Join Joseph "PhotoJoseph" Linaschke for an in-depth discussion in this video Using foil as a fun and easy backdrop, part of The DIY Photographer.
- Welcome to the DIY Photographer. I'm your host, Joseph Linaschke. And today, I'm going to show you how to build a really cool, dynamic, fun backdrop using nothing more than aluminum foil. So, here's what happens. We're going to hang a bunch of strips of aluminum foil from the wall. And then crumple them up kind of like that. Which will add a real nice three-dimensionality to it. Which will then pick up all the light in the room around it, reflect in it, and make for a really dynamic backdrop. Now we can just let the ambient light in the room reflect off of it, or we can add our own lights to it.
Here I have a couple of hot lights from the shop. Really simple, easy and very inexpensive. In fact, if you missed the video on these make sure you check that out. We're going to attach to these lights a couple of color gels to add a little color to the scene. And we're going to clip those on using our handy-dandy binder clips. Which in fact, has a whole other video in the series. If you haven't seen the video on binder clips, check it out. It's surprising what you can do with these things. We're going to attach this to the wall using tape. Or, if you have built the backdrop that you see behind me here, that was from yet another DIY video, we can just attach this to the poles on the backdrop.
Which means you'll be able to take it down, move it around, and set it up again in the future, if you wanted to. So let's get started. All I need is my foil, some scissors to cut it up with, little bit of tape, and were in business. Now let's do it. Now when I first get started here I'm just going to loop it over. Squish it down there to hold on. And I'm going to tape it down eventually, but since I only have two hands, it's a little tricky to do that now.
So I'm just going to be careful that I don't yank this off of here as I climb down the ladder. And I'll just unroll the foil and let it drop down to the bottom. (foil crinkling loudly) Now at the moment, I've got the foil all the way down to the floor.
If I cut it now, by the time I start scrunching up the foil to give me that cool texture that I want, the foil is, of course, going to get shorter. So If you want full length, if you want it to go all the way to the floor, then you're going to want to make this a little bit longer before you cut it. Alright. I think we're doing pretty good here. So the next step is to put some light on it. Remember I said earlier that I have these hot lights with a couple of color gels. I'm going to put a blue one on one side, a red one on the other, and we'll see how that looks. Now the great thing about these clamps is you can clamp them to just about anything.
Now, I'm using a couple of light stands here but of course you could use anything. Even a chair, for example. Take a dining room chair, clamp to the top of that, and put it in place. Nice and easy. So to get the gels on here, take the color gel and simply clip that on using my binder clips. Now, the color blue tends to get lost a little bit, so I'm putting two layers of blue gel on here. You might even need to use three. Just depends on how hot the light is that you have inside of that. And on the other side I'm going to stick this red one.
And that's all there is to it! Now let's get these in place. Just put that blue light on there. Turn that guy on. And, in this case I'm going to actually put it pretty close to the background because I want kind-of a cross-light thing happening here. I'm not trying to light the subject with the blue lights, just the background. So I'm going to make sure that the light is just scraping along the edge of the foil. It should pick up nice reflections that way.
It's looking pretty cool. The red really stands out. The blue is definitely more subtle, but that's OK. We can have one primary prominent color and something that's a little bit more faded back there. So, I think we're looking pretty good. You might want to make some adjustments to it, but for now, we're going to try it out and see how it looks. I do have my friend here who's going to step in and model for us. Britney, why don't you come on in and let's see how this looks. Thank you, Britney. So, as you can see I'm not shooting with a strobe at this point.
I certainly could. Instead of the hot lights, I could use strobes with gels on them. Put a strobe on the camera itself, or other lights to light the subject. But right now we're just going to make it really simple. I'm just using the ambient light in the room and of course the gelled lights that I've put on the background. Alright, let's see what we've got here. (shutter clicking) Awesome. Looking great. Thank you, Britney. So as you can see, with just a little bit of ingenuity you can come up with a totally original backdrop. The foil is fun.
Put some different colored gels on there, light it however you like, and you can have an incredible backdrop for a party, just for portraits, or whatever you like.
That's the idea behind The Do-It-Yourself Photographer. Photographer and educator Joseph Linaschke shows how you can fashion ordinary items—from plastic cups to clamps to parchment paper—into accessories that will improve lighting, stabilize your camera, and much more.
So roll up your sleeves and break out the gaffer's tape. Learn how to become a DIY photographer.