Using a neutral gray backdrop with blending modes for portraits

mnhoj

gee aahrr
Location
Los Angeles
Real Name
John
I intend to make a series of portraits of my parents generation, aunts and uncles.
So I wanted a portable consistent backdrop.
I really like the Annie Leibovitz using a custom Oliphant backdrop style look.

The backdrops while absolutely stunning are pricey. Maybe one day.

So I use a Wescott X-drop with full sweep for the ability to capture full lengths.
It keeps the washable foldable fabric smooth fairly well.
Easy to use and transport.

The neutral gray back drop allows the ability to change color and texture in post.
A photoshop overlay blending mode(and a few others. soft light, etc.) renders grays transparent.
It does require some masking and can be fairly tedious but well worth it imo.

I think I have the concept down. I just need to fine tune and polish.
Note: Thanks to all for persevering my learning process in the recent past challenges. ( :

Here's a BTS of the drop.
I just added a physical 5" baseboard.
Trying to fabricate/photoshop a transition from floor to wall has been quite a challenge.
bts.JPG

Here's a finished version.
finish.JPEG

The basic steps.
Use a blending/stamping/cloning/blur brush to smooth out any wrinkles or folds.
Gather textures, 2D flooring, etc.
Place the files and align using overlay or similar blending mode. Play with opacity.
Transform flooring 2D to mimic perspective.
Fine tune.

Optional.
Select side edges and transform/pull out for added width. The Xdrop is 5' wide and I wish it was 7'.

In this particular shot I used a 24mm lens.
I often really like the distorted look but will probably try and get a little more working distance when I finally get around to doing the series.

Any questions or comments on how to improve please feel free to post.
 
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mnhoj

gee aahrr
Location
Los Angeles
Real Name
John
Have you looked at the canvas backdrops from Kate Backdrops? They’re really good and a lot more affordable.

The work you have done here does look really good.

Thanks Bobby.
I haven't. I'll take a look.

John, that looks great. Seeing those kids in their Chuck Taylors reminds me of my high school days. I wish I could still wear them, but their complete lack of arch support and my middle-aged feet just won't get along.

Thanks Luke.
I suffer from all that and a hard head so I wear mine occasionally.
I also have a pair of Red Wing Rangers that make the Chucks feel like Nike Airs.
 

mnhoj

gee aahrr
Location
Los Angeles
Real Name
John
I looked at the Kate backdrops and will likely add a few down the road.
For now I'll utilize the versatility of the neutral gray.
As long as the light is on the low key side masking is quite forgiving.
One of my boys monkeying around.
jake.gabe.monkey.jpg

More of a concrete look.
 
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Jonathan F/2

Top Veteran
Location
Los Angeles, USA
Great shots John! I wonder since you're doing all this work in Photoshop, perhaps using a green screen backdrops might be an option as well? It might be easier to super impose different looks and might make the PS work a little easier.
 
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mnhoj

gee aahrr
Location
Los Angeles
Real Name
John
Thanks Jonathan.
I think a green screen is all or nothing and may require more masking albeit mostly automatic. Not sure how it will handle shadows. Worth and investigation. Thanks.

The photoshop work actually isn't that intensive. Gray and overlay mode is very forgiving depending on what background and clothes color.
Here's a screenshot of the incomplete masking done on this shot. It's actually really hard to tell with just the texture and flannel shirts and jeans.
Screen Shot 2020-06-11 at 12.16.39 PM.png


And here's a semi-finished.
jake.gabe.left.jpg
 

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