I've been meaning to buy some photographic backdrops for years....I mean literally YEARS! And finally about a month ago I decided to have a look on Ebay and see what is available. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the price has come down considerably....when I first started looking many years ago, I'm sure the prices started around the mid $20 mark and because I thought it would be nice to have several, the price kind of put me off....after all, $20 is $20 more towards a new doll, right?! 🌝 Anyway, having had a good look at the hundreds of different designs available, I decided to buy a couple showing natural environments and the first one arrived today.
Firstly I was amazed at how small the package was, I was expecting a big fat envelope, but it was a reasonably small flat plastic bag and inside, the 3x5 foot backdrop was folded down to the size of a greetings card! Of course all those folds meant a whole lot of creases, but could it be ironed as it was quite 'plastic-y'? I took a chance and ironed it on a hot heat setting but using steam and not letting the iron rest in any one spot at all. The creases came out quite easily and the backdrop wasn't damaged, it was now ready to use.
Because I like taking my photos outside in natural light, I guessed the best place to put it was over the gate on our deck. I put the 'decking' part of the backdrop flat on our existing deck and the 'forest' part up and over the gate. As soon as I did that, so the breeze picked up and the darn thing was blowing all over the place. On to Plan B. I stuck it to the gate posts with several pieces of 'poster tack'......had the dolls all ready, posed them quickly and got the camera ready. The wind then pulled the backdrop away from the gate and the poster tack, straight over the dolls, throwing them face down on to the floor. Thank goodness they were sturdy vinyl Sashas, so no damage done.
On to Plan C. This time I went outside the back door and fixed the backdrop to the closed door, using the poster tack to stick it to the doorframe. This worked much better as we were out of the breeze, however we were now more in the shade so my camera wanted to use the flash!!
Finally I got some photos of various dolls, I used several sizes so that I could see which dolls worked best with the backdrop.
Firstly I took two of my lovely brunette Sashas, Stella (1969/70) and Willow (1969). I think I took about 20 photos of these two girls but most were deleted. Here is one of the better ones:
Next I took some photos of this tiny little Mariquita Perez Mini, she's approx 6 inches tall, made of hard plastic/vinyl, and has a shiny face....for those of you who've not heard of Mariquita Perez doll, they appeared on the market in 1940, being the best known
doll of the forties, fifties and early sixties in Spain, Portugal and in
some countries of Latin America. Nowadays it is still made in vinyl in
normal version or mini, she also has a brother called Juanin.
Finally I tried it with my two tallest ball jointed dolls, Hope and Layla by the Australian artist Kaye WIggs. These two girls are 45cm tall, so I thought they'd be the best size for this backdrop:
I was quite happy with the photos, but learned from my mistakes.
1) I need to find a position for the backdrop that is in good light but out of any breeze;
2) I need to position it so that the back edge of the 'decking' is straight, not seeming to curve upwards as in these photos!!!!!
3) The dolls should be further forward away from the backdrop so that the photos have more depth;
4) Definitely don't use flash!
5) I must experiment with my camera settings so that I get less definition on the backdrop and more emphasis on the dolls themselves.
I'm sure I've learned more, I just can't remember at the moment!!!
I've come to the conclusion that the size of the doll is largely irrelevant with this particular backdrop. I think the tiny 6 inch doll doesn't really look out of place with the tall trees in the background, I just need to work on her positioning in the photo. Also, I think once I have worked on my camera settings, I can blur out the background a little so that the eye is drawn to the doll rather than the backdrop....I now know how to do that so will work on that for next time.
Well I hope you've enjoyed my little 'learning curve' and hope you'll pop back again to see if I can improve on these first attempts at using a photographic backdrop....maybe the other one will have arrived by then and I can share that one too :)