For a considerable small investment, printed backdrops are a wonderful way to add to a collection of studio photography backdrops. Beginning photographers can readily have marble, wood, tile, and many more at an affordable price. They get the various backdrops for just a fraction of the cost of the real materials.
Another good thing about printed backdrops is that they would not take so much space in the studio. Printed backdrops also come in different materials – paper, vinyl, and fabric are some of them. They are easy to transport and store. They are lightweight so there would be no lugging of heavy surfaces in between photo shoots.
To help in creating awesome photos, here are some pointers to when buying printed backdrops from online suppliers:
- Most backdrop sheets are rolled inside cardboard tubes or flat if posted. It is usually in a carry-around case for easy transport and storage.
- Open the parcel as soon as it arrives to immediately let the backdrop sheet settle.
- Thick, vinyl backdrops will often flatten instantly and can be immediately used.
- The paper backdrops when delivered as rolls will have soft curves. These curves usually relax after a few hours when laid flat, face-down with something heavy on top say a few books.
- When printed backdrops are always stored flat, they are readily good-to-go.
Different Uses for Printed Backdrops
Printed backdrops have a lot of different ways of use.
Printed backdrops can be used as the traditional background. That is, it fills the horizontal surface that the subject sits on. So it can be a table when appropriate.
They can also serve as a vertical backdrop or wall hung behind the subject of the photograph.
Backdrops that are printed can also be made use of as an infinity curve or scoop. The printed sheet is curved to both be the horizontal and vertical backdrop, in a continuous sheet. When a scoop or curve is desired, photographers will have to secure the sheet of printed backdrop in place on both surfaces – vertical and horizontal. Some use masking tape, weights, and boxes. Anything handy for leaning printed backdrops and cards against will do.
When using the printed backdrops as the tabletop surface, the setup will be pretty simple as just laying it on a clean and level surface.
Meanwhile, to try hanging a printed backdrop as a wall, one can use masking tapes to help stick the backdrop to the vertical space. Grips, overhead stand, clothes rack with clips and a photography C-stand can be used to stick the printed backdrop to the vertical surface.
How to Get Lighting Right with Printed Backdrops
Whether using natural, continuous artificial, or flash lighting, there are a few considerations when it comes to utilizing printed backdrops in projects. Often, as printed backdrops are smooth, flat surfaces, there is some glare at certain angles or with tough lighting. These highlights though can still add to the aesthetic depending on how the photographer may want to project it.
Note that darker printed backdrops with the most ink used will reflect the most light. And on the other hand, lighter prints will give off the almost completely flat
To decrease highlights on the printed backdrops, try these steps:
1. Use light that is soft and diffused
Various light sources can be softened through the use of a diffuser, some thin white cloth or linen, baking paper, or tracing paper. Covering the light with these materials will soften the highlights as well as the shadows. The light may still be strong but using softened and diffused light will produce non-hard-edged shadows. Softening the light alone is a great creative choice as stronger lights make reflections harder to control.
2. Add black cards to stop light hitting the backdrops where light is the strongest
These black cards are also known as flags. It may be helpful to purchase some in various sizes (A1, A2, A3, or depending on the demand) in advance to pop them down the sides of the photoshoot set as needed. If the top edge gets seen and it loses its detail when using a top light, the black cards will be useful. Although the images may become a little dark the black ‘flag’ will help keep the light more consistent across the surface and the detail in the backdrop closest to the light source will be improved.
3. Use low, side light to illuminate subjects and props
Rather than having flat surfaces, use light to shed light on the subject and props. This is a tricky style to use too so it may not always be applicable.
Using Printed Backdrops for Food Styling
A couple of printed backdrops have been intentional for food styling and small product photography. These prints are of high quality and detail is great for shooting small product items without giving the hint that it is a print.
Paper-printed backdrops sometimes have some degree of water resistance. The level of durability highly depends on the kind and amount of ink used in the prints. Remember that darker backdrops will protect the ink in the matte paper underneath it than lighter designs – they reveal the matte paper more too and have lesser tolerance to moisture.
Wet styling should be left to the end of the setup and placing food directly on top of the printed backdrops on the final shots for it to be cleaned right away.
Vinyl printed backdrops on the other hand are highly waterproof. They can bear food and liquids to set on them for a longer time.
There are also printed backdrops that are solid surfaces built into them as they are made of real cards, foam boards, or wooden boards.
For paper-printed backdrops, a clear, matte varnish can be used to seal them to make them waterproof. A few tutorials can be found online on how to do this.
Storage and Care of Printed Backdrops
Enjoying the printed backdrops for a long time entails proper protection and care from elements and things such as heat, frost, prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, strong colored foods and dyes, and sharp objects.
Remember to also remove tapes carefully. Clean any liquids or wet foods off the printed backdrops immediately when able.
Wipe printed backdrops with damp clothes only leaving out chemicals and other corrosives that may scratch the prints.
Do not fold vinyl backdrops as they may leave permanent creases to them. Creases can be ironed out for paper backdrops using very low heat while putting a tower on top of the print so that the iron does not touch the printed backdrop directly.
Storing printed backdrops flat is still the most recommended storage position.