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Thread: backdrop advice/suggestions

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    backdrop advice/suggestions

    I have been asked to shoot a year 12 graduation night and I have been trying to think of what to use as a back drop.
    I have a frame that can take 3 X 6 muslin back drop and i have a white one and a black but I am willing to buy another if it will make the shoot better. I also have a 21st to shoot that is aimed at a rehearsal for the grad night as it is a black tie event.
    It will need to be for group and individual shots.

    My thoughts are to use the white one as it is not a weeding so there should not be any white dresses.

    Any thoughts would be gratefully appreciated.
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    what are the school colours? You could always use one of the colours of the school as the backdrop colour.

    And for best separation have them stand a way in front of the backdrop and use a good aperture so that the background gets blurred anyway.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    what are the school colours? You could always use one of the colours of the school as the backdrop colour.

    And for best separation have them stand a way in front of the backdrop and use a good aperture so that the background gets blurred anyway.
    The school colours are blue one light and one dark

    How do the stain died cloud backdrops look?

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    Okay, I've shot a stack of these. You can use a plain white backdrop, but someone WILL be wearing a white dress or a white suit. The best backdrops I've seen are the coloured spotted ones, believe it or not. 3x6 metres will be too small. You'd be better to get another 3x6 metre backdrop and either get it stitched along the long side to slide along the back drop stands, or clamp it along the long side. Use one on the floor and the other on the stand with tape joing them at the floor. Get some extension sections from Photogenic. Use masking tape to stick down the floor section to stop it bunching around the feet. Stretch the backdrop to remove creases. Someone here laughed when I suggested they dampen the cloth to remove creases, but that actually works.

    The reason I suggest the bigger size is that often the whole family wants to be in the shot, and nothing is a bigger PITA than pasting backdrop behind then when they won't fit.

    Don't set your light6s too far back from your subject, and make sure they stand away from the vertical section to soften the shadows. Something like F8 @ 1/60 to 1/125th will do the job. Shallower aperture can cause an issue with more than one subject as someone will not be in sharp focus.

    Ideally, I'd use three lights, but two will do a reasonable job.
    Last edited by Warbler; 21-05-2013 at 5:56pm.

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    This is an unedited example showing the coloured background. That's a clear poly sheet to stop the backdrop bunching, and the stilettos piercing the backdrop. The light grey clouded ones work okay too. This backdrop could have been a bit better stretched, but time was a problem. This is daughter, dad and brother.

    40D046998.jpg

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    Was this backdrop a fixed on or one from Ebay where you get the frame & 2 colour sheets? I have that, would prefer to have the backdrop rack where you can wind up & down many colours.. just a thought.

    Your lighting can be a softbox either side to do the job too.
    Last edited by Warren Ackary; 22-05-2013 at 8:46am.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Warbler View Post
    Okay, I've shot a stack of these. You can use a plain white backdrop, but someone WILL be wearing a white dress or a white suit. The best backdrops I've seen are the coloured spotted ones, believe it or not. 3x6 metres will be too small. You'd be better to get another 3x6 metre backdrop and either get it stitched along the long side to slide along the back drop stands, or clamp it along the long side. Use one on the floor and the other on the stand with tape joing them at the floor. Get some extension sections from Photogenic. Use masking tape to stick down the floor section to stop it bunching around the feet. Stretch the backdrop to remove creases. Someone here laughed when I suggested they dampen the cloth to remove creases, but that actually works.

    The reason I suggest the bigger size is that often the whole family wants to be in the shot, and nothing is a bigger PITA than pasting backdrop behind then when they won't fit.

    Don't set your light6s too far back from your subject, and make sure they stand away from the vertical section to soften the shadows. Something like F8 @ 1/60 to 1/125th will do the job. Shallower aperture can cause an issue with more than one subject as someone will not be in sharp focus.

    Ideally, I'd use three lights, but two will do a reasonable job.
    Thanks for the great info Warbler
    I am nervous about doing this as I have never done this before.
    The space I have (if the same as last year) will be lucky to be 3m wide but I will check.
    When you say you use two lights do you still have a key light and a fill light or do you have both the same?
    What sort of lights do you use (not brand)?
    Also my 21st shoot is now going to be on a sunset cruise so I have to re think how I will do this one.

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    For one of these sessions where you don't know which side you'll be photographing until the stranger walks onto your backdrop, I tend to set both lights for identical outputs. I also put them only about 30 degrees left and right of where I'll be standing, and point them directly at the backdrop rather than crossing or converging them. By placing your subject to the left or right on the backdrop, you turn one into the key, and the other the fill through the distance from the lights. They part their hair on different sides and the dresses are all different too. Other folks will do this different, but this is how I do it. I get a consistent if not arty result.

    Speaking of consistency, you will get more consistent results if you use a custom white balance too. I don't mean one of the presets. I gather you'll be displaying these on a website, so be mindful that you want them all to look pretty similar in colur balance and brightness to avoid the "How come my photos don't look as good as the rest?" syndrome.

    I use some Chinese strobes that I got from Photogenic. They're supposedly 1000 watt units, but I seriously doubt that. They do the job though. I'll use umbrellas for these jobs, but I have used softboxes as well as beauty dishes. My preference is the dishes, but you may wish to use the larger brollies. Make sure you have a light meter, and use it. Wireless senders are the go, and have some spare batteries for them and maybe a synch lead, just in case. Don't delete anything whilst on the job. Do that only when you get home. Be methodical about how you do everything. Shoot a set sequence so you don't miss any poses. Don't shoot 100 of one couple and ten of another. They don't like that. Make sure you aren't swapping cards around that you can lose. Lose any photos and you can kiss that job goodbye next year.

    When you are selecting a shutter speed, and you will be shooting manual with strobes, take into account the ambient light you have. With a shutter speed of 1/60th, there might be enough ambient to give you movement blur if you're not careful. Watch out for synchronisation issues where you get darkening of part of the frame because your shutter is partially closed.

    With all this to worry about, you may find it difficult to establish a rapport with your subject. Try to relax and joke about a bit. If you're tense, they will be too.

    You'll need to be pretty quick about it too. If people have to wait too long for their turn, they are not happy campers when it's time to smile for the birdie.

    Good luck! If you come away feeling like you've shot the same poses all night, then you'll have probably done the job you were paid to do.

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    Thanks a bunch Warbler
    You have just answered a number of question I have had rattling around in my noggin but not knowing how to ask them. The light makes so much sense now that you say it. I could not find anything on it not even youtube witch has something on everything or so I thought.
    Again thank you
    I may have more questions later.

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    Let us know how you go with this. You know, you can do all sorts of stuff with this. For the individual photos of the girls one of the local togs here uses a hand-painted backdrop of a an Italian staircase and popes a fake Roman column complete with vine into the foreground for them to stand beside. Not sure how enduring that is, or whether he does the same every year. Could get expensive changing those backdrops.

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    Yeah I have seen those backdrop and they are not cheap but if this was your bread and butter they would be a worth while investment.
    I have had a look at last years photos and talk to a staff member and he only used a 3m back drop but had them stand up against the back drop. Also when large groups had there photo taken you can see the edge of the back drop so I will try and go wider, my frame can go to 4m but I will try and buy some extension pieces.

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