There are a few things to consider when choosing a backdrop size, including the size of your studio and the size of your subject. Portrait subjects should typically be pulled at least 3’ away from your backdrop to prevent shadows and allow for easy lighting. Of course, this distance your subject will be from the backdrop will be altered when taking overhead or backlit/high key shots. Below, we’ll discuss both the length and width restrictions of common backdrops.
Muslin is a cotton weave fabric that holds dyes and paints with ease. These backgrounds are made of lightweight material and are clamped to a background stand or even draped over anything to transform the look of a picture. As the muslin is made of thinner and lighter material, it does not show wrinkles and can be used as a neutral background or as a dramatic one. It comes in many different sizes and pattern that range from 5x8 to 30x30 feet and solid color backdrop or designer series patterned design. Muslin backgrounds can feature replicas of old master paintings, abstract patterns or marbleized patterns. This material is very portable and fairly inexpensive making it a favorite with photographers.
The main cause of this working is distance. Notice how close the subject is standing to the background and how far away the main light is from the subject. In this example, the subject is approximately 2 feet from the backdrop and the main light is approximately 4 feet from the subject. If you're new to this, I would recommend starting with your main light a bit further back to make it a little less challenging. You will see why in a second.
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.
I've included what the backdrop look like without people in it, and also what it looks like with several different kinds of skin tones so those of you who are thinking about buying this can take that into consideration with your potential clientele. As you can see, at least with just a horseshoe flash, people with darker skin tones definitely looked better with this backdrop.
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.
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.
Want to tweak one of our images? Have your own custom image you'd like to print? The possibilities are endless and our customer service department is ready to help. We print using forced perspective to help give you the most realistic image possible so that your portraits will look realistic as if you were actually on location. If you have an image that you own or have rights to, we'll help you get it formatted correctly for our printing process. Email us your artwork to start the process. If you're wanting a custom Hollywood style photo backdrop with your logo(s) repeated all over it, we do that too with one of our step and repeat backdrops!