Operation M O Y

No time to lose, some time freed up so back on the posts.  Tonight’s topic brings yet another project.  Unlike most of my projects, this one had a short execution time.  Not by choice mind you, this was a direct result of losing track of the time.  You would think with the relatively low amount of sleep these days I would be on top of things a little better but alas, not the case.  To give myself a little credit I had been thinking about it for a couple of months trying to figure out the right medium to use for the build.  Options included wood, plexiglass, patio bricks, drywall (trust me, I have PLENTY of that laying around these days), but all of those had an extended prep time.  Time that was not in the budget.  Then the shower moment hit me – matting would be perfect and provide an additional compositional element to the project.   With that big decision over, all I needed to do was get the shampoo out of the hair and get to work… well later that day after work while Linda was at the dog club.  That was actually another factor in the delay – she needed to be gone for awhile and I needed access to her boys.

The best part of this is I already had the materials.  With all the photography projects over the years we have a good stock of mattes.  A quick rifle through the pile found the perfect sheet.  Linda was suppose to be gone for about 1.5 hrs which forced some design decisions on its own.  I needed some letters I could freehand cut on the board.  10 minutes on Paint Shop Pro found a smooth cornered font that would do the trick.  A few prints and the patterns were ready.  For ease I just cut the letters out and traced them on the the back of the matte.  With my favorite knife in hand I spent the next 20 minutes slicing through the matte.

There was also a need to have the letters stand on their own.  A lunch brainstorming session came to the conclusion that electrical wiring would do the trick.. and yes, there just happens to be plenty of that laying around the house as well.  The window of opportunity was slipping away, so a quick cut of the wire and some duct tape would have to do.

Hit the jump to see where this is all going

Okay, the prep work was done.  Next phase required the fur balls and our camera.

When Kerby and Rizzi saw me coming at them with the letters and the camera they tried to make a break for it.  Ironic in the sense I was doing all of this for THEM.  It is hard enough to get these two to behave when my UB is around – attempting this alone proved to be a monumental task.  I’d pick each one up, put them somewhere that looked halfway decent, slapped a letter in front of them and then tried to get at least one decent shot before they bolted away.  Worst of all I needed at least one shot of them together with the ‘M’.  Lesson learned, I’m sticking with birds and wild animals – this was worse than shooting a wedding!!  To top the night off Linda ended up coming home earlier than expected forcing me to quickly pick up all the materials and get the camera equipment stored before she made it from the garage.

Fortunately, with the images on the SD card I could work on the post processing once she went to bed.  For a change the digital darkroom work went fast, but there was another aspect to address.  There needed to be symmetry in the shots both in the alternating of the dogs (they had to get equal billing) , the proper arrangement of the letters and hardest of all the image orientation – a job that would have been a lot easier had there been more than one shot of the Y and more than one of them together.  Hours later I had them in an arrangement that looked good enough.  A trip to get a suitable frame and the pictures developed was finished the following day leaving a few hours of matte cutting work to close out the project.

The boys now had their Mother’s Day present

As you can see, the odd number of letters forced the need to have one with both in it.  They also properly alternate, but to be perfect the two should have been swapped in the first shot.  Although not likely noticed, the fact the letters were made out of the same framing matte gives a nice compositional element.  I think next year the boys can come up with their own gifts, this was a little too much stress for a Hallmark sponsored event.

2 thoughts on “Operation M O Y”

  1. Wow, I must say you leave me a little embarrassed at my own level of energy. What a great job! And in so little time, particularly with posing the dogs in front of the letters. In thinking about this, it might have been easier to just spray paint the letters on the sides of Kirby and Rizzi, assuming one re-use of an M for the five letters (I suppose there’s always the backside). Feel free to ask me for suggestions like this before you start on these projects! 🙂

    BTW, where do you go to get same-day prints made from your DSLR files? Do you provide JPGs? What size?

    Thanks again for an interesting project. Where do you come up with these ideas?



  2. He who writes books, spends countless hours researching obscure math topics and translating foreign books on the topic.. I think you have plenty of energy… but I probably have the edge on you in the time category. I love the spray paint idea and will definitely keep that in mind the next time I decide to do some crazy like this at the last minute. Although will be harder to hide from Linda. As far as prints go, we have a local camera store that does this for us if we are in a bind. To be honest I do not like their work favoring instead to leverage MPIX – but when you are pressed for time it will due. Their color matching leaves something to be desired – seems like they come out too dark where MPIX nails it every time. The camera store takes jpgs and tifs and any size you give them. I go with the tifs to insure they have the most detail to work with.

    On the idea front I had another inspiration that lead to this one .. keep checking back!


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