Sunday 24 January 2021

Photo Challenge: Doll Owner

Nevermind me, I'm still completing @OrchidDolls's Photo Challenge. I'm slow, my dolls need a new outfit on every photoshoot, and I don't get inspired often. Plust, the terrible weather here that reduces the number of sunny days. Anyways!

I am aware I already completed the Reflection challenge... and I'm quite proud of it! I also did a "doll and owner" when I did Hug (here), but this is different. So, my mix of reflection and doll and owner was quite tricky. The photo is below, and I'll explain more under the cut. You need to look very carefully at Kanon's eyes.

TL;DR: I caught myself reflected on my dolls eyes.

What can I say? It wasn't easy. It took me about an hour of going around a park, sitting my butt on wet grass and roasting my back under the sunlight (with SPF, thankyouverymuch) to get this. You are aware I have expanded my collection of vintage lenses (they are cheap, and oh-so-good), and all of them are very, very sharp. Couple with my camera's ridiculous amount of megapixels (Sony a7Riv, for those curious) I can get some very quirky things going on on my photos. In particular, I have caught the wildest and tiniest reflections on my dolls eyes, nevermind shiny stuff.

So, I thought... why should I do the classic side-by-side? I really like those when you can only see the human's legs and the SD doll is up to their knees. Or the "craddling lati/puki in my hands". Those are pretty! But I wanted something different. Conclusion: I had already seen myself reflected on my doll's eyes, now I did that on purpose.

But how did I do it?

Regarding the doll:
  • The doll needs to have large eyes. The larger they are, the easy it is. Granted, I caught myself once in a Baby Sylvanian's eyes (which left my like ????), but it is harder to achieve and you need far more precision. The larger the eyes, the easier it is.
  • Light coloured eyes that do not have too many jewels inside are easier. I tried my dragons (12mm, but very jeweles) and the reflection was not very clear, honestly.
  • The doll's face needs to look up to you. Don't flat-lay it on the ground, though. Keep it standing, but the face turned up to you. That means that you either need to kneel/crouch (like I did) or raise the doll up.

Regarding the physical space:
  • The sun (or light) needs to face you and NOT your doll. That means that the light source needs to be behind your doll and up. If your doll faces it, depending on the intensity of the light, it will either wash out all the shadows, or YOU will cast so much shadow that nothing is visible.
  • Likewise, you CANNOT do this in shadows. You need a strong light source.
  • The doll must be looking up to a clear/light coloured background. In my case, I used a bright and clear sky, as you can see. And you need to be dressed in a constrasting colour, preferably dark, otherwise the reflection will not be as easy to get.
  • Now, sit down, and try to shoot at the doll's eyes.

Camera setup:

This is complicated, so here are my settings: Sony a7Riv, with a Minolta 35-70mm (at 70mm), f3.5, ISO 100, 1/100 sec. With Minolta Extension Tube. Hand-held.

Believe it or not, this is a manual shot, meaning that I focused manually and did not use the autofocus of my camera. I was, as usual, using a vintage old-ass lens circa 1975 that did not have autofocus.

What is a extension tube? An extension tube is a... tube, basically, with no glass inside, that basically chops down the minimal distance that you need to have for the lens to be able to focus ona subject. How much does it chop it? Well, it is proportional to how long the tube is. Here is more information. I got my adapter last year, second hand of course (it is also very vintage) and only costed me AUD.

So, this lens is "zooming", basically, when I turn the ring up to 70mm, it zooms in. But at 70mm, I need to be about ~1m away from my doll. With the macro adapter I had to be at the most at about 20cms from her face. That's the trick! Yes, you can do it from far away and then crop the photo, but you won't get a nice image resolution, unless you actually want a full-body reflection. The closer you get to your doll's eyes, the easier it is to get the shot!

And finally, here is a shot without the macro adapter, also shot at minimal focusing distance, and at 70mm. The difference in framing is quite notorious!

Anyways, I hope you liked this one! I know I rambled a lot, but I thought it was a very cool shot, that someone may be interested in replicating. Do let me know if you try it!


  1. These are great pictures. And even if I probably couldn't tell what eye color YOU have from your reflected image in Kanon's eyes, it sure is an interesting experiment.

    1. Ohh that was the idea all along! I don't like taking photos of myself, so that reflection is a lot!
      But it was sure very fund and difficult to achieve!

  2. Artistic and great! I do like this a lot! Lovely to share how you did it too!

  3. Thank you! I hope it is useful :)