Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How to use a paper backdrop... or not.

If you just want to see some cute photos, scroll down.

As we all know, the weather has been less than ideal for outdoor photos lately. Luckily for me, I have sliding glass doors that let in a great amount of soft window light, and I recently purchased a beautiful new backdrop stand along with multiple rolls of lovely seamless paper. Therefore, I was rather excited for the excuse to bust it all out.

So, after rounding up some subjects (my cute parents and my ADORABLE children), feeling almost gleeful, I open up the box in which my new backdrop stand was packaged. I pull out all the bubblewrap, and get the many shiny metal pieces out of the backdrop carrying case. I check the bag for the assembly instructions.


I check again.


Seriously? This thing doesn't have ANY instructions?!

I take a deep breath. It's all good - I'm a college grad, surely I can figure this thing out. I start sticking metal things into other metal things. I try it one way, then another. I start to sweat. The stupid backdrop stand is looking less and less beautiful all the time. My aforementioned ADORABLE children won't stop jumping on the "pop-pops" (bubble-wrap). To top it off, all that soft window light is quickly fading.

After an undisclosed amount of time (like I'm going to admit how long it took me!), the stand is all put together, the extention bars are extended, and my new Thunder Grey paper roll is mounted on the crossbar, ready to go. Though my earlier feeling of glee is long forgotten, I still feel a little self-satisfied as I look at my handiwork.

My first subjects, my parents, are ready to be photographed, so I pull the paper ever so gently downward. It comes slowly at first, and I'm trying to decide how long I need it... I climb off the chair I'd been standing on to attach the paper, so that I can get a better look at what I have to work with.

Suddenly the paper takes on a mind of its own. It starts unraveling, faster and faster, making lovely waves of grey that quickly build up across the family room floor. I let out a rather loud shriek, jump back onto the chair and frantically grab the paper. About half of it has unrolled.

My ADORABLE children are quite delighted with this development. They think the many folds of paper are their own personal playground, and proceed to jump right in. I stand on the chair feeling paralyzed, yelping at them to stop, begging them to leave the paper alone, unable to climb down because that would require me to let go of the paper roll and let the rest of it unravel.

Thankfully, my parents grab my kids before I have a nervous breakdown.

With some help, I roll the now quite wrinkled "seamless" paper back up until it's about the right length. Being a person who tends to stress out quite easily, I try not to freak out.

Now I need some way to make the paper stay on the roll. Unfortunately, I am still stuck on the chair, so my parents look around for some contraption that will secure the paper and prevent it from unrolling again. Meanwhile, the blood has drained from my arms so completely (from holding up the paper roll) that they look like something out of Night of the Living Dead.

The pantry yields some clips that I use to hold various bags shut... they seem like they might work. With the clips attached, I carefully let go of the paper. It holds. Thank goodness. I climb down from the chair. After a minute, the feeling begins to return to my arms.

After getting my ADORABLE children interested in some toys in Rylee's room, I arrange my parents to my liking and start shooting. The light has faded and is now less than even, but I am not about to try moving the backdrop closer at this point. I bump up my ISO and keep going. I'm getting some shots that I like. The wrinkles aren't showing up too much, and my parents are incredibly cooperative. I start to relax.

Shouting erupts from Rylee's room. My ADORABLE children have apparently sensed the tension draining from my body, and they immediately burst into the room to remedy the problem. They both crash right into the backdrop in their rush to attack me, and everything begins to move in slow motion.

The clips fly off the paper roll like little springs, floating through the air and crashing into the walls on either side of the room. The paper roll immediately begins to unravel again, dancing down onto the floor less gracefully than before thanks to the many wrinkles it acquired from my ADORABLE children pouncing on it earlier.

There is a collective scramble as my parents and I all try to grab the paper roll at once. I get there first. This time about 2/3 of the paper has unrolled. After several deep breaths, and a few silent reminders of the many reasons I love my ADORABLE children, I dutifully begin rolling it back up.

You would think this would be the end of the attempted photo shoot. Not so. Foolhardiness, or perseverance as I like to call it, is a trait that has been deeply ingrained in me through many failed attempts at various activities. So I kept going.

And you know what? Seamless paper - even incredibly wrinkled seamless paper - makes a great backdrop.

I have since obtained industrail strength clips to hold my paper in place no matter how hard my kids pull on it (you can find these at any hardware store), and now that it's assembled, my backdrop stand can be put up and taken down with relative ease. So the story has a happy ending. Everybody lived, and I even got some pretty decent shots of my cute parents... and my ADORABLE children.
march - folks&girls 067

WHCC Test 4

march - folks&girls 033



The Mattson's said...

very cute pictures of your parents

Tamina said...

That story is hysterical. You did get some very cute pictures. It also reminded me how great my own ADORABLE children are!