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Archive 2013 · Best non-reflective fabric for back drop?
  
 
snegron
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Best non-reflective fabric for back drop?


I am planning on helping out a few local high school students with a photo project at their school next week. A couple of the images will require a completely black background, the other a completely white background.

These will not be professional shots, therefore;

- I have absolutely no time (or budget) to order neither backdrops, stands nor lighting equipment.

- We will be shooting with only the equipment we have at this time; cameras and off camera flashes (again, we can't purchase any extra flashes or any other equipment).

- The most I can purchase at this time are a few yards of black cloth, a few yards of white cloth at a local fabric store. There are no photo supply stores in my city (or within 200 miles of my city), so I can't purchase a custom muslin. I am stuck with the only option of buying from the local fabric store.

- We can darken or lighten the background afterwards in Photoshop.


I would like to know what would be the least reflective fabric I can use for this project. I'm not sure if cotton, polyester or some other type of fabric would be the least reflective. Any suggestions?



Oct 06, 2013 at 04:50 PM
BrianO
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Best non-reflective fabric for back drop?


snegron wrote:
...I would like to know what would be the least reflective fabric I can use for this project. I'm not sure if cotton, polyester or some other type of fabric would be the least reflective.


In my experience, cotton is usually less reflective, although a poly-cotton blend can be almost as good.

One common and reasonably-priced option is to use flat bed sheets from Walmart, Target, etc. You can get different sizes depending on your needs, and they're already hemmed so there's no risk of fraying in use or with laundering.

Unless you can shoot with enough background-subject distance to blur the BG, be sure to iron them or steam them before use, and roll them rather than fold them for transport.



Oct 07, 2013 at 12:23 AM
hugowolf
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Best non-reflective fabric for back drop?


Black flock is best, velveteen works, as does velvet. Wool felt is also good. For white, roll paper is better than cloth.

What sized objects are you shooting? Office supply stores often carry small rolls of white paper, 30 inches wide by a few feet.

Brian A



Oct 07, 2013 at 04:24 AM
aborr
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Best non-reflective fabric for back drop?


For black backgrounds, I use "duvetyne". It's a heavy black fabric (usually made of cotton) with a velvet-like finish that soaks up light like a sponge.

It's available by the yard in different widths from most professional photo and video supply places.



Oct 07, 2013 at 06:35 AM
RustyBug
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Best non-reflective fabric for back drop?


Slightly OT re: fabric ...but might be helpful at "black background on a budget".

Totally black is absorbing all/reflecting none ... i.e. "void" of light being returned toward your lens. Do you have any space where you can shoot into a void (say a dark hallway/closet/interior room lights off/barn/shed/etc.) as your black background?

The light falling on your subject will reflect accordingly for your appropriate exposure, the light entering a good void will not reflect and you'll have a naturally occurring black background. Even if you pick up some stray light in your bg with an "imperfect" void, it can be pretty easy to clean up in post to black ... both come at a price that might meet your budget.



Oct 07, 2013 at 12:50 PM
cordellwillis
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Best non-reflective fabric for back drop?


BrianO wrote:
In my experience, cotton is usually less reflective, although a poly-cotton blend can be almost as good.

One common and reasonably-priced option is to use flat bed sheets from Walmart, Target, etc. You can get different sizes depending on your needs, and they're already hemmed so there's no risk of fraying in use or with laundering.

Unless you can shoot with enough background-subject distance to blur the BG, be sure to iron them or steam them before use, and roll them rather than fold them for transport.


I agree with BrianO here. I've used black bed sheets from Walmart. The important thing is to have enough separation so you do not light the background. Flag the light to keep your main subject light from spilling onto the background and keep a relatively high shutter speed to avoid any "ambient" spill light. Dim the lights as much as possible.



Oct 07, 2013 at 02:42 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Best non-reflective fabric for back drop?


cordellwillis wrote:
I agree with BrianO here. I've used black bed sheets from Walmart.


While you're at Walmart, check the curtains aisle for a "blackout" curtain. It is black on one side and "off-white" on the other. I've use mine for a variety of things (mental note @ time for a new one).



Oct 07, 2013 at 03:01 PM
cordellwillis
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Best non-reflective fabric for back drop?


RustyBug wrote:
While you're at Walmart, check the curtains aisle for a "blackout" curtain. It is black on one side and "off-white" on the other. I've use mine for a variety of things (mental note @ time for a new one).



Ahhhh. Darn good idea too!



Oct 07, 2013 at 05:01 PM
 

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RustyBug
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Best non-reflective fabric for back drop?


Well, it might not be quite as good as I thought.

I was just there and looked for a new one. It seems that the only ones (in my Walmart store) that I could find were polyester (sheen). My old one is a much flatter black. They did have one that was a kind of crush/plush/velvet (still polyester though) ... will have to explore it a bit more later. May have to look elsewhere for something without that polyester/sheen.

I originally got mine to double as a "under the hood" dark cloth while doing DOF previews.



Oct 07, 2013 at 05:52 PM
snegron
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Best non-reflective fabric for back drop?


My apologies for the late response. Thanks everyone!


Oct 13, 2013 at 08:48 PM
MazeRunner
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Best non-reflective fabric for back drop?


If you have fast and ample lighting, you can kill the background in the open by metering the person's face and hypersyncing your flashes.

Granted, I'm not sure if your flashes are good enough and if you have HSS capable triggers... in which case, do you happen to have Amazon prime? They'll ship to you 2 days anywhere in the U.S.



Oct 16, 2013 at 01:30 AM
trilce84
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Best non-reflective fabric for back drop?


I like the advice in this thread. Pretty good stuff.


Oct 21, 2013 at 11:11 PM
BrianO
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Best non-reflective fabric for back drop?


snegron wrote:
I am planning on helping out a few local high school students with a photo project at their school next week.


So, how did it go? I hope it was a raging success.



Oct 22, 2013 at 02:21 AM
MaunaKea7007
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Best non-reflective fabric for back drop?


Another vote for a follow up from the OP.

I also live where I have to improvise. I recently went the black-sheets-on-sale-at-Macy's route. Also, there are building supply options. At Home Depot I picked up (to keep around) a black felt-like material that goes under roofing. It is in a roll about 4-5 feet wide, and the roll means that it has no wrinkles when deployed. It is not as black as velvet, which is what I used to keep around in huge quantity in the days when I had a studio (but used it mostly on location...)



Oct 26, 2013 at 05:51 PM
MaunaKea7007
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Best non-reflective fabric for back drop?


By the way: *great* that you are helping out with kids' photo projects/explorations. Thank you.


Oct 26, 2013 at 05:52 PM





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