Category Archives: Photography Tips

Photography Backgrounds Matter More Than You Might Think

Happy new week to you all!  The weeks are simply flying by; two and a half months til Christmas?!  What?  I’ve started making my Christmas ensembles, and thought it was too early.  Not really, is it?

Making things for Christmas means using lots of red.  My biggest gripe about red is that I will need to photograph it, and it’s hard to make red look nice.  Red looks nice against the Christmas tree, but that isn’t up yet.  The tree farm isn’t even open yet, and even if it were it is a little early!  But, anyway, this got me thinking, how can I simulate a Christmas tree background so that my photographs with red things look nice.

Here’s my basic backdrop setup.  I’ve been taking photos in my daughter’s room for the past couple of months.  There are two sets of windows facing south and east, so it is bright in the morning.  Before that, I was taking photos in our family room which is darker.  It didn’t seem to matter much which room I used.  (I use a tripod, so the shutter speed can be slow to adapt to changing light conditions, and I use the timer on my camera which eliminates any movement from my hand.)  The photos were dark even though the room was not.

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I got this backdrop support last Christmas.  I’ve been using it with a white sheet and have noticed that usually my doll ends up too dark for my liking.  My husband told me that the camera tries to average everything in the frame to an 18% grey.  Since the huge amount of white is so light, the camera wants to darken it, and so the doll gets darker too.   So, if the outfit is dark, it’s not good at all.  If the outfit is light, it isn’t too bad, but still a little dark.  Afterwards, I always have to lighten up my photos.

I decided to darken the background.  After pinning bright green napkins together and then using a piece of army green knit, both of which didn’t do much for me, I decided to order some one-yard pieces of green fabric to try and mimic a Christmas tree.

I ordered various shades and values of green.  I have tried four of them for this ensemble, photos below.

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You can see how the background changes how Gina and her red jumper look.  I like some fabric better than others, but they are ALL a major improvement.  I also think that different dolls/outfits will look better with different fabrics.  I’ll need to experiment for each one.

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Fabric #1

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Fabric #2

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Fabric #3

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Fabric #5

The lens I use is a 14-42 lens.  I know there are other lenses to get the job done better, but this is what I have for now.  This lens allows me to zoom in on the doll to get a narrower shot, otherwise I would need a much larger piece of fabric.  My f-stop is open as much as the lens allows (5.6) so that the background will blur.  If my lens opened up more (a smaller numbered f-stop) there would be even more blur happening.  The doll is usually about 4-5 feet away from the fabric, but this can change.

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The photo above is fabric #1, but the doll is closer than in the one above, so the background is less blurry.

I am constantly learning new things about photographing my dolls.  I am no expert… at all!!!  I just wanted to share with you what I’ve figured out about photographing reds.  For me, it’s mind blowing; all these years I’ve struggled.  Now, I am happily pulling out all of my red yarn and fabric.  Woo hoo!

If you have any questions, please ask away.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll ask the resident photography expert (to me, anyway), my husband.  He knows so much more than I do.

Wishing you all a great Monday and a great week ahead!  Bye for now!



“A Nostalgic Christmas”

Hello everyone, from snowy Illinois.  It snowed all day on Sunday!  We ended up breaking a record for getting this much snow during the first December snow (or something like that).  With even colder temperatures arriving, this white stuff will stick around for a while.  I’m not sure how I feel about that . . . so far so good though.  I’m surviving!

Yes, Alice is here again to show you something new.  Nelly’s dolls have a muted rosiness that I notice above their eyes; it’s kind of a vintage look.  The colors in this ensemble are perfect with her coloring, so she gets another chance.  I love how all the artists paint the Little Darlings a bit different.

I wanted to photograph my newest outfit this past Sunday.  I think I fussed around with the photos all day.  The Christmas tree seemed so busy and the color wasn’t as pretty as I wanted it to be.  Finally, my husband gave me some tips (he was probably tired of hearing me complain–lol).  He had me put a different lens on my camera, so I could stand back and zoom in on Alice.  I also put Alice farther from the tree and opened up my f-stop as much as I could.  The result was that I got a somewhat blurry tree with Alice all in focus.  My favorite photos were taken when it was around 4:00 in the afternoon!  It was quite dark in the room, but I had the tripod set up and Alice stayed as still as possible.


This isn’t a typical Christmas print for a Christmas ensemble, but it kept calling to me to be made into one, so I did.  The colors in this ensemble are shades of mauve, a little deep red, warm pink, salmon.  They all go together beautifully because all the colors are neutral, nothing is bright.  I even added a little bit of plumminess with the organza ribbon used for the sash and present.



The embroidered motifs, are all slightly different compositions, both on the sweater and cuddle cap.  I used four shades of floss to shade the roses.  Ecru colonial knot buds add a bit of bright and the perfect shade of green foliage ties the blossoms together.


Alice’s sweater is knit with Peruvian Highland wool and her 1950s style cuddle cap is knit with a wool/angora blend.  Her scarf is knit with a lighter shade of mauve, also in Peruvian Highland wool.




Isn’t Alice a beauty?  You can see how this ensemble compliments her coloring and personality perfectly.

Alice enjoyed watching the first snowfall too.  What a daydreamer she is!


Alice’s “A Nostalgic Christmas” ensemble will be available tonight (December 6, 2016) at 7:00 pm CST,

The Last Few Days

Happy Sunday everyone.  Daylight savings time began (in most of the U.S.) very early this morning, so we sprang ahead and lost an hour of sleep, or I did anyway;  I didn’t want to lose an hour of my day by getting up late.  It’s all good… I’ll get to bed earlier tonight… usually I’m not too creative in the evening anyway.

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Yesterday morning the sun looked so brilliant rising in the eastern sky and then I realized that this was the end of the sun, it is slipping up behind the clouds.  However, the sun came out later and it turned out to be a very lovely and temperate day.  You can see the icy frost covering the grass.

A few days ago I received a special little envelope filled with vintage cards from one of my blog readers.  I’ve written about my love of vintage, especially illustration, in quite a few posts now, so it’s no secret how much I LOVE things with a past.  I must say how touched I was… thank you, Joy, so very much!!!  I will treasure these.

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Do you remember when ladies wore these kinds of orchids for every special occasion?  They would be kept in the refrigerator at home until it was time to go out.  I now know that they are Cattleya orchids.  I tried growing them years ago, but didn’t have enough light.

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I cannot grow Cattleyas in my home but, Phalaenopsis orchids do well as I have a bay window that they seem to love.  It gets chilly at night which keeps the spider mites away.  I have five plants remaining from a trip to Hausermann’s years ago, and four are in bloom right now.

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This past week I enrolled in a couple of Craftsy photography classes, Soft & Dreamy Portraits and Portraits at Play.  I’ve been playing around with my husband’s macro lens on my camera and learning a lot about using natural light in my photos.  Here’s a portrait of my Penny.  Sorry, she’s naked; I need to make her something to wear.  I love the soft, blurry background that you get with a wide open aperture.

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And, here are a couple more photos taken with the macro lens.  These are miniature potted tulip props that my husband brought back from Holland for me.  I found the perfect little watering can (it’s hiding behind the tulips) to go with them.

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I also took this photo of my test sweaters with the macro lens.  I never would have been able to get this close with my basic lens.

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Hope the new week starts off perfectly for you!  Bye for now.