Rubber Duck Head Piece

I have started making headpieces for some of my photoshoots.  My first one was a simple flower headpiece, my second one was more daring and made of rubber ducks.  I’m going to discuss how I made the rubber duck head piece and subsequent photoshoot.

I cannot lie, I like rubber ducks; they are just happy little things, that I use in a lot of my splash photos.  However, I wanted to go down a more creative route, then it dawned on me, a headpiece made of rubber ducks.  A headpiece made of rubber ducks would be creative, and lend itself to a more of a editorial type shoot.

To make the headpiece, I started with a plastic headband and wire.  I wrapped the wire around a foam head to make a cage and wrapped that with electrical tape.  I then attached that to the headband.  I then used white foam and a plastic grid (used for cross-stitch) to wrap over the wire to make a base, to glue things to.   I then glued halves of a Styrofoam balls to the base.  I used two different sizes, to ensure some varying height in the piece.  After the Styrofoam was glued down I placed the ducks using tape, to be able to adjust placement before I glued everything down.  (See progress photos below.) I used a total of 10 rubber ducks in three different sizes.  I worked largest to smallest with the ducks, trying to keep them at angles to it would eventually look like they were riding a wave of bubbles.  Once I was happy with the duck placement, I glued them in place.  Then came the more difficult part, placing the bubbles. The bubbles are made up of 4 different sizes of clear plastic snap together Christmas ornaments.  These worked well because the tabs, were you would place the hook, worked as anchors in the Styrofoam.  I started with the medium size ornaments, to fill in spaces between the ducks, then used the large ornaments to fill in large spaces in the front. I used the extra-large ornaments in the back to fill in the really large empty spaces.  I then used the smaller ornaments to fill in gaps.  To make it appear more like real bubbles, I added iridescent basket filler.  This was tricky to hot glue into place.  The best method I found was to pull several strands of the filler out of the package then tie them together using a knot, then place a little hot-glue on the knot and shove the bundle in between the ornaments and ducks using pencil or dental pick.  The trick was to make sure you pencil or pick didn’t get stuck too.  Once all the iridescent filler was placed, I trimmed it.   That is how I made the headpiece.  The next step was the photoshoot.

As I mentioned earlier the headpiece could be used for a more editorial type shoot, but I went a different direction.  I did a pin-up shoot, inspired by some 1940’s and 1950’s bathtub pin-up drawings.   The set pieces/props were relatively simple, which included a large plastic feed trough bought from the local famer supply, that was spray painted silver, a 3-inch piece of foam to line the bottom of the trough, 400 clear plastic 7.5cm diameter ball pit balls, one blue 1950’s telephone, white fluffy towels with washcloth, and one 8-inch rubber duck.  Yes, I used ball pit balls to simulate a bubble bath, so I didn’t have to deal with the mess of the real thing.   So now onto the actual photo shoot.

For the photoshoot I shot using a high-key method.  I used a white fuzzy backdrop, a two floor-drops that simulated a wood floor, one strobe with a beauty dish, and four speedlights.  For camera equipment I used a Cannon 70D with an 18-200mm lens, and a RF trigger for the lights.   The beauty dish was mounted on boom arm connected to a C-stand which was appropriately sandbagged. The beauty dish was aimed directly at the front of the model. I shot under or from behind this light.  The four speed lights were pointed directly at the background, two were mounted on light stands at about the height of the model and two where in their little holders on the ground.  The speed lights were pointed at the background to produce reflective light that would wrap around the model to give her more of a glow in the photos.

The shoot breakdown, I shot 270 frames, of which filtered down to 173 for initial base edits. From the 173, I selected 66 for full edits which included skin retouching and refinement.   All the selected images were shot at ISO 100, with an aperture range of f/4 to f/6.3, a shutter speed of 1/200s or 1/250, and a focal length range between 18mm to 28mm.   The images were evenly distributed between these settings.

I have a lot of favorite photos from this shoot.  The model, Cora Mandragora, was absolutely amazing and embodied the theme of the shoot. Plus, she was able to work the headpiece and props with ease, and basically no direction, which was good for me since I was not feeling well that day.   I don’t shoot nudes but will do some implied work; Cora was wearing the towel the whole shoot.  My favorite image from the shoot is this one of her outside the tub talking on the phone (left).  I did edit this to smooth out a little bit of the skin tone.  But the hard part was getting the bubbles on the headpiece to pop against the white background.  To bring those out I brought the image into photo shot and did a little bit of dodging around the top of the head piece to darken the edges of the bubbles to make them stand out.  I applied the same method to all the photos. 

My second favorite photos is below. It is close to classic pin up. I like how the clear ball pit balls spilled around the tub, to make it look like the bubbles from the tub overflowed. 

Finally, my personal favorite is to the right.  I like this one because of her expression and the “oh” look as she looks behind her at the rubber duck. 

If you notice in the photos, I limited myself to basic primary colors of yellow, blue, and red (the model’s lipstick).  I think this gives it more of the classic pin-up feel by keeping in a primary color scheme.  It also keeps the photos very clean.  

Finally I had three photos from the set published in the November issue of Delicious Dolls Magazine, which is an international pin-up magazine.  This is the first time I have been published in a magazine. 

I would like to thank the Cora for being a wonderful model. I would also like to thank my husband for helping me with lighting and supporting my shoot ideas. 

You can see the complete set here


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