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11-28-2009, 05:47 AM   #1
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Inexpensive High Quality Bright White Continuous Background Paper

I thought I would pass along a neat and very reasonably priced idea I happened across for a wide and very white background. I buy 42"x75' rolls of old HP Polypropylene printer paper for ~$50 including shipping to the west coast. Specifically the last box I bought was HP Q1904A Polypropylene Matte Roll.

I just it just for product shots, and yeah I would love a sheet of Perspex but, I have yet to figure out exactly what to order....hehehehe....so in the mean time I hang the roll on the wall, then feed it or roll it out as I need for that day.

I really like the paper because it reacts very well to flash or other lighting, no hot spots for me at all.

Here are the rolls I buy, but I am sure there are other options/sellers:
Genuine HP Q1904A Polypropylene Matte Roll 42in X 75ft - eBay (item 380180927197 end time Dec-03-09 08:30:40 PST)
{obviously that link will eventually be none fucntional but you should get the idea and find some similar option}

Just thought it was a great way to save some cash vs. buying essentially the same paper for a background but having it tagged as for photography at 10x the price.

12-03-2009, 01:47 PM   #2
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Thanks for the tips.

i didn't buy the 42 inch stuff, but I found some 36 inch (the size that I needed for my product shots) for even less. I was delivered today- nice stuff.
12-03-2009, 02:11 PM   #3
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Oh, cool!! glad something I posted was of use to someone!

Have ya taken any shots using it yet? I like that using it as a background is a nice way to make use of old products which might otherwise go to waste.
12-05-2009, 05:33 PM   #4
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I bought a 48" wide white vinly roll-up blind to do some product photos with. Unfotunately it has a seam running down it but with enough flash power, the white over-exposes and all you get is the product sitting on the white blind.

12-07-2009, 05:59 AM   #5
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Yes I have used it. Now I just need to find something in black for taking pictures of white and light colored items. I recently tried blue on an item and it really hurt thae final price at action. White and black only for me from now on!

Any Ideas on a quality, lint free, seamless black back ground product for a gal on a tight budget??

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(When I refurbish a machine, In addition to photos of the machine, I take some photos during the process to illustrate the quality and extent of the service work that has been done. This shot is some of the non-eletrical parts of a Singer model 99K sewing machine- cleaned and ready for re-assembly and adjustment)

Last edited by Sew-Classic; 12-07-2009 at 07:20 AM.
12-07-2009, 07:53 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sew-Classic Quote
Yes I have used it. Now I just need to find something in black for taking pictures of white and light colored items. I recently tried blue on an item and it really hurt thae final price at action. White and black only for me from now on!

Any Ideas on a quality, lint free, seamless black back ground product for a gal on a tight budget??

Attachment 49023

(When I refurbish a machine, In addition to photos of the machine, I take some photos during the process to illustrate the quality and extent of the service work that has been done. This shot is some of the non-eletrica parts of a Singer model 99K sewing machine- cleaned and ready for re-assembly and adjustment)
Wonderful shots of the sewing machine parts...really nicely laid out. I have my Mom's old Singer Portable (I forget the number/name, Featherweight??, but it's the one everyone had to have but I waited to long to sell it and will now prolly get 1/3 of what they were selling for 8ish years back...sigh, such is life...hehehehe)

Anyway, I hear you about simple black & white background for many items. Blue is great for old Victoria Silverplate or something along the same lines but still is tough for product shots.

I really love sebberry's idea of the white window roller shade btw...I looked around here but found nothing, still I will grab some when I can and prolly try painting them different colors to see what I can do. Those I found online after adding shipping one made no sense. I am also going to try finding the ever popular old projection movie screen to use. I hear those, if you can find a nice clean non-yellowed or buggered up one, are excellent as a background because this is exactly the sort of thing they were made for. I find most of them at thrift shops but they are getting harder to find. So far the one's Ive found haven't been in clean enough condition. Heck I don't even care if the roller works...I can rig my own version of that.

If the budget is really thin then you can always find one of those 48" wide white roller window shades (I would hunt down one w/o a seam though because I would think it could be a problem now and then under your items thanks to shadows but not having used one I am not sure) then buy some el cheapo flat black spray paint at WallyWorld for under $1/can. Then just roll out the shade in the garage or somewhere with still air and paint it on one side. Probably 2-3 coats will be needed to get it right.

There is also the obvious option of visiting your local fabric shop to find a decent black velvet. I have done this with success, but I do take a camera with and try it out to make sure the color stays nice and black and there are no reflection or odd color issues. Not all black fabric is actually black I have found out so no I test. On trick I learned is to roll the fabric up when not using it. I bought a nice piece of cardboard tubing for each piece/color I use, at Michael's for almost nothing. Then I just roll it out, use those huge "binder clip" things, from the Office Supply section of whatever is your fav cheap store, to hold it in place. Even thump tacks can work too, heck I have even stapled it to the wall in a pinch because I could not find the box of mounting supplies.

Something else, of course, is black foam core board from WalMart, Michael's or almost any arts, crafts or even school supply store. It is cheap at about $2-$3/piece and if you setup correctly with one piece of black for the background and one for under your items, but using the DOF the right way or even elevating you pieces will eliminate the seam in the back.

here is a pic I took of a piece of Baccarat with a single flash a black foamcore board with a sheet of glass from a picture frame then a white background...I like the result a lot. I I let the light temp push more toward blue in PP but can easily back that down to get back to grey & black. The jar and underlayment is sitting on top of about a box about 8" tall with the flash placed facing, I think, away from the background but behind the box, though it might have been facing the background, I really do not remember. But I blasted away with the flash until I got the right exposure. I added the vignetting to bring focus more toward the item:



One trick that helps with using something glossy or glass under an item is to use something black over the TOP of your setup to prevent the lighting from making the black on the bottom look too light thanks to reflections.

Oh, here is a shot of how basic and simple my shooting area is for product stuff (this is pre-printer paper roll but I don't always use the rolled paper because it can make certain lighting difficult to impossible so the trade-off is losing the seamless background but as sebberry mentions if you blast enough light at the background no matter what color it is, you can make it while and look seamless...DOF helps here as well):



In that setup you can see the DIY light bar/box I make with a cardboard box top, some WallyWorld cheap flat white spray paint for the inside, a white velvet sweep form one of those gawd awful light tents we have all tried at one point and at the top the $6 flash monster (old vivitar 273 flash found at a thrift shop) slipped through a hole cut in the end. I have tended to use this setup when I really want strong light from behind. In between the ring and the light bar thing is a cheap plastic white cutting board sheet I bought, again at WallyWorld in a pack of like 3 for about $3, to act as a nice diffuser because that particular flash is the old school sort that just blast away full power...so I work around that...

I love doing all the DIY setups I can...I dunno about you guys but really I have found going simple is not only easy on the budget but also lets me be a lot more creative setup wise...just takes practice after reading that darned Light: Science & Magic book...it is what really got me thinking because most of it is about stills/product shooting.

I still do want to get a couple nice softboxes for certain sort of shots but for now I get OK shots from the simple setup I have...thanks to the ideas of others which got me going in this direction.

Last edited by brecklundin; 12-07-2009 at 08:20 AM.
12-07-2009, 08:25 AM   #7
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I did just find this roll of black on eBay:

roll paper seamless photo background backdrop U-Blk 53" - eBay (item 360208994116 end time Dec-17-09 16:04:42 PST)

It's 53" wide but you could cut it down if need be...and maybe the seller has different sizes in their eBay store???

EDIT: Here is a Google search for this brand of paper:
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-ContextMenu&rl...ed=0CCAQ1QIoAA

Savage brand is carried by B&H so it should be good as well and seems to be about the same price:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/45617-REG/Savage_20_1253_53_x_12yds_Ba...d.html#reviews

Seems it's not overly expensive, not as cheap as the printer paper, but I bet it's cheaper than painting the white paper black. Still, why is it I feel like these rolls have to be like $7 somewhere not selling the paper for photographic purposes?

Last edited by brecklundin; 12-07-2009 at 08:46 AM.
12-07-2009, 09:27 AM   #8
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RE the featherweight- just sold one- got over $500 for it on evilbay- but I used a white background.

I like the white poly matte printer paper just fine for the white backgrounds- sticking to that.

Black velvet- WAY to much lint and dust shows up on just about any fabric, velvet is the worst. I need something for the black background that is smooth and matte.

I'm going up to my local craft store- they sell fadeless bulletin board paper in rolls. That's where I got the blue paper that sucks- cost me $100 on my last listing just by switch from white BG to blue. (about $8 a roll)

I don't have hours to spend taking shots of these things (time is money), so I need to be as stream line as possible. Plus, many of the machines are cast iron and weigh 35 to 40 pounds. For my 100 pound frame, just moving it around on the table top is a workout- add glass to the idea- I'd be sure to break it. Plexiglass will get scratched in no time.

So, I will use two backgrounds, black or white, depending on the color of the item being photographed.

Your glass shot is stunning, but way too much fuss for what I do.

12-07-2009, 10:30 AM   #9
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I run into the same issues with the velvet/velour fabrics...kinda dusty around here. Which was one of my motivations for the black foamcore & paper, both are easy to keep lint & dust free pretty easily.

For some reference info, that Baccarat shot took less than 5-minutes to setup and shoot, that is the entire point I was making with a setup like mine, you can switch things around in no time. Also because I sell a wide variety of items I group items which will need similar setups together so I'm not making changes constantly. To me that is a given and common sense. ...so, you are not the only seller who does this. I allocate a total of 10-15 minutes per item for all handling/management except shipping. This includes images, editing images, research and writing the descriptions. But I also have a minimum profit level per item of $50 except for some left overs from earlier which are at this point pure profit so the time is still paid relatively well even on a $20-$40 sale.

The glass is merely to demo what CAN be done I din't mean to imply you needed to use it... The lighting is the point in that shot, the glass is an optional thing for sure. FYI, plexi is very easy to maintain and remove scratches from. Just means 30-mins now and then using a orbital sander with a buffer pad attached and some refinishing compounds which can be had quite easily. A fast pre-shoot touch up if needed takes no more than 5-mins...but still I see your point, one that I overlooked that you need something that can manage heavy items. Even though it was not mentioned in your post I should have made the connection based on the one shot...d'oh!!

I really LOVEd your shot of the parts...really super exposure and layout...but I feel for ya lugging around those sewing machine beasts!! hehehehe...I hate moving them can't imagine how it can wear out a teeny gal!!

I never know about the fade-less paper, my only consideration is if it's black enough under all the lighting, but still that can be compensated for in exposure or maybe even post...I will have to hit our Michael's to see if they have any. I mean it would bug me no end to drop $40 on a 36ft roll of paper which has to be replaced periodically. Let us know what you find...if I find anything I'll pop back in and post results as well...I do have errands to run this AM so I should have time to visit Michael's for a fast look.
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