Superlite® White Backdrop (background) Tested!
Review by Pam Farr…
It’s been quite a few years since I last tested the Superlite® “wipeable white” backdrop.
Meanwhile — although we have had students give us good reports on the Superlite® — I’ve personally stuck with seamless background paper.
Recently, however, I did some new test shots using the Superlite® White backdrop — and — the results were extremely good!
Will it replace seamless background paper in my setup?
Read on and see!…
First off, for storage, portability, and reusability, the Superlite® patented lightweight synthetic fabric backdrop is hard to beat. If any of those three things — storage, portability, and reusability — are of prime importance to you, the Superlite® should be on your “short” list, and probably your “only” list. I just don’t know of any other backdrop that crunches up so small and light, yet gets the backdrop job done so well.
For the test shots, I used the 10×20 foot backdrop which is the perfect size for most situations, and weighs in it at only 2 pounds…
Flip, Crush, Snap
The Superlite® backdrop is easy to set up. Once you take the backdrop out of the provided storage bag, flip it out and re-crush it by gathering the material and crunching it up against your body. This re-crushing softens the wrinkles and flipping it helps release the wrinkles.
Since I used the 10 x 20 foot backdrop, after re-crushing it, I just flipped and snapped sections at a time, working around the edge of the backdrop. This only took a few seconds.
The pole of your background support system slips easily through the hem provided at the top of the backdrop.
The Superlite® is also lightweight enough to hang on a wall.
This is done by using tape or push pins on the reinforcement areas provided at the top of the backdrop on the left, right, and center of the backdrop. (Do not tape or pin directly on the fabric itself as it could shred the material when removed!)
You can then use the tabs provided along the sides to tape or pin the rest of the backdrop against the wall and along the floor area.
Get a smooth look with a background stand and clips
If you’re using a background stand, you can tighten and smooth the backdrop by using the specially-designed clips. These non-slip clips attach the backdrop to the poles on your background stand. With the help of these clips, I was able to pull the backdrop tight to get rid of most of the wrinkles from the floor up. Then, when lit with the studio lights, the wrinkles just disappeared!
Tips for a wrinkle-free floor area
For the floor area, smooth the backdrop and use removable painter’s tape or removable duct tape (available in the paint section at home improvement stores)…
…over the provided tabs. This works nicely to help keep the floor area smooth, and you can easily lift up these taped tabs to straighten the backdrop as needed during a session.
An Unexpected Plus!
Doing location shots with seamless paper is often a big problem because people tend to have rooms with tacked down carpeting or rugs that are awkward to move.
Paper can tear when used on rugs and carpeting, and it can’t be taped down adequately. This can create a hazardous situation, so the carpet and rug scenario is not conducive to using seamless paper as your backdrop.
I was wondering if the Superlite® would work.
To test this, I slipped an inexpensive carpet with a short, dense, smooth pile under the Superlite® backdrop, laid down on it, and was amazed to discover that not only did it “work,” but it was actually much easier to reposition people and move on it — there was much less bunching of the material and the Superlite® actually “clung” to the carpet!
This is very good news, because the biggest problem for me using this backdrop was the slipping and bunching on our smooth floor requiring me to constantly straighten it out during a session. Using low-pile carpet may be the best way to deal with this problem, and I’ll probably go out and get a piece that’s about 9 x 12 to use under the Superlite® backdrop!
Special note — even though the carpet I tested under the Superlite® was a dark color with a pattern, it didn’t show through because the Superlite® backdrop is completely opaque.
Using carpeting won’t completely alleviate the floor wrinkling problem, but it should cut it way down and as long as the bunching and wrinkling isn’t right up against your subjects, it’s a very simple and quick task to smooth it out in Photoshop.
Creative use of the Superlite® floor runner
The 6×10 foot Superlite® floor runner is made from the same material as the backdrop and it’s included with the 10×20 complete background set. It’s intended to be used over the “heavy traffic” area of your backdrop because it’s easy to clean and easy to replace if it gets damaged.
The floor runner protects and extends the life of your backdrop ~ but ~ there are other uses!…
The photo above was made by using the Superlite® floor runner as a shawl around the girl. It would also be very effective for bare shoulder shots. In fact, this handy piece of material could be used in a multitude of ways. For instance, drape it over a prop such as a box or a stool or use it on top of a baby or pet with their head peeking out underneath.
The Superlite® White gets a big “thumbs up” from me, especially with the minor, but highly useful improvements that have been made since the last time I tested it.
Will it replace my seamless paper? For long session blocks that don’t include having to travel, probably not. Seamless paper is still the easiest way to get a smooth look with our home studio set up and taping it down around the edges makes it very safe and stable.
But for short session blocks, unplanned sessions, “quickies,” and most sessions on location, the Superlite® is hands down the background of choice and a welcome addition to my photographic resources! And for anyone who doesn’t want to deal with the expense and bulk of seamless paper, the Superlite® may be all you ever need!