Every year Dengrove Studios in partnership with Makeup by Sam D publishes our Wearable Art series of calendars. The theme for this year’s calendar is Nature. It is the first time in the series that we are leaving the studio behind and taking to the great outdoors.
Holidays are here already. There’s still time to get your very own calendar before New Year’s, but you have to act fast. It’s exciting to see the inventory of calendars get smaller and smaller as we fill orders. But how did we get to this point?
Well it wasn’t easy, we dealt with many hurdles along the way including scheduling conflicts, inclement weather, dismal locations, and the setting sun, but I can honestly say this was the most fun we’ve ever had producing one of these calendars. And lucky for you folks, we documented the whole thing! Join us now as we continue to take you behind the scenes of the 2014 Wearable Art: Nature Calendar.
Having successfully completed four months of the calendar we were feeling pretty confident that this whole shooting outdoors thing was going to work out. However, it would be impossible to keep up the pace of going to far off locations for each of our remaining shoots. The time and financial constraints would just be too much. We knew we had to find a local location that would accommodate several of our remaining months.
We happened to find just such a place at the Bartlett Arboretum in Stamford, CT. Reviewing their website we were excited by the prospects of having access to so many unique landscapes. There were azaleas and rhododendrons, a meadow, vegetable garden, and various other formal gardens. A scouting trip to the arboretum was quickly scheduled.
Well as with most things associated with this year’s calendar we were quickly learning to expect the unexpected and roll with the punches.
Once we arrived we discovered that the azalea and rhododendron garden was quite out of season with nothing left but a couple of paths and empty bushes, the meadow was more of a cattail field next to the side of a busy road, and the formal gardens were more clumps of various flowers than lushly planned spaces.
A quick shuffling of our plans for the various months of the calendar was in order. Luckily, along with the surprises of what was not at the arboretum, we were happy to find that there were great unadvertised spaces we could definitely use.
There was a lush tropical garden with beautiful large leafy plants, it was a small parcel of rain forest right here in the middle of CT; a really awesome long wall of bamboo straight out of China, all that was missing was the pandas; and a majestic grove of trees growing ever skyward, in addition to some other great nooks and crannies with interesting plants we could use.
Yes it wasn’t the nature we were expecting, but it would definitely do!
With our location chosen and our beautiful model Fatima in tow we headed over to the Bartlett Arboretum on a nice warm September day. Her makeup was expertly completed by Sam of Makeup by Sam D. A few flowers to finish up the look and we were ready to shoot in the tropical garden.
Fatima remarked how much the tropical garden reminded her of her grandfather’s house in Puerto Rico. Which simply confirmed to us we had picked a great spot to shoot.
Here you can see some behind the scenes shots of how we put together our photo in the tropical garden. Again you’ll notice we used a single speedlight in a shoot through umbrella on a light stand to fill in the shadows. As there were a few clouds in the sky we sometimes had to wait for them to pass and the sun to return but we managed to get the shot finished in just about 30 minutes.
Although the next shot was originally envisioned as something a bit more mysterious, we wanted some awesome fog coming through the trees, we couldn’t quite get mother nature to cooperate. We even tried using some Fog in a Can.
Scott…you say…I think you’ve been sipping too much Egg Nog, what the heck is Fog in a Can? Fog in a Can is a really cool thing that is used in theatrical productions when you need to create small bursts of fog.
For example, it is used extensively in the theatrical production of Hairspray when the script calls for the actors to spray their hair with hairspray. Not only is real hairspray flammable but it’s also pretty hard to see when it comes out of the can, so instead the actors are given Fog in a Can to use as a prop.
Fog in a Can is great when used in an indoor controlled environment with no wind, dim lighting and an enclosed space. Try it outside and well…not so good.
The wind carried it away instantly and the sun made it difficult to see. As we were shooting in the middle of a public botanical garden we couldn’t exactly bring in an industrial fog machine so instead once again we adapted our calendar plans to suit the area we were shooting.
By the way if anyone needs some Fog in a Can I just happen to know where you can get some…cheap
The fog idea was out but instead we went with a more mother earth type of feel for the photo. Here we can see Fatima getting all decked out in her wrapping and leaves for the shot.
Want to see what Fatima looked like all wrapped up in her leaves? You’ll just have to purchase your own copy of the calendar! The 2014 Wearable Art: Nature Calendar is on sale now at the Dengrove Studios website, click here to order.
Fatima is not the only model we photographed at the Bartlett Arboretum, the lovely Emily was also photographed for the 2014 Wearable Art: Nature Calendar there as well.
We actually photographed Emily in 2 scenes for the calendar at the Arboretum, but one of them didn’t make it in.
Even though the formal garden portions of the Arboretum were disappointing, we thought that we might be able to use one of the clusters of day lilies in a scene for the calendar.
Well turns out we were wrong, thus began our one calendar scene of the whole project the bombed. It was the one shoot in the calendar that we couldn’t salvaged and had to be completely re-photographed with a different idea.
What happened you ask, that made it turn out so horrible?
You see it was the beginning of September and it had already started getting dark earlier than during the summer. Due to scheduling conflicts we couldn’t begin shooting the Day Lily scene until 5:30PM on that particular day. We had also planned to use quite an elaborate makeup and by the time we finished applying Emily’s makeup the sun was no longer in the position we needed it to be.
Not only that but once we walked over to the formal gardens from the parking lot we discovered that most of the Day Lilies were either dead or horribly wilted and dying as it was the end of the season. We did go ahead and try to shoot anyway, but once we reviewed the photos we knew they just weren’t usable.
In fact I’m not going to even share any of them with you of the actual scene. What I will show you is a photo of some of the great makeup Sam did with Emily for the shoot. It really turned out amazing, it’s just unfortunate we couldn’t use it in the finished calendar.
Want to see the new idea we ended up using instead? You’ll just have to buy your own copy of the calendar, trust me it’s worth the purchase, the new scene is pretty awesome! The 2014 Wearable Art: Nature Calendar is on sale now at the Dengrove Studios website, click here to order.
For our second scene with Emily we wanted to do something a bit more artsy.
From our disaster with the Day Lilies we knew we had already lost most of the daylight, so this would have to be lit with speedlight strobes. Thankfully due to the artsy nature of this scene, the dark surroundings with strong contrasting light would work just fine.
Sam prepared Emily’s makeup and headpiece while I readied the lights. Here’s a photo of Emily getting her hair and makeup done complete with artistic twig headpiece.
In order to light the scene properly and highlight the ferns on the ground, 2 lights were used for this scene. Our usual speedlight on a stand with shoot through umbrella, and a second light placed directly on the ground with no modifier to bring out the crisp contrast of the fern leaves against the dark surroundings.
Here’s the behind the scenes view as we were setting up and preparing to shoot. yes I know it doesn’t look particularly dark and contrasty, but if we wait just a little while…
And here’s the finished shot. The dark background and strong contrast almost makes it feel like it was shot on a set in the studio, but as you can see we were live outdoors in the Arboretum.
I’ll tell you this though, once we were finished shooting it was very difficult finding that second speedlight on the ground , as the sun had long set and we could barely see. Thank god for cell phones and their light up screens.
Another month for the calendar complete!
Fast forward a few months and now it’s just a few days before Christmas. All of us involved with the calendar would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a very Happy Holiday! We hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes journey of how our 2014 Wearable Art: Nature Calendar came to be. It was our pleasure to share it with you, and remember there’s still plenty of time left to get your calendar before New Year’s!