Saturday, July 11, 2015

Behind the Scenes: Perspective

It's funny how much time I think I'll have in the summer during the school year.  I imagine and romanticize everything into this perfectly free environment where everything is creamsicles and lounge time.  Ha.  Good one, Syd.

Still, my summer has been grand.  The weather's been marvelous, so I've been whitewashing fences, taking photos, dancing, and attending parties since the beginning of June.  The clouds have finally rolled in, though, and I'm left with enough time to share with you my most recent Cozi photo shoot.  Here are a few tips that may be helpful when you decide to venture out on your next photography session featuring our favorite vinyl buddies.

Very often I see pictures of dolls where the camera is aimed down at the doll as opposed to straight on.  This can work stylistically if you plan the shoot in advance and are going with a specific idea, but usually when a photographer does this, it simply looks off.  This is because, as humans, we are taller.  We look down at our dolls, so we take pictures with our camera looking down at them and thus remove reality because this high angle (unknowingly) puts our perspective into the picture, not our subject's.   When taking photos of other humans, we face them straight on (not down).  By getting a low enough angle of the doll's face, you're mastering one of the main steps in creating a realistic photograph of a doll.  

I shot this around 6:00 am, just as the sun was hitting our lawn.  Using my reflector, I bounced the light (shining directly behind her) back into her face.  The result was an evenly lit photo with a touch of rim lighting around her hair.  

Perspective is extremely important when attempting photography of something so much smaller than our perceived world.  Jimmy, Cozi's little fox, appears to be looking up at her in a slightly realistic way.  I placed the camera as low as I could to freshen the perspective and provide a picture from his point of view.  It certainly helps when you want to tell a story with inanimate objects!

You can see the individual hairs of Jimmy's felt peaking out from his seams in this one because of the rim lighting.  I used a reflector on him as well.  Since he isn't vinyl, he absorbs the bounced light very nicely and is far easier to photograph than a doll.

Once again, perspective is your ally for realistic photos!  With the camera flat on the ground, I  enabled the feeling that perhaps our world is doll size, too.  

Let me know if this helped you at all as you continue to document your doll-filled adventures.  If you have any questions, post them in the comments below and I'll be pleased to assist.  
- Syddie

Monday, June 15, 2015


It's here.  My nine month wait has been fulfilled and I am alive and hot and sweaty.  
Did I really wait all year to dig up a field of dandelions?
At least while I uprooted the buggers I didn't have to thinkg about foreign policies or calculus or English papers.  Nay, I dug them with pride and an open mind--one filled with thoughts of milk shakes and shade and sprinklers.  

I even welcomed the mosquitos for they remind me with every itch that school is far, far away.  Bring on the sunburns and the witheringly warm afternoons.  Time has finally been forgotten and I can read any book I like without guilt.  It's wonderful.

In honor of summer, I present you with a very appropriate photo of Jaikey in a sailor top.  

She's been on holiday for ages and ages and couldn't wait to get back onto the blog.

How are you celebrating your first taste of freedom?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Behind the Scenes: Using a Reflector

Since it's raining, I have decided to be fun.

I'm going to give you a little behind the scenes info about my last photo shoot.  Specifically the first picture of Rebecca and Grace in the center of the road.

My favorite lighting for any photo shoot is around a half hour after sunrise, which is roughly 6:30 am or so where I live.  At this time, the shadows are very translucent, and the harsh sun hasn't been established.  Every object looks as if it has been whitewashed, and there's no harsh light (ideal when capturing vinyl on camera).

Facing your dolls towards the sun is generally not a good idea because the light won't be evenly distributed on your girl.  I normally place my dolls' backs to any given light source to avoid this.  However, when doing this, their faces become dark, so I use a (fabulous five-in-one) reflector to get some sparkle back into the image.  It's a giantly round, collapsable gismo that reflects the sun's light and bounces it back onto your subject, all the while defusing the harshness.  This is probably confusing.

Allow me to show you with two pictures:

See the light patch on the right side of Grace's face?  It indicates that the sun is come from that direction.  I intentionally placed the dolls there because I loved the background and I didn't want the sun's harshness directly on them.  Still, you can see that their faces are dark and in an unwanted shadow.

As you can tell in this one, I've positioned the reflector to their left (by leaning it against the incredibly stylish stepladder).  This allows the sun to bounce off of it and hit the girls' faces, lighting them both up evenly.
So life is grand.  I have smooth, even lighting, two dolls in front of a great background, and a big black reflector being held up with a stepladder.  How quaint.  What happens next?

Once I took the photos, I sent them off to my brother who merged the two together (in photoshop) and provided me with the final product:

These reflectors are incredibly inexpensive.  I received mine a little over a year ago and I now can't do a photo shoot without it.  You can find them on amazon here.

If you have any questions, I'd love to answer them.  Once you get a reflector, it'll give you the chance to take pictures any time of the day in any place without worrying if the sky is too cloudy or sunny.  Unless it's raining...which is why I'm stuck indoors on a Saturday afternoon.  What uncanny luck I seem to have.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Summer's Face

Okay, so I'm not depressed anymore.

In fact, my life has gradually become more livable ever since winter quarter ended in March.  I have three more weeks of school, and then I'll be able to bask in the sun for hours on end without contemplating whether or not I should be studying seemingly random facts about the Mongols invading Russia.

Summer's almost visible face made itself known to me a few days ago at six in the morning.
The lighting was lovely.

How many more days of school do you have left?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

College's Stressful Week

Last week was awful.

I was going through the stress of life and really experiencing college as so many have before me.  Three looming exams on Friday, studying, headaches, frustration, tears--all of it engulfed me in one merciless wave.  Unfortunately, I'm a perfectionist, and though that quality may help me in some ways, this quarter it's been a nitpicking curse.  I'm always kicking myself for not pushing my brain further.

Needless to say, I had a nervous breakdown.  Several, actually.  And I kept telling myself to hold back and allow life to happen without my additional worries.  Anxiety has always plagued me.  A few weeks ago, during my last math exam, I realized I didn't have enough time to finish all the problems.  As I quickly wrote down whatever answer came to mind in the last few seconds, I began to feel that horrid sting of tears trying to push their way down my face.  It was that ominous feeling of gut wrenching, encumbering dread overtaking me.  I commanded myself to block out the memory and say it didn't matter--that it wouldn't matter in a life so full of other, more important and interesting things.

Still, I allowed a friend to see me cry.  At first, I was so ashamed.  For pete's sake, I'm in college.  I'm suppose to be grown up.  But now when I remember the situation, I think that it's okay.  Everyone should let a friend see their tears.

It's funny, because I ended up getting a 100% on that exam.  Let's just hope last week's three weathered the storm so gracefully.  And if they didn't, oh well.  Life's wave will wash that little speck of discouragement onto its shore, where it will get lost among all the other specks of sand-ish disappointments.  Err, something.
See, this is me trying to be all sentimental and deep.  Why don't I stop now.

I went for a hike yesterday and my brother took a picture of my face.

This is my "I dare you to take a good picture of me" face.  It can also be perceived as my "life is good" face.  Or my "just take the picture" face.  I guess the interpretation is up to you.  Just know that if you think you did horribly on a test and you're completely berserk about the outcome, I'm right there with you.  That probably doesn't help at all, but hey, maybe you'll end up with a 100%.  And if I'm still not helping, buy your math professor donuts.  That probably will.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Unexpected Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day can be depressing.  I have no boyfriend.  I had to eat my heart shaped pizza alone.
However, all was not lost.  I have a brother.

A few days ago, I shot an idea I had for a photo story.  However cute I thought it would be, I had no idea my brother was going to make it into the sweetest animation.  I beg of you, watch this video.  Not only did he write the music, but he animated every photograph so that each flowed into a little movie.

I am in love with how this turned out, but I'm especially in love with my brother and this incredible gesture of talent.  Here are some of the photos from the story if you don't wish to go through all the effort of clicking on the link (but I suggest you do because it would make me incurably happy).

Happy Valentine's Day!  I hope yours was as full of love as mine. 


P.S.  I received my own card in the mail today from a "secret admirer" with a $25 American Girl gift card enclosed.  Today was unexpected.  It was a special kind of happy.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Superbowl for a Doll?

Oh good, it's football time.

Let us all gather around the television and watch men in tights lunge after a ball while the people we love scream and yell.  I think this is such a splendid, intelligent notion.


In years past, I have retreated up to my room to hide under the covers with Netflix or book.  However, today I will not be so lucky.  You see, my father tactfully bribed me to sit through the entirety of the game.  If I watch--and the Seahawks win--he will buy me a new American Girl doll.

At first I thought he was joking.  A doll = a football game?  How could I possibly say no!  Perhaps the Seahawks may not win, but what if they did and I let this fantastic chance merely slip through my fingers because I didn't wish to watch men run across the screen?  I can like men if I have to.

I'll let you know if I survive.

In other news, here are some photographs of Jack.

Yeah, see what a real man looks like?  You wouldn't find him wearing tights! 

Nah, he's good with simply wearing tight jeans.  They're so much groovier and you don't feel obligated to hurl yourself at a ball (or other men) while wearing them. 

I'd even go so far to say that he's a stud in his new outfit.  Yeah, don't let it go to your head, Jack. 

Let's have everyone root for the Seahawks so I get my doll, because this is a good plan.  Otherwise all of my watching will be for not.