My go-to photo backdrops

Having recently moved home, the new layout means I can no longer have a dedicated studio space, and I feared I’d be lost without my trusty backdrops. But in fact, something as simple as a roll of wallpaper has come to the rescue more than once.

Paper-3

Paper-5

I picked up 2 rolls of Ella Bella photographic wallpaper – one in a whitewash wood and the other a vintage wood. These rolls are typically wider & longer than your standard roll of wallpaper, and measure about 1.2m x 7.5m, giving plenty of surface area to shoot against. I’ve also bought damask wallpaper, multi-coloured rolls, and tile-effect. There’s loads of choice out there, and once you get them home you’ll find there’s plenty of flexibility in their usage.

I tend to shoot any food-based and lifestyle photography against the whitewash wood. I lay a large piece on the floor, arrange my items, set my lighting, and then shoot downwards. It gives me far more space to work than on my dining table or kitchen worktops, plus it’s easier to clean (ie.throw away!) if things get messy!

YasLo-9

For portraits, any wallpaper will do, depending on the mood you’re trying to convey. I usually take little pieces of masking tape and attach the roll to any wall where the tape won’t stick/peel off underneath. Making sure it’s flush and without bubbles can take time, but it gives an effective and quick result.

Yolisa-208

The lovely Yolisa, from YoYumTum

And for children’s shots you can go to town with brighter colours and patterns to make it more fun. The beauty of wallpaper is that you can pick it up from most department stores and because a roll is only small, it won’t cause huge storage issues for you either (unless you buy half the shop, that is!)

I’m on the lookout for a realistic brick-effect at the moment, so if anyone knows of a good one, please let me know where to find it – thanks 🙂

Pretty Lights

We’re fast-approaching Christmas, and the next 6 weeks or so will fly by, as they always do.

If you’re like me, you’ll be manoeuvring through chaotic shopping sprees, crumpled gift lists, rummaging in the attic for decorations long lost,  and preparing sleeping arrangements for last minute visitors we may never even get!

Product-563

So, whilst I think on and have a spare 5 minutes, I’ve grabbed a set of twinkling fairy lights and started to make some bokeh-inspired backdrops – perfect for framing on the walls, using as backgrounds for websites, adding text for glittery memes, and anything else you can make use of them for!

Any kind of twinkly lights will do for this project. I had a set of warm white LEDs to hand, but once the decorations are down from the attic I’ll be shooting colourful lights too.

Product-564

Try and remove all other light from the room if you can, and set your aperture as wide as it will go. I like using f1.8 or f2.0, but if your lens only opens as wide as f3.5 don’t worry, as you’re still letting in as much light as possible.

Product-562

 

Set your camera to manual, and then simply de-focus….

Product-566

Depending on your fairy lights, you’ll get differing tones and hues coming through – with my warm leds, the result was a combination of ambers, honeys, oranges, warm chocolate browns.

However, a little tweaking in Lightroom5 converted 1 photo into 3 other variations…

Product-565 Product-567 Product-568

With adjustments to contrast, shadows, highlights and tone, I’ve now got sparkly pink, dreamy blue and feisty orange versions.

So simple to do, very little set-up needed, and any camera on manual (de)focus should produce some pretty lovely results 🙂

Simple Silhouettes

Silhouette photography can produce some of the most striking and dramatic results.

The tangible details, colours & textures of a photograph are essentially replaced by far more conceptual assets, like ambiance & emotion, all by the clever balance of light, tone and shadow. Silhouettes are a great way to engage the viewer, as we’re all left to individually interpret the image ourselves – warmth, love, envy, peace, calm, melancholy, all may be seen through the eye of the beholder.

So, how difficult is a silhouette shot? Well, on one end of the spectrum there are some stunning photographs from high-end fashion houses, where the art direction and lighting have taken a large production team days to precisely hone, achieving the perfect result and capturing just the right nuance & emotion for the campaign.

But there’s also the simple do-it-yourself approach for those of us without huge budgets and loads of time/equipment/space!

I wanted to set up a quick home project, something I could light and shoot within 10 minutes, and would hopefully give some decent yet effective results.

Besides my camera and a selection of random props, this set-up only required:

  • A table lamp (without its shade)
  • A translucent reflector – a piece of pale paper will also work, as long as it diffuses the harsh bulb light

I placed the bulb about 1 metre from my lens and then the translucent reflector directly in front of the lamp.

I grabbed my trusty 50mm f1.8 prime lens, set aperture to f2.0 and began to set up all sorts of items I could see around me. From chess pieces to flowers, ornaments to my specs, anything was fair game in this little project!

Product-550

Such warm colours achieved straight from the camera, with no editing required

Product-556

A keepsake – edited easily in LR5, by just adjusting the tone to add blues & greys

Product-558

Even my specs weren’t safe!

Product-559Product-561

I then pulled focus on the more ‘romantic’ items to add an ethereal quality to the silhouette. Again, just some simple playing around with the tone function and clarity slider in LR5 resulted in these lavender and rose hues.

Product-552

And by tweaking the shadows and highlights, you can determine if little hints of detail are seen, or completely removed, from your silhouette.

This is definitely a project I’d turn to again. With a little easy prep, and a few minutes of post-production, you can breathe new life into all kinds of objects, and perhaps even produce your next piece of art to hang in your home 🙂

Would love to hear from you if you’ve tried this or have any silhouette work /ideas/tips to share 🙂