The folks at the slanted lens are anything but low value so it was kinda surprising to see that many of their setups are actually low-budget DIYs. The short below shows six of those tricks including a plumbing backdrop hanger, a ton of budgety lighting solutions (some of which we have covered in the past, but their softbox is pure budget geniusity) and my favorite, another use for a tarp.
Easy to assemble with a whole lot of party magic, our design-a-room sets take the term scene setters to another level. You can turn any space into an immersive party environment with our unique selection. Create unforgettable photo ops and completely transform your party space or venue with these disposable party backdrops. Host a safari with the jungle journey design-a-room background. A carnival backdrop banner kit puts the big tent right in your living room. Mardi Gras street scenes let you bring New Orleans to your guests, no matter where you actually live. The best part? These kits feature cutouts to put over the backdrops for a layered look.
What can I say? This background is flimsy and cheap and you can see right through it and it's packed folded and the creases never come out. It arrived with a few runs which is frustrating but you get what you pay for. All of that being said, under the right conditions the backdrop does photograph well, if you know what your doing. Shallow DOF and creative lighting and it did what it was needed for, which in my case was a quick set up for a baby holiday portrait.
Football season is nearly upon us and Backdrop Express’s sports and stadium-themed printed backdrops are a great way to capitalize on the bone crunching. They’re available in poly paper or vinyl in either 4 x 5-foot or 5 x 6-foot sizes, or a fabric with sizes ranging from 5 x 6.5 feet up to 10 x 10 feet in a choice of light or heavyweight. The poly paper version is water resistant and has a matte finish. If you opt for vinyl, you’ll get a more durable backdrop that’s also water resistant and has a matte finish. The heavyweight fabric is a polyester/cotton knot that’s washable and wrinkle resistant with a sewn-in rod pocket. The lightweight fabric is a 100 percent polyester weave that Backdrop Express likens to a tablecloth. It, too, is wrinkle resistant, though less than the heavyweight fabric. On the plus side, Backdrop Express says the printed design is “slightly clearer” on the lightweight version. Decisions, decisions.
The StudioPRO 3000W's included backdrops add a lot of value and a professional touch that users love. The 10-foot power cord often eliminates the need for an extension, and can reduce anxiety over tripping on a taut line. The lightweight equipment and small case store easily, and if you travel a lot, you would be hard-pressed to find a more portable model.
In the shot above I used a two light setup. The main light, camera left, is a Profoto D1 1,000Ws head inside of a 50 inch Westcott Apollo Softbox. While the idea of mixing what is considered to be a high-end strobe with a budget softbox my not sit right with some, I find the indirect lighting source from a Westcott or Photek to give a really nice and even light. The 60 inch Photek Softlighter, which I also enjoy using, may only cost $95 but gives a really nice, soft, and even light. If these lower cost indirect sources are good enough for the likes of Mario Testino and Annie Leibovitz, then they are good enough for me. Clay Cook did an great article on these lighting sources, "Lighting Like Leibovitz," that you can find here.
As with lighting systems and camera equipment, backdrops require some kind of support to keep them in place. Background supports can be simple or sophisticated systems. The simple ones are easy to set up and break down and are well suited for location work, while sophisticated, permanent studio systems can hold multiple backgrounds that can be raised or lowered either manually or at the flip of a switch.
What this tells us is that the further away the light source is from the subject and backdrop, the more likely we are to get an equal exposure from one to the other. The quality of the light source can also change with distance. You will notice that as the light gets further away it becomes a harder light with less transitional values. Also, if the subject appears to be further away from the backdrop in the last image, it's due to me needing to use a shorter focal length (zoom out) to avoid getting the softbox in the shot. The shorter focal length exaggerates perspective.
Cotton is a great photo background because it works well with the subject, especially if the lighting is properly set up. Also, if you want a backdrop that’s perfect for traveling, invest in a cotton fabric backdrop. It’s portable and easy to transport, set up, and collapse. It varies in size, too, so make sure to pick the right one before going to your location.
A. Flash lighting, also called a speedlight, appears suddenly, at a high intensity. Flash lighting can “freeze” the action, allowing for a sharp photo of moving objects. Speedlights can be attached to the camera, or they can be placed on mounts away from the camera. Because the light from the flash appears suddenly, however, you won’t know ahead of time exactly what kinds of shadows the light will create.
When I received this it was folded down to 1'x6" package. After unfolding it, every fold line is very visible. Also the interior lights on top are part of the drop. This is an old time type of backdrop that depicts like a French street in late 1800 to early 1900 why there is a interior ceiling with lights on the top of this backdrop is in my opinion stupid. Also the seams should have been glued in a downward overlay application. Instead they are in a upward application which makes the top of the seam fold down exposing the white backside of the drop. Avoid. And by something that is actually cloth and not vinyl.
A good beginner, entry-level, infrequent use backdrop. If you take the time to remove the wrinkles, and there are quite a few due to shipping restrictions, it turns out to be a good first backdrop. I rolled it tightly on a 1” pvc, leaving it that way for several days, and hung it afterwards. There were a few places I needed to use a hair dryer to get them out but once done it’s a nice backdrop. It’s lightweight being vinyl but the printing on it looks much richer. For the price you know you will need to do some work but in the end it’s well worth it.
Stock up on extra drive components such as chains, switches, and weights, so you can quickly replace broken or missing parts. Be sure to keep plenty of spare clips, hooks, and brackets on hand so portrait backgrounds and video backdrops stay in place during shoots. Maintain clean and organized work spaces by storing paper rolls and mounting poles on wall-mounted and freestanding storage racks.