Sunday, September 23, 2012

Outdoor Studio

The other day I was looking through some snowy winter photos and was really enjoying the way the background was just nothing - pure white nothingness.  It has always reminded me of a giant outdoor studio.  When I had that thought this time, it reminded me of the white background we used in the studio with Lorelei. Which then made me wonder why we couldn't just use a background outside instead of inside.  Then instead of flash, we could just use the sun.

I have a few "problems" with studio photography....

  • Dogs can be a little unsure of a new places. 
  • Posing isn't my thing and most studios don't have a lot of room for running around. 
  • I have no idea how to operate a flash. 
But if we took it outside, all those problems disappear.  Don't get me wrong. My favourite photos are still those in the natural environment, but it is still nice sometimes to lose all the surrounding distractions and just focus on the dog.

As usual, when I get an idea, I want to do it RIGHT NOW.  But I didn't have any stuff - no paper for the seamless background, no stand to hold the paper up, and of course my camera is still at the Dr.'s.  In steps Lorelei - the most generous photographer I've ever met.  Not only did she supply me with paper, a stand, advice and ideas, but a camera as well.  And all on a day's notice.

Voila! I had an outdoor studio.

It was definitely a learning experience! We went to a ball diamond and set up the "studio". There was a teeny tiny breeze.  The kind of breeze that is so slight you can't even feel it - but our giant roll of paper could.  So the first thing we needed was 2 people to hold the stand up. Thankfully Dave and Sarah came out to play around with us.

Coulee was a bit of a train wreck.  She was a little too enthusiastic and managed giant rips in the paper every time she ran on it.  She was also long enough that she almost filled the paper from nose to tail when running across it so getting an image with her entire body on the white background wasn't as easy as I thought - especially as I needed to catch her in a good part of her stride at the same time.  

Lacey was too uncomfortable around Dave and Sarah to play so there are no photos of her.  She added some background noise to Coulee's modelling session though.  ;)

Thank goodness for Cedar.  So once Coulee had destroyed a large section of paper, we unrolled fresh paper and brought out Cedar.  She was a super model - way gentler on the paper.  :)

We learned a few things:

  • Putting a hard surface under the paper would have been better.  See how Cedar's feet are chopped off 2 photos up?  The wrinkle in the paper blocked them from sight.  
  • Paper may not be the best option for dogs - cloth or a vinyl would help with the tearing (and be more environmentally friendly).  
  • We also had quite a bit of grass get on the paper with the dogs (more so with Coulee, than with Cedar) but the lawn was freshly mowed with rows of clippings on top, so that didn't help.  
  • Even the slightest breeze can knock things over so Lethbridge may not be the best place for this kind of thing. 
  • It definitely isn't a one-man show or even a two-man show.  All four of us were needed!
We did talk about a white tarp or something attached to fence. I think it would work - if we could find a fence that pointed directly at the sun in an area that dogs could run off leash without worrying about people and other dogs coming along. That was the nice thing about the ball diamond.  We were surrounded by fencing so no one was just going to walk through on their way somewhere else.

Anyway, it was a fun experiment.  We'll see if I ever do it again though!


Stephanie V said...

Very cool! It does look like snow. If you hadn't told the tale, I'd never have known there were issues. 'Course the story's much better knowing them.

Andrea said...

Love the story and the photos! What a great idea.

Debbie J said...

Try a white King size sheet and wouldn't a cloths line come in handy. Love the idea 'cause I hate working with light other than natural.

onecollie said...

I really love theses!!! Maybe next time we can make it!

Paws on the Run said...

Great idea Debbie! Especially with the clothes line!

You should have come Jo! The boys would have been perfect.

Jennifer said...

Maybe I'm the oddball here (usually am LOL) but I really liked the added "effect" of the paper wrinkled under Coulee's feet, it added dimensions or something. What do I know tho, my photography skills are limited to shoddy cell phone pics of blurry body parts LOL