12 Dresses

My sewing teacher and Friend Marianne, wanted to have a ball with the new English Country Dancing group she joined a year ago. Her excuse to have the ball was to celebrate 55 years in Canada. To get people involved she decided to make 12 dresses and 8 vests for some of the hard core members of the group. I made my own dress.

When she first told me of the idea I volunteered to do portraits of people all lovely and dressed up. Here was my chance to try to recreate painted portraits with a modern tool, and yet still make them have all the charm a regency portrait painting would.

I had asked a good Friend to assist me on the day. What a huge help he was. Suggesting to people how they should sit, asking them to take off watches and glasses that looked too modern. He had set up the lighting and even moved the table from one side of the set to the other.

For my purpose, I had borrowed from Rob a mottled brown back drop that completely fit the bill along with a backdrop stand, and a 20 prime lens. How I LOVE the 20. I almost bought one at Christmas, but I had to pay up front and they had to order it from the Canon warehouse, maybe next Christmas bonus. For now I’m lucky to be able to borrow Robs.

Along with the back drop I brought some props. Books, teacups and saucers, a makeshift table cloth and another to contrast over that. This would give people a choice of things to hold onto so they may feel more comfortable. Some didn’t because I think it may have looked too contrived. But those touches come out very well in the photos.

Originally was going to borrow Rob’s 400 Alien Bees, but when I thought of even more things to carry to the venue, I decided to go with two speed lights with soft boxes over them instead. They worked quite well until the batteries started to run low. I tried to push the speed lights until they were nearly dead, which was a bad idea because when I went to edit them, I realized I had lost detail I wasn’t able to bring back.

At Photographers anonymous, I was given lots of great advice for the next time. Like use Alien Bee’s instead of speed lights. Use a larger space to make the background higher. I had to use the path tool to get rid of the rings that were in the fabric. Especially where there were tall people involved. It’s amazing how well the patch tool works. Another piece of advice was that the stage right light was too low. You can see it in the cast shadows on the background. I would have set them up differently was well. One light almost in front and the other to the side of the subjects. I would liked there to be a candelabra and flowers on the table as well. As it turns out, I didn’t have to bring my outdoor table after all. There was a nice small round table already there.

Everyone who had their photo taken was a trooper. On lookers would make them break into smiles, but I didn’t want full on smiles, Kevin was good to ask them not to. I had a very good plan to keep everyone straight, which was have everyone write their name and email on a piece of paper to hold up in front of them for one shot then onto the serious stuff. Well, didn’t I forget the paper and markers? Luckily I had my model sheets, though I had to ask Marianne to remind me who everyone was. Sorry guys!

So there you have it. All edited, resized and watermarked. Ready to email to everyone. I’ve only had 3 people say they didn’t want me to use their image online or elsewhere. Out of such a large group, I think that was pretty good. And now you see them here on my blog.

A huge thanks to the English Country Dancers in their beautiful costumes. And to all who worked so hard to pull it together. Thanks Mandeep for the first dance. I can’t wait to do it again.

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