« on: March 10, 2014, 04:07:17 PM »
QuoteThis thread seems like a good place to ask this.
I've always been an admirer of Irving Penn's portraits (Worlds in a Small Room, Small Trades, etc.). I've never figured out how to recreate the look of his backgrounds. I've only seen seamless paper in solid colors and while the muslin backgrounds come close, they just aren't quite the same. As others have said, unless you have some means of permanently leaving them hanging they are prone to wrinkles, which one would think wouldn't be a huge problem if you can blur the background, but unfortunately, even with full frame, it seems like there is never enough background blur to hide the wrinkles.
From pictures I've seen, it looks like Penn used Canvas.
Anyone here have any sources or ideas.
Most likely he used a custom hand painted Muslim. Traditionally Muslims were all hand painted and unique. it's a recent (last twenty years of so) development that you can get mass produced printed Muslims. Most modern Muslims are kinda cheesy IMO. They lack the classic qualities of a hand painted Muslim.
If you are going for that look you can buy blank Muslim and either hire a painter to paint it or give it a go yourself.
Unfortunate typo, muslin is quite different to Muslim
Ha! Yeah, It wouldn't be very polite or effective to paint a person as a backdrop.
I imagine it didn't hurt that he was using a large format camera as well. I'm still amazed at the images, especially as I understand that he generally used natural light in a portable tent-type studio. I've always felt Penn's portraits showed greater empathy for the subjects than Avedon. In my view, Avedon tended to go for the cheap shot in his American West series -- sort of a "Hey New Yorkers, look at these country bumpkins that inhabit the rural west. Aren't they bizarre and unsophisticated." I think Penn showed greater respect for his subjects.