Q 'n A

Meredith, of Jackson, Mississippi asks:

I'm in the process of setting up a studio in a new space. We were trying to pick paint colors, and the rest of the building has a black ceiling.

The photo studio, I think, should obviously have white walls instead of some crazy color. But then we were questioning the ceiling color -- should it be white, or black? (It is a very small room.)

Which would you do? If it sounds arbitrary, give it a little thought before making the jump.

Meredith, if you think about it, you probably answered your own question when you brought up the room size. The classic color for a studio ceiling is black, since that controls unwanted reflections better than any other color.

You can always put a light up there if you want top light. But you certainly won't want it all of the time, and that is what you'll get to a large degree when working in a "very small room."

Small rooms are the most difficult for controlling stray light bounce, so the smaller your studio is, the darker you will probably want to paint the surfaces. If you can't escape light walls, you want to create some "negative fill" reflectors out of a flat black surface of some kinds.

Bonus points: Paint your reflectors white on one side and black on the other, and you'll have it both ways. But the main point is that you want to be able to control the bounced light.

And dark surfaces -- including the ceiling -- will help you do that.


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