Budget Background

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by chauncey_huffman, Oct 13, 2009.

  1. I am about to start my first studio and I need to purchase a background and stand. I only have about $200 max to budget for this first background and I plan on upgrading it as soon as I have the funds. I need to get a free standing background holder because it needs to be able to move. Should I get a cheap ($100-$125) background stand and a paper roll, or should I spring the extra $ and get a muslin? Is there a place where I can get good quality low priced muslins? I would much rather use muslin over paper, but if I have to use paper I will. I will be shooting portraits by the way, couples, kids, babies etc. Thanks!
  2. I bought a terrific 10x20 muslin on ebay for under $50 and I have seen many more in that same price range. Many different colors and sizes seem to come up all the time. Don't scrimp on the background stands. I've owned three types and often help a friend with dances who has also gone through several. Get the type that have heavy duty stands that a built like light stands. The ones that sprout legs only from the bottom, have tended to collapse because the material that buts up against the legs is a heavy plastic and the tubular open ends of the legs, basically tear into that back stop material. You should be able to find a good set on the auction site as well.
  3. Thanks, I just looked on ebay and I found quite a few muslins that I liked. I agree about the background stand, I want to get a sturdy one, I'm just not sure that I know how to judge the qualities of sturdy one by just looking at them online. Does anyone know of a specific stand that they could point me to, preferably under $150? Thanks!
  4. You're going to need to do a bit of both, I think. Get a decent black muslin and, like Tim says, as strong a support system as you can afford. Black muslin is useful for more than just backgrounds and it'll fold and go wherever you need it.
    Then get whichever colour paper rolls you need; you can mount them on the background support pole for the time being. If your 'studio' space is small like mine, paper is going to give you less pain with creases and variations in tone, particularly for whites and greys.
    Find some strong but not sharp-edged clips or pegs that you can use to clip the paper back to the roll at the ends when you've unrolled enough; this will stop it unrolling by itself, which tends to happen when it's hanging loose on a pole and your subject moves around on the paper.
    That said, I would strongly suggest you budget for a Manfrotto/Bogen Expan and superclamps/hooks to clamp to your the stands of your background system to manage paper rolls; it makes an enormous difference to how easy they are to unroll and roll up, which means the paper may last longer. It also won't unroll of its own accord.
  5. I painted a wall gray. If you get a muslin, get a subtly patterned gray one and add gentle washes of whatever color you need by gel-ing a background light. And don't fold it, stuff it back in it's bag. Clamp it tight to the stands when you hang it... t
  6. FWIW, the fashion photographer John French-- David Bailey's boss and mentor in the 1950s-- reputedly used his old army blanket.
  7. Old sheets can work too. I found white and black king size sheets for a great bargain. I also like to transilluminate the white sheet - make it play double duty as a huge white box.
  8. pge


    I have found several rolls of paper on Kraigslist, not sure if you live in a major city but I often see 3 or 4 mostly full rolls selling for the price of 1. I think people buy rolls for one project and then get rid of them after. It isn't the greatest way to get a very specific color, but its a good way to develop a bit of a collection inexpensively.
  9. I picked up some 64" gray fabric at Walmart for $1.50/yd. I bought 3 yards, and liked it so well I went back and bought the rest of the bolt. Gray is your friend. Over exposed it becomes white; under exposed it becomes black; feather the light properly it becomes graduated.
    Test shot of background (self-portrait). I sewed pockets on each end, but usually clamp to the crossbar, and use a piece of plastic pipe to weigh down the bottom.
  10. You can get a large (9') roll of light/middle gray seemless background paper at a good photo store for around $40-50. The gray is most versatile because you can light it to look like black, white or any shade of gray in between. Also with color gels applied to your background lightin you can vary the colors.
    I recently picked up a seemless canvas drop cloth at an Ace Harware store for about $20. For now I'm just using it as is.. but there are multiple threads sites that go over dyeing , or even tie-dyeing them as muslin backgrounds.
  11. Here is a site on the background holder. I've heard of some people spray painting them matte black just to appear more professional.

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