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Seth Baldwin

Grey seamless vs dimly lit white seamless for grey backdrop?

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This is more of a photography relevant question. I'm planning a photoshoot that needs a dark grey backdrop. I'm shooting it on median format film so can't reference during shooting, i could of course use my phone but the dynamic range would be a world of difference. Anyway, would it be more desirable to go with a white seamless backdrop and light the client further away from it so that it can roll off into a dark grey or would it be more desirable to get a true grey seamless and light the client closer? Assuming the backdrop would be wide enough to cater for both frames. The goal of this comparision is to understand which would be the most seamless, so have the most tonal consistency. I'm using f2.8 lens, so perhaps shooting shallow could also help in this situation.


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I'd say get the colored seamless that you're picturing in your head. It's definitely possible to make a white seamless look grey, but why go through the extra work when you can just order a grey seamless?

Are you going for an Annie Leibovitz kind of look?

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Posted (edited)

There wouldn't be any real benefit to underexposing the white seamless. It would likely take more lighting effort to bring down the backdrop exposure to where you want, especially to get a dark gray color. 

If you were to light a white seamless to match the same shade of grey as a dark grey seamless theoretically there wouldn't be any discernible difference. There isn't a reason the underexposed white would be any cleaner of an image since you are under exposing it in camera to match the same shade of grey. The evenness of the light on the background is a product of having a light that evenly hits the whole background so it is the same level of brightness across the whole surface.


if you have access to a spot meter this would be a good way to make sure the whole backdrop is lit evenly at the exposure that will result in the dark grey you like. 


Edited by Albion Hockney
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The only time I've tried to make a white background look grey is in the circumstances where white is all I had - e.g an office wall for interview back drop.

Its doable but a pain, if you don't have enough space to control the spill from your foreground lights. Working with a grey background is easier and if you go with a mid grey you can still use lighting to determine the exact shade of grey you want. 

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