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Chag, Miku and the Great Outdoors!

Up until about two weeks ago, the WordPress phase of Hobby Hovel did not include author names as part of its theme. But no one complained about it, probably because it was pretty obvious who was responsible for which reviews – Ashlotte is the guy who takes his photos under the radiance of Apollo, and I’m the guy who shoots everything in front of a flat black backdrop.

To be honest, I didn’t think too much of my lack in creativity – clear review shots were my thing, and I didn’t mind taking the silver medal (even if there are only two contestants). But while I was busy not receiving figures and being skull-fucked by school, Ashlotte was busy making some really great outdoor shots for his reviews with his humble point-and-shoot. To top things off, Ashlotte recently got a DSLR camera, and even a test shot with it was enough to seize Picture of the Day on MFC.

Needless to say, I started feeling the pressure. While figure blogging has never been a competition for me, I’d rather not be completely upstaged on the site that I started. You know what they say: “If you can’t beat them, join them!” And that’s what I exactly what happened – I did the unthinkable:

I went outside.

Not a chance in hell.

Now before I start, I should probably say that I am a pretty self-conscious person. For better or for worse, I am not one to do embarrassing shit in public, and I’d definitely consider taking pictures of little plastic girls somewhat embarrassing. Furthermore, I’m not an outdoorsy type, so I don’t know many places with decent scenery within the reaches of Toronto public transit even if I didn’t have this complex.  Thankfully, I know of one scenic place that is no stranger to freaks people with unique interests –cherry blossoms season at Toronto’s High Park.

In the last couple of time I that I went, I’ve seen people their dressed up in Lolita outfits and propping their Blythe dolls on the flower-laden branches. What’s even more assuring was that a few friends were supposed to come with me; Molly was expected in her full Lolita outfit, and Sam & Laura from PlasticFantastic planned to have their Dollfie Dream in tow. This posse seemed  perfect for the self-conscious me – between the pretty girl in the frilly dress and a big-ass doll, the attention would be pretty safely diverted from me, the Chinaman hunched over the “World is Mine” Miku, which looks like a normal picture frame from afar anyways.

However, at the last minute, Molly couldn’t make it and Sam & Laura opted to bring the Revoltech Danboard instead – a considerably less conspicuous subject. Stripped of my scapegoats, I was once again vulnerable to the gazes of the flower-watching masses!

Thankfully, Laura and Sam were still there to keep me from running away like a little girl with stage fright. After a lengthy search for a parking spot, we conveniently wound up near a tree situated on a hill with a number of low-hanging branches – a rarity amongst the cherry blossom trees in the park, because most low branches on the cherry trees presumably have been snapped off over the years by park visitors. Laura suggested that Miku should be placed amongst the cherry flowers and helped me place Miku on a surprisingly sturdy branch. There were a bunch of people loitering around the tree and inside the margins of my frame, and I was still pretty nervous, but I snapped away anyways.

I wish I had brought a reflector of some sort, because the sun was pretty strong during this time (hence the hard shadows on Miku’s face). I’ll definitely bring something to that effect next time I venture outdoors.

This is my favourite shot out of the initial batch. As you can see, I’ve prettied her up with some post-processing. I adjusted the white balance to make the shot look slightly warmer, and I also upped the colour vibrance and saturation as Ashlotte suggested. I think the changes worked out pretty well in the end; the colours look significantly nicer without looking too unnatural and fake.

Though Miku’s frame was never used in any of photos that afternoon, it was very handy in concealing her during transport. Initially I had Laura carry her for me due to my own embarrassment, but soon I decided to hold her close to my chest with the frame facing away from me – this way, she was  safely shielded from the quizzical gaze of other park-goers.

The second opportunity came when Sam jumped over a fence to take a few money shots of Danboard chilling in a stone ornament in a dried-up pond. Left to my own devices, I noticed a patch of green…things on the lawn nearby. They looked pretty soft, so I decided to lay Miku on it.

Because of the downward slope of the hill, I had to get pretty low on the ground to get the right angles. In retrospect, I must’ve looked pretty ridiculous snapping away on my knees, because the spectacle attracted a bit of attention. A middle-aged woman took pictures of the figure with her own camera right next to me, and I heard a bunch of shutter clicks behind me as well. I hope they were taking pictures of the figure as opposed to picture of me making a fool out of myself. I better not see my ass posted on Flickr!

We made one last stop near the trees next to the baseball diamond so I could take a few more shots of Miku in the flowers. Once again, Laura proved to be a stand-up lady by helping me to keep the branch still while I took the photos. The party was ready to go home at this point, so I rushed a bit to get the shots I wanted, but since I had mostly gotten over my embarrassment complex by this point, I was able to take a few decent shots without completely screwing up the exposure like my initial attempt.

So what were the lessons learned during my maiden voyage? Well, I wanted to try the “bokeh” effect that Ash likes so much, so I made sure to lower the F-stop to narrow the field of view so that the background would be blurred. However, in most of these shots, I overdid it and Miku’s legs ended up a little too out-of-focus for my liking. I don’t think it’s too distracting (except in the above shot where the legs are in front and centre), but it’s definitely something to watch out for in the future.

But I think the most important lesson here is that outdoor photography is a lot of fun! While I highly doubt that I’ll be lying prone on the sidewalk trying to get a good thong shot of a Queen’s Blade figure anytime soon, I’ll definitely be on the lookout for opportunities to bring my figures outdoors for a few shots here and there. It also felt great to shoot without having to worry about the nailing the checklist of specifics shots I need for a review. The mellow pace, nice weather and pretty scenery was a very different yet pleasant experience.

Because I never had to pay for my photography gear and because I never  went out of my ways to explore the creative (or technical, for that matter) dimensions of photography,  I’ve never considered myself a photographer (and I still don’t). But this afternoon in High Park made me understand why people spend so much money to get those fancy cameras and big lens. Photography is not about merely transcribing reality – rather, it takes what’s in front of the lens and passing it through a series of technical and creative filters to produce something unique. In the hands of a real photographer, the camera does not merely replicate reality, but creates reality as well.

To all of you figure photographers out there: have you shot your figures in public before? What were your experiences? Come on, spill the beans – the more embarrassing the story, the better! =P

34 replies on “Chag, Miku and the Great Outdoors!”

Losing to Ashlotte? Failure is just winning *courage wolf* with different victory conditions!
…hmm, don’t think that works.

Heh, cherry blossom photos, seems like it’s a sort of rite of passage for anyone that takes pictures of their figures. I don’t know if there even are any cherry trees near me anywhere, and I live in a typical suburban hell so there’s no nice parks, but I’ve used various other flowering plants in pictures. That were safely located on my parents’ property.

So…you were just carrying Miku around straight the whole time? I would have been too worried about damage (and not have taken something like that out in the first place) and probably put her in a box, and then put that box in a bag. Protection and easier to carry!

I don’t really have any public photo session stories, though, other than carting Takoluka around Hawai’i.

Hey, the suburbs can’t be all that bad! Even though the scenery isn’t the most refreshing, you still have a patch of green ground to call your own, right? At the very least, that gives your an easy outdoor option. If I take a step outside of my stacked townhouses, All I have are some skinny-pole tress and bitch-ass kids to deal with. Bah!

I planned on using the box initially, but since we were more mobile than I initially expected and due to the complicated 3-tier design of the packaging, I just cradled her around. My friend took a picture of me clutching onto Miku, which may prove to be amusing. I’ll put it up when she uploads it!

It does get kinda old having the same patch of not-so-green for so long. I feel like I can take only so many pictures of figures with the brick wall, or the paving stones, or that one tree. Although my mom put one of those little pond things in their backyard, which is pretty nice and reusable.

I can see it now, some guy hunched over sitting on the bus, clutching a strange box tightly to his chest while nervously looking around at everyone else…sounds like a suicide bomber to me!

Ooh, I just thought of something. An opportunity! Big-ass important air force base is having an air show this weekend; WHO SHOULD I TAKE?!

Leaning towards one of the Yoshikas because aero planes. Although the real issue is whether or not I want to drag the bulky DSLR around or just go with the crappy point-and-shoot.

Just looked through your MFC profile: Yoshika would definitely be great, Snake might work if you can get a good shot at the base itself in the background, and vic viper might be fun because AIRPLANES.

Take the DSLR! It’s a bloody air show, so you certainly won’t stand out as the only one with a big camera. And make sure to bring a reflector of some sort!

Big Boss would be pretty cool, but he’s big and would be hard to work with. Getting noticed by random by-passers is one thing, getting noticed by military personel on a military base is a slightly different matter, I think. I think I’d feel kinda bad setting up my poorly-built Vics next to the real deals, too. NOT THAT A PANTLESS GIRL IS MUCH BETTER but I’m leaning towards the Nendoroid since it would be simpler to pose and position and I think I would have to worry slightly less about breaking something than I would with the Figma.

Perhaps Nanoha could be a candidate, too, since she’s in the “air force” in StrikerS…though the two figures I have of her are the Movie version.The problem I have with the DSLR is that it’s huge and bulky and heavy and I have to use both hands to work it right and it doesn’t fit right in any of my bags and I hate taking it anywhere with me because of all of that. But I do have a slight advantage in that I’ll probably be able to leave the camera with someone else once I have whatever pictures I want so I don’t have to lug the thing around all day. I don’t know how many pictures I would actually take; this air show is an annual event and I go pretty much every year. But I never had a figure with me before, and fuck yes I am going to try to get a picture of a plane-themed figure with a F-22 sitting in the background.

…there’s probably not much of a chance I’ll be able to get many shots without a bunch of people in the background.

Oh boy, a big crowd, eh? The Nendo definitely seems like the strongest choice now, since it’s deformed enough that people won’t notice her pantslessness. Nanoha is also a good call, of course — it’s only natural for the aces of aces to be at an air show!

In any case, I look forward to the picspam!

Ah don’t worry I’m going back to work this month and your off from school so I’m sure our roles will swap in no time! :p

WiM Miku really does look beautiful and classy no matter where you stick her though it seems.

I dunno dude, school starts up again for me next week, so it won’t be fun & games this summer for me!

Beautiful and classy no matter where, eh? Next week: “Chag, Miku and the garbage dumpster!”

Jokes aside, she really is a neat little figure. This shoot reminded me why I love the figure despite all the technical hiccups I was bitching about in the review. If I had to move out and can only take with me few figures/models, the WIM Miku would definitely be one of them.

You sir, are a brave soldier. And fantastic shots! Those cherry blossoms *droool*. But somehow, I like the shots of her laying in the green stuff the best, go figure.

I’ve only done a very few outside shots and the vast majority in areas with no one around like in a remote snowfield during a trip or in my apartment’s driveway while its raining. Even then, its was *click* furtive glances *click*.

However, I’ll be going through your ‘rite of passage’ myself soon enough at the Royal Melbourne Park, figma Shameimaru Aya is just screaming to be shot with the gorgeous autumn leaves that are starting to turn up and I am determined to get awesome shots out of it. I’m just crapping my pants about it though D:

Hey, you’re not alone — Ashlotte’s favourite is that last of the “green stuff” shots. I think those shots worked out well because the tiny flowers seem almost in scale with the figure itself. I was also really pleasantly surprised at how well they turned out — the only thing better than success is unexpected success, I say!

Lol, furtive glances, eh? That reminds me of myself when I was shooting for my early figure reviews. Back then I had to shoot with my parents in the same living room. Every pantyshot felt like dodging bullets ^^;

You can do it Luth! Besides, Zai would be coming along with you, right? I can’t exaggerate how much of a difference a partner-in-crime makes — it’s a lookout/assistant/second
opinion
all-in-one! I just remember that the seasons are reversed in the southern hemisphere. I look forward to the Aya photos (and maybe a post, too?)!

congratulations for finding the courage, outdoor photography can be a lot of fun, it is less thrilling when you can go out with one or more people, I always take a friend of mine and my dog along ^_^

Your pics were quite nice, I really like Hatsune-Miku-World-is-Mine-High-Park-004.jpg, …007.jpg and …005.jpg

because of the ligth I liked the Miku on the green a bit more, especially 005.

would be cool if you’ll go outside for taking pictures again.

The biggest enemy aren’t suspicious looks, it’s the direct sun of the afternoon
😉

I often go outdoors for making pictures with my figures and I made the experience that most people don’t care what kind of stuff other people are doing. Well, I avoid places with youth gangs or suspicious(more suspicious than me of course XD) looking people, the best are desolate or very crowded places.

One time an old lady asked me what kind of figure I have there, but it was just friendly curiousity of her.

I would consider myself as an outdoor veteran who is afraid of nothing, but Im not brave enough to carry out an ecchy figure for pictures, aside from that such figures doesn’t look very good in the nature in general.

btw this Laura seems to be a very nice person ❤

Thanks Wiselhead! I definitely will try to shoot outdoors in the future. I think Ash is the true outdoor veteran around here — just the other day he went out at 1 in the morning to take figure photos with his expensive camera. I was pretty baffled by his recklessness — what if he got mugged??

Yep, Laura is a life-saver. I couldn’t have done it without her!

Ah thats good to hear.

1 am O_o thats quite early, I guess he was after a certain light setting, mhh isn’t it dark at that time?

camera thives are quite rare
from what I’ve experienced so far ^^

@wieselhead:disqus Mah it really was just when I remembered to go out haha…I said I was going to do it at around 10 and then forgot until 1. >_>

I used to be really self conscious about it like you, then I did it a lot. With figmas anyways, I rarely do it with scaled figures. If my figure doesn’t draw enough attention my DSLR sure does, or perhaps it’s the other way around? Only reason I don’t take pictures outside is that I have to go out of my way to do so, as in make a trip just for that. Plus there is a lack of nice spots near me without making at least a drive away.

If I learned anything is to take a cushion or something, the ground and/or concrete is hard, it hurts after a while. Also must not forget to take the reflector, I always do.

I get what you mean, man. As someone who doesn’t own a car (or a full license, for that matter), getting from point A to point B while toting a figure and the appropriate gear is demotivating, though after this experience, I am definitely more willing to take a trek than before.

Ooo, a cushion, eh? I’ll definitely keep that in mind for the future. Thanks!

I tried outdoor figure shooting for the first time last month before the snow melted. People started staring so I ran away ^.^”

I only have a point and shoot at the moment, but I literally just ordered my first DSLR yesterday and it should be here by the end of the week. I plan to try to take some outdoor figure shots one more time when things start blooming. We’ve still just got lots of brown stuff everywhere in Edmonton.

Haha, there’s no shame in a tactical retreat! What were you trying to shoot, Nopy?

Btw, I didn’t know you were a fellow Canadian. I hope your DSLR will help your capture the brown glory that is the prairies =P

It’s only a matter of time before Ashlotte runs things here. We know who wears the pants in your relationship.

I’ve gone outside a couple of times to take pictures and while I guess I’d say I enjoyed it, I’m absolutely no good at it so it’s not something I’m looking to do often. The other problem I have is most of my figures simply don’t work well for outside shots; the naked or half-naked ones are out for obvious reasons, and most of the warrior girls and fighting girl figures I have wouldn’t look right in a sunny outdoors shot. I mean, I guess I could plop them in front of some flowers or something but ehh … can you imagine Saber Alter looking all angry in front of some tulips and

camellias while her base is jizzing blood? Looking at my order list, I guess cheap Saber is a very good candidate for an outdoor shoot but I don’t think I’d want to take Matabei and her bare ass outside.

Of all the figures I have left in m possession, the WIM Miku was the only one that made sense for an outdoor shoot. That doesn’t exactly stop me from throwing Kirino into some flowers and calling it a day, but that would be pretty lame. You make a good point about the cheap Saber, though — she’ll definitely look great outdoors. Hmm, perhaps I should get her early after all… I’ll see when the time comes!

No nude/semi-nude figures outside? You, sir, require more testicular fortitude. I’m pretty sure Ash tried to take photos of Menace topless in a kiddie sandbox. Public decency? FUCK decency.

Really gorgeous photography. And I love the choice of background for Mike. Just lovely~

You should go out more often, even if it is a bit embarrassing. ^ ^

Thanks Yi! Hearing so many encouraging comments definitely helps in motivating myself to venture outdoors again. I just ordered the ALTER’s summer Saber, most for her suitability for outdoor shots, so you can expect more green stuff in the coming months! myself to venture outdoors again. I just ordered the ALTER’s summer Saber, most for her suitability for outdoor shots, so you can expect more green stuff in the coming months!

First of
all, I hate you chag for making me want WIM all over again. I have already
forgotten about her.

I think I’ve
been desensitised to the beauty of cherry blossoms in pictures form the endless
amounts I see in photos and anime. I’d also go as far to say that it’s not a
backdrop that goes best with WIM Miku. Something darker, more radiant would
have matched Miku better IMO (ie. Autuum maple leaves like the one in her hair
tie). That’s not to say your photos aren’t pleasant to view, I’m just hattin’
coz I don’t have WIM Miku.

While I’m
not one to shy away from doing/saying stupid things in public for shits and
giggles, I do think I’ll need to gather up more courage before I’m able to take
a figure to a populated area for photography.

BTW what’s
with the picture change from WHATISTHISIDONTEVEN to DAWWWWWWW?

Haha, I’ll definitely agree that cherry blossoms are pretty unoriginal and that the WIM Miku suits a darker and richer setting a lot more, but both cherry blossoms and the WIM Miku are amazingly safe choices as far as photography goes — they’re both so damn photogenic! I’l definitely try to get some Autumn this fall. Hopefully I’ll have more figures by then to experiment with.

One of the best thing about High Park is that people are too busy looking at the flowers to pay attention to me. Or at least that’s what I forced myself to believe so that I can feel a little less nervous. When courage is in short supply, some self-delusion does me wonders!

What’s this picture change you speak of?

Oh, Aka and Ashlotte bugged me to change it once day when were talking on Skype because the large-size version was too much for them to handle. I didn’t know what to change it to at first, but when I saw Hamo when browsing danbooru, everything clicked together instantly!Hamo when browsing danbooru, everything clicked together instantly!

What can I say? I found DESTINY in those beady little orbs.

Also, I WISH I were a dog — can you imagine the amount of hits I would get? All I’d have to do is post a couple of picture or videos of myself at the camera and I’d make Danny Choo look like my bitch. #1 video on youtube: “little puppy works the the camera” — 2,018,937 views.

 Nice shots of Miku – I think I prefer the ones where she’s sitting in the greenery.  And kudos to you for having the courage to be snapping away with a figure at High Park.  I don’t think I could’ve done it.  While I have taken some outdoor photos before (Deadlands and Kariya Park), it wasn’t packed with people.  Especially cherry blossom time, a lot of people frequent High Park for that – you’re one brave man.  LOL

But in the end it turned out for the best.  Pics look great!  Who needs Ash and his awesome photo creativity!

Next time you decide to go do an outdoor shoot, feel free to give me a shout.  I’ll tag along, even if to help you run defense.  LOL 

Wow, everyone seem to prefer the shots with the greenery — I’m kind of surprised! I suppose those shots look really natural and the scale of the little flowers fits together nicely with the figure, but I’m always a sucker for the pink stuff. I definitely could not have done the shoot alone, though — without my trusty posse, I am NOTHING. So yeah, if you ever plan to shoot outside again, let me know, because I would love to tag along. I might be able to shoot some of my own figures, or I can simply hang out and learn a few tricks — God knows I’m in need of them. I’ll definitely let you know if I plan to go out again, though at the moment I have no ideas in mind =/

Haha I’m the same, petrified of going outside and attracting attention. Carrying a DSLR alone just draws attention, but then adding a figure into the mix – time to run. I’ve yet to take any outdoor photos, even with my point-and-shoot. Oh no wait, I did take (bad) photos of a wind farm from my car if that counts xD.

It’s great you were able to get others to come along with you. It just makes you feel more comfortable and Sam & Laura seem to have really helped you out. You can get some really nice shots outdoors. I think I prefer the “green stuff” but the cherry blossoms do look good.

Yep, for someone who doesn’t get out much, I sure lucked out when it comes to friends! If nothing else, having another face to look at goes a long way in taking my thoughts off what may be going on outside of my immediate vicinity. The more I focus on my friends, the less I have to think about the strangers staring at me. Go go denial!

Another vote for the green stuff, eh? Looks like success comes in unlikely places!

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