In summary, the key factors to getting the backdrop and subject lit in a similar exposure zone is distance; The distance of the subject to the background and the distance of the light source to the subject. Decrease the distance of the subject to background and increase the distance of the main light to the subject to make this easier. The key factor for getting a soft and directional quality to the light is also distance, but it's the opposite. By getting the light closer to the subject, we can create a softer light with more directional qualities. Also remember that these qualities of the light are relative to the size of the light source. If you are using a smaller light source, you will need to get it in closer to hold those transitional values. If you are using a larger light source, you may be able to get your light further back and still hold those soft-light qualities. Also, if the examples and basic principles here make sense to you, you have kind of just learned the inverse square law!
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.
If you’d like to do a little further reading,  here are a couple of links to tutorials that I found helpful before trying this myself. Prop Insanity has a great one with pictures of their actual studio set up using this type of background and Digitial Photography School has a great article on How to Take Beautiful Bokeh Christmas Images . (Bokeh being that gorgeous background blur we all love). You can also check out my Photography board on pinterest for more ideas.  If you do try this, I would LOVE to see your finished product so please come share with us on Facebook.
Yes all the "bad" stuff they say about this product is true, it's essentially a very long roll of wrapping paper, thin, wrinkles easily. BUT that being said, if you treat it with just a little TLC this stuff performs beautifully. Photographs extremely well. Perfect for the beginner photographer on a limited budget, or like myself a more seasoned photographer with a small studio, I highly recommend this product. For the price it can't be beat! This photo was taken on the "barn wood" version.
The key to getting those gorgeous big bubbles of light in the background is to locate your subject a decent distance from the lights while at the same time positioning yourself as close to your subject as you can be to get the shot you want and setting the aperture on your camera just about as wide open as you can. The further away your subject is from the lights, the closer your are to your subject and the wider the aperture…..the bigger the lights.
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