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Best way to light a backdrop?

Discussion in 'General flash photography, lighting, and technique' started by ERAUGrad04, Sep 5, 2008.

  1. ERAUGrad04


    Jan 15, 2008
    Right now my setup it 1 SB800 and 1 SB600. I use the 800 for key and 600 for fill. I am going to order a backdrop system with a black and white backdrop. With the white backdrop, I know I am going to have to light it. If I were to order another SB800, would that be enough to suffeciently light the backdrop? What modifier will be required on the backdrop light in order to light it evenly?

  2. ERAUGrad04


    Jan 15, 2008
    Any thoughts?
  3. I tried doing exactly what you are doing - SB800 and two SB600s, one for the back drop. It did not work for me - I recently bought two Calumet Genesis strobes. I found the shadows were hard to predict with the speedlights. I was trying to light the backdrop (green) with a speedlight to reduce the shadows. I would think you need to have the speedlight back far enough and have a diffuser on it - but I was not successful. I hope someone has a suggestion.
  4. jfrancis


    May 8, 2005
    Orlando, FL
    Lighting a white BG depends on the size of the subject. For head and shoulders, you would get away with a single SB800. For full length you will need two lights and plenty of distance between subject and BG to avoid spill on to the subject. A pair of umbrellas will work quite well - but you do need that distance.
  5. I would get a charcoal gray background instead of black. Much easier to change color with gels. Black soaks up light like crazy, so you won't be able to gel it very easily. Also, by moving the gray background further behind your subject, you can make it render black in your shot.
  6. T o n y

    T o n y

    Nov 18, 2006
    Wellington NZ.
    Have a look at this tutorial...


    ...from PhotoShelter. It has a setup shot near the bottom of the article showing a full body shoot against a white background. Note the 4 lights used on the backdrop alone.

    Again, with enough distance between the light source and the BG (while also preventing spill onto your subject), you may get away with 1 or 2 lights. It depends on the area you need to cover (headshot, waist high, full body).
  7. usathyan


    May 20, 2008
    You can use an shoot through umbrella with SB600 pointed back to the subject to create an outline that separates the background from the subject. Use SB800 as main light. I dont use SB800...but have used Vivitar 285HV (non TTL) to do this and it works great.
  8. Take a look in the Lens Lust forum of recent shoots of Anne by Robert (TMK Design) where he uses full length portraits that are uniformly white backlighted using two strobes. You might want to PM and ask him which model / what distances he used. The portrait lighting was exceptionally fine.
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