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Photography DiscussionHas anyone attempted a DIY painted backdrop?

Photography related discussions with a slant towards learning and understanding the art and craft of photography
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Ed Shapiro
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Re: Has anyone attempted a DIY painted backdrop?

Post by Ed Shapiro »

I do it all the time! It's fun! Thing is, I can buy smaller portable ones that suit my purposes bit when I do my own, I can create a background on an entire wall- large enough for a group, full-length portraits, and certain commercial shots. I can even paint the floor if required.

Heres the method:

Supplies: Latex Acrylic Flat Paint: Black or dark grey for a low-key or medium key base coat or white fir a high key base coat. Smaller quantities of multicolored paints of the same type for creating your design. 1 paint roller, 3 assorted brushes with stiff and softer bristles, a few NATURAl sponges, and some drop cloths to protect the floor.

Method: Lay in the base coat and allow it to dry for about 12 hours. The apple the colors with the brushes and blend with the sponges. Set the came and lig up in typical working configuration and observe the progress of your design as you apply the paints. Check it out both in and out of focus. When you see the effect ou like- stop painting. If you don't like the results you can start the process over again. For classical low key classical portraiture, I prefer cooler colors- they bring out the warmth in the skin tones. I find warm tones in the background make for a more monochromatic effect. For high key portraiture, I use light pastel colors.

The look: My particular method is to make the background slightly lighter and more contrasty than I want it to appear in the finished portraits. By under- illuminating it and reducing the depth of field, I get the effect I prefer.

Concept: I am not attempting to create an imitation oil painting. I just want the background to provide tonal and/or color mass to add to the dimensionality of the image. I don't usually go for a jet black background in a low-key image, but very dark and just enough of that mass that allows the viewer to imagine entering the image and walking around the subject.

It is a somewhat messy process but I clean up as I go. Water takes off any paint that gets past the drop cloth[*] while the paint is still wet.

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Post by Duck »

Ed Shapiro wrote:
Thu Mar 19, 2020 12:17 am
I do it all the time! It's fun! [...]
So nice to have you back with us. We've missed you considerably.

I think once the warm weather is finally here and rain holds off I'll drag out a piece of fabric onto the driveway and make an attempt. I'm thinking small for now, 6x9 range. I love low key portraits and have always wanted a backdrop that emulates the Rembrandt look (built in light spot in the center) done in dark browns and golds.But now that you mention color tones maybe I'll keep it more neutral. I can always warm it with gels. :)
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Post by Ed Shapiro »

Just to follow up on my last post- Here's a shot of one of the wall-size backgrounds I use frequently. As you can see it is very sharp and contrasty and consists of mostly blue and green colors, however, when out of focus and subtlety lighted it is much softer and indistinct- just enough to add the right amount of color mass. I can vary the effect by incorporating more depth of field and rendering it sharper or by adding filters. I used a warming filter for the cat image, the young lady's portrait is with the background as is, and there is a blue filter on the jewelry shot.

Using a very large/wide background also allows for a greater distance between the subject and the background without running off the edge. This makes of r more control over depth of field.
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Post by Duck »

Thanks for sharing those images. The one behind the cat is along the lines of what I'm looking for; a painterly look with a natural vignette. It definitely gives the image a very rich look. I'll definitely be trying my hand at painting my own background.
"If you didn't learn something new today, you wasted a day."
Business Website : Unitas Photography
Join me Monday nights at 6:30pm EST via Zoom to Learn Photography with Duck or,
Watch past episodes on YouTube
Tutorials ⇒ How to critique photos
NOTE: If you would like me specifically to critique your image, please let me know through a private message with a link to your post.

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