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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 12 Sep 2014 (Friday) 01:26
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Background for larger group photos in studio setting?

 
RileyLewis
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Sep 12, 2014 01:26 |  #1

I've been presented an opportunity this year to do some group photos for a dance school I am involved with. I've done some studio photography before so I think I have most of it handled (and will have a lot of time to do some practicing before this job [6 months from now]), but my main worry is the size requirement.

The pictures themselves will be taken in the dance studio (so large area, high ceilings, etc), but I am not sure what to use as a background. There will be individual shots for each dancer and that is simple enough if I wanted to use seamless paper roll. My concern is that some classes will have 12-18 dancers, and it will be a tight fit even on a 107" roll.

Has anyone here ran into this sort of problem with team photos? What was your solution? Abandon paper and go with some sort of larger cloth? The floor is very nice (light hardwood), so I suppose another option would be some sort of vertical stand/thing behind the group that wouldn't require them to stand on anything. But I don't have any experience with that sort of thing either.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!


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RileyLewis
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Sep 12, 2014 01:32 |  #2

I just had a thought, let me know what you all think!

Use a 9' seamless white roll and cut a large portion off and lay it on the floor against a wall. Then, tape up (or fasten in whatever way) another length against the wall behind them. There would be a seem in the floor/corner, but I could always curve that part and tape it down somehow. That might be the best solution. The only downside is that they would potentially be wearing some sort of heels so it could teat fairly easily, so I'd have to be mindful of that. But as long as I am blowing out the white paper behind them I think it could work?


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nathancarter
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Sep 12, 2014 09:50 |  #3

Yes, that will work. If you curve the wall-side paper down and underneath the floor-side paper, the seam will disappear, and you won't even need to shop anything out. However, to completely blow out the background to white, you need a lot of room between the subject(s) and the backdrop, so you might even need to do three pieces of paper (wall, sweep, more sweep) instead of just two.

If you don't have that kind of room to work, you could concentrate on lighting the group and let the background do its own thing (it will probably fall to medium gray, depending on distance between subjects and backdrop). With a single large light source for your main light, you won't have hard objectionable shadows on the backdrop.

You might be overthinking it, though. Go scrutinize the studio area with a fresh eye, and see if there are any spaces in the studio (or outside during golden hour) that can be used for a group shot - if you move furniture out of the way or rearrange equipment a little bit. Maybe there is, maybe there's not. The rehearsal space that my performance troupe uses is mostly mirror walls and ugly cinder-block walls, BUT they have curtains that can be drawn to cover the mirrors in the main rehearsal room, which would work for a big group shot.

Can you do the group shot at one of the performance spaces instead of the rehearsal space? A stage floor with the stage-curtain as a backdrop always looks nice.

Another alternative is to make a fabric backdrop - a dozen yards of black, red, or striped fabric from IKEA or Jo-Ann is very versatile. Inexpensive faux-crushed-velvet will look good in photograph and can take a lot of abuse - doesn't need to be ironed or anything. (the red can get pretty close to the edges of your color gamut, though, it's a bit of a hassle if you're printing) It's a bit of expense (easily mitigated with Jo-Ann's plentiful coupons) but it gives you plenty of options for backdrop or set-dressing for future shoots.


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RileyLewis
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Sep 12, 2014 10:09 |  #4

nathancarter wrote in post #17149997 (external link)
Yes, that will work. If you curve the wall-side paper down and underneath the floor-side paper, the seam will disappear, and you won't even need to shop anything out. However, to completely blow out the background to white, you need a lot of room between the subject(s) and the backdrop, so you might even need to do three pieces of paper (wall, sweep, more sweep) instead of just two.

If you don't have that kind of room to work, you could concentrate on lighting the group and let the background do its own thing (it will probably fall to medium gray, depending on distance between subjects and backdrop). With a single large light source for your main light, you won't have hard objectionable shadows on the backdrop.

You might be overthinking it, though. Go scrutinize the studio area with a fresh eye, and see if there are any spaces in the studio (or outside during golden hour) that can be used for a group shot - if you move furniture out of the way or rearrange equipment a little bit. Maybe there is, maybe there's not. The rehearsal space that my performance troupe uses is mostly mirror walls and ugly cinder-block walls, BUT they have curtains that can be drawn to cover the mirrors in the main rehearsal room, which would work for a big group shot.

Can you do the group shot at one of the performance spaces instead of the rehearsal space? A stage floor with the stage-curtain as a backdrop always looks nice.

Another alternative is to make a fabric backdrop - a dozen yards of black, red, or striped fabric from IKEA or Jo-Ann is very versatile. Inexpensive faux-crushed-velvet will look good in photograph and can take a lot of abuse - doesn't need to be ironed or anything. (the red can get pretty close to the edges of your color gamut, though, it's a bit of a hassle if you're printing) It's a bit of expense (easily mitigated with Jo-Ann's plentiful coupons) but it gives you plenty of options for backdrop or set-dressing for future shoots.

Thanks for the good ideas!

Taking pictures at a performance venue might be a possibility, on the stage.

And yeah, even if the backdrop isn't completely blown out in the studio it would be fine. I am more concerned with a seamless background (and if there would only be a single seam that showed up on the floor then I can photoshop that out easy enough.


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The ­ Loft ­ Studios
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Sep 12, 2014 10:38 |  #5

RileyLewis wrote in post #17149455 (external link)
I just had a thought, let me know what you all think!

Use a 9' seamless white roll and cut a large portion off and lay it on the floor against a wall. Then, tape up (or fasten in whatever way) another length against the wall behind them. There would be a seem in the floor/corner, but I could always curve that part and tape it down somehow. That might be the best solution. The only downside is that they would potentially be wearing some sort of heels so it could teat fairly easily, so I'd have to be mindful of that. But as long as I am blowing out the white paper behind them I think it could work?

We shoot lots of Cheer Teams and we do the same except with Muslin Backgrounds….. Here are two 10'x20' Muslins, one is simply laying on the floor and the other is clamped to a "Double Set" of Background Stands. Saves Time, Money and Effort!


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RileyLewis
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Sep 12, 2014 10:44 |  #6

The Loft Studios wrote in post #17150085 (external link)
We shoot lots of Cheer Teams and we do the same except with Muslin Backgrounds….. Here are two 10'x20' Muslins, one is simply laying on the floor and the other is clamped to a "Double Set" of Background Stands. Saves Time, Money and Effort!

As a follow-up, what is the easiest way to hang paper when it's turned sideways behind a group? I can't use a normal paper stand since it will be horizontal, not vertical. If it's near a wall then it's easier, but if it has to be free-standing then I can't think of an easy way.


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The ­ Loft ­ Studios
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Sep 12, 2014 11:08 |  #7

RileyLewis wrote in post #17150093 (external link)
As a follow-up, what is the easiest way to hang paper when it's turned sideways behind a group? I can't use a normal paper stand since it will be horizontal, not vertical. If it's near a wall then it's easier, but if it has to be free-standing then I can't think of an easy way.

We couldn't figure that out either which is why we chose to do the Muslin…..
However, it you just have to have a certain color of background (in your instance, White) then Westscott does sell White Muslin (more like a thick white material) that's very durable and cost under $100…..


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nathancarter
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Sep 12, 2014 11:31 |  #8

RileyLewis wrote in post #17150093 (external link)
As a follow-up, what is the easiest way to hang paper when it's turned sideways behind a group? I can't use a normal paper stand since it will be horizontal, not vertical. If it's near a wall then it's easier, but if it has to be free-standing then I can't think of an easy way.

If it's a piece that has been cut off the roll, then use your normal backdrop/paper stand, with clip-style curtain rings clipped to the top of the paper. Works for fabric too. I have a bunch of these in a few different sizes:

http://www.ikea.com …atalog/products​/10217240/ (external link)


If the paper is still attached to the roll, just rolled out to the width, then it's going to be harder to manage. No good suggestions there.


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Sep 12, 2014 11:59 |  #9

The Loft Studios wrote in post #17150085 (external link)
We shoot lots of Cheer Teams and we do the same except with Muslin Backgrounds….. Here are two 10'x20' Muslins, one is simply laying on the floor and the other is clamped to a "Double Set" of Background Stands. Saves Time, Money and Effort!

+1

This is exactly how I do gymnastics teams. Two 10x20 muslims sideways. My only complaint is trying having to steam the wrinkles out.

Scott


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RileyLewis
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Sep 12, 2014 12:01 |  #10

nathancarter wrote in post #17150186 (external link)
If it's a piece that has been cut off the roll, then use your normal backdrop/paper stand, with clip-style curtain rings clipped to the top of the paper. Works for fabric too. I have a bunch of these in a few different sizes:

http://www.ikea.com …atalog/products​/10217240/ (external link)


If the paper is still attached to the roll, just rolled out to the width, then it's going to be harder to manage. No good suggestions there.

Thanks, I'll give that a try. Considering how cheap paper is (relatively) it's not a huge deal to have to cut off large portions of a roll for a large shoot.


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nathancarter
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Sep 12, 2014 12:21 |  #11

Or ... dunno why I didn't think of this before - just tape the paper to the crossbar with gaff tape or blue painter's tape.


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RileyLewis
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Sep 12, 2014 12:28 |  #12

nathancarter wrote in post #17150262 (external link)
Or ... dunno why I didn't think of this before - just tape the paper to the crossbar with gaff tape or blue painter's tape.

Haha yeah that might be even easier.

Now...I have to figure out if a 107" roll will even fit in my car! Thankfully I have a hatchback and can fold stuff down...but I might need to borrow a truck!


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Sep 12, 2014 18:22 as a reply to  @ RileyLewis's post |  #13

I hang lots of different non pocketed material from by bg pole using these A-Clamps.

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The ­ Loft ­ Studios
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Sep 13, 2014 14:37 as a reply to  @ ThreeHounds's post |  #14

For those of you suggesting or thinking of hanging Background "Paper" long wise (either with tape or clamps), how do you propose to do so when the longest Background CossBar that is made is 12 feet…..


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RileyLewis
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Sep 17, 2014 11:49 |  #15

The Loft Studios wrote in post #17152257 (external link)
For those of you suggesting or thinking of hanging Background "Paper" long wise (either with tape or clamps), how do you propose to do so when the longest Background CossBar that is made is 12 feet…..

I think the idea is not to use a crossbar at all, but to just hang the paper taut between 2 stands. You'd need some weights/bags on the stands and you'd also need to stretch it pretty good, but it might be possible.


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Background for larger group photos in studio setting?
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