Taking action shots of inanimate objects

I’ve spent more hours than I’d care to guess trying to prop up my figures for motion shots. For my fashion dolls – all four of the My Doll Adventure¬† figures – I rely on some kind of stand. For my ball-joint dolls – all of the characters in the Underfoot and Up Above stories, I’d try to keep them balanced while carefully getting them into the position I need.

I still do this if I’m going to use my own background – either a dollhouse room, a diorama, or the great outdoors. But, I no longer try to pose my dolls upright for the majority of my photoshopped action shots.

Instead, I realize that I get far more realistic shots by laying the dolls down and photographing them from above.

Here are a few examples from the episode of Underfoot that I’m working on.

Here’s the finished shot of the “The chase”

and here’s the setup I photographed:

and then I Photoshopped it onto a copyright free image from Pexel. It’s so much easier to pose them this way. Not only can i get the details of their posture right, I can also arrange their hair so that it seems to be streaming out behind them.

In another scene, I have the girls climbing into a mail slot.

Here’s the original scene:

and here they are, again photoshopped onto a Pexel image:

 

Some shots require that I photograph them with the dolls standing up, like this shot of them trudging through the city:

Once I have objects in different planes, like Jinjur’s suitcase or Buu’s bag, it’s just too much work to photograph them all separately and then put them together. So, I set up both dolls on the carpet, each on a sheet of plexiglass, to give them an even surface, and then spent forever getting everything in right position without toppling them all over like dominoes.

Jinjur and Buu are about to get into lots of adventures, navigating the big city, which will give me a lot of time to perfect my non-action action shots.

 

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(Doll) character development

I entered doll adventure land through a side door – somewhere between play and play therapy – so many of the building blocks of photography, miniatures, and writing are unfamiliar to me.

Because I could see their effects in every shot, I focused my learning on photography and miniatures. But, as I start to branch out into new adventures, I’m really seeing the gaps in my story-telling abilities. So, this week, in my mini-adventure land of Underfoot, I’m working on character development.

My Doll Adventure has mostly believably static characters. Most of Rosie’s development lies in front of her, and most of Lily’s lies behind. In the few months in which we capture them, they’re understandably unchanging. Camellia’s most drastic change happens right before the story begins – before she puts her foot on that boat. We’ll catch up with her at the moment in which she has to make a decision and a drastic change, but won’t know her well enough at that point to understand who she was before that night when we first meet.

Daisy, though, *should* have changed and grown during the adventure. It’s really a complete oversight on my part that she hasn’t – that there’s no moment when she really grasps that following the call to adventure means giving up the Daisy she’s known and becoming the Daisy-to-be. Some of that is because she was carrying so much of the weight of the developing plot that it just consumed her own development, but most of it is because I got so distracted with other things that I couldn’t see that I needed to dedicate some time to allowing her to grow into her new character.

I’d thought, right up until this week, that I’d work on the final version of my doll adventure right after I finished posting the draft – in a few months from now. Now I can see that there’s so much that I don’t even know that I don’t know that I should take a year or two to learn before I try a more final form.

Which is all to say that Jinjur, unlike Daisy, is going to change during the Underfoot adventures, starting in this, her second episode. It’s possible that Buu will, as well, down the road. But right now, it’s Jinjur who has to adjust to her new understanding of the world. The world, it turns out, is not a place where two 1/6 scale dolls can walk into a hotel, hand over an eyeball, a bag of playmobile coins, and a dime, and get a room for the night.

And, as she learns in this episode, the world is a dangerous place for little things. And it will take a different Jinjur to navigate this world.

 

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