Lastolite collapsible backgrounds have been a godsend to many professional photographers. They’re compact, lightweight and take seconds to set-up and now joining the range is the Lastolite Vintage Collapsible Background 1.5 x 2.1m Tobacco/Olive.
Once again this background is double-sided, with a tobacco texture on one side and olive on the other.
The design of the collapsible backgrounds is superb, simply take it out of the zipped case, give it a quick flick and out it pops, ready for use.
The two textures; tobacco and olive, give an attractive vintage look enabling plenty of options in the photo studio.
For professional photographers, these backdrops are an invaluable resource giving you background interest that can be easily manipulated with lighting.
As an enthusiast, and if you’re into portraiture or still lives, then these backgrounds will instantly boost the professionalism of your shots.
However, the most fun I’ve found is when they’re used with a group such as in a college, photography club or just a group of friends. The effect on the quality of your portraits and still lives is huge. What’s more its a massive confidence boost for any photographer to see how these backgrounds can be used to transform your images.
These backgrounds are photographers secret. Once you start to use them and see the results, you’re going to want one.
The first time I walked into a studio, I was hit by the vast space crammed with kit. Not just the cameras and people, but the foam boards, lighting rigs, props and backdrops neatly packed everywhere.
Until that point, backdrops were something I just hadn’t considered and I was struck by just how many options there were.
As I spent time firstly helping with then conducting my own shoots, I was, and still am amazed at all the effects that a seemingly flat sheet of coloured paper can have on the end result.
Sculpting plain roll backdrops with light is a delicate skill, but the effects that a shift or addition of light can have on a plain paper background is incredible. Add in a texture and it opens up a mass of new opportunities.
The Lastolite collapsible backgrounds offer an easy texture solution with two sides that are perfect for three quarter length portraits or adding background interest for still lives.
Like plain paper backdrops, the textures on either side can be transformed and manipulated using light to dramatic effect.
Not only do these backgrounds give plenty of background options but unlike paper rolls, they’re quick and easy to setup and use.
The backdrop arrives in a circular zipped case. Simply unzip, withdraw the backdrop and give it a quick flick and it’ll pop-up to full-size.
The backdrop can then be lent against a wall or if you splash out a little extra cash then you can buy the magnetic stand.
Used with magnetic stand all you need to do is simply align one of the edges with the magnets at the top of the stand and it clicks into place. When you want to remove just give a tug and the backdrop will come away.
Packing the background away take just a minute, at least once you know the technique, and once back inside the case, it measures just 85cm in diameter and weighs in at 3kg.
Opened up the background to full height and it measures 2.1m by 1.5m.
I’ve been using the Lastoilite collapsible backgrounds for years and I don’t ever think I have one fail or break on me.
Lastolite build quality is absolutely excellent and you can really see this when you look at the quality of the materials used and the stitching, there’s nothing cheap about the construction.
Even down to the case that protects the backdrop, this is also of a decent quality and is not only designed to make transporting the background easy but also offers a decent amount of protection.
The collapsible design of the backdrop does mean that the material and the print is under quite a bit of stress, far more than the more common roll backdrops.
Had I not have used these for a few years I’d be a little worried that over time the print would become worn due to the twisting required when packing. But in the backdrops I’ve used I’ve never seen any real wear.
Handling any backdrop is usually an issue due to their size. But here the Lastolite Collapsible is easy to handle and manoeuvre into position. The frame offers a good amount of rigidity which means that it can be easily picked up and moved whenever needed.
The big challenge of the collapsible backgrounds especially at this size is putting it back inside the case.
There is, of course, a technique to doing this and I would really recommend that you pop along to the Manfrotto stand at Photokina 2018 or the Photography Show 2019 and ask for a proper demonstration.
For now, a quick overview of the technique is to stand with the backdrop in front of you lengthways, then put your hands on either side and lift the backdrop so that bends slightly in the middle.
As the backdrop curves raise your right hand to your left shoulder, then your left Hand to your right shoulder as you do this the backdrop will essentially do the rest of the folding for you.
It’s a technique that once shown is really quick and easy to pick up, but until you do packing away a backdrop of this size and be a real challenge.
It’s amazing what a difference a decent backdrop to make your portrait and still lives, transforming any location into a stunning professional photo studio.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to use the backdrop is just placed it near a window.
With the background against a wall with the window to its left or right, a subject can then be placed into or step in front of the background. This way you’ll find soft natural lighting and a very elegant depth to your image.
Pop the background against a wall opposite a window and you get a flatter overall light on your subject but again with the subject casting a soft shadow on the background the textures change creating a quite different ambience to the image.
If you want to push things a little further then off-camera flash can be used to illuminate the subject and create different lighting effects and add interest for greater complexity for the background texture and colour.
The great thing about these backgrounds is the texture and colour. They’re designed to give you a huge variety of possibilities that change depending on the way you position your subject and manipulate your lighting.
This flexibility and adaptation mean that although the background only has two sides a huge amount of visual effects and moods can be created by simply adjusting the way lighting falls onto the material.
The Lastolite backgrounds are hugely versatile, quick and easy to set-up and will transform your portrait and still life photography.
It also makes getting a professional look to your images exceptionally easy, even when using an iPhone.
The design is the key to the ease of use, with the quick pop-up and fold down design meaning that it can be easily used and stored without the faff of poles, clips and time-consuming assembly.
With just one background you have a versatile professional studio backdrop that can achieve multiple looks with a slight change in lighting.
If you’re interested in still life or portrait photography and want to elevate the professionalism of your shots, then I’d highly recommend you take a look at the latest Lastolite Vintage collapsible background.
If the textures of this particular background don’t take your fancy don’t worry, there is a huge range available and I highly recommend popping along to manfratto.co.uk to check out all the different styles and designs.
To take a look at the full line-up pop along to manfrotto.co.uk