For the most part, I love the hell out of my photo table. Yes, it’s big and unwieldy and attracts bugs in the summer months, but the nice even lighting and the ability to use uplighting make it all worthwhile.
It’s an excellent way to showcase my builds.
But…I do miss the option to shoot on a different backdrop – like black.
Why? Simple. White is rather strong, tonally, and can introduce a form of tonal crush all its own, obscuring subtle tonal variations in a paint finish. With certain tones – particularly grays – it can also make accurate white balance a pain in the ass, and thanks to the white plexiglass not being a pure white, can make certain grays look too blue, or conversely make itself look too red.
Case in point – the Tamiya F-14 I’m currently working my way through. Take this shot…in which the Dark Ghost Gray seems both too blue, and too dark:
After completely resampling the white balance, I took another go at it…and was happier.
But now the white looks…dingy…and the gray is not pulling through nearly all of the tonal variation going on.
But when you put it on black…
At the exact same exposure – the gray looks far, far more tonally correct, and the subtle variations across the surface more apparent.
The problem is finding a good black backdrop
Posterboard works…decently…but it’s small and confines angles. Bigger posterboards are too stiff – and paper products just do not last long in the garage environment (thanks, humidity).
Photo backdrops that are made out of shit like muslin are right out – those are great for portraits, but not great for a photo table, where the grain shows through.
Ideally I’d be able to find something like a nice big piece of clear, flimsy acrylic – but I’ve only ever found those in clear – and attempts to paint them a black that’s opaque never seem to go well.
I thought I’d found an interesting solution with a big sheet of adhesive vinyl…I mean it does take pretty damn good pictures…
But it also ended up creasing like a bastard on the slope of the photo table, leading to very obvious reflective areas and making me question its durability for ongoing use and storage cycles.
So what say you, readers? Know of a wonderful backdrop material that won’t turn to mush in moderate humidity, that won’t attract every mote of dust and then refuse to let it go? That’s big enough to allow freedom of shot angles (approximately 4 feet by 3 feet would probably work)?
Any ideas? Because I’m running out.