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Controlling the Sun

As a photographer, you learn to see light in a way that most people never notice. When I’m shooting, it is always the first or second thing I consider when determining how I’m going to approach the my subject.  As such, I have many times fantasized about the power to take the biggest light I have at my disposal – the sun – and position it and soften it as needed for my shoots.  I have bags of lights, softboxes, reflectors, snoots, gobos, etc but because my collection isn’t quite as awesome as Gregory Crewdson’s I am usually forced to play nice with the sun at whatever time of day my assignment is scheduled for. That is until this week. Enter author Courtney Sullivan and her dollhouse which I was photographing for one of the New York Times “Domestic Lives” essays.  The assignment was to make a series of dreamy, nostalgic images that would support Sullivan’s essay about her childhood dollhouse obsession, a hobby which she has carried into adult life.  So, I lined up my shots of the sugar jar, the newsweek on the coffee table the recliner in the bedroom, and this time, instead of wishing I had some sunlight streaming in the windows, falling perfectly on my subjects, this time I just “stepped outside” and set the “sun” (a bare-bulb alien bee 800) to about 8pm and presto: Instant magic hour!  Below are a few of the shots.