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Thread: Building a new studio question..

  1. #1
    Senior Member aztwang's Avatar
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    Mar 2011
    Phoenix, AZ
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    Building a new studio question..

    This is my first post in this forum. I was not even aware of this forum till I saw a for sale post on FM. This looks like a great resource of information.

    I am building my first home studio. I am lighting it with all Profoto D1 air lights as well as Profoto softboxes, beauty dish and reflectors. My room is roughly15x24 with 12-14 foot vaulted ceiling above where my subject/model is located. I have 2 windows, one left of model/subject north facing window, so no direct light ever. The second set of windows are a group of 3 windows (bay windows) which are located behind camera on the east side of the room (morning light).
    I have ripped out the carpet and am now have done some test shots and like the results so far. Its nice I have 16-19 feet from subject/model who is 4-6 feet from background, to play with. I am now left with the decision what kind and color of flooring do I go with and what color do I paint the walls.
    I am leaning to a medium/medium dark wood floor. As far as the walls I have heard 18% gray, just a plain white, a bright white.

    Any suggestions.....??

    Thanks...Don McPhee

  2. #2
    Senior Member Devon Shaw's Avatar
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    Oct 2009
    Washington, DC
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    Re: Building a new studio question..

    I don't think bright white would be the best, since then you would have more reflected light bouncing around that you are not in control of. Most studios I have worked in have been pretty dark, at least in the shooting area, with lights and modifiers brought in to control the light. This is more from observation than experience though. Definitely I would stick with a neutral color like black/white/gray so that the reflections don't cast an unwanted color cast onto your subject (unless of course this is what you are after).

  3. #3
    Super Duper
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    Nov 2007
    Royal Oak, MI and Palm Harbor, FL
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    Re: Building a new studio question..

    My in-home studio is almost the same size as yours ... except you are lucky to have a bit higher ceiling height than I do. I also use Profoto but it's a mix of generator boxes and mono-lights.

    The studio now has about 12 years of use.

    I would not put wood floors in ... instead consider industrial 12" square-tile flooring ... the type that has the color all the way through, not just the surface ... not one-piece flooring either ... and buy an extra box or two of the squares. The reason for this is over time you WILL drop stuff on the floor, or scratch it, or spill something, or do a lot of taping of backdrops to stretch the fabrics tight, and so on. It is a working area that will show signs of use eventually. When damage happens you can pop up a tile and replace it. I chose a black and white checker board look which is fine since the backdrops usually cover it when shooting, and it looks nice when not shooting.

    Key consideration is how to totally block off any windows you may have when necessary. There are a number of attractive looking black-out blinds available for this.

    If you will be using backdrops, paper or fabric, in a room this size, consider one of those ceiling mounted multiple back-drop holders or the auto-pole system to save a considerable amount of room and make it convenient to change backgrounds at will.

    I painted my room white which is a debatable choice. However, I've worked in black studios which I found depressing, so I did white instead. As it turns out, in a room this size, white can act as an over all bounce surface for broad light ... and I use 72" X 72" Scrim Jim's with flat black fabric as flags when I need to suppress any reflected light ... which doesn't happen very often because the Profoto modifiers are quite effective at directional lighting. With your ceiling height you could use 96" X 96" Scrim Jims as flags. Works like a charm.

    Last note based on experience ... dump any regular light stands you have and get C stands ... They take up less floor space, better support the top heavy mono-heads with modifiers which weigh more than regular heads, and when working can be stacked right next to each other for certain applications.

    Hope this helps,


  4. #4
    Senior Member routlaw's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
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    Re: Building a new studio question..

    Like wise my home studio is similar in size, just slightly more square feet but ceilings not as high. I agree with Marc keep the colors neutral, and do not use wood floors but the vinyl tiles instead. However I prefer the idea of solid gray 1ft square tile vs alternating b&W. My studio is still a work in progress but the ceiling is painted the whitest white I could find using my iOne Photo to check samples. The ceiling often becomes a very broad soft open light source by bouncing light off it depending on subject matter. Initially I did warm gray side walls (looks nice but bad idea) but will be changing it to white (most likely) or mid tone gray later this year. The front wall is mid tone gray and eventually the back wall will be painted the same. Unwanted reflections or light can be flagged off as Marc said and likewise the idea of working in a black room is soooo unappealing. However in a perfect world, I would have two rooms one solid white the other solid black.

    One other option worth mentioning is ceiling mounted track lights rather than lights on stands. Keeping in mind I have never had this luxury myself but they sure seem like a great idea to reduce clutter and tripping. Calumet used to sell these systems, looked pretty cool to me. Not sure how easy it would be to mount on a vaulted ceiling though.

    A quick way to check if those windows are affecting your images would be to shoot a frame at the sync speed you will be using for your flash at an appropriate f stop. In my studio I just get a black frame, meaning the windows theoretically have no effect while using flash but still I have the option for closing them off… just in case. And I also use continuous lights with my scan back where they have to be closed.

    Hope this helps.


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