Thursday, August 27, 2015

Unboxing of Maryellen! (Video)

I gotta clean my room because it's scattered with the miscellaneous items of a single doll that has taken over everything.

Revenge of the Maryellen.

I present you with this stunning beauty.  More photos to come!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Maryellen's Autumn Jumper

With Maryellen's release just around the bend and all the leaks that have been happening, I've gotten a pretty good idea of what her collection will be like.
Let me tell you folks, she ain't gonna have a white Christmas.  
Since she lives in Florida, AG made the assumption that colder-climate-clothes are completely unnecessary.  I, however, think that this is no excuse to own something that at least looks like autumn.  No one can stay in pastels forever.  Those colors start looking tired really quickly.
So I took it into my own hands to make a fall-ish jumper and blouse for Maryellen once she arrives at my little homestead.  Rebecca volunteered to try it on, and since the sunrise's orange coordinated perfectly with the outfit's color palette, I took photos of the two of them together. 

Honestly, I'm surprised by the way it came out.  I am not an experienced seamstress, and I really haven't turned on my machine in years.  This outfit had to be taken apart and sewn back together too many times.  

Aren't the little brown buttons darling?  I'm also really pleased with how happy my pleats look on the front of the blouse, too.

Maryellen will go to school in this and she will be grateful, even if she sweats the whole way.  

What are you most excited to see in her release?  I'm just thrilled for American Girl to finally sell a 1950s girl!


Friday, August 14, 2015

Chores with Friends

I never minded cleaning up when my friends were around.  That is to say, my true friends: those who would pitch in and do their share because they had made just as big of a mess as I had.  We'd pretend we were orphans, digging through the streets of 1920s New York, looking for a place to spend the night.  Or perhaps we were pioneers, gathering our belongings for our trek west to the greener side of the fence.  Whatever the case, our brains as one to create a unified imagination, and we had a marvelous time.

Chores are funny like that.  At home, all alone, I hate them.  With friends, they're a kick.  Except when the job is really nasty, like cleaning out a moldy gutter.

I recently entered this picture into a photo contest, and with the rest of my pictures from the shoot, I thought it'd be fun to capture the giddy pleasure of chores with friends.

I shot these at twilight during two separate days.  The golden light perfectly accented my desired tone.

See?  Even Jack can does laundry.  Now that's a boy I'd like to have around.

Gypsie began soaking the dirty clothes as Maggie pinned up the freshly washed ones.

Even Grace pretended to help.

I'd say this week's washday was a success.  

Saturday, August 8, 2015

An 1850s Sunset

In the past I have mentioned my occupation as a historical re-enactor at an 1850s fur trading fort.  It's been a while since I've brought up this fascinating hobby, and I thought it was high time for an update.  I've not met many people who have experienced the thrill of acting out a part of history outside of my little community, and I'd be thrilled to answer any questions you may have on the subject.
Earlier this summer, I helped at the fort's camp for junior high students.  For the most part, the campers learned how to forge their own steel, make fires from that steel and flint, cook over their open fire, discover the history of the area, dress up in period clothing, and spend the night within the fort's walls.
In my experience, nothing can beat the overnight.  Especially when the sky is crystal clear and the moon is nearly full.  I brought my very un-period-correct camera along to document our lovely time, and now I'm here to share these photos with all of you.  Usually a lone fiddler or two will be playing their instruments across the fort while a few of the trappers discuss their business by the flagpole, coffee mugs in hand.  A few kids will have run up into the bastion to get a better view of the buildings and spy on the occasional onlooker, and my friends and I will finally be able to sit down on the factor's house veranda and take in the sweet evening air, still tinged with the scent of smoke from our supper.
It's so, so lovely.

As I took photos, all I could think about was the beauty of this place--the magic of twilight in this slice of preserved history.  Even though we have no photos, I can only imagine that their sunsets, 150 years ago, were just as stunning.  Isn't that incredible?  

Behind our blacksmith shop there's an old wooden canoe.  The little kids who come and visit love to sit inside and pretend their rowing up a river.  

After a little persuading, a friend of mine posed for a picture.  

This is one of my best friend (right) and I (left) in front of our woodshed.  The sun was just beginning to sink.

Here you're able to see a clear view of the bastion.

One of our fantastically talented fiddler. 

I laugh whenever I look at this picture because, as you can see, he still has his "Hello, my name is" badge on.  The height of Victorian fashion, didn't you know?

Here are the campers getting ready to learn The Virginia Reel.

One of our dance instructors.  

I often wonder if all the people who lived here so long ago experienced nights like this.  It's interesting to ponder the similarities and differences.  

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Washing at Twilight

And here's a very quick post of three pictures I thought you would enjoy.  I came across this wash tub several years ago at an annual doll show, and every year it was still there, waiting.  In March, it finally came howe with me.

Gypsie thought it would be a great idea to do the wash with Grace, but somehow they didn't get much done.  Instead, they posed for pictures.
Nice one, guys.

In all honesty, I was having a devilish time trying to get the lighting I was after.  I became so frustrated that I went into the house, giving up until morning.  

However, I went back out about a half hour later, and there it was.  The lovely, hazy, deliciously fire-filled sun, poised perfectly for my photos.  So I took them.  

There are a few elements going for me here:  The sun is just low enough that I can get it into frame, but not so low that it's directly behind her head (causing a white out).  The sun is also filtering through something--here, the trees--which makes its light soft and sparkly.  Without that, the direct rays would be too harsh and my pictures would have ended up far brighter and lacking contrast.  Sometimes this look is desired, but it wasn't what I had in mind.  

Anyway, I'm glad I came back outside.

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?