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Friday Slide Show: Matryoshka Dolls Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

12 June 2020

It's amazing what you can do when you aren't spending your time commuting, sitting in meetings, listening to someone's deep thoughts, watching TV, texting, tweeting ... oh, we could go on. But then we'd have to add ourselves to the list.

With all the free time the pandemic has bestowed upon us, we could be building furniture, inventing a 100-year battery, perfecting the light bulb, clearing out the basement, painting the closets, remodeling the bathroom, assembling a portfolio, redesigned our Web site. Well, you get the idea. Any idea.

If you were Russian, in fact, you could be slipping a little Linden wood onto your lathe to hone it into an egg-shaped piece that would fit into a hollowed out egg-shaped piece that would fit inside an even larger hollowed out egg-shaped piece. Well, you get that idea, too, we're sure.

But wait, you're not done.

You'd still have enough time to lacquer the little eggs into portraits. A grandmother, a mother and a child, say. From Babushka to Matryoshka. Like ours.

We acquired our tiny set of dolls when the neighborhood we lived in still had a fairly large Russian population.

We acquired our tiny set of dolls when the neighborhood we lived in still had a fairly large Russian population. There was more than one Russian bakery and even a few Russian restaurants. It wasn't unusual to hear Russian, although nobody wore red ties. Presumably because they didn't have any.

It took the pandemic to get us to take our little Matryoshka dolls off the shelf, pull them apart and take a good long look at them.

The religious scenes were a surprise. The colorful roses were delightful. The little faces with pursed lips made us smile. The Keane-like eyes didn't bat an eyelash despite two strobes firing at them.

On the bottom of the big one, a name is painted in two colors and a simple black paper sticker proclaims, "MADE IN USSR." As if there could be any doubt.

We put them on a long sheet of rice paper, set up a monobloc to the left aimed at our white ceiling and a Nikon SB-800 strobe to our right, diffused and also aimed at the ceiling. We were trying to avoid reflections on the highly reflective lacquer.

One reflection kept eluding us, though. A tiny spot, very bright.

We figured it out eventually, It was the popup flash on the Nikon D300, which was in Commander mode to fire the SB-800 wirelessly (which, in turn, fired the monobloc). We simply put our hand in front of the popup to keep it from hitting the dolls.

The ceiling is white but the art paper is a bit warmer. We adjusted the white balance in Lightroom to neutralize the paper. That didn't affect the deeper colors of the lacquer.

When we got rolling, it was a fun shoot. But then what shoot with three girls wouldn't be?

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