Photophones are an integral part of any photo studio. They are used to highlight an object. And without them it is impossible to imagine shooting for a passport or any other important document. But this is not their only purpose. In today’s article, we understand why photophones are needed, what materials they are made of and in what cases they are used.
What is a photophone for?
Backgrounds are one of the easiest ways to create beautiful studio photography. Whether you’re shooting people or products, backgrounds can help create the atmosphere in an image or destroy it. An improperly chosen background distracts attention from the subject, which in the case of commercial advertising, for example, for an online store, can reduce sales. In the case of a successful choice of canvas, the photo attracts the eye and holds the interest of a potential buyer, and you want to consider the subject in great detail. That is why professional photographers carefully approach the choice of photophones, including paying attention to the materials from which they are made.
Backgrounds are made from various materials, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. The most commonly used products are seamless paper, muslin, hand-painted canvas or vinyl.
Seamless paper is a versatile and inexpensive backdrop that is available in many colors. The most common colors are black and white. The roll is suspended on a special lift.
The advantages of using seamless paper are:
- relatively low cost;
- beautiful appearance (the background is always clean, fresh and smooth);
- matte surface and lack of texture, glare and texture will not distract attention from the subject;
- smooth transitions from wall to floor;
- it is possible to paint the background and get a unique photo.
However, this material also has disadvantages:
- large rolls are inconvenient to transport;
- paper is easily damaged;
- in the wrong lighting, glare may appear;
- for laying on the floor requires a flat solid surface;
- cannot be folded.
Also, when using colored paper, background tones may bleed through the edges of the subject.
This material is ideal for product photography as well as studio shots.
Muslin backgrounds are made from cotton fabric. They come in different weights and dimensions, and can also be plain, have abstract patterns or textures. Compared to paper canvases, muslin backdrops are much easier to transport. Another great feature is that they can be washed when dirty. However, cleaning a large-sized product at home will not work, in which case you will have to take it to dry cleaning. Like paper, muslin can cover not only the wall, but also the floor (if the length allows). However, they can cover any surface.
However, these backgrounds have several disadvantages. Depending on the lighting, wrinkles in the fabric may become noticeable. Extreme care must be taken when using solid colored muslin, as it can wrinkle and detract from the appearance of the background. Small selection of colors compared to paper backgrounds. In addition, if the canvas has been stored folded for a long time, it will have to be steamed.
Muslin backdrops can look modern or retro and are a great addition to every photographer’s arsenal.
Another material used in making the background is hand-painted canvas. If you’ve ever held a copy of Vanity Fair in your hands or seen photographs taken by Annie Leibovitz, you know what it looks like. To give a sense of depth and texture, the paint is applied to the canvas in several layers. The backdrops used in celebrity photo shoots are usually made to order.
The hand-painted backdrops provide a vibrant and unique look. Paint adds texture, depth, and tonality that seamless paper cannot achieve.
The disadvantages of such backdrops are cost and difficulty in handling, as they are easily damaged and difficult to clean. However, the visual impact of a hand-painted canvas can be amazing.
In addition, there are vinyl backgrounds. They consist of large images printed on vinyl (usually with a matte finish). This view is limited to a vertical surface. For the floor, you can purchase separate vinyl sheets (for example, to simulate parquet).
Vinyl backdrops can have unusual or creative designs. They are great for shooting children, parties and other events. Their undoubted advantage is the suitability for washing and the ability to work with water. In addition, they are quite durable, and the print quality is one of the highest. Finally, three-dimensional images (for example, a bookcase) can be applied to them.
On the other hand, vinyl backdrops reflect light, so setting the lighting can be tricky.
Chroma key and other custom backgrounds
There are times when weather conditions make their own adjustments to the planned shooting. What to do in such a situation — cancel the photo shoot? Chromakey can solve this problem: the object is photographed against a green background, after which the picture is imported to the computer, the background is removed using software and replaced with any other.
Chroma key is not only the technology for replacing the background, but also the background itself.
This technology is often used in TV as well as in the film industry.
Such photography can be done against a background of any color, as long as it is uniform. However, bright green (sometimes blue) backgrounds are most commonly used because they are most distinct from human skin tones. It’s important to make sure people don’t wear green clothes before taking pictures like this.
The success of the process depends mainly on uniform illumination. It is important that there are no discrepancies in color, and shadows are kept to a minimum. Generally, using two different light sources will prevent shadows and provide a sense of distance between the background and the subject.
Another non-standard type of background is the cyclorama. This is a fixed (built-in) background consisting of two intersecting sections with a smooth transition with no visible corners.
Cyclorama is a practical and durable backdrop. It allows you to take great photos. Usually it is made of a wood frame, sheathed with plywood, covered with putty and painted in the desired color (most often black or white). Concrete cycloramas are less common.
The undoubted advantage of this design is the absence of a sharp boundary between the horizontal and vertical planes. It seems that the background is endless.
When shooting in a studio with a cyclorama, the subject appears to be floating in the air. This is ideal for portraits.
Folding backgrounds and their features
Collapsible backdrops make the perfect portable studio. They can be used both outdoors and indoors.
The main advantages of such backgrounds are portability and compactness. When folded, they are 3 times smaller. Most often, a bag for transportation and storage is included in the package.
In addition, folding backdrops usually have different colors on both sides. It turns out that by purchasing one background, the photographer actually gets two.
In the assortment of the Russian manufacturer Raylab there are three main types of backgrounds:
- fabric folding;
The high quality of Raylab fabric folding backdrops and their special production technology eliminate glare, reflections, curls and other problems during shooting. The main advantages of these canvases are portability and wear resistance.
In particular, the Raylab RF-12 spring-loaded photophone is a great option for small studios and outdoor photo shoots. When folded, it has a compact size, and the spring frame guarantees quick preparation for shooting and excellent web tension without wrinkling. It is white on one side and black on the other. Thus, it can be used both as a reflector and to absorb glare and eliminate flare. No auxiliary fixings are required for its installation.
Photographers and videographers who want to get shots with incredible effects should pay attention to the range of chroma key backgrounds. The company’s product range includes options of different sizes, colors and designs. All of them are of high quality and exclude the appearance of any defects.
For example, the Raylab BC01 green 3m x 6m muslin backdrop is suitable for a variety of shooting scenarios, including video reviews, blogs, and even news programs. It is characterized by increased strength and wear resistance, a definite plus is the ability to wash and iron the product.
Raylab paper backdrops are perfect for both home and professional photo studios. They are made of dense (180g/cm2) canvas and are characterized by a matte surface, ease of use, uniform light dispersion and elasticity. A wide range of colors can satisfy almost any shooting task.
Choosing the right studio background can affect the overall mood of your shots. When used correctly, they allow you to create unsurpassed quality photographs.