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DIY Photography Backdrops
Gift Wrap Paper
Many photographers who do a lot of studio work have an arsenal of backdrops that can change a scene in an instance.
Many of these backdrops are professionally made and can be expensive.
But for the rest of us there are quite a number of alternatives that can substitute for professional backdrops and will do quite nicely.
Seamless paper is the most common backdrop and it can come in a variety of colors but the same can be said for cloth backdrops.
They are usually not that expensive and can be put into place quickly but they are usually lacking in variety and they can be too "two dimensional".
Three yards of cloth will run about $15.00. The problem with these is that you have to be careful how you store it in order to avoid creating creases that will show in the photographs.
For papers and for cloth a good storage solution is to roll them up with the aid of a wood or metal tube. This same tube can also be used as the support and it can be easily hanged on the ceiling with cables or even rope.
If you have the space then you can really get creative and use a variety of home made backdrops.
For example some of the best backdrops are any that feature a weathered look. Wood planks are great and so are old doors.
A wooden door whether painted or that has a weathered feel and texture to it makes a great backdrop and laying it flat against a wall is probably all the support that you will need.
If you have a door or two and you want to set up outside then line the two doors side by side but at an angle to each other (much like a V shape), nail a wood board or sturdy stud that goes from end to end of the V shape.
This will keep the doors in place and free standing and you can even attach a lamp or other light fixture to the stud making it appear as if these are functional interior doors. Make sure to crop the image if you do not want the top with the support to show.
Other things like bamboo fencing, several twigs arranged in order (one next to the other) are also excellent backdrops.
A plain plank of wood can be reused over and over again by simply painting it to fit the mood or theme.
Wall murals work great but the only drawback is that they can be expensive and will reflect light back, plus they can be a pain to install.
Using a plain wood board and gluing several different, old or weathered looking flyers gives the scene an unusual look that is hard to match and you can even add your own "graffiti" to it.
Shower curtain & wood panel strips
Another quite creative idea is to get a wooden board and spray the entire surface with glue, then before the glue settles, spread some sand or even glitter.
Cork or foam panels (polystyrene board) are easily accessible since most can be found in arts & crafts stores.They are not that expensive and are easy to work with.
Have some left over holiday gift wrapping paper? paste them on a flat surface and you have ready made backdrops plus there is a large assortment of colors and designs making them quite photo usable.
One roll can go a long way depending on the size of backdrop you want.
Wall paper is an excellent source for ready made "scenes" but a roll can go for about $40 and if you affix them as per instructions then you may not be able to use the plywood boards with other backdrops.
For more of an eerie or unusual effect, shower curtains, the ones with designs and a solid fabric back cover, work well. If you place them against a white or black painted wall they show well on the final images.
You can also place a small light source behind and towards the bottom so that their transparency can show.
Placing a colored gel on the light source is also a great way to infuse the overall scene with a color palette.
Some very creative shower curtains are available online and they feature several textures like rust and fading paint. These are more expensive than regular ones but often worth it.
To make your own supports plastic PVC tubing is good and building a frame is not difficult plus they can be set in place or made mobile.
If you want a fixed support then a rod like the ones used to hang clothes on closets work well.
Get two end caps and attach one in place first, place the rod, attach the other end cap to the rod's free end and attach the set up to the wall.
If your walls are too far apart for a standard closet rod, the Home Depot and many other hardware stores sell wooden rods that can be as long as 20 feet.
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