A lot goes into taking a great picture. Knowing your camera and how to use its various features, picking the perfect subject, and finding the right backdrop are all important components of a great photo. Many people tend to underestimate the impact the backdrop of a photo can make, and how important it is to choose a backdrop wisely in order to enhance, and not overshadow, your photo.
You’ve probably seen the use of green screen techniques in movies but you might not know that you can use a muslin backdrop or chroma key paint to create a neutral background. This allows you to add different backdrops later. Muslin and chroma key paint each have their advantages and disadvantages, including their cost. For the most part however, you can get professional results by using either technique.
Whether shooting photographs of food, jewelry, cars, people, or something completely different, lighting and photographic backdrops and additional props are all used differently in order to achieve the desired results. Lighting plays a significant role in photography, and changes in light will change the overall effect of the photograph, as well as the mood it instills. It is the goal of an experienced photographer to create a seamless transition from outdoors to indoors by simulating outdoor lighting inside his studio. By combining the right light and appropriate studio backdrops, the photographer can imitate a rainy afternoon or a bright cloudless day. Photographing Food The key to emphasizing texture in food is to use smaller lights, keeping the lights close to the subject. One mistake often made by less experienced photographers is to overuse front lighting. This lighting will give you the least amount of texture possible. Of course, the mood you wish to create and the photography backdrop you choose to use will also determine the lighting you should use. Natural light is always preferable, so if you can place the food near a window during your shoot, it will greatly enhance your results. Photographing Jewelry Continuous light is more effective in photographing jewelry than a flash because jewelry has lots of reflective surfaces that will reflect the flash and mar your photographs. When you use continuous lighting and a contrasting background for photography, you will easily be able to see what your photographs will look like before you take them. It is still wise to diffuse the light you use; fluorescent lights are appropriate for use when photographing jewelry.
A solid white background, such as seamless paper is used when shooting high key lighting. This type of shot can also be used against a solid white wall or similar, simple background. The placement and number of lights used are huge factors when trying to achieve the best possible high key lighting photography. Let’s take a look at a sample studio set up to see how shoot using high key lighting. For this sample you will need nine-foot white seamless background paper. A three or four light setup will also be needed. Place two of the lights approximately two to three feet away from the backdrop to highlight and illuminate the background. These lights should be set at a 45-degree angle toward the background. Place the key light, also referred to as the main light, off to one side of the subject at approximately five feet away. This light should also be set at a 45-degree angle to the subject. Set the fill light on the opposite side from the key light at the same distance and angle. Your background lights should be set at least one F-stop over the lighting on the subject. For example, if you are shooting the subject at F/11, set the background lighting at F/16. If you are shooting in a large studio or warehouse, you can place the subject further away from the background, but set the background lighting two or three stops over the subject lighting. When shooting in smaller areas, the use of gobos can help prevent strobe flares on the edge of your subjects. Use a light meter on your subject to produce an overall setting of F/11. The settings of each light will depend upon the types of lights you are using, but the overall setting should be the F/11. A soft box work best in high key lighting setups over other light modifiers. If your studio is narrow, select a shallow soft box. If space is not an issue try experimenting with a Photoflex soft box. There are different makes and models of soft boxes available, in all shapes and sizes, making it possible to find the best one for your photographic needs.
-Backdrop Express Photography Team
Looking good and saving money is more important than ever, and this affects the arts. Theater and photography are two areas that are no strangers to this reality. Fortunately, both disciplines have been able to come out looking their best while staying within their budgets by taking advantage of the versatility of muslin backdrops.
Muslin backdrops are lightweight, easy to transport, and are machine washable. They don’t tend to wrinkle so they are great for providing a seamless look. Since muslin backdrops for photography come in a variety of colors and are more durable than paper they have become quite popular in today’s photography market.
But muslin backdrops for photography are not the only way to make muslin backdrops useful, they are also popular in theater productions. Hand painted muslins make excellent theater backdrops because they are lighter than canvas and easier to transport for traveling shows. Using painted muslin backdrops lends a bit of authenticity to a theatrical set that will give it an extra edge as plays compete with the movie genre.
Between their great versatility as backdrops for photography and their usefulness as part of sets for theatrical sets muslin backdrops have earned their place as a popular and go to choice for those who need a quick change of scenery. If treated with care they can last quite a while and are sure to get even more popular.