Shooting with a Translucent Background

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

I recently received a Savage Translum background to use in my 11×15-foot home studio. The Translum backdrop looks like frosted glass and is available in rolls of 54-inches wide by 18 feet long just like seamless paper as well as 60-inch x 18 foot sheets.


Translum is made from Mylar and can be framed or hung on a background stand like the Savage Economy Background kit I used for a session with an aspiring model. The portrait was lit with Westcott’s Two-Light Daylight D5 Softbox Kit that uses five fluorescent bulbs per head. I was initially concerned that placing a D5 with all five lights turned on would not be bright enough to sufficiently illuminate the background but when used with another D5 as the main light (as seen in the setup above) it created wonderfully room-filling light,

For this setup a Westcott D5 with all bulbs illuminated was placed directly behind the Savage Translum background and aimed toward the subject, while a second 24×32-inch softbox was placed at camera right with just three lamps turned on.

For the portrait of a young model in a red dress photographed against the Translum backdrop, I used a Panasonic Lumix GH4 with Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 lens with an exposure of 1/125 sec at f/2.8 and ISO 800. An exposure compensation of plus two stops was required achieve proper exposure and balance front and back lights.

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If you’re interested in shooting portraits and how I use cameras, lenses and lighting, in my in-home studio, please pick up a copy of Studio Lighting Anywhere” which is available from your favorite book or camera stores as well as, where your purchase helps this blog.