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Backgrounds for Portrait Photography, Page 2

by John H. Siskin

Camio A. with Blue Gel
Camio A. with Blue Gel
© John H. Siskin
All Rights Reserved
In this shot I added a blue gel. The background light and the subject light are at the same power. Pretty vivid blue, huh? Of course I wanted to make a point with this, in an actual portrait I would make the background darker, which is just a simple adjustment of strobe power.



Camilo A. with Orange Gel and Neutral Density
Camilo A. with Orange Gel and Neutral Density
© John H. Siskin
All Rights Reserved
Here I reduced power to the background light and used an orange gel. I think this is a very useable background.


Camilo A. with Red Gel Through the Background
Camilo A. with Red Gel Through the Background
© John H. Siskin
All Rights Reserved
In this last image, I put the background light behind the background and put the light through the background. I like this look; it seems more three-dimensional.


Sam V. #1
Sam V. #1
© John H. Siskin
All Rights Reserved
So there are a number of problems with small background that would make us want a professional quality background. What does that mean? Most importantly a background that is large and without seams running through it. This shot is made on a home made background.


It would also be nice to have a surface that isnít entirely even, but you can make some significant changes with lighting. The problem is that a background like this from Calumet, or another retailer, is going to cost about $130.00 for a 10X12 foot background and a little over $200.00 for a 10X24 foot background. I would of course suggest that you get the 24 foot background, since you can have someone stand on a larger background and still have options for lighting the background since you put the background further back.

Now I can understand if you donít want to spend the money for the background, money is hard to come by. Another reason to avoid buying a background is that if you canít go to the store and actually see it you may end up with a background you canít stand. Thatís really annoying if you spent a couple of hundred dollars for it.

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About Author / Instructor / Photographer, John H. Siskin
Photography Instructor: John H. SiskinJohn Siskin is a commercial and fine art photographer who makes architectural, portrait and macro images. He has worked for General Motors and Disney Studios. He teaches the BetterPhoto course An Introduction to Photographic Lighting and is the author of the book Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting: A Guide for Digital Photographers.

In addition, he teaches studio lighting black and white photography at Los Angeles Mission College. His studio is in Reseda California and more of his work can be seen at www.siskinphoto.com

His work has been part of many exhibits. His photographs have been shown at the Brand Library, 2nd City Art Gallery, Haroldís Gallery, Farmani Gallery, and The Atelier. He has been a participant in the Valley Studio Tour several times.

John has published quite a number of technical articles about photography. His articles have appeared in Photo Techniques, View Camera, Studio Photography and others. He has written about photographic lighting, building lenses, framing, photographic lab work, building cameras, as well as some more speculative photographic subjects. Since he is so well versed in photographic subjects, he is often hired as a consultant by businesses.


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