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All posts for the month October, 2014


The say a journey begins with the first step and with our first scene photographed our journey to the Dengrove Studios 2015 #Disneybound Calendar was well underway, join us now as we continue behind the scenes…

Is it just me or do you find that with any large project it seems infinitely easier once you get started? I recall back in school when I would have to write a term paper I could stare at the blank page for hours trying to get that first sentence out. But once written the words just seemed  to flow like water from a faucet.

This very much describes the process each year trying to get the calendar off the ground. We meet about it for weeks at a time discussing ideas, strategies, costs, and ultimately how the heck we’re going to pull it off.

During the process we go through many theming ideas, often starting out way too ambitious and ultimately ending up at an idea that although difficult to produce can usually be accomplished.

This is known as “blue-skying” and it is a process that is even employed by the Disney Imagineers when designing new attractions, shows, and venues for their Theme Parks. As you can imagine we go through several ideas for themes that never make it past some scribbles on a piece of paper, but much like the Disney Imagineers we never truly throw away an idea, just put it on the back burner for a time in the future when it might be more feasible to accomplish.

Once #Disneybound was chosen as the theme for this years calendar we felt we wanted to give it some sort of a modern twist. Several of the fairy tales that inspired our looks were written in 1600’s and 1700’s, and even some of the Disney movies for those characters were created almost 50 years ago.

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Cinderella Illustration from Grimm’s Fairytales

Snow White Illustration from Grimm's Fairytales

Snow White Illustration from Grimm’s Fairytales

 

Clearly a lot has changed between then and now, so we thought it would be a fun idea to imagine what if some of those stories were set in the present day, and think about what types of activities those characters would be doing.

We came up with a whole bunch of fun choices. Everything from exciting jobs such as being a veterinarian and seamstress, to leisure activities like having coffee and enjoying a relaxing beach day. You think it was easy coming up with all of these activities? It felt a little like being back in school and having to pick your college major.

Another hurdle we encountered was that now we had to find businesses that were willing to work with us and fit the activity that we chose. We knew we wanted to depict our second character inspired look as a modern day veterinarian. However, there was only one problem…where to find some animals?

Originally we thought, “hmm…shouldn’t be too hard to find a camel right?” Sure….because there are lots of those wandering around the greater New York area. In hindsight perhaps if we had tried to find an Elephant or a Ring-tailed Lemur we might have had better luck, but no we picked Camel.

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Even a call to a local zoo simply confirmed that this camel scene probably wasn’t going to happen. So what to do instead? Realizing that exotics are not the only thing veterinarians treat we decided to set our sights smaller…”maybe we could find some dogs and cats”. Ahh, blue-skying at it’s finest.

We found our solution at Adopt-A-Dog in Armonk, NY the setting of our next scene for the 2015 #Disneybound Calendar. Adopt-A-Dog is a rescue sanctuary organization serving New York and Connecticut. They have a loving, caring facility which not only works diligently at finding permanent loving homes for it’s four-legged friends, but also promises to provide life-time shelter to those that are least likely to get adopted.

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Organization President Allyson Halm and her caring staff were kind enough to let us invade their shelter space for a few hours on the morning of August 28th to stage and photograph our next scene. Our model Fatima definitely looked the part outfitted with her trusty stethoscope and character inspired look.

Fatima preparing for her scene

Fatima preparing for her scene

During the shoot the Adopt-A-Dog staff provided us not one, not two, not three, but 4 different dogs to feature in our calendar, Daisy, Jax, Dixie and Rufus. Each one had a different personality but they were all super cute and would make amazing pets!

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I was very surprised that although our model Fatima was portraying a veterinarian and even had a stethoscope none of the dogs seemed to be nervous in any way. Daisy was definitely the most interactive and super friendly, even shaking paws at one point with Fatima’s stethoscope. It’s hard to believe that she’s been at the shelter for 2 years waiting to be adopted, I can’t imagine a more perfect companion.

Naturally Rufus being a puppy was amazingly cute, we had a hard time trying to not to smuggle him out in our camera bag once the shoot was over. The staff told us that this was actually the first time he had been out of his enclosure. I think he has a future in photos, what do you think? Even though he’s going to grow up to be a big boy…just look at the size of those paws, he’s going to make an awesome life-long companion.

Long-time readers of our behind the scenes blog may notice something different with our lighting setup for this scene. This marks the first time that we have used full studio strobes in one of our calendar shoots. As the shoot was scheduled to take place early morning outdoors on a bright sunny day, yeah I know it’s very strange for us to get actual sunlight, we knew we needed some powerful lights to match the power of the morning sun.

Having positioned our model Fatima and the dogs in such a way we were able to use the sun for some nice backlighting to give good separation from our background. To compliment the sun we used 2 Einstein studio strobe lights from the Paul C Buff company and powered them with a Vagabond Mini battery inverter.

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The key light has been fitted with a parabolic umbrella and the fill has been fitted with an octobox to help diffuse some of the light. Although I have used Einstein’s for several years I’ve never had the opportunity to take them out of the studio before. They are nothing short of amazing. I won’t bore everyone here with the details but if you’re interested in portable studio lighting at an affordable price you should definitely look into getting yourself some.

Want to see which dog made it into the final shot? Well you’ll just have to buy your own calendar to check it out! The 2015 #Disneybound Calendar is on sale now at the Dengrove Studios website, click here to order. Can you guess which character inspired Fatima’s wardrobe?

A very special thank you to Adopt-A-Dog in Armonk, NY and President Allyson Halm and her staff for allowing us access to their great facility to shoot our calendar scene and allowing us to meet some new 4-legged friends.

Adopt-A-Dog is located at 23 Cox Ave in Armonk, NY, 914-273-1674 or 203-629-9494. Call to make an appointment to find your life-long furry companion, Daisy is there waiting for you!

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Scott Dengrove is a professional photographer from the NYC area. Scott’s work has been featured in many national photography competitions and published in several magazines and newspapers. In addition, his work can be seen on tour in various exhibits at Cosi® restaurants in New York and Connecticut and a traveling exhibit entitled “America: Coast to Coast”. For more information, and to see more of Scott’s work visit his website at www.dengrovestudios.com and connect with him on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dengrovestudios follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dengrovestudios

Summer may have recently ended and 2015 is still a few months away but I’m pleased to announce that we have already started working on the 2015 Dengrove Studios calendar in conjunction with our Production Stylist Samantha Dugan and you’re coming along for the ride!

As you may recall, last year we tried something new after publishing the calendar and released a series of behind the scenes blog posts. Well it turns out that our fans loved them!

So this year instead of waiting until the calendar is finished, we thought it would be fun to provide you with behind the scenes posts while we’re still in the middle of making it. That way you can follow along with us to see what really goes in to putting one of these calendars together and getting it off the ground.

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Let me start by telling you about some of the awesome things you can expect to see. It all begins with our really creative, fun theme. Gone is the  previous “Wearable Art” series. Why limit ourselves to one genre when there are so many great avenues to explore.

We were looking for something that allows us to combine modern fashion, fun inspiration, and a little bit of pixie dust. We found it in our 2015 calendar theme…#Disneybound!

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The 2015 Dengrove Studios Calendar

Never heard of it? #Disneybound is the brain child of Leslie Kay, a fashionista from Toronto, Canada with a love of all things Disney. She uses her eye for fashion to create modern everyday outfits inspired by your favorite characters, parks, and attractions.

Those who choose to #Disneybound are almost like members of a secret club in that they can easily spot fellow #Disneybounders and the inspiration for their outfits, but those unaware of the fashion trend will simply see regular everyday clothing. You can learn more about it on Leslie’s tumblr.

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Fashionable clothing or secret character?
Photo courtesy of Disneybound Tumblr

What else can you expect to see in the 2015 calendar? Plenty! If you’ve seen any of our previous calendars you know we always try to top ourselves. While last years calendar saw us leaving the studio for the first time and embracing some great nature shots, for 2015 we’ll be taking it a step further. Partnering with local businesses that have graciously allowed us to use their interiors to bring our calendar to life.

We had a tough time securing locations for last year, dodging bad weather, coordinating schedules, and finding just the right types of flowers and plants. That is nothing compared to what we went through this year!

Locating compatible businesses, securing partnerships and of course scheduling not only a photographer, stylist, and models, but working around the existing schedule of our partner locations as not to impact their day to day business is a logistical nightmare of epic proportions.

Thankfully I took an epic proportions scheduling course in college and we got permission to shoot in some awesome locations.

But we’re done yet with our “what’s new for 2015” list. We saved the biggest announcement for last…this year’s Dengrove Studios 2015 #Disneybound Calendar will also be available as a monthly planner! That’s right…you asked for it and we listened, now you can have your choice of wall calendar or monthly planner that fits right in your hand.

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New for 2015…it comes in a Monthly Planner!

Now I did promise you behind the scenes looks at this year’s calendar, so let’s dive right into it. We shot our first scene for the calendar on July 19th at a cute little Tailor/Dry Cleaner shop in Rye, NY called Pins & Needles. Fitting name isn’t it? Located at … owner Eva was kind enough to let us use her shop for the setting of our first scene. Our model Jenna came in all the way from Chicago to star in the calendar.  Here’s our Production Stylist Sam applying Jenna’s makeup.

Sam applies Jenna's makeup

Sam applies Jenna’s makeup

We arrived on location and began setting up our equipment. Shooting indoors at a business allowed us the opportunity to bring a lot more lighting equipment than for our previous calendar where we had to walk long distances through various landscapes and therefore had to pack light.

Setting up equipment

For you photo buffs in the audience we are using a slightly modified setup this year. We still lit the interior of the scene with a Nikon speedlight on a light stand, however since we are shooting indoors we replaced the white shoot-through umbrella with a 36” Octabox to soften and diffuse the light a bit more.

When planning the shot we envisioned a bit of a somber scene with beautiful late afternoon sunlight streaming through the window. Naturally, mother nature had other plans. Isn’t it amazing how even though we were shooting indoors we still had the bad weather to worry about? As most of our fans know Sam and I don’t have particularly great luck where the weather is concerned, so naturally July 19th ended up being overcast and cloudy.

Difficult conditions to get beautiful afternoon sunlight streaming through a window to say the least. Fear not though as we have quite a bit of experience shooting in less than ideal conditions. Enter the power of photo lighting! Cue the superhero music…

Hmm...I don't think this angle is quite right

Hmm…I don’t think this angle is quite right

In order to create our own afternoon sunlight we used an additional Nikon speedlight placed high up on a light stand bare with no modifiers. It took a bit of trial and error to get the positioning just right but before we knew it there was light streaming through the window perfectly highlighting our model. Except for one thing…the light looked just a bit like high noon.

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Getting there…perhaps a little more to the left?

To give our artificial streaming sunlight a late afternoon feel we added a sheet of 1/2 CTO gel to our speedlight. CTO stands for “color temperature orange”…yeah photographers don’t really care for complex equipment names. In order to balance our indoor light with outside we added a sheet of 1/2 CTO gel to our indoor Octabox light as well. Here you can see the small sheet of gel attached to the front of our Speedlight.

A 1/2 CTO gel on the front of our Speedlight helps to give the illusion that it's a beautiful sunny day

A 1/2 CTO gel on the front of our Speedlight helps to give the illusion that it’s a beautiful sunny day

With the lighting all set, and our model Jenna looking amazing , we were now ready to shoot. We asked Jenna to pretend that she was sewing a dress together, which definitely wasn’t going to be a problem given the extensive collection of thread available at Pins & Needles. I say “pretend” because the dress she’s working on actually belonged to our Production Stylist Sam and one can only imagine how happy she’d be if Jenna actually started sewing her dress.

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We began to shoot and naturally since we were all ready with lights, the camera and our model, customers started walking into the store.

Amazing…during setup there was virtually no foot traffic but the minute we start the actual shoot business suddenly picks up. Although it meant we had to stop shooting from time to time to let a customer pass it wasn’t bad at all and we were able to get on a roll in between customers.

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Let the shooting commence

When shooting an important scene for publication it’s critical to inspect your photos  while you’re still on site with the entire production staff. That way if there’s a problem you can still make adjustments and take some more shots. Once the production wraps and you’re back in the office it’s a LOT harder to fix any mistakes that you didn’t catch on-site.

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Scott inspects the photos

Here we can see the photo looks sharp and crisp and is in proper focus. You can also see just a little bit of that beautiful artificial sunlight we created streaming through the window. Want to see what the whole photo looks like? Well you’ll just have to buy your own calendar to check it out! The 2015 #Disneybound Calendar is on sale now at the Dengrove Studios website, click here to order. Can you guess which character inspired Jenna’s wardrobe?

I hope you enjoyed this little “look over our shoulder” while we photographed the first scene of this year’s calendar. Be sure to stay tuned for more great behind the scenes reporting as we have 11 more months to get through!

Special thanks to my wife and Art Direction consultant Jena Dengrove for capturing these awesome behind the scenes photos! And of course a very special thank you to Pins & Needles Tailoring and Dry Cleaning and owner Eva for allowing us to disrupt her business for an afternoon while we shot our first scene of the calendar.

Pins & Needles is located at 131 Purchase Street in Rye, NY, 914-481-1046. Specializing in Wedding Alterations and Tailoring be sure to pay them a visit for all your dry cleaning and alteration needs!

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Scott Dengrove is a professional photographer from the NYC area. Scott’s work has been featured in many national photography competitions and published in several magazines and newspapers. In addition, his work can be seen on tour in various exhibits at Cosi® restaurants in New York and Connecticut and a traveling exhibit entitled “America: Coast to Coast”. For more information, and to see more of Scott’s work visit his website at www.dengrovestudios.com and connect with him on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dengrovestudios follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dengrovestudios