Photography Studio and Lighting Forum

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  1. #1
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    Best (cheap) Fabric for backdrop?

    Hey all,

    I've been exploring budget studio set ups and am looking at getting some cloth to use as both a backdrop and a reflector, so it would be white or off white. What should I look for to get the best results? Sheen, light absorption, as non-wrinkable as possible. How long (metres/yards) should I get?

    I'll be sourcing this from local fabric shops and then plan use a clothes rack on wheels to hang it.

    All suggestions appreciated!

    Cath


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  2. #2
    don't tase me, bro! Asylum Steve's Avatar
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    Re: Best (cheap) Fabric for backdrop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cathathome
    am looking at getting some cloth to use as both a backdrop and a reflector, so it would be white or off white. What should I look for to get the best results?
    Hi Cath. Muslin is the fabric of choice for photo backdrops. Nylon or some other synthetic for reflectors and light panels.

    Musiln is fairly cheap in bulk from a fabric store, especially the lighter weight. You can get it raw (unbleached, a light yellowish-brown color), bleached white (probably a better choice), or perhaps dyed in various colors.

    It's durable, easy to store and transport, and relatively easy to use. The only drawback is it also easily wrinkles. Most pros have a small floor or hand-held steamer to solve that problem.

    If you absolutely want to avoid wrinkles, a synthetic or synthetic blend is better. Something more along the lines of wrinkle-free bed sheets.

    The size depends on what you want to shoot. Keep in mind it's always nice to have fabric width and length that extends beyond the frame of your photo. If you're doing headshots with a small tele, you could probably get away with something as small as 8'x8'. Larger groups shots will require a much larger backdrop.

    It's pretty easy to do some test shots in your shooting space, and mark off the background to get an idea of how far it extends in the shot, then use that to figure out how much material you will need.

    Hope this is enough to get you started. Let me know if you have any more questions...
    "Riding along on a carousel...tryin' to catch up to you..."

    -Steve
    Studio & Lighting - Photography As Art Forum Moderator


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    , Asylum Steve's blogged brain pipes...

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  3. #3
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    Re: Best (cheap) Fabric for backdrop?

    Great info, Steve. I think I might have what I need already, at least to get me started. I have some synthetic semi sheer curtains, as well as some shower curtain liners in white/off white. So that might take care of the reflector. And somewhere I might still have 1/2 bolt of unbleached muslim from a project years ago. Right now I'm searching the local buy-sell sites for a 2nd hand rolling rack. I'm excited!

    Cheers,
    Cath


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  4. #4
    Sports photo junkie jorgemonkey's Avatar
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    Re: Best (cheap) Fabric for backdrop?

    My first backgrounds were 2 white & 2 black bedsheets. I doubled up the sheets since it would make the colors brighter/darker.
    Nikon Samurai #21


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  5. #5
    don't tase me, bro! Asylum Steve's Avatar
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    Re: Best (cheap) Fabric for backdrop?

    Quote Originally Posted by jorgemonkey
    My first backgrounds were 2 white & 2 black bedsheets...
    Yeah, IMO the only reason to spend any real money on a professional backdrop would be to get a hand-painted mottled muslin. That has a unique style and look that is almost impossible to do yourself...
    "Riding along on a carousel...tryin' to catch up to you..."

    -Steve
    Studio & Lighting - Photography As Art Forum Moderator


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  6. #6
    Sports photo junkie jorgemonkey's Avatar
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    Re: Best (cheap) Fabric for backdrop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Asylum Steve
    Yeah, IMO the only reason to spend any real money on a professional backdrop would be to get a hand-painted mottled muslin. That has a unique style and look that is almost impossible to do yourself...
    I now have 2 muslin & 1 canvas backgrounds, and they are fabulous ;)
    Nikon Samurai #21


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  7. #7
    Member tayl0124's Avatar
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    Re: Best (cheap) Fabric for backdrop?

    Great thread!! I was just at a local fabric store thinking the same thing and thought I would look here first to see what is best to use.
    -Shawn

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  8. #8
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    Re: Best (cheap) Fabric for backdrop?

    I have found that local second hand shops often have a good selection of bedsheets, blankets, curtains, drapes and other fabrics that can be used for backdrops. My favourite is a grey blanket often included in automotive emergency kits. It is made from some kind of synthetic material that does not wrinkle too much. Cheers

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