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What is the proper gear for seamless paper backdrops?


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Apr 21, 2011
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I'm looking at buying some seamless paper backdrops for my home studio. White, maybe grey and pink. Just for photos of my kids.

I've seen various size rolls at B&H and I am wondering the following:

1. Is 12 yards long sufficient or will I quickly run out of paper when it gets torn/dirty? They also offer 45 yards but that seems like a bit much.

2. I assume that the roll will fit over the bar that support my muslin backdrops. Correct?

3. I've heard that it can be difficult to roll the paper back up on the bar after using it because it doesn't want to go on straight. Do they make some type of "hardware" that makes it easier to re-roll the paper after use?

4. Am I better off going with something less wide (60" wide) versus something wider (107")?

Narrow rolls of paper are not of much use for people photography. You really DO want the 107" wide rolls! Yes, the roll will probably fit over the backdrop that supports your muslin. The thing is, if you REALLY want the paper to roll up evenly and easily, it's best to have a "real" background system, in which a large-diameter backdrop support pole goes through the paper and it is fitted with expanding plugs at both ends of the roll, to ensure a centered, good fit. I am talking about the Bogen Expan-Drive system, specifically, with the chain-drive roll-up/roll-down, and their large-diameter backdrop support rods. A "normal", approx. 1 inch diameter rod is not big enough to fill the center core area of a roll of background paper, so the roll of paper just sot of "hangs there" and flops around as the paper is rolled up by hand, at one end...if you have two people, hand-rolling the paper back up when using a small-diameter rod, you can get a pretty good tight,even roll-up on it.

It might seem odd to some people, but there ARE those who tape-up the end of the paper, often to a thin strip of board or metal, and then leave the roll on THE FLOOR, and suspend the END OF THE PAPER...which eliminates a number of issues that otherwise creep up with seamless rolls...this method is something relatively new to me, and it does appear to offer some advantages...

TAPE, tape, tape...I like to have plenty of tape when working with paper. As well as small and medium-sized "A" clamps, from Home Depot, as a way to keep paper in position, and to make it easier to handle when working alone. Paper gets bent mostly when it moves on its own, with its own "weight" causing crinkles in it...if you have two people, one on each side of the roll, they can alleviate much of the handling issues...otherwise, you need to take the end-edge of the paper and wrap it around a strip of board or pipe, so as to be able to maintain control over the "other edge" of the paper some eight to nine feet away from your body. When UN-ROLLING a 9 foot wide backdrop paper suspended near the ceiling on a plain, straight rod, what happens is the weight of the paper itself will cause the pappr to start coming off the roll very FAST, and before you know it, it will over-run, and cause dents...so, unless you have a PERSON controlling the rate of un-rolling, and standing AT THE ROD/ROLL juncture, un-rolling a suspended roll of paper can cause dents and creases. THis is why the CHAIN-driven, large-core, tightly-fitted Bogen Expan-Drive background system is so, so handy for a one-man shop...and why some smart people arre starting to realize--hey...I can leave the feed supply on the FLOOR, and simply hang the END of the paper up across the ceiling area...
I am talking about the Bogen Expan-Drive system, specifically, with the chain-drive roll-up/roll-down, and their large-diameter backdrop support rods.

This is exactly what I was looking at and thinking of buying. Might really simplify my life. Thanks for the post Derrell.

Any thoughts on 12 yards versus 40+ yards? 40 yards is going to be really heavy. I wonder if my light poles can support the weight.

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