Canvas hand painted backdrops: are they worth it?

Getting new stuff for your photography adventures is something I’m sure we can all indulge in, be it gear or a new gadget or even the necessary subscription to Adobe Cloud or Capture One. But with the rise of amazing photographers like Sue Bryce using these hand painted backdrops and the amazing work of Oliphant with their hand painted backdrops being used by the likes of Anne Leibovitz, there is this always ongoing question: are they really worth getting, because they can range from a few hundred to a few thousands and … well … it’s just a backdrop right?

First of all I want to address the elephant in the room: I am a brand ambassador for the following backdrop company - Fine Art Backdrops - I’m going to talk about and share my experiences over; but in the same sentence I want to address the fact I would néver become a brand ambassador if I’m not convinced by the products. I am aware my words may be an influence and I want nothing more to share my honest experiences and feedback even if I have ties with a company. This is one of those: I do réally love their work and I honestly stand behind them (and currently am saving up to buy with my own cash too eventually).

- Are those “hand painted canvas backdrops worth it?”

Y-E-S . I cannot stress enough what an eye-opening experience this has been to have been able to work with these backdrops on set, creating everything in camera rather than post-processing it all in Photoshop in the processing phase. While I adore both techniques and I will continue mixing it, they offer a new visual experience and look that is impossible to recreate in camera. Very similar to how analogue vs digital film feels, both are amazing yet it’s both it’s complete own aesthetic.

As mentioned, my backdrops are from Fine Art Backdrops - an US based company. While we have been talking about new backdrops over time, for now I “just” had the pleasure to work with two of them she had in stock: one is a gorgeous sepia called “Tobacco” and the other is a green/brown called “Olive” . They’re both from the smaller catalogue as I have a small studio and I wanted something easy to transport if necessary for clients.

The reason I picked those two was because I love to use a brown for my painterly work (hence my choice for “Tobacco”) and I knew I could easily play around with the green one “Olive” for anything more colorfull or the opposite: I could easily remove the color to become more grey.

There is just something absolutely gorgeous of having hand painted backdrops as well: they give a depth and dimension to my images I didn’t had before and was looking for. Becoming more real and at the same time, more mysterious and elegant. When we compare this to digitally adding it, which has a more illustrative look and feels more artificial and modern - they both have a very distinctive feel to it.

I highly recommend any photographer to get one, maybe two. It’s amazing for pretty much anything with a subject, even some jewelry photography for example! Think portraits, maternity, fashion, product, pets, ….

If you’re looking for a backdrop, I can highly recommend Fine Art Backdrops. But if you’re looking for more EU based I also had the pleasure of working with Gravity Backdrops once. For the rest I don’t have first hand experiences, but there are plenty of options out there and many of sources on how to paint these yourself too actually (and I might actually do that one day).

Model Illyria Okami wearing Agnieszka Osipa Costumes against a Fine Art Backdrop

Model Illyria Okami wearing Agnieszka Osipa Costumes against a Fine Art Backdrop

Recent examples featuring two backdrops from Fine Art Backdrops (Tobacco & Olive Green) - most of this has been shot in the studio for my series “The Lost Royals” with one example (far right) being a mix of natural and artificial light. Some of these had more or less processing done color wise, so it’s good to keep in mind that option of versatility

Some work where I digitally added textures to complete the overall look.
Some of these textures are from PRO EDU - others have come from various free sources onlin.

Coruscate

“Coruscate”

Flowers, beauty and colours

Published for broncolor GenNEXT blog in october, “Coruscate” is a beauty inspired editorial where I wanted to create something bold and colorful. Over at the GenNEXT broncolor blog you can find my entire workflow to recreate this look by yourself in the studio! I shot this look with my lady My Fragility featuring a septum by Staskauskas - an amazing designer of wearable art I had the pleasure of discovering (and realising it was the same amazing designer she talked about earlier that had some epic jewelry wanted to shoot, win-win!). This was part of an afternoon of experimenting, with this one being one of my favorite set-ups! There is something incredibly fun and refreshing about discovering a new light set-up that is so unpredictable as this one. It does gives it challenges but at the same time I can see a lot of future opportunities.

Gear

Shot with a Canon 5D Mark III with a 100mm 2.4

Lights used are by broncolor: siros 800 with an octabox, Move 1200 with a MobiLED and a beautydish and a picolight with fresnel attachment.

Retouching

All work has been processed in Capture One Pro for the base colour toning, light and shadow adjustments - as well as cropping.- After this I exported it to Photoshop for further adjustements like colours, skin cleanup, dodge & burn and minor further adjustements in brightness and contrast.

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Cimmerian

“Cimmerian”

A little touch of darkness for the Halloween month


It’s one of my favorite months now with Halloween and so, there is no better time to try my hands on something more editorial, inspired with a little touch of darkness. My beautiful friend Spooky was able to come to me and brough a range of gorgeous styling, that we finished off with a few extra pieces from my wardrobe. This was such a fun project to work on and I’m really stoked to share the results with all of you!

Similar to my last blog, I am always looking to find new ways to use my light within a small space and most of all: how can I use light in a different way and create something that feels like my aesthetic and visual trademark. For this I thought a long time and I realised that often my main focus is to lighten the face from the front – a habit I have developed and most often got booked for. But it made me wonder what would happen if we would work with the absence of light – without turning the image too contemporary painterly and dark.

While researching I realised I didn’t want any harsh shadows and keep a smooth transition between the darker and lighter parts, so I opted to work with two softboxes: one being the 30x120cm and the other the 60x100cm – both mounted on MobiLEDS and a Move 1200. This would also allow me greater control over the strength of each individual light and alter as I went to fit my vision, which was crucially important.

I positioned both lights directly on her sides, with the smallest being on the left as I like to position my models facing from left to right (similar as to we read). The other I positioned on the right, as to have a slight stronger fill in light both on the backdrop and on her, to counteract the darker part as I wanted to keep an editorial feel.

When I had my lights places on her sides, I took my Siros 800 with the octabox and positioned it on the left aiming directly at the opposite wall with my reflector, bouncing in just enough light to fill in her face for a more flattering effect without being overpowering.

With the dark grey backdrop, processed in Capture One Pro to be more of a green as a complimentary color for Spooky’s beautiful red hair. I gave some texture to the backdrop by using Pro Edu their texture packs as usual, to just give that plain paper a little finishing touch.

SpookyWitch08.jpg

Light Diagram

Modifiers: 60x100cm softbox
30x120cm softbox
100cm octabox

Lamps: broncolor Siros 800
broncolor move 1200 + 2 MobiLEDS

Extra: 2m reflector
Colorama “Dark Grey” backdrop

Gear & Programs

Shot on a Canon 5D Mark III with a 50mm 1.4
Edited in Capture One Pro & Adobe Photoshop

Light Diagram - October1.jpg

Starstruck

“Starstruck”

A collaboration between corset designer Valkyrie Corsets & goldsmith Eero Hintsanen

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- Want to read all about this alien-beauty-from-outer-space?
Find the blog here at the
GenNEXT blog and read all about the technical aspects, the light diagram, how I quick & easily got this “show” look and more! -

*****

I had been following Valkyrie Corsets her work for a while now and when we got in touch on Insagram, the place where all the cool people hang out still online, I was stoked to hear she wanted to send me one of her gorgeous designs and above that, a make a made-to-measure corset for my petite model My Fragility. Cue the awesomness and cue the hype! Especially when my dear Eline Deblauwe wanted to join us to make something bold, colorfull and alien come to life. I knew I wanted to do something alien. That’s basically what me and My Fragility always go for, so no surprise there. I’m really happy that Valkyrie Corsets trusted me with this and of course, that Eero as usual just let me go wild with his pieces. Obviously, more to come. One cannot shoot this piece a single time. But for now, I hope you like this take on some “alien showgirl from outer space making y’all starstruck” . Over & out.


Credits

Models - My Fragility
Hair & Makeup - Eline Deblauwe
Corsets - Valkyrie Corsets
Jewelry - Eero Hintsanen
Photography & Retouch - Laura Sheridan / Studio Sheridan’s Art

Gear

Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 50mm 1.4 & Canon 24-70mm 4.0
broncolor Siros 800 l + Octabox 150cm
broncolor move 1200 + mobiLED with a P45 modifier

Retouching

Overall colour toning and post-processing happened in
Capture One Pro. Cleaning & final toning happened in Photoshop.

Here is a picture heavy behind the scenes of the amazing transformation she went through to make this look come to life!


Backdrops & Abbeys

Backdrops & Sceneries

Because studio’s don’t always need to be inside

It’s one of these ideas I had for a long time, partially out of curiousity and fascination but also because I do like a challenge of working outside my box of creativity and vision - even if I’m not sure if it are my aesthetics. Location is one of those things as a whole, despite many attempts. I’m still a studio-lover mostly - but there is also this subject I’ve seen a few times of people taking backdrops on location and shooting around them. It really fascinated me for the longest of times but I never got around to it honestly. Until I became a Fine Art Backdrops ambassador (thank you again so much for having me!). There was no better time then when I would have these two beautiful backdrops so I decided to just try. It’s only “just a shoot” and if it didn’t work out, we would still have tons of fun and I would have tried something new.

I ordered a new stand online, some clamps and off we went. I did share already the first set “The Witching Hour” - a noir witch-aesthetic filled set featuring some gorgeous jewelry and designs, shot at the day. But this set just felt different and on it’s own, mostly because it featured almost the entire new collection of Church Of Sanctus - who graciously let me borrow it all in name of art (and my crazy ideas) and the jewelry of Eero Hintsanen.

The session itself took a bit of figuring out and while it’s not completely what I had in mind - I really want to try a second concept soon and I do really love the results nonetheless. They where a lot of fun and I love they look just different to what I have created so far.

I used both natural and artificial light for this so I didn’t had too much hassle with the ever changing natural light with the looming storm ahead.

GardenTatiana3.jpg

Credits

Models: Chloë , Anaïs , Tatiana
Styling - Church Of Sanctus
Jewelry - Eero Hintsanen
Backdrop - Fine Art Backdrops
Photography & Retouch - Laura Sheridan / Studio Sheridan’s Art

Gear

Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 50mm 1.4 & Canon 24-70mm 4.0
broncolor Siros 800 l
broncolor Softbox 60x100

Retouching

Overall colour toning and post-processing happened in
Capture One Pro. Cleaning & final toning happened in Photoshop.