I just received this in the mail. It does smell a little like oil based paint, but you have to put your nose up to the fabric. The white and gray is what I ordered so alternating contrast is to be expected. First thing I did was throw it in a dryer with a wet towel to remove the creases and randomize the wrinkles. It's a backdrop of the same quality as the all black backdrop. I expect to be using it in a maternity shoot this weekend and I think it will be wonderful. What I ordered and what I expected. It isn't heavy which makes it portable for other locations, but it means it may not be what some people expect. I'm happy and looking forward to a lot of use. I think it will work for what ... full review
For a dramatic or edgy appearance, go with low-key lighting. Low-key lighting also focuses attention onto your subject by surrounding them in shadows instead of light. To do this, you want to ensure that your solid black backdrop is at least 3 stops darker than the light on your subject. With low-key lighting, you also need to ensure that none of the light from your subject is hitting your backdrop. Grids and flag are very helpful for this.