Monday, June 09, 2008

Doodlebug = Shutterbug

While Daddy played in the dirt yesterday, Mommy and Zozo went shopping. We went to the fabric store, which was like a flashback to my childhood, going with my mom. I remember feeling all the beautiful material, and absolutely loving the notions department. I remember my mom pouring over pattern books, and then cutting all the little pieces out of the giant, flimsy sheet that was neatly tucked into the little packet she chose. Straight pins held paper to fabric, and after awhile a form would emerge. Her ability to create something out of some yards of fabric still amazes's a skill I have tried a couple times to learn but have never been able to. I eventually decided I should probably just stick with photography.

So why, you are probably asking, did I go to the fabric store?

Velvet. Black velvet.

No, I'm not into painting Elvis or dogs playing poker. I need it to make photographs (of course). I had been using an old navy blue sheet as a background for still lifes (still lives?), which worked remarkably better than I had predicted. Still, I was spending an inordinate amount of time burning in the background to get it to go dark, and it's ridiculous to keep doing that when $12.75 will get you a yard of perfectly black background. (Yeah, Ma, I know I probably overpaid for it, but dang it, I don't know my way around a fabric store like you do, and I at least did look through the remnants bin and didn't find anything...)

Zozer and I were so excited with our purchase that we hurried home and set up our first shoot. We carefully composed and cropped and arranged. At one point, both of us were balancing precariously on the stepstool and hanging on to the tripod for dear life. I handled focusing and exposure details, she managed pushing the button on the cable relase for the shutter. It was a true creative collaboration. I adore the look of excitement she gets when she hears the shutter trip...I'm creating another shutterbug.

Here's our photograph:

After making our image, we waited for the green light to go off on the back of the D100, which meant that it was finished writing the enormous RAW file to the flashcard (it was Zozer's job to watch the light and tell Mommy when it went off - "Not on, Mommy!"). Then we turned off the D100, opened the little door in back and removed the card. Zoe closed the door and off we headed to the Mac. Zoe loved watching all the "little Hoots" transfer from the card to the harddrive.

We sat here together and flipped through the images, finally deciding which one we thought was best exposed, then pulled it up full screen.

FYI, it's incredibly hard to adjust curves and levels, sharpen and the like when you have a small child constantly trying to kiss the screen. She was so excited to see a "biiiiig" Hoot on the screen, and at one point went and retrieved our subject matter off his black velvet background to show him. The real Hoot kissed the digital Hoot a few times, too.

I wanted to shoot Hoot quickly because this is actually Hoot 4 of 4. He's just made his appearance this weekend, as Hoot 3 of 4 is now broken in and was in need of some R&R. 4 of 4, as you can tell by the creative numbering system, is the final in the series of back-up Hoots. After 4 of 4 gets his real world experience, we'll start rotating them regularly. Sorta like the tires on your car. They''ll all last longer if they all have a chance. So I wanted to document the last "new" Hoot before he got all loved up and abused. I plan to document 1, 2 and 3 this week, as well, in their various states of usage. 1 of 4 is, by far, the most worn, as you'll see. I'll have to shoot them after Zozer goes to bed, of course. If she flipped over having a Hoot in the hand and one on the screen, she'd go bonkers if she had four real ones at once.

Funny story about the fabric the fabric store lady was cutting my velvet and writing my ticket, two little old ladies shuffled over with their bolts. These were women from the motherland, wherever that might be. I'm thinking Russia, but it could as easily have been Croatia or the like. They wore long skirts and had scarves wrapped around their heads. The lines etched in their faces told the stories of long, hard lives. They were kind and good spirited, and smiled at my little imp wandering through the aisles of bolts playing peek-a-boo. One of the women flipped over the corner of my black velvet and felt it with her gnarled fingers. She smiled, then looked at me and gave me a thumbs up.

I didn't have the heart to tell her I can't sew a stitch.


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