Author Topic: Vinyl vs fabric backdrops...  (Read 355 times)

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Offline Joe Federer

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Vinyl vs fabric backdrops...
« on: May 16, 2017, 04:50:15 PM »
... thoughts either way?


I should say we tend to always shoot outdoors.  However, we are rebuilding a studio and want some of our old capabilities (and more).


In our old studio, we tended to either shoot on white or on black...   We don't tend to do 'gradient lighting' on the backgrounds (where people point a spotlight at things)... instead either hoping the white is perfectly white:


or perfectly black:


(man, those are some old images -- that maternity shot is nearly 7 years old! and is nearly embarrassing to show!)


... or occassionally we don't light the background when it's white and get something that's grey... but still, you get the idea... we tend to want our 'black' fabric to simply disappear and reject any and all light.  One could argue we should change that thought process... but I digress...


Historically, I did this by buying 5 yards of cheap black cotton fabric and just hanging the 6'x15' sheet from a lightstand pole with some clamps. It worked whether we were in our studio or when we went to people's homes. ...but always felt a little 'ratty'. It works, but I found myself always picking dog hair off it (we have a dog that shes white fur like crazy), fixing wrinkles in post that caught the rim light, or having to touch it up in one way or another.


We've got white sorted, for now.  But black...


Now, starting the process of outfitting our new studio, I'm looking at something 1) wider than 6 feet and 2) something a little most substantial that'll make our lives easier.  I see a lot of 10x20 black fabric backdrops in the $120-$140 range.  This seems like exactly what I was thinking -- a step up from what we had before, but functionally identical.   Then I saw this vinyl background for double the price... but it cleans up easy, and the main complaint I'm seeing from people is that it rejects light so much that getting gradients is hard.


Thoughts?
« Last Edit: May 16, 2017, 04:53:37 PM by Joe Federer »

Offline Duck

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Re: Vinyl vs fabric backdrops...
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2017, 05:56:34 PM »
For blacks that disappear into nothingness my go to is a black flannel blanket. It literally absorbs light like a black hole. I keep it bunched up and this thing never wrinkles. However, if I stretch it out and throw enough light directly at it I can get some nice gradients with a soft texture to it. I also have a traditional 10x20 cotton backdrop that I rather hate. It definitely shows dust (and dog hair) if you're not careful, but it's rather sturdy for washing.


If you're a fan of Joe Edelman (of YouTube fame) he loves using cheap velour for backgrounds. They don't reflect light as easily as muslin does. I've also heard several photographers mention using a mid grey background as it can be pushed either way towards white or black, depending on how you light it.


Just my two bits.
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Offline Joe Federer

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Re: Vinyl vs fabric backdrops...
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2017, 10:44:44 AM »
Where do you pick up a 10 foot wide, 20 foot long black flannel blanket ... ?

Offline Duck

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Re: Vinyl vs fabric backdrops...
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2017, 05:12:28 PM »
Where do you pick up a 10 foot wide, 20 foot long black flannel blanket ... ?
Well, there is that... Mine's 5'x7'-ish
My name is Charles Unitas but friends call me Duck

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Offline Darren Cassese

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Re: Vinyl vs fabric backdrops...
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2017, 06:05:08 PM »
Where do you pick up a 10 foot wide, 20 foot long black flannel blanket ... ?

I've done it by simply layering them next to each other and it works well enough. But one sheet is obviously better.
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Offline Houston George

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Re: Vinyl vs fabric backdrops...
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2017, 07:38:05 PM »
Unless you're subject-to-BG distance is really short, I can't imagine lint or dog hair actually being visible in a low key setup.
Houston

Offline Duck

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Re: Vinyl vs fabric backdrops...
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2017, 02:13:03 AM »
Unless you're subject-to-BG distance is really short, I can't imagine lint or dog hair actually being visible in a low key setup.
No, not in a low key setup with proper lighting, but when you have clients coming in and see a lint riddled, dusty, foot print cover backdrop it's a bit embarrassing.


Non low key setups and smaller sets have their own issues too.
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Offline Joe Federer

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Re: Vinyl vs fabric backdrops...
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2017, 11:07:04 AM »
Unless you're subject-to-BG distance is really short, I can't imagine lint or dog hair actually being visible in a low key setup.
No, not in a low key setup with proper lighting, but when you have clients coming in and see a lint riddled, dusty, foot print cover backdrop it's a bit embarrassing.

Bingo.  It's more about appearances than the final product.... particularly with newborns and maternity people, it can't look (or be) dirty.

Offline Houston George

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Re: Vinyl vs fabric backdrops...
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2017, 04:31:25 PM »
ok, gotcha. I was thinking it was image related.
Houston

Offline Nanette Reid

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Re: Vinyl vs fabric backdrops...
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2017, 12:44:09 AM »
I've used velvet or velveteen in the past for dead blacks, but storage and the presence of lint and/or dust can be a major pain. Was great for still life stuff when I needed nothing but deep black too.

Other than that I had a charcoal grey Colorama (and a few other coloured rolls) that were attached to a far wall using the Manfrotto wall system. Used with rim lighting in a similar situation as above it went dead black, plus it looked great with some light thrown onto it for commercial portraits. As it wasn't dead black, it stood out from the usual H&S shots being shot at the time (as did the Copper coloured roll).

For white, same, if any of them got dirty or damaged, they got trimmed - used a cyclorama in a studio I assisted at and I was forever having to go in the day prior to a shoot to repaint it. It was a matt finish that was supposed to be great at repelling scuffs, but it was easier to just repaint to ensure it was clean white. Eventually, for some smaller shoots, they decided to get a Colorama roll - was sooo much easier especially considering it was a share-studio, and that pristine cyc could get tatty if we were booked a little later in the day, or really only needed 3/4 length shots.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2017, 12:48:25 AM by Nanette Reid »