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Photography Question 
Danielle E. Rutter
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2006
 

Photo Backdrops


In every department store portrait studio I've worked in there have been a few photo backdrops. Not just the plain muslin. And although I tend to prefer the plain muslin, I know that there are customers who will always prefer the photo backdrop - especially at times like Christmas when they want a tree in their portrait. So now that I'm going to be opening my own portrait studio, I'm wondering how to make those. I saw this thing being sold on eBay that would take your image and blow it up nice and HUGE, and you'd print each 8x10 by 8x10 and then paste them all together in some way. It seems like you wouldn't need a program to do that, though. So I'm just wondering if any of you studio photographers out there have any photo backdrops and how you got them. Thanks!!


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7/9/2006 8:38:55 AM

 
Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
  Danielle,
Those are canvas backdrops. They can come cheap and will look very cheap. Those on the rollers you use now are an excellent quality and are very expensive but will last a lifetime, which is something to remember as you choose them. Pick a theme that will transcend some years. (They got those from Dennys.)
When using your own photos for backdrops, make sure they put absolutely NO glaze or sealer of any kind on them. As a company, they had to send those small ones they have back 3-4 times until they were done right. Any bit of glaze was send a flare.
I hope this helps; let me know if you want to discuss lights. I do hope this helps,
Debby


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7/9/2006 8:53:25 AM

 
Pat Worster
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/21/2004
  I have backdrops that I made out of sheets and spray paint that are really easy, inexpensive, and they wash really well. New Blue in my gallery is the first one I did.


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7/9/2006 9:35:48 AM

 
Danielle E. Rutter
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2006
  Thanks Debby and Pat!

Yeah, Debby, I heard that I actually still have one backdrop in my studio that I'm not supposed to use because of glare. Unfortunately I don't know which one it is. :P I hardly ever use those ones, though, cause they're really annoying to roll and unroll. But that is where I got the idea from.

Pat, I am definitely going to be making my own backdrops like the spray paint one you did. I don't know if I'll tyedye it or spray paint it... but I'm just wondering about photo backdrops because I know there are a lot of people who like a picturesque background as opposed to plain color.

Thanks again!!


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7/9/2006 7:52:18 PM

 
Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
  Oh those are a pain! I thought you were talking about the installed motor mount canvas backdrops .
They must have removed them from your studio already.
the things they are getting rid of???
It just makes a photographers life more difficult.
if you are looking for lights, I have a like new (used 3 times) set of Calumet lights complete with softbox , umbrellas , stands and a CD set.
I will be listing tonight on ebay.
just a thought , I don't know if your ready yet or not.
I do hope all is going well for you,
Debby


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7/10/2006 6:34:19 AM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2005
  If you lit your "plain background" evenly, you could add "any background" you want using photoshop digital editing after etching. Lighting the background evenly is crucial - then edit like per "chroma key" or "blue wall" editing done in films and TV.
It would be more time consuming overall (having to etch each pic), but the ability to add "anything" including lighting effects for plain backdrops is "freedom" with no expense (except time).
As one becomes more experienced with "etching" it will get easier and quicker (and maybe this is where post-pro "assistants" come in).
Forking out a lot of money for serious backdrops that will age very quickly... and become repititious (ie: all your portraits look the same).
The additional time involved with digital editing is one price to pay for true creativity and limitless variety.
(Note: Pay special attention to hairlines with this method).


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7/10/2006 6:54:44 AM

 
Steve Parrott
LightAnon.com
  As Roy stated, using "digital backdrops" is much more cost effective. You can by CDs with hundreds of backgrounds to drop into your photo. I made a book with examples of all my digital backgrounds for people to look through and pick what they want. Buying "real" backgrounds is a never ending cycle. When do you stop buying??? After you have spent thousands of dollars and still may have some things no one likes? Learning to put your subject into the digital background is the hard part, but like anything else, it takes practice and good tecnique. One more thing, I always tell my clients that YOU should be what the portrait is about, not the background. The background should never overpower the person, but only be a discreet enhancement to the portrait. Unfortunately, many people are really hung up on backgrounds and don't understand what a true portrait should be. In other words I try to talk them into using one of the 3 muslin drapes I have for a more "classy" look, (and to save me doing the work of digitally changing the background).


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7/10/2006 7:55:12 AM

 
Denise Sturman   Pat,
What kind of sheets did you use, and what kind of spray paint? Could you send a digital image of your backdrops?
I'd love to see them,
Thanks


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7/10/2006 9:21:34 AM

 
Danielle E. Rutter
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2006
  I always thought the digital backgrounds looked very fake. Could you guys show me some of your examples using them and prove me wrong?

No, Debby, I'm not ready for the lighting yet.


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7/10/2006 10:14:48 AM

 
Steve Parrott
LightAnon.com
  Yes, the digital backgrounds can look fake, and they can also look very good. Again, the photo should be about the PERSON, the background should not necessarily be crystal clear and overpowering. If you want to see a photo of a digital background that I used to good effect, go to my website, look under PORTRAITS in the gallery, and look at "Palace Prison". The lady was sitting in front of a grey muslin. I put the background in later. PS, it always helps to take the photo with the background you are going to use in mind. Pose the subject to compliment the background. Her placement and pose was exactly what I wanted for that particular background. www.parrottimaging.com


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7/10/2006 10:48:32 AM

 
Pat Worster
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/21/2004
  Denise I have my latest one and a couple others in my gallery, New Blue is one of them and I have a red, white, and blue one and also a brown one. I will put a photo of a digital backdrop in my gallery now.


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7/10/2006 11:02:45 AM

 
Pat Worster
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/21/2004
  Lindy I accidentally deleted your email. The flame backdrop mostly flat but scrunshed just a little for detail. I use two colors and continually spray them at the same time shaking and moving all ove it . I got my 200 count black sheet at Walmart for 11.00.


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7/10/2006 11:15:04 AM

 
Pat Worster
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/21/2004
  Has anyone experimented with the spray paint backdrops, I would like to see some of them.


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7/15/2006 4:32:52 AM

 
Pat Worster
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/21/2004
  Just wanted to say I had a request for directions on doing the spray paint backdrops, I have added them to my gallery. Pat


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7/19/2006 6:59:31 AM

 
Pat Worster
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/21/2004
  I leave mine laying flat when it is done for a few hours so the paint smell goes away and it really dries good so when you fold it it won't stick together. You can wash these and iron the backside if you don't like the wrinkles. They are so easy and inexpensive to make. I also so did one with a speciality paint that makes it look like granite but have not photographed it yet.


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7/19/2006 7:11:12 AM

 
  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 8:20:16 AM

 
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