Melissa Damon: Blog https://www.melissadamon.com/blog en-us (C) Melissa Damon (Melissa Damon) Thu, 10 Jun 2021 20:07:00 GMT Thu, 10 Jun 2021 20:07:00 GMT https://www.melissadamon.com/img/s/v-12/u676502150-o506650795-50.jpg Melissa Damon: Blog https://www.melissadamon.com/blog 80 120 Weekly Update - June 6th through 12th https://www.melissadamon.com/blog/2021/6/weekly-update---june-6th-through-12th It has been a crazy week, but in a good way. I’ve been racing to create an arsenal of materials and am slowly letting my babies out into the world. It is heart wrenching, and like a child going off to kindergarten for the for time, I am frightened on what will happen. Will people like them? Will they get in trouble? Did I prepare them for the big day well enough?

This week was focused on closing up the old projects. Stalkers has been my baby for years and I have sat on it and prepared it and sat on it again. In the end, I refused to do much with it. I’m so scared that it will never be good enough, and it won’t be anything if I don’t release the whole thing into the wild. So… I am pulling up my big girl panties and sending it off like a submarine. Two books are done and shipped out, and I am hoping to have the third one complete by the end of the month at the latest (at the earliest it will be next week).

My other big project is my contribution to Kindle Vella. It is a new program created by Amazon that allows authors to publish their works as serialized stories. Some of the greatest stories of all times have been created this way and I hope to do the same. Stories like North and South, The Count of Monte Cristo, Vanity Fair, Treasure Island, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and so many more. Now one of my stories called Ultramarine will be a serialized story as well. I will be releasing it one chapter per week. I don’t have the whole thing written yet, but I am hoping having this deadline will light a fire under my ….um….under carriage.

The last, but not least, item done this week was a photo shoot for our monthly shoot. This was our own version of a damsel in distress. We had a lovely damsel (Rebecca Munroe) and her knight in shining armor (Mark Longo) posing up on Bailey's Ravine Sunday afternoon. Then we switched it up and had our damsel save the knight. Even at 5pm in the evening, it was still a whopping 90+ degrees. Becky had on a long sleeve dress with layers attached to the back while Mark was wearing several pounds of heavy armor. There was a lot of sweat, but the two of them took the shots like troopers. Even Mike and I were layered in sweat by the end of the shoot. I'm so glad it is done as it was very hot, and I can't wait to edit the pictures. I've only had the opportunity to load them on the computer so far. 

Projects completed for the week:

Stalkers: The Resurrection – Kindle is available for purchase (this was technically done last week)

Stalkers: The Resurrection – It is available on paperback but I have not approved final cover yet

Stalkers: The Illusion – Kindle is available for purchase

Stalkers: The Illusion – It is currently submitted and in review for paperback version on Amazon

Ultramarine – The first two chapter have been released and will be available on Kindle Vella when it opens! My goal is to release a chapter a week until it is complete.

Damsel in Distress photo shoot at Bailey's Ravine in North Franklin, CT with Rebecca Munroe and Mark Longo

Hanfu Princess photo edits are complete 

-I am currently doing final edits for Stalkers: The New Covenant. Adrian was getting a little wiry in the book and I have to clean him up a bit.

And all this was done with multiple dentist appointments, unexpected half days due to heat, zoom calls to old colleges, field days at school, and the wrapping up of the school year! I feel so happy and accomplished!!!!

 

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(Melissa Damon) art balbombiel damsel distress fantasy fine in novels photo photography shoot Stalkers Ultramarine https://www.melissadamon.com/blog/2021/6/weekly-update---june-6th-through-12th Sun, 13 Jun 2021 20:15:00 GMT
October - The Family Meal https://www.melissadamon.com/blog/2020/10/october---the-family-meal The lights are low as the meal presses on. There are five plates piled high with food at the dining room table, but only four people are present. A single candle stands in the spot where the fifth person should be seated. No one speaks a word, but mischievous smiles are aplenty. We are all waiting to see who can make it through the entire meal without making a single sound.

The Holiday Meal

The meal is called a “dumb” supper, but it has nothing to do with being stupid. In fact, dumb is an old English word that means that you are mute and/or unable to talk. Unfortunately, it was used so many times as slang for stupid – especially since many people believe that lack of communication meant stupidity – that the words became synonymous. oct-2oct-2

As All Hallows Eve (aka Halloween, Samhain, November Eve, etc.) is supposed to be the night when the veils between the words are the thinnest, it is also the time to show respect to those that passed on and can no longer converse with the living. The dumb supper, aka mute supper, is a tradition in my family where we put one extra place setting out (and a candle to represent those that have departed) at dinner time to let our loved ones know that we love and miss them (It is also a wedding tradition to leave a candle out on the welcome table to symbolize the same concept). We try our best to eat the entire meal in silence, but we slip up sometimes and it becomes a fun game during the holiday meal to see who can make it the longest.

After the meal is over, we place the remains outside. It is an offering to those that passed before us. It is similar to leaving cookies out for Santa on Christmas Eve. It is neat to go back out the next morning with little ones and see how excited they get when the food is gone (and some fox or raccoon is very happy back in the forest). We keep a white candle in the window at night to invite in the good spirits of our loved ones and a carved pumpkin to scare away the bad.

Halloween is arguable my favorite holiday of the year. My biggest reason why I love it so much is because I like making costumes and it is my excuse to wear my crazy outfits all day long.  I also love the fact that Halloween is the one of the only holidays that is about community. Christmas is as well but, for most families, Halloween is the one time a year when you go door-to-door and say hello to your neighbors on your block while your children are trick-or-treating.

oct-1oct-1 A Full Moon - A Blue Moon

Have you ever hear someone say:  “once in a blue moon?” It is actually in old saying that meant once a year. It was the way people told time passing long ago. In fact, there are thirteen full moons a year in our present calendar and only one lucky month a year gets to host this grand event. It actually changes months each year. This year it is in October. The first full moon will be on October 1st and is called the harvest moon (the full moon that is closest to the autumn equinox is always called the harvest moon because…well…it was a heads up that it was the time to harvest the crops). The second full moon is – ironically – on Halloween and is called a Blue moon.

So…once in a blue moon, there is a blue moon on All Hallows Even, when the holiday is seated on a weekend…and anything could occur! Hahaha! (Enter my evil laugh here)

 

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(Melissa Damon) all dumb eve halloween hallows supper https://www.melissadamon.com/blog/2020/10/october---the-family-meal Thu, 01 Oct 2020 13:02:37 GMT
The Sailor Moon Photoshoot https://www.melissadamon.com/blog/2020/6/the-sailor-moon-photoshoot The Sailor Moon Project

Aka Changing a 40-year-old woman into a 14 year old anime character

About a month ago, Mike and I decided that we were going to do a test shoot once a week to continue in our craft of photography. The only time we took off was the Memorial day holiday weekend as it was too busy. This shoot was going to be our forth test shoot so far this year and since we were having a tough time getting a model (covid-19 social distancing), I had to be the model. me sailor moon-2me sailor moon-2

This was not going to be cool.

Me. I. Oh God! The model?

Sailor Moon was one of my favorite animes as a teenager. In fact, you could say it was how I met Mike Donatello in the first place. Back in the mid-90s, products couldn’t be bought as easily as today. If I wanted Sailor Moon paraphernalia, I had to go to Hot Topic or Sarges Comics in New London. Well, I started to go to Sarges a lot and that is where I met Mike. Long story short, the owner (Bob) pointed out that we were both photographers and we’ve been friends and business partners since.

Now, back to the ugly part. I was going to be Sailor Moon and it was going to be extremely tough because I am now 40-years-old and am the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life (188 lbs)other than right before the birth of my son (203 lbs). I also have a large tumor (non-cancerous) on my uterus so I look heavier because it protrudes. My apologies, I’m not saying this to be gross. I’m just trying to point out how impossible this shoot was going to be.

We had to be very creative with the shoot due to these factors, so a plan needed to be made. The concept was to photograph me from behind so that my stomach was not seen. We also wanted to show a scene instead of a girl standing there looking at a camera. There are way too many pretty pictures of Sailor Moon cosplay on the internet and we wanted to be different. We also decided to use a very old outfit that I had for Free Comic Book Day. It was missing pieces but that was okay because we wanted her dirty and appearing at the end of a battle.    

by Robert Miller81358618_2680790435290176_7254572587580129280_oPhoto of Melissa Damon and Katy Miller. Photographed by Robert Miller. The end decision was taken from a Sailor Moon episode itself. There is a moment after her first battle where she watches the sun rise from afar. Although we were using the Eternal Sailor Moon costume instead of her traditional one, we decided to do something similar to this scene.

We wanted to shoot on a day where there were a lot of dark clouds. These were supposed to symbolize an oncoming battle. Our decision for the shoot was made in less than 24 hours as we were hopping on the earliest day of clouds with no rain in the forecast. Unfortunately, we did not get the full clouds we wanted because the fog rolled in, but it was still close enough.

The day was Friday, May 29th of 2020 and we decided to go up to Rocky Neck State Park as our location. Aaron took the photos with my camera (and my son Connor took an epic shot while we were there) and Mike took photos with his. I was twitching as I stood as the model. I wanted to be behind the camera so bad but I took it for the team.

We had to unfortunately leave the beach earlier than expected as a group of teenagers came and started to make the worst comments I had heard in a long time. I was saddened by this but also knew that people are bored during this pandemic and acting out of character. Most of the group was just having fun but three broke off from the group and they appeared to be vlogging. They saw our shoot and went into detail on what they were going to do to me. Mike, Aaron, and I exchanged looks. Although normally we would change to a different location in the park if we had a client and something like this happened (ironically, we’ve never had something like this happen before), my son was with us and I did not want him to hear it. We chose to quietly pack up and go. Luckily, Connor was having a field day building a sand castle and wasn’t paying any attention. me sailor moon-1_pe3bme sailor moon-1_pe3b

The edits involved quite a bit of liquifying but they came out better than I thought. I was the most excited about a photo that my son took that I thought was amazing. I didn’t even edit his shot. I was a particularly proud Momma Bear. As for the other photos, I wanted to give a fine art feel to them because they were inspired by anime. I didn’t want them to just be a photographic take on the show. I needed more. I fell in love with a couple of them and am pretty proud of the shoot.

Someday, I would love to lose a little bit of this weight and retake the shoot. I would also love to add in Chibi Usa and make it more of a hand-off of power. It would be neat to have an older version of Sailor Moon passing the torch onto the younger hero.

 

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(Melissa Damon) anime balbombiel character connecticut cosplay ct fantasy melissa damon neck photo photography rocky sailor moon shoot stormy waters https://www.melissadamon.com/blog/2020/6/the-sailor-moon-photoshoot Sat, 20 Jun 2020 03:11:47 GMT
The Blue Guard https://www.melissadamon.com/blog/2020/6/the-blue-guard Blue Knight / Blue Guard

The blue guard was our second photo for our test runs and we did it on Mother’s day. It was a decent sunny day and I was so glad that Mike asked us to do the shoot because, if it was only me, I wouldn’t have done it. I was definitely feeling lazy that day. The inspiration for the shoot was the seige of Gondor from Lord of the Rings. Aaron (our model) was supposed to be an officer. 

blue guard-2blue guard-2 That is part of the beauty of being part of a team. If I was doing half of this stuff just by myself, I don’t know if I would be able to get it all done. Being part of a team means that I have to be accountable and get my butt outside, even when I don’t want to.

My son didn’t join us this time so Aaron and I drove together to Fort Trumbell in New London, CT. Originally, this was going to be part of the wraith shoot from the previous weekend but we thought that it would be too much to travel between the towns, locations, and costume changes with the same model. It was split up into two weekends to make it easier.

There was not much for people at the location and we were able to suit Aaron up in all of the armor for the shoot. It was bittersweet to see some families meeting in the parking lot to spend the holidays together while maintaining social distancing. They sat in small groups at the backs of multiple cars, wrapped in blankets and smiling at one another.

We suited up and made our way over to the Fort itself. I was immediately disappointed to discover that the inner courtyard of Fort Trumbell was closed. My original game plan for the shoot involved the stairwells inside the outer walls. It didn’t cross my mind that the Fort would be locked up as I consider the inner courtyard to still be outside. blue guard-1blue guard-1

This put a large damper on our plans but we shot at the front gate and the side of the building to make it work. They sun was harsh and I tried to use it to my advantage in some shots and avoid it altogether in others. It made the shoot shorter for time, but left us a little wanting for some of the shoots. Although we were able to improvise and get good shots, this was a valuable lesson that I always need to check the location before the shoot. I try to make this process part of every shoot, but sometimes things just happen.

Part of the armor was actually created by Mike. I know that he created the shield for this shoot although he has created the armor in some of our previous works. It is always neat to get the opportunity to photograph his work and we hope to shoot more in the future.

We definitely want to do this shoot again once the Fort is open. It also inspired me to do some sword shots in the future as well, especially Excaliber ones. I find it intriguing how, even though we got a lot of decent shots, my favorite photo was a perception shot with a sun flare. 

blue guard files-8_peblue guard files-8_pe

 

 

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(Melissa Damon) blue blue knight chain chain mail fort trumbell guard helmet mail medeival shield sword https://www.melissadamon.com/blog/2020/6/the-blue-guard Mon, 08 Jun 2020 20:00:00 GMT
Running Across the World https://www.melissadamon.com/blog/2020/6/running-across-the-world Running Across the World

When I think of running, this fantasy image of a huntress running through the woods comes to mind. She would be wearing a short toga and would have a bow and arrow strapped to her back. She wouldn’t be running from anyway. She is the hunter, not the prey. The name Artemis (Goddess of the Hunt) comes to mind and she would be running either during the day or with patches of moonlight filtering through the thick woodland treetop. She would not wear shoes and her run would be parkour as she bounds across rocks, forest floor, and nearby trees. She is like a gazelle and the terrain of the forest does not faze her in the slightest. IMG_20200601_095326IMG_20200601_095326

When I think of myself running, I think of sweat, pain, and not getting enough breathe in my lungs. If you had asked me two weeks ago if I wanted to go on a run, I would’ve probably rolled my eyes and grunted in response. Running was not my thing. Don’t get me wrong, I used to be part of track…but I hated running even back then. It was the feeling of not getting even breathe that used to scare me. I even used to run in small marathons with my family but as they got hernias and surgeries one-by-one, I lost interested and quickly gave it all up.

Now, I am on day three of running and loving it. I haven’t done it outside yet with all of the reports on the Corona virus and my fear of being run over by a car (the roads by my house are very curvy and busy), but I did find my own fun thing to do. I run around the world each day. Today I ran at Angor Wat in Cambodia. Yesterday I ran the London Bridge, and I didn’t leave the comfort of my home for either one of them. There are tons of other locations to choose from as well. 

There have been spin classes for years, but when the Peloton came out, it changed things a little. Ironically, I don’t own one. I have a bike, treadmill, and elliptical. When the ads for the Peloton came on tv, I started to notice more items for running on places like the internet and Youtube. There are a ton if you look up things like virtual run for treadmill, virtual hike, etc. There are a lot of them that are 4k and high definition.

I hope to run outside someday. I would like to become that warrior goddess woman in the woods with her long hair blown back by the wind of her own pace, but until then I’m pretty happy in my workout clothes, slugging it along as I watch the shores of Tulum at sunrise on my television.

Happy trails!

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(Melissa Damon) balbombiel distancing elliptical healthy melissa damon running social https://www.melissadamon.com/blog/2020/6/running-across-the-world Mon, 01 Jun 2020 14:07:52 GMT
The Wraith https://www.melissadamon.com/blog/2020/5/the-wraith The Wraith Photoshoot

Several weeks ago, Mike Donatello contacted me and asked me if I wanted to start shooting again. This worked out well as I was already doing a photography training class that was helping my alter my craft and I needed to get my practice time in. It also didn’t hurt that we were both stuck at home due to social distancing with the dreadful Corona virus.

wraithgg-1wraithgg-1 We chose Aaron Hayes as our model and met at Fort Shantok (Uncasville, CT) park. It was May 3rd, 2020 around 1:30pm. The sun was out in full glory so we chose to use a patch of pine trees that were littered throughout the area like a pinball machine.

This made it really tough for getting the right exposure for the shot because the highlights were blown out. You would figure that it would be the sun spots on the ground that lit up my highlight alert like the Fourth of July but no, it was the horizon that did me in. I had to get creative to make sure that I could get the picture.

Aaron was suited up in scarves, robes, a baseball cap (to give the illusion of a longer face under the hood), armor, and so much more. The goal was to appear like one of the Wraiths from Lord of the Rings. I also was reminded of grounded dementors as well.

The photoshoot went well and we had it done in about an hour. I tried out some techniques of holding tree branches in front of my lens to get a bokeh look to the photos, but it did not add to the photos in this shoot.

After the shoot, I went home and began editing. For some reason, I felt as though the photos were too bright and green. It made perfect sense as this was taken during the beginning of spring when the leaves are more of a bright green/yellowish look. I choose to do something that I have never successfully done. I wanted to turn my super bright sunny shot (one of the toughest shots to take due to bleaching out scenes) and change it to a night shot.

I was worried that it would turn into the Slipper and the Rose scene where Cinderella is singing and dancing after the ball and you can tell that it was daytime and not night by the patches of sunlight in the background. You are supposed to be so enthralled with Gemma Craven that you don’t notice, but I did after my billionth time of watching it.

Ironically, it came out pretty decent. The photo does appear like a composition due to the gray line around my wraith. I’m guessing it is the sun highlighting the back of my character and it has turned grey with my edits. If I erase it, it will make the photo appear unfinished so I have left it in. I also wanted it to have a painted effect so I used some Lightroom presets as well as Photoshop color lookup filters. I also added fairy lights. I was debating whether to keep it the blue or add more color to it so that viewers can see it better. wraith-8wraith-8

Overall, I am happy with the photo but I may revisit it in order to see if I can fix the line that I mentioned before. My goal is to make my images the best that I possibly can.

It is intriguing how a wraith is supposed to be a ghost or specter according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. They are known to be made of gas or see through form. I believe that wraith means misty and it is of Scottish origin. This makes me think that I should re-do the photo to make it less visible. I could return to the location and try to retake that exact spot, or I can just clone it.

Wraiths in mythology are often made by dark spells. They are known for feeding or attacking other people’s souls.

In Lord of the Rings, the wraiths were the human kings that were trapped due to the rings of power that Sauron gave them. They were known as the Ringwraiths, Dark Riders, the nine, and/or the Nazguls. They had several different forms but one of them is definitely a hooded figure with a dark cloak that has a sword and gauntlets. (5/17/20)

wraith-21wraith-21 wraith-edit-1_pe1wraith-edit-1_pe1

 

 

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(Melissa Damon) art balbombiel damon Donatello fantasy fine lord lotr melissa Mike of photo photography rings ringwraith shoot the wraith https://www.melissadamon.com/blog/2020/5/the-wraith Tue, 26 May 2020 01:15:00 GMT
Eating the Weeds https://www.melissadamon.com/blog/2020/5/eating-the-weeds As I saunter outdoors, I quickly cast an arm across my eyes to protect them from the bright rays of the morning sun. The dew drops sparkle on the blades of spring grass like millions of opulent crystals. As I grow accustomed to the light of the outside world, I lower my temporary shield and gaze out towards the landscape in awe. It is a beautiful day and I am so happy to be alive to enjoy it. I smile in satisfaction as I dipped down to pluck several dandelion flowers from the bouquets of grass and bring them back into my abode…to eat. dandelion-1dandelion-1

Is this your typical way to grab your breakfast? Before this week, it wasn’t mine either. I just happened to discover the edible qualities of dandelions recently, and my curiosity was piqued. Perhaps yours will be as well. Let me tell you a little bit about this flowering weed and let you decide for yourself.

Long ago, dandelions were first spotted in recorded history through the Arabians in the tenth century and the Welsh in the thirteenth century. They were brought over to the United States by the colonists in the 17th century as a farming crop. The name dandelion (from the word dent de lion) is actually French and means lion’s tooth. This is possibly a description of the jagged leaves on the stem as well as the golden mane of the flower.

Every single part of the weed, from the flowering head all the way down to the unforked roots (if the roots are forked then they are young), is edible. This is not necessarily true for all wild foraged foods. Of course, it is important that if you do decide to try out this new delicacy, please do it in an meadow (or backyard) that is free of all pesticides. The flower may be edible, but it is not as good for you if it is injected with poisons. If is also important not to eat it if you have any allergies (especially if you have ragweed allergies). If you have eczema, the chances of having an allergic reaction are also higher.

Now that I have dispensed with all the formalities, I can get to the good part. This weed has so many rewarding qualities. It is truly shocking that it hasn’t been held in a higher regard. The FDA still calls it a weed and states that there is not enough supporting evidence to consider it medicine. Ironically, there are currently several manufacturers that sell it as a vitamin in stores.

It has been used by many different cultures for many generations to help with liver problems, kidney disease, heartburn, UTIs, appendicitis, and much more.  The leaves contain the vitamins A, B, C, and D. It also has iron, calcium, zinc, protein, dietary fiber, folate, magnesium, phosphorus,  and potassium. There is ongoing research that it may be able to help with cancer.

It has been seen in old school recipes for salad where just a few young leaves are thrown into a basic salad mix for some extra kick. The flowers are great as a wine. The stem is not the best tasting thing in the world, but it is edible. 

If eating it is not your cup of tea, there are other uses as well. It is great for garden soil if you chop it up and use it as fertilization. People used to smear it on their cheeks for makeup as well as creating a potent color dye. The milky white liquid in the stem is also used to get rid of warts. Oils made from the flower are good for the skin and sore muscles.   

dandelion-2dandelion-2 There is so much more to the world of dandelions. The things that I have written on this blog are just a mere drop in the bucket compared to all the uses that have been discovered out there, and they are everywhere! We’ve spent so much time buying all of our products from the grocery store, it is intriguing to know that there are some wild items out there that can be used for good causes. Sounds a lot more adventurous than saying: “I went to the supermarket today and bought some strawberries, doesn’t it?”

I am always searching for new information and ideas. Please feel free to add comments on any other uses or resources that you believe would help further our knowledge on dandelions and their uses.  

Resources:

https://www.naturallivingideas.com/things-to-do-with-dandelions/

https://www.trybackyardfarming.com/eat-dandelions-the-whole-plant-is-edible/

https://www.herballegacy.com/Chhabra_History.html

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-706/dandelion

http://untrainedhousewife.com/dandelion-uses-and-health-benefits

http://www.actforlibraries.org/plant-history-how-dandelions-came-to-north-america/

http://www.ourherbgarden.com/herb-history/dandelion-history.html

https://thenerdyfarmwife.com/12-things-to-make-with-dandelion-flowers/

 

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(Melissa Damon) balbombiel damon dandelion dandelions edible flowers food melissa nature weeds https://www.melissadamon.com/blog/2020/5/eating-the-weeds Tue, 19 May 2020 00:19:25 GMT
Three Graces https://www.melissadamon.com/blog/2019/6/three-graces Three Graces

After my original Three Fates shoot, I desperately wanted to make the Three Graces as perfect and beautiful as possible. I had many changes that I wanted to make for this shoot, and although I did many of them, not all were completed and I felt as though it showed in the photos. Honestly, I was pleased with the photos through a fine art perspective, but it did not come out the way I had originally imagined. It wasn’t perfect, but I am a die core perfectionist so I highly doubt anything would be perfect to me. grace1smnologograce1smnologo

Model

 My model for this shoot was Bethany McMahon. Although this is my first time working with her directly, I have actually known her for years and have seen her working firsthand in both fashion shows and photography. I could not think of a better model for this shoot as I needed someone that could act as well as look pretty for the camera. Some of the embodiments of the goddesses needed to be young and innocent, while the others needed sneaky and arrogant personalities. Beth is one of the few models I knew would be able to pull this incredibly tough job off….and she did it in spades!

Concept

The original concept for this shoot was the three Graces (also known as Charites) from Greek mythology. They were three minor goddesses that usually hung around Venus/Aphrodite (Goddess of Love/Beauty) and represented charm, beauty, and creativity. They have been painted/sculpted many times by master artists like Botticelli, Raphael, Antonio Canova, and many others, and are usually viewed as blessings for a wedded couple. 

When I created the concept for the shoot, I really wanted to evoke a similar idea to the goddess Hecate where she represents the maiden, mother, and crone in one form. I would make the three of them into different attributes of a woman. To further this concept, I chose to use one model to represent the three as if they were triplets. 

fates graces small-5fates graces small-5 I was also doing this photo concept directly after a different shoot called the Three Fates. When I shot the Fates, I purposely used the same model as the Graces because I wanted to have a chiaroscuro (dark and light) feel to the entire thing. I envisioned them sitting side by side at a gallery event: one in white and one in black, contradicting each other with a beautiful allure. The Fates were photographed in black fabric with a black background while the Graces were photographed in white fabric using a white background. I wanted to embody light, purity, and simplicity in these photos and give them a ‘clean’ feeling. I also wanted the Three Graces facing each other as if they were going to dance because they are usually dancing or embracing in most depictions of them.

Location

Originally, I thought of using the beach for the shoot on a cloudy day, but I wanted to practice using floating lights so my studio at home was the best idea. The Three Fates shoot was done in the studio so Three Graces needed to mirror the original shoot. It also made since to choose a location where I could easily place the model (Beth) in three different spots easily while controlling the elements.

Settings and Angles

The camera was placed on a tripod and I set the ISO/aperture/shutter manually so that the settings would remain the same for each set of photos. Beth stood in the center of the room and I had the white background a few feet behind her. The photos were shot straight on and we changed her clothing/hair/position for the two other Graces and then took the photo again.

Props and Clothing fates graces sullen-1_pe1smallnologofates graces sullen-1_pe1smallnologo

There really was no costumes made for this shoot. Beth wore a simple piece of fabric that was draped in different ways on her body. The necklace was something old that I’ve had around the house for years and the crown was a piece of metal trim that I found and bent into a circle. I did have a crown in mind for this shoot, but I was not able to locate it. Also, at the beginning of the shoot, Beth wore a beautiful nose ring that had a thin chain that attached to her ear. We ended up taking it off because it looked like a stray hair in the final photos.

Editing

When it came to editing, the three photos were merged into one using photoshop and as steady of a hand as possible. I really did not do much for editing other than nudging an upper arm here and there, and chaging a frown into a smirk. For several of the fine art pieces, I used textured layers and Smart Photo Editor.

Learning for the Future

If I had a third shot on this shoot, I would have done it at night with a single light for the scene to make the shadows darker. Although it was smart to do the dark photos in daylight so that I would have little to no noise in my photos, the drama in the photo was decreased in the process. For the lighter Grace shots, I had a happy accident and overexposed my first four shots. The results were actually some of my favorite photos and I may repeat it in the future as I loved the high key angelic appearance of Beth in these photos. The photos that were the correct exposure were nice as well, but they didn’t hold the same kind of ethereal magic in them.

 

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(Melissa Damon) art concepts fine graces greek learning photography mythology photography three https://www.melissadamon.com/blog/2019/6/three-graces Thu, 13 Jun 2019 00:45:00 GMT
Three Fates https://www.melissadamon.com/blog/2019/6/three-fates Three Fates

After several months off due to surgery and the business of family, friends, work, and other related events, I finally got back on the wagon and decided to do creative shoots again. The first one I wanted to do was one I did not think would be too difficult. Boy, was I wrong!

The Understanding of the Three Fates fates sm-1fates sm-1

The photoshoot was titled the Three Fates (also known as the Moirai). It revolved around the Grecian myths about Clothos, Lachesis, and Atropos, the three goddesses that were in charge of human mortality. Clothos spun the thread, Lachesis held it, and Atropos was in charge of cutting it.

Although many of us remember the three Fates from Disney’s Hercules movie as old crones that shared one eye, I decided that I wanted to make them younger appearing, and far more beautiful. Many quotes have included saying things like death is a seductress in the night and I wanted to embody that concept within the photo. I also wanted it to be one model that would be used to photograph all three, similar to the concept of the Greek goddess Hecate (maiden, mother, and crone) or the characteristics of one individual. I liked the idea, since the three Fates are always seen together and rarely anything else, that they could be triplets clouded in darkness.

The Concept and Shoot

Being that it was my first shoot in a while, it took a long time to prep and I didn’t do it the way I liked. I wanted to dangle a lightbulb in the photo as if it was a soul and have the three Fates be back to back in the photo like a reflection or triangle. Unfortunately, I noticed that putting the light bulb in the picture changed the lighting in the photo and exposure. I turned the lightbulb off and on for different poses and this also messed with the exposure. I plan to try this photo again and when I do, I will take the picture once and mimic the same settings in manual mode. I would also like to set up my tethering to the computer so that I can see my photos in a bigger picture (the braided Fate in the photo was slightly blurred due to me throwing on a light during the shoot).

3 fatesIMG_8276-Edit_pesm3 fatesIMG_8276-Edit_pesm I also plan to try a prime lens and a zoom lens for the shot. I could try to decide on directional light (soft) but I should probably practice that beforehand. I do like the way the light bulb illuminates the characters but wouldn't mind putting a small light near the bottom of the photo and darkening the background a bit so that it is easier to dodge and burn later on. I can also keep the light in one spot, regardless of which character is there, and see if there is more blue added to them.

I want to also see about dangling the light in a few areas so that there is more than one light in the photos (like souls surrounding them). The nose chain was pretty, but it was lost in the photo later on so it should probably be ditched. I also need to make sure none of the dresses have sleeves that could cover up another arm in the photo. I could also spray paint the scissors and make the thread thicker and more noticeable. It did come out as a decent photo, but I am convinced that I can do better...and I want to do better. This is about pushing myself to be the best, even if I have to repeat myself and fix my mistakes in the process. 

I have already talked to Bethany (the model for the shoot) and she has agreed to come back and redo the shoot. I hope to prep the shot beforehand so that it is quick and easy to get it all in. I think one of my major problems during the last shoot was that I was lazy and didn’t prep beforehand so instead of focusing on the shoot, I was running around grabbing pieces instead.

What to do for next time:

Preset up everything * fix background (make it wider and get a white one as well) * try using grey as one of the backgrounds and add clouds * link computer to camera (aka tether) * have her hold light inside of dangling it or tape it to a low stand * take all photos in manual mode

The Three Graces (my next shoot to work on) should be easier because I can flood the room with light and use that to my advantage. Regardless if I use all white or a sky background, the background for the photo will be white.

In my quest to understand what makes the best picture, I have placed two photos from this shoot with completely different edits. The one on the left has a natural edit in photo style whereas the one on the right was geared to appear more like a comic book or graphic novel. Please let me know which one you think is better in the comments below.

3fates - 2_pe1sm3fates - 2_pe1sm 3fates-shadows_pe-dragon noise controlsm3fates-shadows_pe-dragon noise controlsm

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(Melissa Damon) art concepts fates fine greek learning photography mythology photography three https://www.melissadamon.com/blog/2019/6/three-fates Mon, 10 Jun 2019 23:42:46 GMT