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Cleo68 Nov 25, 2006 9:25 AM

Hi guys and gals. I'm getting my first studio lighting 'kit' for Christmas this year. I've got a Rebel XT and will have one umbrella, one softbox, a snoot, various reflectorsand barn doors. The umbrella and softbox are a little smaller than I'd like, but fine for a start. I know I want black and white backdrops, but am not sure if I should get muslin, seamless paper, canvas, or look for marine vinyl, etc. I've got two toddlers and will likely be doing family shots with them. They will destroy anything with the blink of an eye - and I do NOT iron. What backdrop material would you recommend that is durable and won't wrinkle? And how big? I know you need substantial room behind your subject and in front, but it will be in a small room with average ceiling height. Thanks very much for your input. :?

JimC Nov 25, 2006 10:16 AM

You may find this thread on backdrops to be helpful:;forum_id=54

Make sure to see the post by Kalypso in the thread. He does a lot of very nice portrait work.

Cleo68 Nov 25, 2006 10:23 AM

I'll check it out. Thanks very much for your reply... :cool:

stowaway7 Nov 27, 2006 5:55 AM

Cleo68 wrote:

I do NOT iron. What backdrop material would you recommend that is durable and won't wrinkle? And how big? I know you need substantial room behind your subject and in front
I've done dozens of backdrop shoots (for a cosmetics company, among others) and used various materials. Each has it's pros and cons.

Seamless paper, PROS:Inexpensive (53" around $20 US, 107" around $40 US). As you can guess, the 53" is a lot easier to carry and transport. You can pick up several colors for not a lot of money. CONS: Not available (from my suppliers) in patterns of scenes; folds or wrinkles cannot be easily smoothed out.

"Fold -outs" or collapsible (cloth in a wire frame), PROS: Good units have a frame that will free-stand on a wall (no support needed) for easy change-outs; available solid or pattern. CONS: Can get costly and I don't care how easily they say they'll fold back up after's like a road map once they've been opened; never goes back in the bag quite like it came out! Widths/lengths are limited & they will wrinkle (you don't iron).

Muslins/Canvas, PROS: Best choice of color/patterns/scenes. Available in many different widths and lengths. CONS: Now we're talking some serious money and as indicated, YOU DON'T IRON.

Some suggestions: 1) You don't you "steam"? I use a simple backdrop frame (stands with a crossbar...I'm done with fold-outs for the most part) and have one of those hand-held steamers to smooth wrinkles once it's hung...if it's any kind of cloth & you don't store or transport it unfolded it WILL wrinkle. The steamer works well and is better for sheer materials which may melt on contact with an iron. 2) You're right about needing room, especially behind the subject. Too close to the backdrop will produce undesirable shadows. 3) For solid backdrops (especially dark ones)I go down to the local fabric store and pick up a bolt of whatever color I need in a durable material, at least 4' x 9' for a solo model, 8' x 9' for a pair. MUCH less expensive than the camera stores. It's washable and steams nicely. I then sew a hem at the top (4" or so) so I can slide it on the crossbar and I'm DONE.

Cleo68 Nov 27, 2006 7:04 AM

Wow! Thanks for that reply. :shock:That helps me out a lot. A steamer sounds like a great idea. Never thought of it. And I'm scoping out the local fabric stores to see what they've got. I know the camera shops tend to be much more expensive with most things, so I try to avoid them unless I'm just testing something out, or need some advice. Usually go with B& H (NY)or ebay. Such an expensive hobby. But at least I'm not buying film anymore. :lol:

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