Tag Archives: Backdrops

Backdrops – make them yourself

Create your own backdrops.

Here is a quick and simple way to create a great backdrop. You can produce your own great designs with a little creativity.
Image from the video below.

The shots and the props can be creative

Great backdrops often make a picture. The simple ones are the best. They do not pull the viewers eye from the subject of the shot. Instead they focus your viewer on your subject. A backdrop should create an environment for the shot that both completes the scene and brings out the best in the subject.

Photography is creative and the backdrops should be too

There are a million creative things you can do with your pictures. Making backdrops can be equally as creative. In addition they add a new spin and level of creativity to your shots.

You can make backdrops out of wood, canvas, sheets, paper, metal… well millions of things. Be careful they are not too heavy. If they fall and hit someone they might be injured. Don’t make backdrops too flimsy. They might fall apart during the shoot. Apart from that the sky is the limit!

Here are some ideas I have seen used to good effect.

  • Autumnal leaves densely stuck to an old sheet.
  • Spaghetti stuck to an old sheet.
  • Chinese lettering enlarged in a copier and stuck on white wall paper liner.
  • Wallpaper of many designs.
  • Hundreds of pieces of string hanging down.
  • Dozens of electric lights hanging down.
  • Hundreds of Wooden scraps nailed to five planks in a random fashion.
  • White back drop paper with lightly pencilled circles drawn all over it.
  • A white sheet “tie and dyed” with various patterns.

I am sure you can think of many more creative ways to enhance your shoot with DIY backdrops. Just take a little time to think over what you need for your shoot.

Here is a Google search for “Creative backdrops images“. Plenty of ideas there to stimulate your thinking!

Some simple principles for good backdrops

Some backdrops are simply not right for the shot. Of course there are those artists who seem to make anything work. For those of us who need a little guidance, here are some principles to help you design your backdrop:

  • Do not make the backdrop stronger or brighter than the subject.
  • Choose colours that bring out the colours in your subject.
  • Use colours and designs that almost fade into obscurity allowing the subject to blossom.
  • Allow your backdrops to complement the subject – not clash with it.
  • Use texture, tonality and hue to vary the background so it appears to be slightly 3D.
  • Be careful that patterns do not emerge unless they are deliberate.

These are not rules. They are guidelines to get you started. Of course as your skill as a photographer and backdrop-maker develop you can make or break these principles. Have fun. Make great shots!

How to make your own studio photography backdrop – video

In the video below there is a quick and simple method of setting up a canvas backdrop. It can be done in a few hours. If you don’t have much space you can make it out of doors. Enjoy this video short and let it help your mind be creative.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

The secrets of good backgrounds

• Backdrops •

• Backdrops •
Wallpaper can be used extensively as a backdrop. There is plenty of variation and the material is relatively cheap.

Get more out of less.

One of the central ideas behind photography is to reduce the “clutter” especially in the background. We want to simplify our shots to help focus the viewers attention on the subject we have chosen. Often, by way of controlling the scene we use backdrops. For the modern photographer a backdrop provides a simple uncluttered background that can be used to off-set the colours of the subject, or to complement them or remain neutral.

Backdrop secrets

Modern backdrops have a wide range of finishes. However, strong patterns and fussy details draw the eye off the subject. So most backdrop patterns are designed to reduce the impact on the eye. Rather than regular strong lines or shapes these back drops will tend to have random and subdued variations in the theme. Other backdrop types are solid colours. The best backdrops are minimalist.

Black backdrops are often used for darkening and absorbing the light. White backgrounds are frequently used for high-key photography. Reds, purples and blues are often used for different types of shots, but can also form effective variations for monochrome work (single tone shots or a single colour and white).

Bright green backdrops are called chroma-key (chromakey). They are often used to provide a set colour ready for post processing technique called compositing. This is where new colours or entire images are to swapped into the image. The subject is retained but the green colour is replaced with an entirely new image. This technique is the digital replacement of the old ‘back-projection’ or painted backgrounds techniques used to make it look like there was something solid in the background in the days of film. Actually there was a blank screen behind the subject. This technique is also known as “green screen”.

Backdrops can be used anywhere but are used extensively in two particular branches of photography. Portraiture and fashion photography use backdrops to simplify the scene as much as possible. This allows the person or model to be the strongest element in the scene. The eye is therefore drawn to the person which is where the photographer wants people to look. A fashion or portrait shot where the eye is not on the person is a disaster!

Still life

The other area where backdrops are used extensively is in various types of still life. Again the intention is to create a simple scene so the subject is the centre of interest. However, in still life the relatively close up nature of the work can allow the use of stronger elements in the backdrop.

Heart in hand

Heart in hand • By Damon Guy
In smaller scenes or still life backdrops can be stronger. The diagonal wallpaper pattern here helps the flow of the eye.


In the picture above the hands are the centre of attention. The backdrop is used in this case to provide a dynamic feel (from the strong diagonal) and to direct the eye along the line of the phrase in the heart. Eyes naturally tend to follow lines like that.

Wallpaper

While solid colours and simple patterns are well catered for in the market, specific patterns on backdrops are limited. However, in the picture at the top of this page you can see that I have arranged a variety of different wallpaper samples. Wallpaper is easy to find – it is in every DIY store and great patterns, plain or textured can be found at relatively cheap prices. If you are working at small, still life, sizes one piece of wall paper might be sufficient. However, I have sometimes worked with wallpaper on a full sized portrait backdrop. In this case I use strong tape to stick the wallpaper sheets side by side to make the backdrop wide enough. Then, I staple the wall paper to two light wooden battens, top and bottom. This helps hold the papers together with less damage. It also helps pull the paper out so it hangs flat. Wallpaper has a tendency to curl. Then the top batten is clamped to the backdrop cross bar. Hey presto! You have a cheap but patterned backdrop.

Other patterns, shapes and marks can be used to do other things in a picture. In fact if it is used properly the use of backdrops can be complementary, can be contrasting, can form effective reflections, light dampening, and many more things. Understanding backdrops is a great way to ensure that you can control what is going on behind the main subject.

Decor

Backdrops have rich history in the theatre. Today, in modern still photography they are relatively simple and uncluttered. However, if you have a specific scene in mind you can use wall paper to provide fun and varied backdrops to complement or change your scene. While proper cloth or paper backdrops can be quite expensive; wallpaper is a relatively cheap way to use fun patterns and interesting backdrops.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

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