds of materials and I will be looking for leftovers of black satin or other interesting designs that I could drape over that framed drywall section for my protrait practicing sessions. End of rolls can be very reasonable.
     
  9. elemental

    elemental TPF Noob!

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    I have gotten good results with Wal-Mart white sheets. I'm not sure what they are, I just went in and asked for the cheapest sheets they had. I bought two twins for $2 each or something like that. If you go this route, I would suggest that you keep your subject a decent distance in front and make sure to use a nice shallow depth of field, and the little "imperfections" (a.k.a. where the two sheets met in my case) will be minimized. Also, as was mentioned before, play around with the light so it doesn't render your "custom" backdrop translucent.
     
  10. notelliot

    notelliot TPF Noob!

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    one of the most fun back grounds i ever used was a projector screen (y'know the ones that roll down, like in highschool science class [maybe they have them at universities/colleges, too :lmao:]). it was fun because it was soo difficult to light properly - glared and reflected light like a mother.. but at the same time, it worked, very well, and taught me a handful of techniques.
    i guess what i'm saying is that anything will work as long as you play with it.
     
  11. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    A projector screen would be cool if you used it in a darker scenario and placed a bright spot on it to give the heads of your subjects a ring or glow around them. Being reflective, they would be great as a hair light and serve as a natural reflector.
     

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