Monday, July 6, 2009

DIY Wednesday: Photo Backdrops

DIY Wednesday: Photography Muslin Backdrops

Hello There!

Finally, a project I’ve actually done! As you may have noticed, I do photography as a hobby in addition to my various craft things. I have been collecting photography supplies for 6 years now and have quite the collection of things for various hobbies. (I have been told by my husband I’m not allowed to pick up any more hobbies beyond the ones I have, since I usually feel the need to go and buy all the cool accessories that go with the hobby…but I have been playing around with the idea of learning to decorate cakes…)

One of the first things I purchased after my first 35 mm camera in high school was three backdrops. I got all three off E-Bay. I was back from my first year of college for the summer and spent all summer tutoring a neighbor in algebra just to pay for these stupid things.

If you know anything about backdrops, the good ones are obscenely expensive. I mean…seriously expensive (just Google muslin backdrop sometime). The ones I got off E-bay were cheap for a reason. I got this completely useless neon yellow and red one and a “muslin” backdrop that was supposed to be a smoky grey. It was instead a badly faded clearly homemade grey backdrop. (Probably with RIT dye I would come to discover)

Well, I’ve never used these stupid things. The three backdrops are quite pointless. They are too bright for any practical picture. (but in my youth I didn’t know what I was doing…well, to be honest, I still don’t for the most part…)

So, I’ve thought about buying a nice muslin backdrop for a while, but I just can’t bring myself to do it for two reasons. 1) I don’t take much indoor photography. 2) The type of photography I take inside doesn’t really need the look of a muslin backdrop. I have two seamless backdrops (black and white) and they work great. The money I would use on a backdrop is better spent a 101 other things.

So, last summer I was quite bored and decided to see if I could create my own backdrops. I really think it was more for the challenge than actual necessity. I found this tutorial on DIY Photography. It was pretty instructive. I tried using RIT dye and the backdrops were serious blah. The colors wash out pretty bad and there isn’t anything really pretty any of them. (I should note that I used king size bed sheets instead of muslin just because I don’t have a fabric store in the near vicinity)

So, I decided to try my own method. I went to the store and got random spray paint. (Pink, Purple, Metallic Bronze, Tan, Light Purple). I then soaked the sheet. I was hoping that the color would blend better if the sheet was wet and I would avoid a sharp spray paint line. I laid the sheet out on my driveway and spray painted it. With some of the sheets, I bunched up the sheet before spray painting in order to add some dimension to the sheet. A couple others I tried to create that look on my own by applying more or less paint. After I was done with one color, I hung dry the sheet on my clothesline and then tried adding a different color with the same process.

Here are the results: I did several color combinations. Some I like and some are just plain ugly. Keep in mind some of these had color left over from the stupid RIT dye. A few of the sheets were actually twin sheets I had laying around the house. I figured I may as well try out the colors before I purchased more paint and another sheet. I figure I can use them for kids and babies.

The Good:
Pink (I believe it was called ‘ballet slipper’) and Purple: I figure this would be good for a little girl.



Red with a splash of brown mixed in (This one turned out much better than the neon red one I already have)




Not Pictured: Metallic bronze and brown (This one looks absolutely fabulous in person, but when you photograph it, it loses some of it’s luster)

The Not So Good:
Tan and Blue (okay, so the tan is from the RIT dye. I didn’t know what to add with it, so this poor sheet got blue. I feel bad for it)




Not Pictured: Plain Purple (it’s not particularly bad, but it’s not really interesting either)

Even though I have these backdrops and wouldn’t mind photographing someone in front of them, I still haven’t used them beyond forcing my dogs to model. I think I’m safe never buying an actual expensive muslin backdrop. I’d rather get accessories for my new digital SLR.

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