One of the easy ways to get interesting backdrop (at least for small objects) is to use textured papers. They come in small enough packaging to be comfortable to handle and the texture allows for some interesting play with light.
Photographer Mo Bius shared a test shoot with such papers as a photography exercise. I think the results are interesting. (Note that the actual tea pot is flagged from the strobe in all the setups and is lit separately in the final picture)
Starting off with a back lit photo, Mo placed a flash with diffuser panel directly behind the wallpaper, directly between the product and camera. The product is propped up on a glass measuring cup so the wallpaper could be lit up all around it.
I wasn’t too impressed with the side lighting with this ghetto setup, but it might be better if the wallpaper itself weren’t so wrinkled.
Top lighting gave a decent result, and I kicked up the DOF on this shot as well so the texture really pops. Both side and top-lit shots were flagged just because I wanted to emphasize the backdrop rather than the oil burner in the test shots.
For the final image, I started with the backlit flash set up per the first example. Then there’s another strobe camera right pointing down about 60 degrees with a tight snoot attached to minimize light spillover from the pot to the backdrop. That setup was okay, but the color of the pot just wasn’t showing through, so I ended up using an LED flashlight CL just below camera level.
The reason I used the flashlight was that I wanted just a focused bit of light without the reflective footprint of a normal strobe.
That, and I really had no idea where I wanted to place the light so this allowed me to just play around with it for a bit before finding an acceptable sweet spot. So there you go. 2 cheapo Yangnuo flashes and an LED flashlight.
Paper and Color Shift:
Quality textured wallpaper can be thick, and the light passing through it or bouncing off of it can skew your color temp. I had to compensate about 2100K to the cool size on the test shots. However, in the teapot image I decided not to gel the flash because the resulting warm color really complemented the blue of the pot
Where To Get Textured Paper
If you have a Habitat ReStore or some other kind of second-hand home improvement store in your town, you can always find wallpaper. Otherwise, Home Depot, Lowes, or even Amazon can get you samples of textured wallpaper pretty cheap.
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