12 September, 2011

What a weekend! Part 1 of 2.

Wow, this past weekend flew by and left me in a mound of sewing and dust!

Saturday I spent the day with Hallie and her daughter Samantha, first photographing two of her gorgeous gowns and then sewing and resewing my gown (that is a whole 'nother blog post). The photo shoot was awesome; when I relaunch my portfolio website-slash-freelancing business, it will have three major components: graphic design (print and web), exhibit design, and artifact photography. I've been fortunate enough to get my hand into artifact photography through Pilgrim Hall Museum, and it combines my love of working with objects with my love of photography. Hallie and I were getting together to work on my gown anyway, and she asked me if I'd be willing to be her photographer. A resounding "YES!!!!!!" and I packed up my tripod and Canon 30D to shoot her gorgeous new blue silk sacque as well as her brown damask English gown. I have lights, but Hallie had a set at the shop already so it was one less thing to pack!

Shooting the blue sacque. Photo courtesy Hallie Larkin.

Our set up was as follows:  two large lights with softboxes, one small light behind the gown to backlight it, and a mirror to reflect light back onto the gowns. Plus, white photo paper backdrop that we wrinkled for some texture (it got wrinkled in the cutting/ripping process so we just went all out--it worked great!). I shot on a tripod the majority of the time, but also took the camera off the tripod to get in really close for some details.

Me, adjusting the lights. Had I known *my* picture
was going to be taken, I would have put some
make-up on and dressed better! Photo courtesy
Hallie Larkin.

What I found worked best for the big lights was to have one up higher to light the top half of the gowns, and the second light lower to light the bottom half. If we had had more room, I would have pulled the gowns away from the backdrop (so, closer to me), and also moved the third light closer to the gown to let it diffuse more against the paper. But, for the space we had and for only two gowns to shoot, it was a great set up. You learn something new every time!

Here's my photo shoot wishlist, if I had unlimited funds and could upgrade just my equipment:
  • A better quality lens. I was shooting with my Canon kit lens, 18-55mm f3.5-5.6, which is slow and doesn't have the best glass. A 50mm prime lens would be great!
  • A Canon 7D body. My current body is a Canon EOS 30D, which I love, but in order to get the better quality lens, I need a better body!
  • A remote shutter release or cable shutter release, as pressing down on the shutter with my finger sometimes moved the camera.
  • A long USB cord to plug into my camera and my Macbook Pro so we can view photos as they are being taken and adjust exposures, F-stops, shutter speeds, etc.
  • Softboxes for my lights, like Hallie's.
  • A third light, small, for backlighting.
  • A fourth light with a large stand and a boom, to light the gowns from the top (using a softbox as well).
A bigger space goes without saying (and I know Hallie was wishing for it, too!) and for next time, we'll have other backdrops. But the photos came out great, don't you think?

Blue silk sacque, ribbon detail. Photograph by me.

Brown silk damask English gown, back pleats.
Photograph by me.

First two photographs used with permission. Last two photographs are mine, please do not take them or use them without permission!

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