Prop Shop

I actually had a free day today, so I stopped by Pier 1 to get some things I could stick on my head, and otherwise use in ways for which they were not intended.

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Annnnnd I found some – like this ornament, and the poinsettia leaves I pinned to my wig (you can see this shot with the pink eyes corrected here).

I had two separate looks for this shoot, and I’ll share the pics I’ve processed from the first look in this post. I didn’t edit too many from this section of the set, because it wasn’t my favorite look at first, but after looking at the ones I edited, I may go back and choose some more. I modeled my makeup after some ideas I got through Google searching, and the results were a little strange. I think I look more like a male with makeup on than a female, but whatever. For the second set I went back and put on some black shadow and liner and I looked a bit more normal. Not that looking abnormal is a bad thing:

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My favorite from this set so far

As usual, I started off the shoot pretty bored and frustrated, and not feeling like I had anything new to cough up. But I started playing around with the ring light I had set up behind me to try and outline myself against the black background, and I started to get into it a little bit. It’s been a long time since I just played around with some props to see what I could come up with, and after a slow start things really got rolling once I pulled out the sparkly garland – but I’m saving those pics for next post.

Pier3_final
A bit of yellowness under the eyes here that I couldn’t get rid of effectively. Oh well.

I messed around with the color a lot in post, because it was bright and all over the place, so no two shots looks the same in that regard – the poinsettias are actually a blueish-silver in reality, but they took on all sorts of tints as the processing proceeded. Also, while shopping around I picked up some Dermablend foundation to see if it would do a better job covering up my sun damage (as well as the cystic acne once again plaguing my chin - edited out of all the photos, of course), and it worked incredibly well. In fact, I went ahead and used the foundation all over for this shoot, and it is definitely effective if you need heavy, full-coverage.; my red and splotchy neck was completely covered, as well as the aforementioned blemish. The only downside was that I found it hard to wash off, even in the shower. I wouldn’t wear this stuff day-to-day, except for maybe on my neck where the damage is the worst. But it’s great for photos.

As I said, these are the only shots from the first look of the shoot I’ve had time to process, but I have a bunch more waiting in the wings for a later post – one I can write when I’m not so tired. It’s late and I need to hit the hay, but I wanted to share at least a little bit from today’s shoot. I dreaded it at first, but it ended up being fun and I got a ton of good shots to work with. More later.

Composite Practice

Well apparently I bored the crap out of you all with the airplane photos, because you’ve all disappeared. Jerks. Just kidding. But seriously, where is everyone? Not a lot of commenting or blog posting going on lately, it seems. Perhaps it’s the impending holidays keeping everyone busy?

Speaking of holidays, we are currently experiencing our first real cold snap of the season, and it’s lovely. You know what that means, don’t you – it’s Ugg time! I haven’t broken them out yet, because recently my friend Candace convinced me to buy this pair of shoes while we were shopping at the Galleria, even though I almost let them get by me.

toms

When Candace insists I should buy something, I do it, because she isn’t one to force her opinions on me too often and I trust that when she does, she’s right. She always is – and I have been loving these little boots since I got them. She also convinced me to stop straightening my hair and wear it curly again, so yep, that means I’m back to living the permed life! Still don’t think I’m going to get a second one, though – partly because even though I’m going on month 5 since getting it done, my hair is still super-curly, and this perm will probably last me a year the way it’s going now. The top is getting a little flat, but I’ve taken to pulling it back with a little claw clip so get some lift up there and letting the rest do its thing.

Oh, and also speaking of boots…now, I am trying to spend less money on clothes lately, but when I come across something awesome I am still allowed to get it. And of course, I can share it with you, so here goes: there’s a pretty nifty little online store called Downeast Basics where I can, on occasion, find nice basic stuff for dirt-cheap. I’ve gotten some cute dresses and skirts from them for next to nothing, and for some reason I wandered over there recently to take a look around. And I found something they call a “shortie boot sock.” Now, I love the look of long socks peeking out the top of boots (usually worn over jeans or leggings) but I absolutely HATE wearing socks with my shoes. Well, enter the boot sock:

OCT14_shortiebootsocks_white6314

It’s a little band of sweater/sock-like material you pull up to stick out over the top of your boots, and presto! The look without the discomfort of bulky socks (well, I think socks are uncomfortable anyway). I bought two white and two black pair, and I don’t have them in yet, but I’m thinking they will do the trick. Also, the existence of such a product reassures me that I am not the only crazy person in the world with a hatred of socks. I’m actually fine with them to wear to bed, or around the house without shoes – but when worn with shoes I cannot stand them. Moving on.

boot socks

In other news, I played around a bit more with some of my meh shots from last Saturday, because why not. So, here’s one of them:

red4a_final

I’m thinking this probably really weird, and looks like I possibly just gave underwater birth to a jellyfish or something. But anyway, there it is.

Now this one is fun, because if you glance at it,  it actually looks OK, but the more you look the goofier it gets:

red5b_final

That’s a composite of three different shots, and towards the end of the editing process I got sloppy, so there’s a lot of  mistakes here and there, places where I didn’t paint in an effect neatly or where you can see the outline of one of the layers. Also, the more you look at it, the weirder my body becomes. The torso and legs are from a shot that was taken as I lay face-down with my legs up on a stool, but my head and the right arm are from a different pose. Look up close at the neckline of the gown and you can totally see where one is layered over the other (seriously, up close it’s REALLY BAD), and my head is actually a bit disproportionate to the rest of my body. Also, the line that was created when I leaned onto the stool makes it appear that I have two sets of knees – or that I have the lowest-hanging breasts in history – when it was actually just a little bend in the fabric from where I was leaning. I don’t think the hair was all that well-done, either, but I used Pixlr to overlay several different effects that concealed the bad outline I created when I layered my head onto the body.

Whatever though – I don’t mind that it’s a  goony picture. It was the first time I attempted to layer so many shots over each other in Photoshop and then paint out what I wanted to remove, and I was glad to figure out a way to do it even if the end result was bizarre and sloppy. These weren’t great shots to begin with, so I didn’t worry too much about making things perfect. I’m still basically trying to learn these new techniques whenever I can, so that someday i can create some really awesome levitation photos. Definitely not there yet, but I’m learning.

Now, if I play my cards right, I might actually have an entire day to myself this weekend, but I’m not sure I want to take more self-portraits. I know everyone loves them, but honestly they’re still boring me right now. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll have time to get inspired by then.

And speaking of inspiration – you all know how much I love drag queens, and a few weeks ago one of my favorites from RuPaul’s Drag Race, Willam (Willam is often NSFW so check her out at your own risk, just saying), was auctioning off a bunch of his clothes for charity on eBay (well, true to Willam form, she said she was giving most of the proceeds to charity and then the rest would go towards electrolysis, LOL). I couldn’t help myself – I had to buy something! I chose a pair of denim booty shorts that had been “customized” (ie, bedazzled to hell and back) by Willam herself, and yeah, they cost a pretty ridiculous amount of money, but whatever. It’s Willam! Then when I checked out through eBay I left her a little message, saying that a middle-aged schoolteacher would soon be wearing her bedazzled Daisy Dukes (not entirely true because I will never wear these things, except maybe in a photo or two with leggings underneath). I was hoping she’d email me back a little comment in response, but I heard nothing. Then it actually took a long time to get them in the mail, long enough that I forgot about them until receiving the package. There were the shorts, and sure enough, tucked into the back pocket was a little note from Willam herself – and it is fabulous:

Willam

And that, folks, totally made my week. I will most likely do as my friend Melissa suggested, and frame both the note and the shorts and hang them on my wall. Have I mentioned I love drag queens, and Willam in particular?

Oh and one more thing – the booty shorts photo was taken with my new iPhone 6 Plus – that’s right, I gave in to the mania and upgraded my phone to one of Apple’s new monsters. This thing is huge, and I freaking LOVE it. I don’t know why i got so excited at the idea of having a really big iPhone, but it totally works for me. Takes fantastic photos too. I think part of the reason I love it is because of how attached I am to my phone in general – I am always carrying it with me and using it for one thing or another, and the bigger size makes it physically feel as substantial as it is to me personally and/or psychologically. Or something. Anyway, big phone, yay. I should be in bed already, so I’ll cut things off for now. Happy Thursday everyone!

iphone_5_6_6plus_comparison_primary-100413340-large.idge

 

 

Booking It

It looks like my posts are not showing up in WordPress Reader lately, and I don’t know why, so who knows if anyone will even see this. Oh well.

A friend of mine has published a book of poetry using one of my photos! I love the way it looks and she is a wonderful poet, so if you can spare a few bucks please support her by buying a copy here.

behind

Today is obviously Halloween, and one of the advantages of being at a private school is that we get to obnoxiously celebrate whatever holidays we want. Every year the school holds a costume contest for the teachers, so everyone dresses up elaborately. I am not going for anything elaborate, because I already get up way too early in the morning just to put on my regular face, (5:15 AM) and I’m not willing to get up any earlier for costume makeup application. Plus,  I have to teach all day in whatever I wear so I want to be comfortable – so I just went with a hippie and invested in a really nice long blonde wig and some round glasses. Funny thing is, only the wig and round glasses were actually purchased specifically for the costume – the rest is my own clothes! My Birkenstocks, wide-leg jeans, and poncho are all already in regular rotation, so basically I’m going to school dressed like myself on a Saturday, just with a wig and different frames.

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Weird shot of my wig and glasses for Halloween

The air show is Saturday, so I’ll be getting up at an ungodly hour to drive out to my father’s house and carpool on over there with him. Taking the “real” camera along this time, so here’s hoping I get a ton of good pictures. The weather is supposed to be perfection with the cool front that’s moving in today, which will certainly help, so I hope to have loads to edit and process in the coming week. It’s been awhile since I’ve had anything new to work with, so wish me luck!

Break Time

I’m taking a week or so off from the internet, so forgive me if I’m not around to comment on your blog posts or respond here. No real reason for it, just a lot going on with work and family and I want to clear out the mental cobwebs that are cluttering up my brain. See you all soon!

Plane Plans

I am so excited, because we’ve had a nice little cool front this week that should last through the weekend, and as long as rain doesn’t roll in Saturday (which it might) my father and I are heading out to the observation area at IAH to do some plane spotting. Now, I know that in no way are you interested in watching 13+ minutes of plane footage from this location, but I liked this video the best of the ones I found on YouTube – I think it really gives you a sense of the observation park and how close the planes are when they fly overhead. So, I’m including the video anyway and you can watch of it what you want.

Lots could go wrong with this plan, but then again, that’s true of aviation in general; weather dictates what happens more than anything, so if the winds aren’t blowing in the right direction the runway where this observation spot is located might not get used all that much. It’s doubtful, since this runway is one of the busiest at the airport, but it’s happened to me before at Hobby, so we’ll see. Tons of Continental planes here since IAH is a home base, but during the afternoon hours loads of international flights and interesting planes landing and taking off, too. So here’s hoping it works out and we get to go.

I probably won’t post much more until after the trip, because I’m having a bad week with my arm (and Sandy the massage therapist had some surgery and can’t work until after October 20th) and I want it to be in some sort of shape to hold up my zoom lens and 7D. Saving my strength, and I’ll probably take my monopod or tripod along to help out, too. For added fun, here’s another video of footage from IAH, there are some really HUGE planes in this one, 777s and the like:

Oh ,and one other note: Stitch Fix not only contacted me to apologize for sending me a lame shipment, they also gave me my $20 stylist’s fee back for the month. AND, they sent me another shipment which I am due to get this Saturday. So I’ll be able to photograph that sometime too, but it might be awhile since this weekend is going be pretty busy as it is.

 

Home Dumbing

I can’t believe summer  break was two months ago now; it feels like yesterday to me. I swear I don’t know where vacation went or how it’s fall already, and we’re about to mail out our first progress reports at school and homecoming is around the corner. Speaking of homecoming, is this just a Texas thing?

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When mums attack

These will be swarming the scene at every grocery store in the state from now until the last Homecoming game is played. At school, some of the girls’ mums are so huge they have to attach a strap and wear them around their necks to keep them on.

Another thing that’s new to me, but not to the students: gone are the days when a guy just walked up to a girl and asked her to the game (or prom). Nowadays, it has to be a huge production worthy of ending up a viral video. Signs have to be made. Dance steps must be memorized. Flower petals and confetti must be flung. And the bigger the audience for all this tomfoolery, the better. What gives?

I blame YouTube. Seems nothing is worth doing anymore unless it garners the approval of a large crowd of anonymous people. Same with wedding proposals. Now the poor guy has to go all out and perform a choreographed lipsynch in front of a huge crowd or the gal feels ripped off. I hate to say it, but thank God I’m not a young-un in the midst of all of this. I am so practical and un-romantic, I would have run screaming from any marriage proposal that involved what, to me, would feel like both public pressure and public humiliation. I don’t even recall that Doug and I had a formal proposal. It was more like – hey, we’re a good fit, we should get married someday. Yep. We should probably buy an engagement ring to make that official. Yep. Shall we go to Zales and pick something out? OK. Poof! Engaged.

But that’s just me. And by the way, I never went to Homecoming in high school, not once. Never got asked and never cared, as I hated the thought of wearing a mum (which back in the 80′s was a lot smaller) and I hated football games too. Still do, but I’ll probably go to the one at the school out of a sense of duty anyway.

This whole post was an excuse to share that photo, which cracked me up when I saw it at the grocery store Saturday. You’re welcome.

Day 1 Down, Day 15 Done

I was so nervous for the first day of school, but then I always am. It went off without a hitch, though – the kids were pretty enthusiastic about the class overall, and we had many great conversations about the purpose of the course and how it could benefit them. I didn’t even get through my syllabus or my class rules, but the typically hour-and-a-half class times were reduced to 40 minutes, so the day flew by. The nicest thing of all, though, was how simple and controlled the environment was, compared to the chaos of the administrative offices. When I worked as a counselor, I literally ran out the door the minute the end of the contract day arrived, but as a teacher I willingly stayed late to work on lesson plans and other duties without an ounce of resentment. I think it’s because I don’t have a job I want to escape anymore. It just felt so normal. I know I will still have stresses and challenging times and frustrations, but at the heart of it is a situation I can control, and long swaths of time where all I can do is teach and everything else has to wait. I’m much more convinced now that this was the right move to make  - although I’m still nervous about what might be coming down the pike later, but that’s just how I am.

So, day one of teaching down, and day fifteen of the 365 project got done – sort of. It’s a pretty horrid little picture, although I do like the primary colors and geometric shapes it created. But it’s another iPhone pic, and was snapped at the end of the day without much planning or thought:

Day 14

That, my friends, is a completely full box of donuts that sat on the floor in the hallway the entire day. I have no idea why. I kept walking past it and thinking, surely there’s a reason for this, a joke someone is playing or something, but nope. Even after the bell rang and the kids left, the box still sat there. Finally I picked it up and threw it in the trash. Weird.

On another note, I haven’t talked about this at all, but another reason I’m so busy right now and not taking many pictures is because an elderly family member is quite ill, and my husband is the primary caretaker for this person. I go with him to help when I can, which means my weekends are pretty much taken up with errands and trips to go visit family. I don’t know how long this will go on, but it may be awhile. That combined with the first weeks of school just hasn’t afforded me any time to do studio shots at all, but perhaps when at least the school side dies down I can get back to it. Then again, maybe not. I’ll continue taking what pictures I can, when I can, and we’ll see how things go.

Ready Set

Go.

School starts Thursday, so of course our furniture didn’t come in until about 3:00 PM Wednesday. Then it had to be assembled and arranged, and it wasn’t until my desk was put together that a computer could be set up in my room. We still don’t have any filing cabinets, so we’re stuck as far as getting files and things together because it’s all confidential information that must be locked down. So we’re really only halfway running at this point – but the kids will show up Thursday morning regardless.

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At least they will have somewhere to sit.

That is my Day 14 photo, by the way. Truth be told, I’ve considered at some point during each of the past three days just chucking the 365 project, but in the end some little picture has presented itself to me for a photo opportunity to keep me going. Some of it has been crap, or using my iPhone, but at least it’s something, as I’m sure not taking any studio photos right now. Just way, way too busy for the past week and a half getting ready for the year (even though I’m still not ready).

day 12

This was my Day 13 photo, and so far I like it least of anything I’ve shot. But I was seriously out of time Tuesday evening when I snapped it, and I was exhausted from getting only two hours’ sleep the night before at the godawful school lock-in I’ve still barely recovered from. I’ve starting using these DevaClips to get some lift in the crown area, and in spite of my intial doubt that these would be a useful purchase (it’s $13 for 8 clips) they actually work. They’re much bigger than normal clips, and I can pinch a pretty large section of hair together, stick the clip in perpendicular to my scalp, and it will hold the hair up nice and tight until it dries. I’ve even slept in them once or twice and they did not budge. When I take them out, there’s a big old lift and swoop to my hair that I can then tame down with the diffuser. Anyway, I put these in Tuesday night after taking a shower, stuck my head in front of my Canon SL1 and snapped this, then added a ton of quick filters to it in the hopes of making it seem interesting. All it really did was confuse people, but I was too exhausted to even explain. Moving on.

Let’s talk briefly about that lock-in though. I was pretty much dreading it, showed up around 9 PM because I was told I was only needed for the sleepover part and there’d be nothing more for me to do aside from be a spare person available in case of emergency only to find out that the coordinator of the event expected me to do a hell of a lot more than that, then got chewed out by her in front of everyone when I expressed surprise at suddenly discovering I had all these other duties I was not expecting to have. It was terribly embarrassing and upsetting, and led to me having weird panic attacks all night long, resulting in me getting a grand total of two hours’ sleep that night. I know I said it to some of you in the comments already, but to repeat: NEVER. AGAIN.

I should have known I was in for trouble when, as I arrived to the lock-in, it was raining pretty hard, and as I walked up to the gym I had to step through this grassy esplanade-like thing, and I tried to step on the little metal storm drain that was stuck in the ground because, I thought to myself, I could keep my foot dry if I stepped on it since the grass was so wet – but my damn leg went all the way through it and down the drain. Thank God someone was with me to pull me out, and that all I got was a small  bruise on my shin from the experience, as I could have easily injured the hell out of myself.

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Given what came after this, I should have just stayed in there

After checking that I was not injured, my friend pulled me out and then, quite honestly, we laughed about it because it was funny at that point instead of freaking tragic (after knowing what the rest of the night turned out to be like, I actually think getting my leg ripped open and spending the night in the emergency room might have been preferable to chaperoning the sleepover). The left leg of the pants I was wearing were completely soaked, as was the brand-new shoe I had on – thank God it was a vegan Birkenstock sandal that survived no worse for the wear – so my friend and I had to drive to her house (I don’t live close to the school but she does) and get some sweatpants for me to wear, and I had to get a new pillow because I dropped mine and it was soaked too. Honestly, I should have just gotten back into my car and driven away, as clearly this was God trying to stop me from chaperoning that thing, but I failed to recognize it as the sign it was.

A bit of an odds and ends post here, I guess, and the next few days are also likely to include hastily-written  blog entries and sloppy photos, but eventually this will all settle down and I’ll get back into the groove. Wish me luck!

 

354 More to Go

This is going to be a brief update, because as the first day of school draws near (Thursday) work gets more and more intense. Not a bad sort of intense, just very busy and rather desperate.

I have a classroom but still no furniture – no desks or filing cabinets or anything. So I’m at a point where it’s hard to plan. I want to determine classroom procedures, but without knowing, for example, where the sign in and sign out sheet is going to reside, I can’t exactly write that into my class rules. And I can’t organize my student files, which are confidential, until I have somewhere to lock them up and file them. So I’m just twiddling my thumbs waiting for my furniture to come in – oh, and I still don’t have a computer so I’m lugging my laptop up to work and back home, which is its own sort of PITA because I have to work off of flash drives, and my laptop isn’t connected to any of the printers at the school, so I can work on documents in my empty room (sitting on that little sofa), then I have to save them, yank the flash drive out, and go log in to some other computer, open the docs back up again, and print them. All of this shuffling around gets me flustered and I start losing things! Not to mention that for almost a week now the air conditioning has been out on the first floor where my room is, and it gets so sweltering hot during the day that I can’t concentrate. Just your typical buildup to the first days of school. Those of you who’ve taught before probably recognize the insanity.

Overall though I am enjoying planning for the school year without having to think about counseling. I’m nervous, as I’ve mentioned before, but as I make my plans I feel much more in control and “in my element” than I ever did as a counselor. I think it was a wise decision.

Here’s something that was NOT a wise decision, however: the school puts on a special camp for all new students at the beginning of the year (we are a small private school, so new students each year don’t total much over 100) and that camp involves a sleepover at the school. I don’t know why they insist on doing this, as it always seems like such a time-consuming and bad idea to me, but they think it’s awesome, so whatever. Except this time, the woman who runs the camp had a hard time getting volunteer chaperones to sleep up at the school (the Diocese insists there be 1 teacher to every 10 kids for lock-ins) so I told her I’d do it if she couldn’t rustle up enough people, but I emphasized I only wanted to be signed up as a last resort. Well guess what? The last resort was needed, so in an hour or so I am off to the school to SLEEP on an AIR MATTRESS overnight in a GYM with 100 high school students. WHYYYY???

They did say I could show up very late as they literally just need me for the sleepover part, so I’m going to roll in around 10 PM in my pajamas and get the hell out of there first thing in the morning. Then I’ll have to drive home, shower, get dressed for the day, and go right back up there for another day of work. Again I say it, WHYYYYYY????? Well we know why. Because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut that’s why. They do pay $100 for everyone who sleeps over, so there’s that. But still. This is so far outside my comfort zone, it’s not even funny.

I thought my photo for the day would be something like my sleeping bag or me lying on the floor in the gymnasium, but then as I was getting ready I spied Simon chilling out on top of these chests that sit on top of a decorative table in our living room, and well, it was too cute not to be my Day 11 shot. So, here it is, and wish me luck tonight. This is in no way going to be fun, and I probably won’t get a lick of decent sleep.

day 11_final

A Photo Another Day

I managed to get to Day Two of my 365 project, so yay me:

Day2

I know I mentioned earlier that I have a real love of toeless socks, and as a bonus they take cool pictures. I’m not going get into why I love them, because there has to be some limit for what I will go on and on about here, so why not draw it at toeless socks?

I also edited a photo of my mom and dad from back in May when we spent the weekend at that beach house:

momndad_Snapseed

My dad, I think, had discovered I was snapping a photo of them and was goofing around with me, but I don’t think my mother had figured it out yet (I was shooting this with my telephoto lens from quite far away). My mom would be furious with me if she knew I was sharing this photo anywhere, because I’m sure she would say she looks terrible or something like she always does, but I really like the composition of the shot as well as the humor. There were loads of telephone wires behind them in the original, but I managed to edit them out without too much trouble.

Annnnnd just like that summer is over. I have to return to work for real on Wednesday, but I need to go in sooner than that to clean out the rest of the things that are in my office (which is no longer mine) for the new counselor. I have not given the coming school year much thought at all this summer, so I’m sure it’s about to slam me in the back of the head and knock me over, but at least I’ll be back in the classroom this year. We’ll see how much blog posting and 365 photo-ing I’ll be able to keep up with once things kick into gear!