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Photography Question 
Brooke Peterschmidt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/20/2004

Suggestions for Studio Backdrops

I am setting up a studio in a room of my house, and I'm trying to figure out what type of backdrop I should buy. The room is carpeted, so paper is not an option. I would prefer a white vinyl background to start out with, but the places I've seen it for sale seem really expensive. Other options I've considered are just getting a white muslin or canvas and using it until I can afford white vinyl. But I would rather have a backdrop that will drape smoothly without wrinkling. Does anyone have any suggestions as to where I might find reasonably priced backdrops? Or are there other backdrops available that I haven't considered? Thanks!

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1/16/2005 7:39:36 AM


BetterPhoto Member
The only ones that I can think of are Denny Mfg and Maheu. Some of my students mention Amvoco. I have never seen white vinyl before, but if it is shiny then your lights will reflect hot spots in it, and that may be a problem.

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1/16/2005 6:17:46 PM

Brooke Peterschmidt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/20/2004
  Thanks for the suggestions. I have actually seen photographers using vinyl backdrops in their pictures, and the vinyl is not glossy - it has a matte finish. I really like the effect that vinyl gives. It's so white and smooth that it fades into nothingness.

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1/17/2005 8:01:42 AM

Kim Moyle   B&H has some really nice collapsible backdrops that may do untill you can afford the vinyl. They collape to stay cleaan and tidy, but are streched when opened so you don't get any wrinkles!

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1/18/2005 5:58:03 AM

Robert Currie
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/15/2004
  I was doing exactly what you're doing and while researching backdrops, came across a neat website: I purchased four backdrops which are muslin in four shades (grey, sand, blue and peach). I put them to use right away and found them to be excellent. They are very light so I could use masking tape to hang the backdrop from the ceiling in my client's living room. I got excellent results. Some are posted on my website in the people and portraits section.
Good luck!
Rob Currie

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1/18/2005 3:49:11 PM

katy Sinclair
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/10/2004
  Don't rule out paper!
I have been using a white paper backdrop in my carpeted home studio and have had great success! Here is what I did:
I went to my local hardware/lumber store and bought a 4'x8' sheet of faux wood paneling. It cost me under $10 and I use it as a 'platform' under my paper backdrop. As long as your subject(s) are able to stay on that platform you should have no problems. The great thing is, when the shoot is over, up rolls the paper and the paneling leans on my back wall and the room is back to normal...almost!
Just an option - works wonders for me.
Best of luck with whichever you choose!
Katy Sinclair

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1/18/2005 4:56:09 PM

Tanya    I have ordered from Funky Backdrops too - they are Canadian (as am I, so I like dealing with them). I've never done it, but a suggestion is: put plywood on your carpet; get a roll of linoleum, turn it over, paint that side (you can keep painting it over and over, any color you want). Stick the roll on a backdrop stand (heavy duty) and use that as your backdrop, and it will also come out onto your floor, providing a seamless edge. Do some research on this... I know I heard it mentioned lots. I use muslin, and it's supposed to be wrinkled so you don't have to worry about every little crease.

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1/18/2005 4:57:54 PM

Stephen Cottrill  
Fuji FinePix 602z, high res, aperture mode, F8, 250
3 JTL 110 lights, 1 to each side, one in front, 1 to the side using white umbrella, other silver umbrella. white umbrella on the front light.

© Stephen Cottrill
Fuji FinePix S602 ...
Another option that I saw a young guy use, and I since have done myself, is to go to wlmart/frabic shop, buy the cheapest white fabric you can find, (may have to hunt around). buy some Ritz dye, then dye the cloth the colors you want. I kinda ended up with a tie-dyed effect on 4 pieces, that work out well. light weight, etc. A few pics are on my page at OMP.

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1/18/2005 5:06:30 PM

Mary A. Reich   I also use white (and and other colored) paper in my home studio which has carpeting. Only I use a couple of the plastic floor mats that are used in offices to go over carpeting so your chair will glide across it. The floor/chair mats also have little teeth in them so they won't slide on the carpet.

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1/18/2005 5:11:57 PM

dennis w. mcclain   2 sites to check out,
they have pretty good deals, I caught a special on 3 blem muslins for 100 buck ,and one of the ones they give u is big, and
check out the alternitive they have some good deals on value, back drops

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1/18/2005 5:20:56 PM

Joseph Rutsky   If you are looking for white, then maybe a white muslin combined with a bright background light. This will ensure that the background is white in the picture. I am going to check out muslin at a fabric shop and make my own backdrops.

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1/18/2005 5:33:37 PM

Marnie Bigelow   Just wondering if you've checked ebay, they have some pretty good deals on there you just have to keep watching for them. Good Luck!!!

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1/18/2005 5:46:00 PM

dennis w. mcclain   yea I have also used muslin from a fabric store, it works, just get the widest they have, ranges from 4-6 dollors a yard, just be sure to have the ends surged, so they dont ravel. I use curtin clips, so no need for a rod pocket. oh u will want to bleach it when u get it, hang it right out of the dyer,and your ready to start shooting. person aly I like using black background, they make your subject pop. I use a homemade reflector to bounce light back under the eyes, makes really good protraits on women and kidds

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1/18/2005 5:46:08 PM

Renee Whitley   I bought a portable backdrop support and have been using 2 king size sheets. I have 2 sets, one black and the other white. They work great because they do not seams and are wide.

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1/18/2005 5:50:47 PM

Maynard  McKillen   Dear Brooke:
IF you plan to use this space solely as a studio space, could you paint the wall white? Or, if it happens to be brick, or has a texture you don't like, you could drywall over it. It won't give you the seamless option, but will still work well for subjects that aren't too large.
Incidentally, you can drape sheer fabrics in front of it for a different look, or aim strobes with colored gels at it to change the background color.

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1/18/2005 6:08:16 PM

Shannon Borri   I use 4' by 8' sheets of rulan under $10 at a lumber yard. I get bedsheets from the local goodwill .50 to 3 bucks.
You can find cartoon sheets or team sheets you name it someone put it on a sheet. Thumbtack the sheets to the rulan works great. You do not want to know about my lights.

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1/18/2005 6:44:33 PM

Robert Mann
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/17/2003
Contact Robert
Robert's Gallery
  I have a small studio in my apartment. I have book stand over my old computer and the front is draped in black velvet. I have also used textured hand made paper from art supply stores.
Here are two other sites to check for backgrounds and other studio needs: AND:
BTW....time to get a new piece of black velvet!

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1/18/2005 7:33:48 PM

Nancy Villwock   Call me crazy, but white vinyl makes me think shower curtain. Easy to find, easy to replace. Just a thought!

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1/18/2005 9:13:10 PM

Heather    I have a roll of white vinyl - I got it at Jo-Ann's in the home decorating section. They have several solid colors. The white was $6.99/yd. They often run coupons and sales, so you can usually get it cheaper. I got 5 yards of it, it rolls up on a cardboard tube and it looks great. It's not shiny, so no hot spots.

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1/19/2005 6:22:23 AM

Alana Broome   I got a few really nice muslins on ebay. I would check there. I hang it up a few hour before I use it to get the wrinkles out and I hang it tight so that it drapes nicely.

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1/19/2005 9:03:12 AM

Keith G. Williams   Brooke, if it's a budget issue, go to walmart or a craft store and choose whatever color material you like at a fairly reasonable price.

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1/19/2005 1:36:35 PM

Gregg    Build a platform. Three 3/8 inches of chipbeard, three 5/8 inch smooth chipboard, and plastic. Start with laying out the plastic so the chipboard will not stain the carpet. Lay out the 3/8 chipboard in any formation you want. (some cutting may be necessary along with additional sheets of chipboard. Lay the 5/8 on top of this overlapping seams. Screw the top into the lower sheets. Fill the holes with spackle or joint compound. I cover the seams with duct tape. This provides a very sturdy flooring with no flexing. Now go seamless from Superior papers (about $40 per roll)and make sure it has a core tube. Buy 3/4 inch x 9 foot electrical conduit. Run the through the core. You can now hang the from the ceiling with strong hooks.

Good Luck

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1/21/2005 7:09:11 AM

Sheri Fletcher   I've taken photography classes at our vo-tech and our teacher has suggested buying the Vellux blankets. He says they don't wrinkle and they're always ready to use and look good with the texture. There are various colors to choose from and right now JCPenny's has them in their catalog for $20, any size. Not sure when the sale ends.

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1/21/2005 3:06:40 PM

Julie Wall
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/19/2004
  Sweet Pea's Portrait
Sweet Pea's Portrait
© Julie Wall
Fuji FinePix S5000...
Wow...I'm glad that I read this one. Good suggestions. I've been using a retractable shower curtain and hanging a plain colored sheet from it and setting it atop my two highboys in the living room. I have no studio, either. :)

There were also some good suggestions at the Popular Photography website, also. I believe it is.

I have found that using a solid colored sheet also gives you the ability to noodle with background effects in your graphics program. I use PaintShop and Photoshop, and came up with the following and only used a light blue sheet for the backdrop. I believe this was "angled strokes" in Photoshop, if I remember correctly.

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1/30/2005 5:14:09 PM

  Go to the fabric store and buy 5 yards of 108" muslin, either works. Then buy a bottle of liquid rit dye and a bottle of fray check. Fray check makes the unfinished edges of the fabric not unravel. Find the two unfinished edges of the fabric, and apply the fray check according to package directions. Let it dry. Next, in your kitchen sink run the water until it is as hot as can be only fill it 2/3 of the way full. Add l cup of salt and stir with a black plastic spoon. Then add the dye. Roll your fabric up scrunching it as you go to make a random pattern. Get the fabric wet in the other side of the sink. Place the wet muslin fabric in the dye bath. DO NOT stir it. If you stir it you will not get the two toned effect. Wipe up any spills right away with a wet paper towel. Set a time for 30 minutes for light color, 45 for medium color, and 60 + minutes for a darker color. Put on rubber gloves and drain the sink. Run warm water over the fabric squeezing all the dye out. When the water is clear, or close to it, put the cloth in an old grocery bag and take it to your washer machine. Add detergent to warm water and wash the fabric. Dry and then you will have a professional looking background for around $35.00. I did one for only $14.50 yesterday because muslin was on sale for 1/3 off at Hobby Lobby and I printed a 40% off any one item coupon on their website and used that for the dye.

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8/12/2006 8:14:19 AM

Nancy S. Ottenweller
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/22/2005
  Thanks, H
I've printed your instructions ... can't wait to try it.

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8/15/2006 8:32:17 PM

Pat Worster
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/21/2004
  Hi Brooke, I see you have lots of suggestions. I had a backdrop stand made from pVC pipe and it works great. I also have some of my home made backdrops that are simple and very inexpensive to make in my gallery if you care to check them out.

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8/16/2006 9:50:36 AM

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