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Grey passport background


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I know the subject of passports has been discussed many times in the past and has proved frustrating for many of us.

We thought we had it all sussed with off white backgrounds until a recent flurry of rejections by the passport office.

We have since investigated in a shadow free flash...solves one problem and a grey background from Tetenal  which actually appears more blue than grey.  We have overcome the colour problem now by adding yet another backlight.  

The space our current equpment is now taking up is quite a large area, the seat has to be a long way from the wall to eliminate the illuminous background and there are now lots of fiddly things which are attractive to little ones.

We have yet to see if our new set up is adequate or are they to be rejected too? :'(

However we are still having problems with our new flash which does not go off if it's sunny (A rareity I know!)

How have you guys got your set up?  And have any of you had a recent flurry of rejections?

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The shadow free flash does exactly what it says on the tin! I wasn't aware of it either until recently, I thought someone was trying to pull my leg!!  It eliminates all shadows behind the subject.  Our problem was that even though it was diffused it still created the background too light hence the distance of the chair and flash from the wall.

I think the kit cost me just over £78.00 including delivery, if you have your own tripod measuring 60cm at its lowest you should be able to use yor own.

The codes are 70051 TRI DIGIITAL BAREBULB


From Photomart, it not a particulary attractive set up but hey!

Hows that for a plug??? Wonder if Luis might send me a prezzy!!!! ;)

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We also used to use a slave flash at shoulder height but occasionally had shadows behind the ears, we could eliminate this but then the photos were rejected due to the b/ground being too light.

We now use the shadow free with a tall slave flash which seems to create a better grey with the warm light.

We have a large shop with huge windows so we are constantly battling with the light...sun to high,too low changing position throughout the day etc.  The ideal would be to build a type of booth thing but I may shortly be moving premises and would rather not have to got to the effort.

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To be honest We use a fuji S700 digi camera and it's on-board flash along with a white background.

The photo is opened in photoshop and sized to the correct dimensions using the supplied template held directly on the screen, the background is altered to the required pale grey. Any shadows are quickly and easily removed. Exported to the DKS and printed with it's on board passport photo template.

Easy peasy, takes no more than 3 minutes, (if that) and gives a perfect, consistent result every time. We have never had one rejected and the local post office sends everyone to us.

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We use a Fuji 9500 with two softboxes and a white backdrop. We used to use a third head fitted with a snoot to bring the background up and eliminate any shadows, but now we need grey, no third head and subject a little further from background. The softboxes are now at about 30deg. from the background, so very little light falling in the wrong place. I tend to shoot under and then tweak on the lab. seems to work, haven't had any back yet.

Are you sure you just haven't upset someone at the p.o. Ajla?  Will you be in Manchester by the way? The Fergie is all lubed up and ready to go!

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We had thought of using lab and photoshop also but this could at times prove difficult and I feel like I could be shooting myself in the foot somewhat..why after spending on  all this equipment does it not do the job? If you know what I mean.  We often run on a skeleton staff at the mo a typical Sat for example ... 1 staff member photocopier jamming, kiosk crashing x1 analog lab  leaking, x1 digi lab with frazzled Ram, everyone always gets off the same blinking bus and they all come in at once, we do our own repairs as many of you do but  on a bad day (as things always go wrong at the same time, then nothing goes wrong for months) fiddling with photoshop I just couldn't be doing.  

Not even time for a wee !

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Slave flash on background, kodak 5MP camera with forced flash.

dodge background out to white - replace colour - auto into template - print on lab.

takes about 7 mins dry but we tell customers 10-15 just in case.

no big, overly complex lighting arrangements, all done in PS really.

NO rejects since we nailed it at the end of october, and we offer free re-take if rejected.

it is a sod but the profit is good, even at £4.99 and we do 40-50 a week so probably the best profit thing we do for the time spent.


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As the only shop in the area although there is a booth in the PO just down the road they send everyone up here as they say we do it much better.  we do an average of 20 a day and yes great profit.  A lot of money to lose if you are out of order!

We also do a free retake when they bring the spare x2 photos back acompanied by the rejection letter.

Still problems occasionally as we are battling with the light and must have had about 15 rejections this year.  Hopefully with the new set up this will change but time will tell.

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AJLA,  I know what you mean about keeping it all together working single handed, but do try my method. It takes a few attempts to master it but once you've got it nailed it is very quick and virtually foolproof. We don't get any rejects, and to take a bit of pressure off we tell the customer to come back in 30 minutes.

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Sound a very sililar set up to mine.  Yesterday I had a problem with the background though it was far more blue than grey regardless of the positions of the slave and shadowfree flash.  We seem to get this about an hour each day when the low sun comes through the window.  Difficult, I can't actually say "can you come back when the sun goes down?" ;D

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  • 2 weeks later...

Once again the dreaded subject of passport photos.

Al set up eventually with new background and shadow free flash unit, no rejections so far.

Now yesterday we had one of those very rare bright days where the sun actually shone..great!!

Although the shadow free flash will not fire in bright conditions.  

So if we DO happen to have a summer or you have a very bright store there may be problems with this sensitive flash unit.  

Next step I think we will have to build some kind of booth.

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Sounds a good idea but I suppose the problem would be as well as the cracking the correct shade of grey, would it be woth the hassle? Don't know.

My blind cost me about £35.00 but to be honest you'd probably get almost the same only cheaper from Argos.

Mine is really just a cheap one.

I was told by a former passport system salesman that many even print there own on a wide inkjet, again what about the shade.

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For anyone shooting Australian Passport photos, the rules have changed!

The dimensions are the same for adults, but baby pics are different to what they used to be.

There is also a requirement that MINIMUM camera resolution is 7mp with ABSOLUTELY NO MANIPULATION OF ANY KIND to the photo. NO REDEYE FIX, NO NOTHING! And they must now be on gloss paper.

And the passport office now has the software to check images and check resolution from the photo, as well as see if any manipulation has been done.

Don't laugh, it's true.

They can tell a 4mp camera from an 8mp camera from the photo.

The software was developed here in South Australia by the Defence Science Technology Organisation which is where most of the biometric ID software has been developed, If they can develop software to drop missiles over the horizon, on target, they can sure do this

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