Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Photography Practice with Pip

I got news a couple of days ago that my two, long awaited ABJD (asian ball jointed dolls) are on their way, in separate shipments. The first is due any day now and the second will follow, about 4-6 days later by my calculations.

Photography is a big part of the ABJD hobby. Pictures of the dolls are often shared in photo stories, and as individual portraits, on forums for hobby enthusiasts. For me, an even bigger part of the hobby involves creating handcrafted clothing for the dolls and, perhaps in the future, even selling extra sets of the clothing to fund further development of the rather pricey hobby. To sell items you must be able to take clear, detailed photographs of your offerings. To that end I spent a bit of time today trying to come up with a lighting and background arrangement that will work best for me, especially during our low light winters.

So here is the best set up I can arrange at the moment. Dim, overcast daylight coming in through the window behind me and my two Ott lights providing additional natural day spectrum light. Not great, but it will have to do.

My camera is also not great. It's a Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS, which has been a decent little point and shoot, but if I want to get great shots I'll eventually have to purchase a DSLR camera. And I DO want to get great shots!

In a few days I'll be doing a "box opening" photo shoot. It's almost a required ritual amongst those in the hobby. I won't go to great lengths like some do, with videos and the whole bit, but I'd like to take a few nice photos to commemorate the "event"....ha!.....especially because it's my first ball jointed doll. (Remember, Pip is a borrowed ResinSoul Yu I've been "fostering"). If nothing else I'm hoping readers of my blog might be interested in how well packed these dolls are for shipping.

These first few pictures show how a white background can be used to bounce a bit of light on the subject, hopefully eliminating the need for your camera's flash and the resulting glare and white out that usually goes with it. If you have a really nice light box set up it can even reduce or eliminate distracting shadows.

For the most part my set up eliminated the need for my camera's flash even indoors on a grey and dismal day.

But my favourite photos happened after I set Pip up on a background drape of black velveteen.

This darker background seems to bring out the colours much better. I think the image looks sharper too. I have no idea what the technical reason would be. I just know I like the result.


Rachael said...

Thank you for posting this...I have been looking for a way to get better photos and now I know how! The black does really stunning things to Pip, especially her eyes. :)

Sprite said...

You're really right about the colors popping on the dark background, but I like the "professional" white background as well. I think the white would be better for sales; it's very clean and clear, and the photos show details very well.

Can't wait for those new dolls!

Christine said...

I have to agree that the White background would probably be better for pictures geared toward selling the clothing but I love the effect on the dark background. It's much more dramatic. Looking forward to seeing pictures of the new dolls!

LoriAngela said...

Great post and something new to me. I have seen home made light boxes on the web. I find a tripod improves my pictures. But I really think yours are great.

Marlene said...

Rachael, that would certainly be a case of the blind leading the blind because I know VERY little about photography. I've only just started looking into things like light tents and the effects that on-the-camera flash systems have on some photos. I hope to apply some of what I learn to my textiles photos too.

Sprite and Christine, interesting comments about the white background showing more of the clothing's detail. I hadn't noticed that myself as I was wowed by the dramatic black. Goes to show how valuable and informative a second opinion is.

LoriAngela, I had a very short tripod for my old camera but I don't think it fits the newer camera. I did prop the camera on a stable surface for a few of the shots though.

Jen said...

Pip definitely pops on that black background!

Ruinwen said...

You're right Pip shows up so much better on the black background. She really is a cutie! :)