Monday, 24 September 2018

If you go down to the woods today.....

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 :)

Big hugs
Sharon xx

14 comments:

  1. What an interesting post ! I'm always thinking about buy a few backdrops but can never work out what size would be best, so it was interesting seeing the different dolls you used standing within the backdrop.
    I did look fine with all the dolls but I loved it with the Kaye Wigg's girls, It's nice to see them 'out and about' :)
    A few backdrops would be a good buy with the winter coming here and a place out of the wind sounds best after reading about your troubles.
    I look forward to seeing how you adapt to using it and learning from your experiences :) xxx

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    1. Thank you Dee. I am probably going to buy more now that they've come down in price so much. They do help to add variety to photos I guess :) and I was thinking that I could have snow and everything here if I wanted to!!! Except that would mean I'd have to dress my dolls accordingly I guess! ;)
      xxx

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  2. Dear Sharon, thanks for sharing. I am still learning how to take good photos so I love to hear what others folks do. I would have thought that 3x5 would have been too big but I see that it wasn't.
    I have two questions:
    1 Did you have the set maker "extend the floor" so you would have more room for the dolls to stand on.
    2 How did you get eye level photos? Did you have to lay down on the porch?
    I am off to a UFDC regional convention on Wednesday. The souvenir doll is a Little Darling!

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    1. Thank you Dorothy, I'm glad you enjoyed hearing about these backdrops. I thought the 3/5 would be too big too but no, it worked out very well.
      In answer to your questions, no, I just bought it as it was and the 'floor' part is already there, I've noticed that a lot of them on ebay have 'floor' so you just have the main part up against your wall and then the 'floor' part goes across your own real floor, well extends out from the wall I should say. You just need to make sure that the 'edge' of the 'floor' is pushed into the place where the real wall and real floor meet....does that make sense? I hope so!
      And yes I did have to lay down on the floor to get the eye level photos. But the good thing is, if you had a table or other surface that actually butted up to a wall, such a maybe a kitchen work surface, you could use that for your backdrop. Then you wouldn't have to get down on the floor to take your photos.
      I hope you have a wonderful time at the UFDC and I look forward to hearing all about it and seeing your LD souvenir doll :)
      xxx

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    2. P.S. an ironing board works if you don't want to get down on the floor...or can't get down like me when I was overweight. LOL!

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    3. Oooh yes that is a great idea, but sadly I'm allergic to the ironing board, just seeing it brings me out in hives and I suffer from palpitations..... LOL ;)

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  3. The kids used to send their dolls on vacation. They put them in their airplane,and when they were elsewhere the plane would 'take off'. The dolls 'went' all over the world,and would send home emails and pictures.I got pretty good at taking pictures of the dolls in front of pictures and making it look like they were really in those places. The trick was matching the lighting on the dolls to the lighting of the photo,(sunshine or shade or dappled light.). I don't think we have some of the better ones saved anymore except where we printed the emails out for the kids. But there are a few on the blog in the post I did on the doll vacations.http://planetofthedolls.blogspot.com/2013/11/dolls-on-vacation-your-kids-will-love-it.html

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    1. That sounds like such a lot of fun. My husbands daughter did the same thing with her teddy bears I believe and my hubby made her passports for them and everything!
      I think the challenge will be getting the light right here because we have such very bright light down here in southern Spain, I guess it's why so many painters came here to paint! But I will do my best.
      I will go now and look at your photos on that link, thanks for sharing it!
      xxx

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  4. Hi Sharon,
    I love using backdrops and have heaps of them, most of them were around US$16-18 and send in a cylinder so I didn't have the problem of ironing them. But like you the less expensive ones that I purchased recently from eBay were sent folded. I also noticed a difference in the quality of the fabric, they were not as good, however once ironed, they still did the job okay.


    It does take a little experimenting but that's the fun of photography. I think your photos look great and hope you try a few different backdrops. I have a couple of large ones that I have managed to use different sections of with different size dolls. Keep experimenting!

    Big hugs,
    X

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    1. I thought I wasn't imagining things Sandi, I remember they were a sort of thick cloth in the past and yes, much more expensive. I'm glad the price has come down though, and they do take up very little room, which I'm pleased about too.
      I'm glad you liked the photos, thank you. I will keep at it, and hopefully if I like the second one I will look at getting some more :)
      Big hugs to you too!
      xxx

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  5. What a great post! I really like your backdrop and think all of the dolls look great in the “woods”. The black and white photo is really lovely. So nice to see your Sasha dolls especially Stella. Thanks for sharing the lessons learned. ❤️ xxx

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    1. Thank you very much Ginger, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Yes, my Sasha girls got a bit of camera time, the poor things don't get too much attention as there are currently too many of them! But soon I will take more photos hopefully!
      xxx

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  6. Great post and interesting with these backdrops. Never thought that it would be something to use, in a larger scale. Sometimes I have tried to use some beautiful photos from the internet, but those does not come out so well and especially not with a flash. Then I have some artsy paper, those work well, but it is more like wallpaper. We have a lot of those artsy papers with different motives and so, maybe I should get some more of those. Or real wallpaper.... :D

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    1. Thank you Niina. I have tried with fancy papers too and it worked well for small dolls who looked like they were in a play room or living room setting. I would love to be able to get nice matt photos to use but it would probably work out expensive to get them big enough that they'd be useful with the dolls. It's fun to see how they come out though :)
      xxx

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