Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bratz World house sets make great photography props

Last night, while I was shopping for Christmas presents for the kids I babysit for, I ran across the perfect props for my small fashion dolls: the Bratz World House Bath Set. The set includes a claw foot tub, a mirror, a coat tree (for hanging towels and robes on, I guess), a few little bottles, a towel, a washcloth, and a pair of fuzzy slippers — all the perfect size for small 1950s fashion dolls!

At the last doll show I bought a Toni. She's in good shape but needs a cleaning and restringing. I think she'll be the first one to try out the new bathroom set... Stay tuned for pictures!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Props for doll photography

This is an area where I'm still learning, but I still have some ideas to share for finding props for doll photography.

Obviously there is plenty of doll-sized furniture to be had. My mom has some of her childhood doll furniture from the 1950s, and I plan to use it as props in some of my shots. Nowadays there are all kinds of other things you can get, though, from Re-Ment rooms (little display rooms that you can decorate and furnish yourself) and Re-Ment miniature food, to every little accessory you can think of.

I personally like the free or homemade kind of prop, because I spend enough on my dolls that I don't really have much money to spend on accessories too. One source of props that I've found for bigger dolls (such as 16-inch Madame Alexander Elise) are gift card wrappings. For instance, this year Whole Foods has a miniature paper shopping bag for putting gift cards in, and a few years back Old Chicago had miniature cardboard pizza boxes. You can see both of these used as props in my last post.

Homemade props are good, too. See the bed in the last picture of my last post? I made the quilt and pillow for that bed (it had a really ugly quilt on it originally), and I plan to also make a dust ruffle and mattress for it. I've been recycling old clothese for these projects: the quilt and pillow are made out of old flannel pajama pants that ripped at the waist, and I'm planning to use a white eyelet lace blouse (also damaged) for the dust ruffle. A couple of my husband's old white T-shirts will probably be sacrificed for the mattress.

I've also been scouring free sources such as Freecycle.org for things I can use as props. Just the other day I got an 18-inch Christmas tree, which I will use for holiday photos with my bigger dolls. I'm also looking for things such as wallpaper, which I can use to create realistic-looking backgrounds for my dolls.

Like I said, I'm pretty new at this prop thing, but I'm getting some great ideas from other doll collectors and from my own imagination. I'd love to hear suggestions from my readers. What do you like to use as props?

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

First attempts at professional-quality doll photography

Like anything you have to learn via trial and error, using a professional-grade digital camera for the first time was kind of frustrating. After taking these shots, I actually discovered how to use certain settings to improve the lighting and focus, so I hope to have even better photographs to show you soon.

In the meantime, here are some of my first attempts at professional-quality doll photography.

Close-up of a painted lash Cosmopolitan Ginger, c1954

Elise #1610-1957 going Christmas shopping

Elise posing for a Christmas portrait by the tree

Elise is ordering pizza and eating in tonight

For early attempts they aren't bad, but I intend to make the next batch even better!

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Monday, December 15, 2008

More links for doll photography tips

Recently I referred my readers to a very good article on doll photography, and promised more links and pictures in future installments. Since I'm not quite ready yet with new pictures, here are the promised links.

On About.com there is a fantastic four-part series of articles on doll photography:

Doll Photography Part I This article aids you in choosing a camera that will take good photographs of dolls. One of the cameras she suggests is a Nikon Coolpix, which I've been using myself (until I caught the doll photography bug, that is). I like the camera very much, and I think it's one of the best point-and-shoot cameras you can get, but it doesn't always pick up the detail as cleanly as I would like — and I am constantly having trouble with the color balance.

Doll Photography Part II This article discusses the camera requirements for taking close-ups of your dolls. The article claims that most digital cameras can handle this, but I've personally found that my point-and-shoot cameras tend to bleach out my dolls with the flash and/or screw up the color balance on the macro (flower symbol) setting. It is still possible to get a good picture, but you may have to take a lot of shots and upload them all onto your computer in order to find the best one.

I've started practicing a little with my husband's professional-grade Canon digital camera (a gift from his brother), and so far it seems much better than a point-and-shoot. There are a lot of settings to learn how to use, though, so it's not for the technologically clueless!

Doll Photography Part III This installment gives a lot of good advice about lighting, backgrounds, and focus. This is much more advanced advice, and will make more sense as you become more experienced at photographing your dolls.

Doll Photography Part IV Even the best cameras may require you to edit your photos a little bit, in order to restore the proper color (white balance) of the doll. The final article reviews a couple of major photo editing programs. I personally use Adobe Photoshop, but as the author of these articles notes, the software is pretty expensive. If you can't afford pricey photo editing software, you can always use Google Picasa for free.

Well, back to practicing with the new digital camera. I'll post some pictures soon so that you can see how I'm doing!

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Doll photography plans

After writing my last post about quick tips for doll photography, I became inspired to try to take better doll photographs.

Actually, technically what happened is I became even more dissatisfied with the photographs I've been taking. Many of the shots I take don't come out, and even the ones that do show considerably less detail than I'd like — particularly on my smaller dolls.

I have a few other articles that I want to blog about, with tips on doll photography. I'll post those links in the next day or two. In the meantime, I am going to learn how to use the professional-grade camera that my brother-in-law (an amateur photographer) gave my husband this summer. It has manual settings and a zoom lens that screws onto the front of the camera — very nice for taking detailed close-ups!

I'll blog again when I have new photos to share!

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