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How do I remove wrinkles from seemless backgrounds?
Old 10-14-2006, 10:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I have been trying several different types of seamless backgrounds to get that completely smooth effect that most of us are looking for when we use backgrounds. I have been using black and white roll paper but have found I can often see the very subtle texture of the black paper and it takes very little to end up with a minor wrinkle on the white paper that I then need to spend time fixing in Photoshop (I saw another post with someone said they had made their paper backgrounds last 20 years -- I'm lucky to get a couple of shoots out of a length of mine).

I recently purchased muslin backgrounds in both black and white (will use then for the first time today) as I thought it would be easier to store in my apartment/studio and I could wash them and make them last a lot longer. When I unpacked both backgrounds they were heavily creased from the folds used to pack them and a couple of hours of ironing haven't made that much difference.

How do I sort this out? Is there a "perfect" background that just doesn't get wrinkled and can be stored easily or is this more about the lighting on the background that makes any blemishes disappear? Given my space (and budget) constraints I have found my experiments with moving the model further away from the background (oh for a full sized studio) and applying more lighting to the white background in particular (I only have three lights in total so I'm a little restricted in how much light I can afford to apply to the background) but the results have been mixed.
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Re: How do I remove wrinkles from seemless backgrounds?
Old 10-14-2006, 11:18 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Well the secret is, just as you suspected, in the lighting. If you blow out a white background, then you won't see any wrinkles. If you underexpose a black background, then you won't see any wrinkles.

If you shoot RAW, you can often take the background to white or black by adjusting the White or Black point. In PS CS2, you can do this visually. If you'll see my tutorial on my RAW workflow in the Digital forum, I talked about the visual method.



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Re: How do I remove wrinkles from seemless backgrounds?
Old 10-14-2006, 11:34 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I use a steamer on the fabrics. It works wonders. It's not one of those cheapy hand held units, but one with a long hose. I think it was less than a 100 bucks at Linen's-n- Things. Blood Bath and Beyond would probably carry it as well.

Be sure your seamless paper is stored upright, or it will get damaged.

r
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Re: How do I remove wrinkles from seemless backgrounds?
Old 10-15-2006, 02:52 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Hi Mark, I also use a steamer on my muslin backgrounds.
I got mine from "The Warehouse" here in Bundaberg
Queensland for $29.95

It's a really good one. Much better than the $100
steamer I used in the USA.

I imagine there are several "Warehouse" stores in Sydney.

But if you are really strapped for cash try a spray bottle and
a good strong hair dryer on the highest setting.

I never used paper backgrounds so I can't help you there.

Cheers,

Steve Shulenski
http://www.MoneyMakingPhotography.com
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Re: How do I remove wrinkles from seemless backgrounds?
Old 10-15-2006, 07:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark_in_Sydney View Post
I only have three lights in total so I'm a little restricted in how much light I can afford to apply to the background) but the results have been mixed.

Depending on your lights you should be able to blow out your background with two lights and use the 3rd light on the model. Meter the model for f8 and the background for f 11 . Just keep the model as far away from the background as you can. I shoot in a 12 x 15 room and I get things done. This is for a white background...

Mike
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Re: How do I remove wrinkles from seemless backgrounds?
Old 10-15-2006, 10:09 AM   #6 (permalink)
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To remove the background texture from your shot, you need to move your subject far enough away from it so that the background goes out of focus. You mentioned already trying that with various degrees of success, so here are a couple of pointers. First, pay attention to your aperture and shoot with just enough DOF to keep the model sharp. The difference between f/4 and f/8 can be pretty dramatic in terms of how out of focus the background appears. Second, you didn't mention how you were rigging your background but if you're using background stands, consider hanging the crossbar from the ceiling instead. You can often gain an extra 6" -12" of separation. You may want to consider painting one of your studio walls and using that as a background.

Regarding seamless, there are a few things you do to make it last longer. The easiest thing you can do is purchase a sheet of clear acrylic and place it on top of the seamless. You can use any hard sheet-good, like plywood, MDF, etc, but clear acrylic allows the seamless color to show through. It's also a good idea to have a hard surface underneath. Placing seamless on top of carpet is just asking for rips, tears, holes, and wrinkles.

As far as muslin or canvas goes, wrinkles are a given. Unless you're going to hang it and leave it up you are going to become intimately familiar with an iron or steamer.

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Re: How do I remove wrinkles from seemless backgrounds?
Old 10-15-2006, 04:08 PM   #7 (permalink)
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For a black background: I finally managed to get a decent one by going to a company that supplies theatrical fabrics - they have a fabric used for blackout curtains - it has several names, but one of the most common is "commando cloth" (I guess it's used for night missions?). It comes 3m wide, and they happily hemmed a 6m length all round and put a loop pocket across one end so I could slide in the pole of my support frame. Cost? A$177 - which is cheaper than muslin, and much more effective (black muslin tends to let light through from behind - this one is opaque. Underexpose this fabric by half a stop and it goes inky black. It's soft, quite heavy, and pure cotton (treated with flame retardent, so it's safe)

For a white background: the simple answer is overexposure - a stop, or more, and the background will clip to pure white. The white background I used for eight shoots came from Dragon Image - it's a polyester fabric, quite stiff (so it doesn't crease readily), comes 3m wide by any length (under A$20/m), and works fairly well. Sadly, once it does crease, it's pretty much done for - that's what's happened to mine
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Re: How do I remove wrinkles from seemless backgrounds?
Old 10-17-2006, 03:14 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks to everybody who replied to my post. Maybe this technology thing (the Internet) WILL catch on - it is fantastic to have such immediate access to people who know what they are talking about.
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Re: How do I remove wrinkles from seemless backgrounds?
Old 10-17-2006, 06:59 PM   #9 (permalink)
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So far everyone has been pretty spot on with their recommendations, For fabric you and the steamer will be friends, and paper creases and rips and wrinkles but hey, it's cheap compared to a permanent cyc. I'm assuming your shooting models but if not, I use sheets of white formica on my tabletop set sometimes, it's difficult to transport, but once it's in the studio it's great because it's semi rigid and can be cleaned. Also, no wrinkles or creases, but it can be brittle so use caution.

As far as exposure goes be sure not to overexpose a white background too much otherwise the white will start to wrap around your subject. I generally find between a half and a full stop does the trick.

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Re: How do I remove wrinkles from seemless backgrounds?
Old 10-17-2006, 07:54 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Has anyone tried the polycanvas seemless backgrounds? They are cheaper than muslin and last way longer than paper. I use a white and a black and they came in a roll with no wrinkles.
 
 
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