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.
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.
One of the advantages of using a chroma key background is that it can shorten production time by doing away with the need to change from one background to another. This kind of photo backdrop allows the photographer to freely take pictures without thinking of what background will best fit the image, as they can decide on that part later in the post-processing stage.
Please keep your expectations realistic: this is a $30 backdrop that will be delivered to your door. This is not fancy. This isn't printed on the best of materials, but do you need it to be? If you're a professional photographer who has worked with backdrops that are $200 a pop, you shouldn't waste your time with this one. But if you're like me, just cutting my teeth out on this business, this is a fine investment that is fun and easy.
In this SOOC shot, you can see just how down and dirty this setup was. The backdrop is not pulled out very far and taped down only in a couple of spots. In the top left edge of the image you can see the corner of the 50 inch Apollo. This also shows that the right edge of the light is hitting the subject, allowing for a soft feathered look, but more importantly for this setup, it's allowing the rest of the box to light our background.
Shooting on a clean white backdrop can be one of the more complex in-studio lighting setups around. Properly exposing for full lengths while giving your models room to work can require four or more extra lights and considerable amount of setup time. While taking the time to take care of the details is important for getting the perfect image and saving yourself hours of retouching on the back end, sometimes you just want to get a nice clean background without the hours of prep.
Having skills in a variety of lighting techniques for your photo backdrop can give you some wonderful options for creating beautiful imagery for either products or portraits. By brushing up on your exposure and composition know-how along with practicing prior to your actual shoot date you’ll quickly be able to build a portfolio showing off your creative depth.
A 5 or 6-foot wide backdrop is a great size for headshots and ¾-length portraits. These backdrops are easy to manage and still only requires minimal space to set up. These backgrounds are ideal for event photographers who often work in busy spaces or for photographers working in a small home studio. While 5 to 6-foot backdrops offer more flexibility than 3.5-foot backdrops, they still become a bit tight if when photographing a couple or full-length portrait.