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.

BartlettMap

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.

SamDoesFatimasMakeup

Sam does Fatima’s Makeup

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.

Behind the scenes of Fatima's Photoshoot

Behind the scenes of Fatima’s Photoshoot

Behind the scenes of Fatima's Photoshoot

Behind the scenes of Fatima’s Photoshoot

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.

Fog in Can - Filmtools

Fog in a Can – order at www.filmtools.com

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.

FatimaLeaves

Fatima wrapped in leaves

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.

Awesome Garden Makeup that never quite made it in the Calendar

Awesome Garden Makeup that never quite made it in the 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.

Emily's Artistic Headpiece

Emily’s Artistic 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…

Behind the scenes of Emily's Photoshoot

Behind the scenes of Emily’s Photoshoot

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.

Finished January Photo from the Calendar

Finished January Photo from the Calendar

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!

The 2014 Wearable Art: Nature Calendar is on sale now at the Dengrove Studios website, click here to order. Hang it on the fridge, bring it to to office, or give it as a gift.

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 nationally circulated magazines and publications. In addition, his work can currently be seen in 2 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

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.

As I write this blog post, it is exciting to know that the 2014 calendar just arrived from the printer and looks amazing. 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 managed to complete our first scene in the sunflower field, despite inclement weather and the looming threat of hungry sunflower munching cows, we had a huge feeling of accomplishment. The most daunting part of any large project is actually getting it started it’s difficult to know where to begin.

However, once you dive right in and complete the first step, you’re suddenly reinvigorated and the finish line seems definitely do-able. Armed with our new found confidence we began scouting locations for our second scene.

Rose Trellises at Elizabeth Park in Hartford, CT (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Park)

Rose Trellises at Elizabeth Park in Hartford, CT (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Park)

We knew we definitely wanted Roses to be a part of the calendar, and Tulips are a classic as well. But, it turns out there aren’t too many Rose Gardens in the nearby area, and especially so late in the season. We were nearing the end of August and most Rose Gardens look their best at the beginning of summer not the end. After 2 weeks of research we finally found our location. Elizabeth Park in Hartford, CT.

Elizabeth Park is an amazing oasis just outside downtown Hartford. Featuring a 2.1 acre public Rose Garden with over 800 varieties of Roses, we immediately knew this was the place to go. Several photos online also showed lovely rows of Tulips there as well and a really cool pond. You may recall from Part I of our behind the scenes blog that Water Lilies and Lily Pads were also nature that were were planning to add to the calendar. It sounded like this place was a can’t miss, we’d be able to shoot 3 scenes here all in this one location.

Elizabeth Park, Day of Photo Shoot

Elizabeth Park, Day of Photo Shoot

It was settled, with our model Lea in tow, who came all the way from Brooklyn, we set out on the 2 1/2 hour trip up to Hartford, CT and Elizabeth Park. They say it’s not the destination, but the journey, and although we did have a lovely ride up to Hartford, we were all very excited about seeing the beautiful scenery that was waiting for us at our destination.

As we drove in to the gates we were amazed at how large the park is. From what we had read online we were expecting a small Rose Garden, a few trails and a pond. We found so much more, several formal gardens, and a restaurant venue they call the Pond House available for weddings and other catered affairs. And although the roses were no longer climbing the trellises due to the end of summer approaching the Rose Garden itself certainly didn’t disappoint!

As I walked around the park scouting out the perfect locations to shoot our photos, Sam got started on Lea’s makeup for the first scene, Tulips.

Lea gets her makeup done by Sam of Makeup by Sam D

Lea gets her makeup done by Sam of Makeup by Sam D

After touring the gardens I did return with some bad news. Apparently the Tulip season had ended and there weren’t any to be found on the property.

Fear not, luckily we did plan ahead and brought our own just in case! Good thing too, would’ve been quite a shame to travel all that way and then discover there were no Tulips.

Just a few feet from where we parked the car was the ideal place to shoot the Tulip scene. Benches and nice patch of grass, led us to choose that a striking close-up with Lea’s face framed by Tulips would be the perfect way to show them off. Why did we need a bench? So that we could have Lea lay on the ground and photograph her from above so the Tulips would remain in place. Having done an amazing job on Lea’s makeup, Sam began styling the Tulips around Lea’s head as I set up the lighting.

Here in these behind the scenes production photos you can see just what goes into creating a photo like this. I’m sure Lea must’ve been hoping I wouldn’t lose my balance on that bench for fear I would have landed right on top of her, but as a professional model even if that’s what she was thinking it never once showed on her face.

Sam of Makeup by Sam D styles Lea for her scene

Sam of Makeup by Sam D styles Lea for her scene

Scott Adjusts Lighting

Scott Adjusts Lighting

Scott Photographs Lea for the Calendar

Scott Photographs Lea for the Calendar

Want to see the finished product? 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.

It actually only took us about 25 minutes from setting up the scene to getting the final shot for the calendar. Good thing too as we had lots to photograph that day and it was already 4:30 in the afternoon by the time we finished the Tulip scene.

Since first finalizing the list of plants and flowers that we wanted to use for each month of the calendar, one thing was becoming very clear, we were going to have to be flexible as we kept discovering that several of the plants and flowers we had chosen were either out of season, or simply unavailable. Due to this we thought it would be a good idea to photograph some extra scenes at each location, just in case we needed to supplement a scene that we had planned for later on down the road.

Could you just imagine if we had waited until October to find out that we couldn’t use a particular flower and then there was nothing else around since the cold weather would have started rolling in already? These were the logistical nightmares that kept us up at night, and something totally new for us to have to worry about shooting on location instead of in the studio as in previous years.

While Lea was still dressed in her pretty pink dress we decided to walk around the gardens a bit and see where else we could get a few extra shots just in case. We came upon a lovely formal garden with groups of plantings including this beautiful plant with red feathery plumage. I had seen the plant before growing at Disney but none of us knew what it was called. However, we all thought it would make a great addition to the calendar if need be.

Photographing the scene

Photographing the scene

Photographer's point of view

Photographer’s point of view

As you can see in these behind the scenes photos (look at the sexy back of my head, maybe I should model?) we shot most of the scenes with a single fill light (yes the same light that Sam saved on our previous trip to the Sunflower field). Only this time we weighed it down a heck of a lot better! And what does the finished shot look like? Well since this one didn’t end up making it into the calendar we can absolutely show it to you here.

Final Finished Photograph

Beautifully Finished Photograph

What do you think? Isn’t it gorgeous? The colors, the styling, the makeup, and the scenery all combine to create an amazing shot! So just what are those feathery plants called? I actually did take a trip to Disney about 2 weeks after we shot this scene and saw them growing there again, so I decided to pay a visit to Guest Relations. There they showed me the “Big Book of Disney Horticulture”. It was amazing with photos, names and descriptions of every plant, flower, and tree growing in the parks.

But….you guessed it naturally that plant was the only one that I couldn’t find in the giant 3 ring binder they handed me. Disappointed I continued my search online and came across a site run by horticulture fans that also lists all of the plants and flowers in the Disney Parks. Eureka! I had finally found it at last! The plant is known as Cockscomb as in the red comb on top of a roosters head. Makes perfect sense right?

Speaking of last minute scene changes, I mentioned earlier about the pond that this park had and how we were going to shoot the Water Lilly/Lily Pad scene here as well. Turns out when we got there, it wasn’t so lovely, more of an algae filled mess with very little plant life growing around it. By now we were becoming experts at “rolling with the punches” and started searching around for another part of the park we could shoot a scene at.

We came across a lovely shade garden, not too far from where the Cockscomb was growing. A quick wardrobe change and some makeup refreshing and we were ready to shoot our next scene.

You can see the setup in these behind the scenes photos. I especially find the one taken from behind the model interesting as you can really get a sense of what Lea was seeing that day as I was photographing her. Big thanks to Sam for taking all the behind the scenes photos and giving us a great glimpse into the making of the 2014 Calendar.

Photographing the Scene

Photographing the Scene

 

Model's Point of View

Model’s Point of View

Sometimes while on location you come across a scene you weren’t expecting that just screams “this would be a perfect place for some photos”. Well on the way back to the car from the shade garden we came across this really awesome tree with low limbs. It was in the perfect position with the setting sun to make for some amazing fashion shots. I quickly set up the lighting and before you know it both Sam and Lea were up in a tree making photo magic! Since these photos weren’t for the calendar I can show you a finished one here.

Impromptu Fashion Shoot in a Tree

Impromptu Fashion Shoot in a Tree

By now it was really getting late in the day and the sun was setting. We had one more scene to shoot, the one that we actually came all the way to Elizabeth Park for…the Roses! This is to be Sam’s scene in the calendar. Here you can see one of the outtake shots.

Ring around the rosy

Ring around the rosy

Although her rose belt was really cool, those roses kept popping off every 2 minutes. This is how the scene went *snap* take a photo, *snap* take a photo, wait we lost some roses, *snap* “take a photo”,  hang on a few more fell off. It was really quite funny. Eventually we did get through it and ended up with a lovely shot for the calendar.

Want to see it? You’ll just have to get a calendar to see the finished shot. The 2014 Wearable Art: Nature Calendar is on sale now at the Dengrove Studios website, click here to order.

Of course you never know what your lens is going to capture at a photo shoot. Even though Lea had shot 2 scenes today and she knew Roses were going to be Sam’s scene one can’t help but think she might have been a little jealous and wanted it for herself.

I wanted to shoot roses!

I wanted to shoot roses!

Don’t worry no actual models were injured during the making of this calendar! The 2014 Wearable Art: Nature Calendar is on sale now at the Dengrove Studios website, click here to order. Hang it on the fridge, bring it to to office, or give it as a gift.

Stay tuned for more great behind the scenes posts about the making of this year’s Wearable Art: Nature Calendar.

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 nationally circulated magazines and publications. In addition, his work can currently be seen in 2 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

The end of the year is rapidly approaching and you know what that means…time to get your new calendar! 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.

As I write this blog post, it is exciting to know that final preparations are being made to submit the 2014 Calendar off to the printer. 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 take you behind the scenes of the 2014 Wearable Art: Nature Calendar.

Each Wearable Art Calendar starts with a theme, an idea that will tie each of the 12 months’ photos together. The inspiration for this year’s theme, Nature, came from a photo shoot we had done earlier in the year with Model and Makeup Artist Samantha Dugan of Makeup by Sam D. It was just about the start of Spring with the weather getting warmer that we chose to do a photo shoot celebrating the beautiful flowers that would soon appear in fields and gardens across the Northeast.

Inspiration for this year's Nature theme

Inspiration for this year’s Nature theme

As you can see the photos turned out amazing and it got us thinking…wouldn’t this make a great idea for the 2014 Calendar. Of course these photos were shot in a studio vs outdoors.

Working in a studio is always easier, you can control the weather, the lighting, the location, basically all aspects of the shoot are under your command. For our previous calendars, shooting in studio afforded us the opportunity to work quickly and efficiently. Believe it or not, in the past, we were able to shoot the photographs for all 12 months over the course of just 2 Saturdays.

This year would be quite a different ballgame. We decided that the best way to truly capture the essence of our Nature theme would be to combine our beautiful models, with actual gorgeous outdoor locations. For the first time ever the Wearable Art Calendar production was leaving the studio…and taking the show on the road.

We had to move quickly however, it was already the beginning of July and we needed to get everything coordinated and photographed before the cold weather moved in. Locations had to be found and scouted, models had to be secured and scheduled, and most importantly each individual months’ idea needed to be finalized.

Here you can see a rare look at some of our initial production notes for the calendar. Lots of items have changed between these initial ideas and the finished product. For example did you know that Azaleas and Rhododendrons only bloom in the early Spring? That’s right, consequently when we showed up to photograph with them…they were all gone! Want to see which ideas actually made it in to the finished calendar? Well then you’ll need to get a copy of your very own, click here for information on how to purchase.

Initial Production Notes for 2014 Calendar

Initial Production Notes for 2014 Calendar

Once we had our ideas sorted out it was already the end of July and we were ready to photograph our first month, although it almost didn’t happen.

For many years now I had heard about Buttonwood Farms in Griswold, CT, and the amazing work they do for the Make-a-Wish foundation with their breath-taking sunflowers. They have 14 acres growing during the summer and it certainly is a site to behold.

However, the Sunflower Event at Buttonwood Farms only lasts just over a week every year, when then sunflowers are at their peak. With just 4 days to spare before they turn the cows loose in the field to munch on all the leftovers they don’t sell, we decided that would be the perfect place to shoot our first month.

As I said before, we knew shooting on location would present some challenges, but we didn’t know they’d be presented to us all at once!

We were already in a time crunch having just a few days to coordinate everything before the sunflowers got munched up by the cows, and to make matters worse it was a 2 hour trip to Buttonwood Farms from our studio. With such a long distance to travel and the hungry hungry cow countdown looming (thankfully it wasn’t hippos) this was really going to be our one and only chance to get the shot.

Naturally, to compound matters, the forecast that day called for rain. Knowing that this was our only opportunity we decided to push ahead for the 2 hour drive anyway, hoping that perhaps those fancy dancy weather apps were wrong. Along the way we did pass through quite a few storms, but it seems we got ahead of the rain as once we arrived at our destination everything was dry, though still quite overcast.

Stopped raining, but still overcast

Stopped raining, but still overcast

Certainly not the best weather to get a great summer sunflower shot, but we were determined to make it work. Since the sun wasn’t cooperating we made our own light. A couple of Nikon Speedlights did the trick, you’d almost never know that it was a gray rainy day when we shot these photos.

Making our own summer light

Making our own summer light

Some people got quite a surprise that day while strolling through the sunflower field and unexpectedly finding themselves in the middle of a photography session, but everyone was very supportive and excited to see the photos.

In fact we were so engrossed in what we were doing that we hardly noticed when it actually did start drizzling. If you look carefully enough you can even see the water droplets on the top of Sam’s head.

Look closely you can see the rain drops

Look closely you can see the rain drops

We didn’t mind too much though because it gave us the perfect opportunity to take a break and sample the other thing that makes Buttonwood Farms famous. The Buttonwood Farm Fresh Homemade Ice Cream! They have tons of flavors and if you’re lucky enough to find yourself there during the Sunflower for Wishes event like we were, you can sample their seasonal specialty flavor Sunflower Caramel. Let me tell you, that alone is totally worth the trip!

Buttonwood Farm Ice Cream (Photo Courtesy of Buttonwood Farm)

Buttonwood Farm Ice Cream (Photo Courtesy of Buttonwood Farm)

Once the rain subsided we thought we might try to get a really dramatic shot. There is a cool hill overlooking the sunflower field and we thought it would be a great idea to get a photo with Sam holding a colored drape fluttering in the breeze across the sunflowers.

Despite being slightly windy all day, with our luck of course when we were ready to shoot the wind had completely subsided; not a breeze in sight. We waited around a bit, but had basically given up and let our guard down when all of a sudden a giant gust came whipping across the field just as I clicked the shutter. Gusty enough that it even blew over my light stand mid-shot.

Always maintains her composure

Always maintains her composure

Although we weren’t able to get the drape fluttering photo we were hoping for, this one is definitely an awesome runner up. And as a testament to the amazing modeling skills of our stylist Samantha Dugan you can clearly see that she’s able to hold her graceful pose and perfect model facial expression no matter what the situation.

I’m pleased to report that with her help the light stand was saved and the umbrella suffered only minor damage, that was easily fixed.

All in all it turned out to be a very successful photo session for the calendar and a heck of a fun day. We ended up getting some great shots despite the universe throwing all kinds of obstacles in our path.

Want to see the finished photo that ultimately made it in to the calendar? You’ll just have to buy your own copy to find out! The 2014 Wearable Art: Nature Calendar is on sale now at the Dengrove Studios website, click here to order. Hang it on the fridge, bring it to to office, or give it as a gift.

And just in case you’re wondering as a thank you for letting us shoot in the sunflower field that day Dengrove Studios did make a nice donation to the incredible Make-a-Wish foundation. We hope it helps them to continue their very important work of helping our children.

Stay tuned for more great behind the scenes posts about the making of this year’s Wearable Art: Nature Calendar.

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 nationally circulated magazines and publications. In addition, his work can currently be seen in 2 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

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Use Promo Code FAMILY to book your shoot before October 31st, 2013 and get 10% off any of our Family Photo Packages.

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As some of you may already know our solo photo exhibit America: Coast to Coast concluded it’s most recent showing just a few weeks ago. Thank you to all who were able to come out and see it, and a special thank you to those who bought some photo pieces from the exhibit. I hope you enjoy them for years to come.

Putting together one of these exhibits is no small task and I thought all of you might enjoy seeing just what goes into getting it off the ground. There is a lot that happens between deciding “hey let’s put on an exhibit” to actually opening the doors. Today we peel back the curtain on the entire process.

America: Coast to Coast actually had it’s first showing at the Kanner-Kurzon museum at Temple Beth-El in New Rochelle, NY back in 2011. As the exhibit was drawing to a close I sent out a prospectus to multiple galleries and exhibit spaces in the are to see where it would go next.

Click here to see the original America: Coast to Coast Exhibit Prospectus.

America: Coast to Coast Exhibit Prospectus

America: Coast to Coast Exhibit Prospectus

One of the exhibit spaces interested in showing America: Coast to Coast was the Rye Free Reading Room in Rye, NY. However, their waiting list for exhibits was currently 2 years long. I put my name on the list and summarily forgot about it, thinking that I’d never hear back from them.

America: Coast to Coast went on to display in a few other spaces towards the end of 2011, and then it was placed into storage.

Fast forward to the Spring of 2013 and all of a sudden I get an email from The Rye Free Reading Room letting me know that my name finally came up on the list and would I still be interested in exhibiting.

To say this was a surprise would be an understatement. After 2 years I had totally forgotten I even had my name on their list. Not to mention America: Coast to Coast had seen better days. It had not been touched or looked at since going into storage 2 years earlier.

I made the decision that I would go ahead with the exhibit and prepared for the daunting task ahead. After reviewing the printed photos from the last showing of America:Coast to Coast it became clear that the exhibit would need some updating and refreshing. Not only had I taken many new landscape photos over the past 2 years, but some of the original pieces had also become damaged in storage as well.

I met with Maria Lagonia, the Managing Librarian. Details were worked out, decisions were made, and contracts were signed. America: Coast to Coast would run for a 1 month period during the month of May. Ultimately the dates were extended to run through the end of June with 2 wine and cheese receptions.

The first thing I do when planning an exhibit is obtain a measured floor plan of the space. I feed all that information into a 3-D rendering program on the computer to make a finished 3-D replica of the space. This way I can figure out how many photos can fit in the space, what sizes they should be and also how the finished exhibit will look even before a single photo is hung.

3-D rendering of the exhibit space

3-D rendering of the exhibit space

Of course some things inevitably change between the planning stage and actual hanging of the exhibit, but for the most part the 3D rendering is a pretty accurate representation of what the finished exhibit will look like.

Next comes the selection process. Pouring over years worth of photos to chose just the right ones to hang in the exhibit. Of course cost is a huge factor that guides these decisions as well. Large mounted photos are not cheap to produce, so there is always a balance that must be struck between paying for new pieces to be printed for the exhibit and re-using existing ones to save on costs.

For those that are wondering, all costs for the entire exhibit, including printing of the pieces, hanging, and the receptions is fully funded by Dengrove Studios. The exhibit spaces usually only provide a physical space to hang your work upon. However, they do usually help with promotion and press for the exhibit to drive traffic.

After evaluating the space and costs it was decided that this showing of America: Coast to Coast would have a total of 23 pieces and contain 50% new photos that had never before been exhibited.

The next few weeks are spent adding finishing touches to photos getting them ready to print, putting together a brochure for the exhibit detailing information about the photos and planning food and beverage for the receptions.

Before you know it installation day arrives! Now the fun begins…not only do you get to finally have access to the space and see how great your photos look in it, but you also get to see just how accurate your measurements were. Hopefully, all the pre-planning was not in vain and when you get on-site it is easy to measure out where the photos go and get them hung.

One thing to consider is that each space has different requirements with regards to the walls. Some allow to actually nail or screw directly into the wall, others require that you must use an alternative method and not dent or damage the walls in any way. In the case of the Rye Free Reading Room they have a unique gallery hanging system that allows you to hang the photos off of suspended hooks without creating any holes in the wall.

Here are my wife and I hanging the exhibit

Hanging the Exhibit

Hanging the Exhibit

Hanging the Exhibit

Hanging the Exhibit

 

Speaking of photos…just where do they come from?
Well America: Coast to Coast is a celebration of all kinds of landscapes across the United States, so guess where I had to go? All across the United States! Each photo actually has an interesting story behind it.
Take this one for example of The Grand Canyon, we call it “Mind the Gap”
"Mind the Gap"

“Mind the Gap”

This photo was actually taken during a trip to Las Vegas. I decided to go for a day tour of the Grand Canyon. There were 15 of us that day on our little tour bus, strangers at the start of the trip, but good friends by the end. While I was busy shooting photos of the scenery like “Mind the Gap” to later appear in the exhibit, luckily other members of the tour were taking their own photos of us and were kind enough to share them with me.
Creating "Mind the Gap"

Creating “Mind the Gap” (Photo credit Fraser Allison)

It’s amazing how much of the background story is lost about the creation of a particular landscape photo. When you see this “behind the scenes shot” it really adds a whole new dimension. Now you can clearly see why we call it “Mind the Gap” just look how close to the edge we are!
And notice there is no safety rail or harness. A few more steps backwards and it would be the last steps we ever take for it’s a sheer 1 mile drop to the bottom of the canyon.
Keen observers may notice something else that you might not consider if you’ve never actually visited The Grand Canyon before. Although this particular part of the canyon is in Arizona, you might be surprised to see us wearing winter hats, gloves and coats! That’s because it was only 40 degrees at the top of the canyon in March when we visited.
Crazy right! There was actually snow! Fraser who took the photo above had actually never seen snow before as he lives in Australia. He learned a very valuable lesson that day…snow is not just white and fluffy it’s also very very cold, always wear your gloves.
As you can see there are a lot of moving parts that go into creating a photo exhibit. It is a lot of hard work but in the end when people come to view your art the hard work fades away and it is totally worth it!
Here is the exhibit brochure showing all the final details of the exhibit. Thanks again to all who came out to show their support.
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 nationally circulated magazines and publications. In addition, his work can currently be seen in 2 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

Another blog post so soon? I know exciting! We’ve gotten a few requests lately for some assistance with low-light photography from fans on our Facebook page. So I thought it would be a good idea to do another blog post about it, since it can be a difficult topic. And what better way to learn then with a little help from some childhood friends!

This past April I had the opportunity to spend some time visiting the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, GA. It’s quite an amazing facility providing education, history and entertainment all relating to various forms of puppetry from across the globe. They have interactive displays, informative workshops, and also really awesome puppet performances, if you’re ever in the Atlanta area I highly suggest you pay them a visit.

Now I’ll admit I do love all kinds of puppets, but the main draw for me visiting the center was to see the display of some very special friends.

It's Big Bird!!!!!

It’s Big Bird!!!!!

That’s right…I went to the Center for Puppetry Arts to visit THE MUPPETS!!!! In 2007 the Center for Puppetry Arts was named the proposed repository for much of Jim Henson’s collection of puppets. However, they have to raise money to build a space to house the collection. In the meantime, they do have a limited amount of Muppets on display and let me tell you it’s quite an experience being mere inches away from these amazing characters.

So how can the Muppets help us to learn about low-light photography? Well in the photo above Big Bird was actually behind glass, and no flash photos were allowed because flash can cause them to deteriorate. So I had to employ a number of low-light photography techniques in order to get some great photos of these guys.

Before we dive right into photo technique, let’s take a minute to talk about proper etiquette when taking these photos at a museum, aquarium or any public place. These institutions put on exhibits for the public to come and learn, view and enjoy, they are not there specifically for you to photograph. So you must understand that when you decide you’d like to get a great shot of something you may be inconveniencing others around you.

How do I get such great shots? Well bribing the manager doesn’t hurt….kidding! It takes a lot of patience, sometimes I’ll wait by a display for a long time until the crowds to disperse before I move in with my big lens to get the shot, but as you can see it’s worth it as you get much better shots and you won’t be rushed or upset others who are there to view the exhibit. There have even been times that I’ll see an exhibit with my friends or family and then go back again by myself to take photos so that I don’t bother them by making them wait around for me while I get the shot.

But Scott, you say, “I went to the Louvre to photograph the Mona Lisa, and the people never left…I’d still be there today waiting to take her photo”. Yeah she’s pretty popular, so what do you do if the item you want to photograph has a continuous line of people? You get in the line and wait your turn. When you get to the front, take your shots quickly since there are many people behind you waiting to see the exhibit.

I know you’re thinking now…”Scott, I understand that I need to get my shot fast, but how can I do that? Once I get there I have to check my settings, make sure the photo is properly exposed..these things take time!” Very true…so you need to be prepared BEFORE you get up there. While you’re waiting on line, start taking photos. Play with your settings until you’re exposure is perfect and you’re all ready to go. This way when you get up to the front and only have a few seconds to make it count all you need to do is take the shot and move on.

Set your camera settings ahead of time for a perfectly exposed quick shot

Set your camera settings ahead of time for a perfectly exposed quick shot

I do this all the time when I shoot. Yeah I know The Lorax is not the Mona Lisa, but he’s close. There’s a very long line to see him and you have little time to get the shot once you do. My wife thinks it’s the funniest thing in the world when I start taking photos of the characters with other people’s children, but that’s how I test my settings while waiting in line so that once I get to meet the head mouse himself, all it takes is a click or two of the shutter and we’re on our way.

Now that we’ve discussed proper etiquette when trying to get great photos, let’s talk about some techniques we can use to make them a reality. Basically it all comes down to getting more light into the camera so we can get a nicely exposed shot without using a flash. There are many ways we can do this.

The first is by raising the ISO setting. We’ve discussed ISO before in previous blog posts. The ISO setting on our cameras controls how sensitive our digital camera’s sensor is to light or how sensitive the film is to light on a traditional camera. Increasing ISO makes better exposed photos when shooting in low light levels. Great..problem solved, end of blog post!

Not quite…yes raising the ISO will increase the exposure of our photo, however, there is a side effect that we must take into account, each of the three camera settings that control exposure, ISO, aperture and shutter speed, all have a side effect as well. The more we increase ISO the more grain or noise our photo will have.

Most modern digital cameras can handle up to ISO 1600 reasonably well. Some high-end Digital SLR’s can even go as high as ISO 6400 without showing too much noise. For example in the photo I took below of the very hip and funky Dr. Teeth, of the famous band the Electric Mayhem, I used an ISO setting of 1000 which allowed for a nice properly exposed photo without a flash and very little noise.

Dr Teeth properly exposed using an increased ISO and slow shutter speed. ISO 1000, 1/30s, f/2.8

Dr Teeth properly exposed using an increased ISO and slow shutter speed. ISO 1000, 1/30s, f/2.8

However, my twinkle-toed piano playing friend Dr. Teeth was in such a darkly lit area that increasing the ISO alone would not have been enough. So what else can we do to take better photos in low-light?

We can use a slower shutter-speed. We’ve talked about shutter-speed before too. Shutter speed controls how long the camera’s shutter remains open to let light in when taking a photo. The longer it stays open the more light comes in, and the brighter your photo will be. But we mustn’t forget about the exposure side effects. What happens if I leave my shutter open too long?

We get blur. You know how sometimes those photos you take in low-light come out blurry? That’s because you’re using a shutter speed that’s too slow. Just how slow is too slow? It varies depending on the focal length of the lens you are using and also whether or not your lens has some form of Vibration Reduction built-in. As a general rule of thumb most people shooting with a “normal” length lens can hand-hold a camera with shutter speeds down to about 1/30.

Again this is a general estimation…please don’t send me messages showing me your heroic hand-held photos taken at 1/8s. Sure, there are people out there who can do this, maybe one of their distant relatives was a hydraulic tripod, perhaps their hands are fused together in one giant solid camera cradle that has no vibration, but for the most part 1/30 is a good approximate number to use.

When taking this photo of my good friend Sherlock Hemlock the world’s greatest detective, I used a shutter speed of 1/30. This, combined with an ISO of 1000 allowed me to get a nicely exposed photo in very dark lighting conditions.

Properly exposed photo of Sherlock Hemlock, ISO 1000, 1/30s, f/2.8

Properly exposed photo of Sherlock Hemlock, ISO 1000, 1/30s, f/2.8

Those of you readers with keen observation skills might notice something a little odd about this photo of Sherlock Hemlock. Do you see it? Take a look at the angle I shot this from. Why did I photograph Sherlock Hemlock from the side and not from the front like you would expect?

Anyone know? Well it all has to do with the fact that these exhibits are behind glass. When you think about it all of these exhibits are lit from above outside the glass. This means that there’s going to be light reflections and most importantly glare on the glass. If I had photographed Sherlock Hemlock from the front he’d be a washed out mess because of all the lights being reflected back off the glass. This can easily be corrected by taking the time to move around a little bit and noticing how the reflections change depending on where you’re viewing them from.

You’ll notice that there are particular angles that you can view the glass where there are no lights reflecting back at all. Usually you find these angles by looking at the exhibit through the side of the display case. Once you’ve found the “sweet spot” with no glare then go ahead and take your photo, you’ll be glad you spent the extra few moments to make sure you’re standing in the right spot. I’m sure Mokey Fraggle appreciated how I was able to capture her likeness in the photo below without being obscured by glare.

Photographing exhibits behind glass from an angle helps to eliminate glare

Photographing exhibits behind glass from an angle helps to eliminate glare

Speaking of angles, what happens on the rare occasion that you happen to be in a place that actually allows you to take flash photos?

First a disclaimer…99% of the museums and public places you visit will not allow you to use a flash. Why? Because flash can destroy antiquities and cause paint and pigments to fade. Now of course one flash burst probably won’t do it, but imagine hundreds of people a day passing by a painting photographing it with flash. That painting won’t last very long without fading.

So before you use a flash, please, please, PLEASE make 100% sure that you are allowed to use one!

Now having said that, if you happen to be at a place that does allow flash such as say an aquarium and you want to take a photo of one of the lovely fish through the glass, what do you think happens when you try to take a photo straight on?

That’s right…it flashes right back in your face and you get horrible glare.

Glare from the flash on a fish tank

Glare from the flash on a fish tank

Well this is a disappointing turn of events you say. Fear not! There is a way around the dreaded flash glare, and surprisingly it is very similar to eliminating glare when we’re not using flash. Anybody care to venture a guess? I’ll wait………….

Yes! That’s right if we take our photo from an angle instead of strait on it allows the flash to go through the glass without having it bounce back in our face. Glare eliminated. Of course when shooting with flash this requires a bit of trial and error to get it right as opposed to when shooting with ambient light which you can see all the time.

Shooting a photo with flash at an angle to the glass eliminates the glare

Shooting a photo with flash at an angle to the glass eliminates the glare

Well there you have it, you’re now armed with all the tools you need to get out there and start taking some awesome photos in low-light levels. As always, I’d love to see your results, please feel free to post some, and if you have the time feel free to leave a comment or two.

And if you ever find yourself in the Atlanta area do yourself a favor and visit the Center for Puppetry Arts we’ve barely scratched the surface here of what they have to offer, and I promise you’ve never been in a more creepy room than their puppet “attic”, you’ll see 😉

All characters depicted in this blog are copyright of their respective owners including all Muppet characters ©The Muppets Studio, Sesame Street characters ©Sesame Workshop and Fraggle characters ©The Jim Henson Company.

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 nationally circulated magazines and publications. In addition, his work can currently be seen in 2 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