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Monday, May 02, 2011
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Q&A 1: Vinyl Background...

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Tripod User's Workflow
By Kerry Drager
I use a tripod for almost all the stationary scenes that I shoot - to gain the best image quality and for fine-tuning compositions. But I often hear from students who say that a tripod impedes the creativity process. Well, I can see the point - sort of, anyway :) Certainly, after making the effort to expand the tripod legs and lock your camera in place, it is tempting to simply stay put, without even considering other camera angles.
However, there's a better way! The following tripod "workflow" strategy helps maximize your artistic options:
- Set the tripod aside (assuming there's a safe place) and then wander around and scan your surroundings for fresh angles BEFORE you set up your tripod.
- Only when you've lined up a potential shot should you break out the tripod. So the tripod actually comes at the END of the creative process, NOT the beginning!

Featured Gallery
Rain Drops on the Window
© - Christine Czernin-Morzin

Welcome to the 523rd issue of SnapShot!

Big news! BetterPhoto's next online photography school session kicks off this Wednesday. And in celebration of BetterPhoto's 15th anniversary, we are adding another excellent course by Lewis Kemper - Adobe Lightroom: A Comprehensive Look. It features video lessons and is fully interactive with direct feedback from Lewis. ... In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss Rob Sheppard's "Creativity with Black and White Photography" article. ... That's it for now. Have fun with your photography!    Kerry Drager   Newsletter Editor    Where is Jim Miotke? Follow BetterPhoto's founder and president on Twitter - BetterPhotoJim

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Updates From BetterPhoto Digital photography has brought back a great art form: black and white! Rob Sheppard shares his thoughts and tips in a BetterPhoto Instructor Insights photo blog. We are very proud of our virtual classroom, which is very interactive and very convenient. Treat yourself to an easy gift-buying experience, while also giving your favorite photographer something really special!

Photo Q&A

1: Vinyl Background
I have just purchased a new vinyl background - and am so excited because I was getting tired of ironing. First - I have a free-standing stand. Second, once I put it up and tried to unroll just a bit ... well, a day later it had completley unrolled - a pile on my floor. So now re-rolling it, there are wrinkles all over and it does not look crisp anymore! How do you get the wrinkles undone? Any ideas for the future when I don't want to unroll the whole thing? Also, it is on carpet - the only place in my house. And it seems to cause some wrinkles. Ideas for that too? Thanks!
- Rhonda Royse
Both vinyl and seamless background paper need to have a hard floor under them. In the case of seamless, a girl walking in heels with the paper over carpet will put holes in the paper and, with vinyl, you will have a lot of cute dimples that are difficult to remove.
I am guessing that when you say that you have a stand that you really mean two stands with a bar of some sort that runs between them to put the background on. With seamless, you run the bar through the core and pull out how much you need. Only a couple feet in front of where the subject will be. Or only pull it out until it reaches to the floor or less.
Using vinyl or muslin, you should drape it over the bar and clamp it or use gaffer tape and fasten the back and the front together next to the bar. I looked at your gallery and, unless you are going to start doing full-length photos, there is no reason that the background needs to go onto the floor.
For full-length photos, have the subject bring the shoes with them that they will be wearing for the shoot and insure that the soles are clean.
The reason some of your photos show the wrinkles in the background is because the subject is too close to it. The subject should be five-six feet away. Then use a larger aperture for your photos to keep the background a blur like you have done on a couple of them - most notably the one of Riley with her brother(?). Make use of your DOF button to insure that the background is a blur. The only exception to this is if you deliberately want a distinct shadow projected onto the background.
Moving the subject further away also allows the shadows to be cast far to the side and out of sight.
As far as cleaning and taking out the wrinkles in the vinyl, you will have to wait for a reply from someone else. That is why I use seamless background papers and muslin for backgrounds. The muslin stays hung and I cut off the part on the floor and roll out some more with the paper. Seamless paper comes in widths as small as 56".
Good luck!
- Lynn R. Powers
You may not be able to get the dents and wrinkles totally out of vinyl. Like an old chair that gets the indentations from people sitting on it, vinyl gets stretched and it stays that way. That is why it's not often used as a background. It can also be shiny.
Use large A-clamps to keep the roll from unrolling. You might end up going back to muslin, so in case you do, keep it stored on a roll minimizes the wrinkles. And many people get a hand-held steamer so they can steam the wrinkles out as it's set up for picture taking. As opposed to trying to lay it out, iron the wrinkles out, then hang it up for picture taking.
- Gregory LaGrange
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