Posted in diorama, doll photography, Fashion dolls, Rosie, Wildflower dolls

My terrible, horrible, no good, very bad photo shoot

The good news: Everything turned out OK (but not great) in the end.
The bad news: I’ve never had more trouble doing a photo shoot

Last week’s shoot with Camellia gave me a ton of false confidence about my ability to just dash together a set. This week, with Rosie’s bird adventure, I learned that that opinion was based on anecdotal, and not scientific, evidence.

What went wrong:

The weather: When I planned for this photo shoot, I had the idea that I’d shoot in the park out behind my house. On the weekend, when I went to do my shoot, although it wasn’t actively raining, the grass was far too wet to do my setup outside. So, I had to move everything inside.

The backdrop: But, hey, no problem, I thought. I’ll just use that backdrop I put together for Lily’s set. I’m sure it will be just perfect. By itself, the backdrop seems fine:

Here it is, with it’s subtle blue and it’s fluffy clouds. You can probably see a hint of one of the problems, but let me show you one of the photo shoot shots so that you can see it more clearly.

If you look towards the right of the photo, where the light source is coming in, you can clearly see one of the black bars that the fabric is affixed to. A second one is visible above Rosie’s head. So, I couldn’t take any shot that included the areas with the black bars. Problem 1.

Problem 2 I’m not going to be able to show you, because I corrected for it before I took any shots. But, because the fabric is so close behind the set, if the light is shining directly on the tree, the tree casts a shadow on it. Not so good for a realistic sky.

Problem 3 Finally, and this was obvious in every shot I took, the sky is simply too close to the set. Even in the better shots, it just feels like the sky-fabric is smothering the world. It made me feel claustrophobic.

So, anyway, I went through the entire photo shoot before I realized the the whole night’s work was wasted. I couldn’t keep any of the shots, because I was going to reshoot under completely different lighting conditions. Which is too bad, because I had some pretty cute shots, like this one.

Anyway, the next day I tried again, same set but using the daylight and the sky from the window behind the set.

Balancing: Most of the shots involved a lot of balancing – the bird had to balance on the fence, Frank had to stand while holding up Rosie, the larger bird had to stand still. Mostly, by the time I got everything exactly how I wanted it, something fell over.

The tripod: I love my new(ish) DSLR camera, but it’s so heavy that I have to use a tripod for every shot in any but the very brightest lighting conditions. I’m used to my Canon Powershot, that I can move around freely and examine the scene from all angles. With the DSLR, every time I need to adjust height or angle, I have to fuss with the tripod.

Grass everywhere: I love the realistic look of the groundcover that I use in these shots, but it gets absolutely everywhere. So, as soon as something falls over (see “Balancing” above) you have to pluck all the ground cover off the object. At the end of the shoot I had ground cover all over my carpet:

on the bird’s feathers:

and in Rosie’s hair:

Aptly summing up my feelings about the whole shoot, here’s the (newly named) Frank in deep despair on the set

Posted in doll adventure, doll photography, Fashion dolls, graphic novel, photo novel, Rosie, Wildflower dolls

Episode 22 – Rosie and her bird adventure, part 1

Frank takes Rosie to a park to look at clouds and help her feel better after Daisy’s departure.

Looking at the clouds
Rosie notices a bird in the trees
Frank lifts Rosie up to get a closer look
Rosie and the raven
The raven flies onto Rosie’s arm
Rosie and Frank rest, while the raven comes over to investigate
Rosie and Frank take a nap, and the raven flies down
As Rosie sleeps, a visitor arrives
Posted in Camellia, diorama, doll photography, Fashion dolls, graphic novel, Photography, Wildflower dolls

Rearranging an Island, or how I moved Camellia to a smaller set

As part of moving every object in my house to a new location, I had to move Camellia’s set.

Here’s the old set, on top of one of my workshop tables

The full set

And here’s the new set, in the wire bookcase that used to hold my indoor sets.

Since she’ll be changing her set again next week, I didn’t give it a ton of thought. I just moved over what I could.

As I was moving the set, I realized that anyone who recalled the old set might wonder how two enormous palm trees had suddenly disappeared from Camellia’s island. Windstorm? Tsunami?

What I didn’t think about was the change in the depth of focus. On her old set, there was much more physical distance between the front and back of her set, which gave the background a pleasant blur when I zoomed in on the foreground. In the current set, there just isn’t enough distance front to back to achieve the same result. That means that every little crease in the backdrop now shows up with crystal clarity.

The view from the side is much better, since there I have enough space for some good depth of field effects.

. . . but it’s the panther returning

But, straight on, it looks very much like what it is – a very narrow shelf with some plastic flora and a photo backdrop.

Camellia works on binding the wood together

If I’d been thinking clearly (which I wasn’t) I would have tacked the backdrop to the wall and moved the shelf a foot or two away from it. But I was in a huge rush, having missed my normal Monday deadline by two days due to a distinct lack of electricity in my workshop. Once I got that sorted out on Tuesday night, there wasn’t much time to play around with the set.

On the bright side, I’m totally in love with Camellia’s face. She manages to express an enormous range of emotions without being able to change her facial features at all.

She changes into the new dress, while the dog sleeps
Posted in Camellia, diorama, doll adventure, doll photography, Fashion dolls, graphic novel, photo novel

Episode 21: Camellia and the gift

Camellia has successfully brought the half-drowned dog back to health, but, worrying that the nights are too cold for him, starts to build a shelter.

Camellia starts dragging logs onto the beach
. . . works on binding the wood together
Then falls asleep, exhausted.
When she wakes, the panther is gone and someone has left clothing, food, tools, and a lantern.
She senses that someone is watching through the leaves.

. . . but it’s the panther returning

“Is someone there?”

Posted in Amy, BJD, doll adventure, Iplehouse

What I’m working on/thinking about

And these last few weeks, it’s been much more thinking than working 🙂

My Doll Adventure: At 20 episodes, we’re about halfway through the story. These last weeks I’ve brought the stories together, which means that they need to mesh going forward. Next week, I’d like to get back to Camellia, but there are about to be some big changes on her set, so I may have to flip her story with Rosie’s.

Underfoot: I don’t mean for the Underfoot characters to follow a real story track, but I do want to finish up their opening sequence before I launch them out into the world. So, that’s been the main focus of my planning. Once that’s done, I should be ably to knock out a picture or two from their story whenever I hit a lull in My Doll Adventure.

The treehouse: This story is probably not going to launch until next year, but the set is complicated enough that I may need that time to figure it out. The general idea is a group of kids up in their treehouse, and then adventures that take off from there. Because it’s a big set (large enough for 4 1/4 size dolls to fit into), and because they spend so much of their time there, I’d like to use some of my learnings from the stop motion class into practice.

So, as you can see, lots and lots of things to work on. So what did I spend last night doing? Playing with my doll’s hair. In my defense, playing with her hair is largely playing with her character. But, really, it’s playing with her hair.

The one thing I want to guard against is making Amy look too old and too polished, so I’m looking for hair that makes her look young and like she doesn’t care how she looks. OTOH, I don’t want to push her so far to that side that she ends up looking like a young boy. So, here’s what I tried. First, the no’s

Too light and too girly
Too dark, and not girly enough

Which left me with the possibles:

The wig I started with
A little more kid like, but maybe too every-hair-in-place
Cute color, and it can be combed into something less crazy.

And, after all that, I ended up right where I started.

So, it seems like nothing got done, but actually I feel now like I have the right look for her and I’m ready to move forward.

Posted in Aimeraidoll, BJD, Buu, Camellia, Daisy, Ester, Fashion dolls, Jinjur, Lily, Maskcat doll, Mudoll, Rosie

Moving day

Without moving to a new home, I seem to have set off a cascade of smaller changes which resulted in every single object in my home being moved to another location within my home.

Add to that that this morning my husband and I awoke to the sound of small crunching sounds coming from the wall that separates our bedroom from my garage workshop. Meaning, we suspect, that at least one mouse has come in from the cold and is seeking shelter among my doll items out in the garage.

As you’ll see soon, this is somewhat ironic (at least, I think irony is the right word). But, more immediately, it’s very unsettling and we’ll now also have to move everything in the garage to figure out where the little critters are getting in.

This is all to say that there may not be a ton of plot advancement in the next few weeks. In the meantime, here’s the whole crew (and then some) in their new bookcase location.

Here’s the first bookcase.

From left to right, top to bottom, the occupants are:

Camellia and Rodanthe, along with a teddy bear I made for Rosie (which turned out to be laughably too big for her). Rodanthe was a cheap ($35) first foray into ball joint dolls, just to see if I liked them (I did). Camellia, along with Colette (who’s down one shelf) was supposed to star in the Underfoot story, but they ended up having the wrong vibe. They may show up in a third (hopefully, final!) project about a group of girls in a treehouse.

Daisy and Annie you already know.

And here’s the Underfoot cast (minus the last cast member still to arrive. I think the three of them look great together – I’m really happy with the way that cast is starting to gel.

Here’s a mix of dolls, deep in discussion. Lily you already know. The large doll, on the right, is Amy (from Iplehouse). She’s the first cast member in the treehouse story. I’ve never agonized about buying a doll they way I agonized about her. I loved her, I didn’t like her at all, and on and on back and forth. When she arrived, I was still in deep throes of doubt, which continued right up until the moment I started photographing her.

In photographs, more than in person, she has exactly the affect I was hoping she’d have – curious, being pulled forward to investigate, but still a little cautious. Plus, she kind of grabs the camera’s attention, which is a good thing, because the rest of the (potential) cast mates for that story are camera hogs.

Colette, here with Amy and above in the bookcase shot, has the reverse effect. In person, she’s full of character and quite sassy, but the camera picks up something else altogether. She seems kind of dazed and sort of melts into the background. She looks great with Amy, though, so it’s possible she’ll still make it into a story. If not, she’s absolutely fine as a doll without having to star in a graphic novel.

Rosie and Fetch, you know. Here she is with her playmate Madeline. For a doll with barely any features, Madeline is fantastically expressive, and she and Rosie are a good mix. She was sleeping over the night that Rosie got kidnapped by the fairies, but all of the best shots were angled too high to show her in her sleeping bag on the floor.

The last doll in this bookcase is the lovely and thoughtful Rosemary doll – Rosie’s doll self. She’s underused in the story – I just can’t think of a graceful way to insert her.

Next bookcase:

Camellia, along with my Moana doll, who you may see soon in story.

My two male dolls, commiserating about having to work with a female photographer who refuses to write full roles for them.

Two of my bigger girls – BBgirl and China doll – along with a small Pullip doll. The stuffed bunny was yet another attempt to make a toy for Rosie, and again it was laughably large.

My poseable anime doll, posed in front of the full size version of the painting in Rosie’s room.

Blythe, hanging out with a fantatic Goodwill find. I’ve thought about continuing an adventure just around Rosie and her dream spaces. If so, this monkey is going to make it into it.

And finally a set of dolls from Conchy Gem Dolls on Etsy. Like Colette, this doll looks amazing but doesn’t photograph well. Which is just fine by her.

And there they all are, waiting for their next adventure.

Posted in Aimeraidoll, BJD, Buu, Ester, Jinjur, Maskcat doll, Mudoll, Rosie

Ester, my tiny tamer

The third member of my Underfoot cast arrived this week. She is Ester, from Maskcat dolls.

In size, at 21cm she stands slightly taller than Buu (19cm).

In shape, she’s most similar to the slender Rosie (who’s about 2cm taller).

But in her brave expression, she’s most like Jinjur.

Her oversized eyes make you want to protect her, but there’s a determination in there that says that you don’t have to.

And that makes her a perfect fit for the final Underfoot cast member, who is in the last preparations from the seller. That cast member, like Ester, is 21 cm tall, but otherwise completely unlike her in shape, form, and species. Despite their differences, I am expecting these two to be fierce friends, and the two will enter the story together.