Back Dropped

Let’s catch up and look at random photos while we’re at it, shall  we?

And I do mean random.

I’ve processed some more of the photos from the Ruah retreat, but I have to say that I’m not thrilled with the pictures overall. Granted, my outdoor/landscape/architecture photography skills are weak already, and I definitely did not shoot in the proper light at the time (which due to the cloudiness and storms could not be avoided) but I also think I chose the wrong lens for these shots. I used my wide-angle lens so I could get into some tight spaces, and also to get some lovely panoramic scenes – but there really weren’t a lot of panoramic scenes to photograph, and most of the tight spaces weren’t that interesting (the chapel was the main exeption). I think the outdoor shots would have been prettier with my 50mm, maybe, or perhaps my telephoto lens for better depth of field. Everything looks too sharp and crisp and ultimately chaotic to me, and I’ve had this issue with the 17-40mm before, just have never identified it as the problem.

Ah, the joys of being a self-taught photographer who basically knows nothing.

So I did my usual – filtered and textured the hell of the shots to make them interesting, even if I couldn’t find them aesthetically pleasing. I may be taking another trip there sometime this summer, since I didn’t feel like I stayed long enough the first time to get everything I needed to out of the experience, so perhaps I’ll try again.

Photoshopped myself from another shoot into this shot – it was only marginally successful.

One thing I’ve gotten into the past few months is purchasing and using different pop-up backdrops for my photography; I’ve been using some basic ones (black, white, and gray) for years, but when I started making wig videos again I became really irritated with all the grain and banding I could see in the solid background I was using. I tried using software to reduce the noise, but it would soften the video too much and I’m a stickler for clarity. So in the end, my solution was to buy a gray mottled background which would camouflage the grain, and that’s the background you now see when you watch my vids.

Statement Piece
Exhibit A

In searching for a gray pop-up, I stumbled across tons of other interesting ones that I wanted to try; unfortunately the more interesting the background is, the more expensive it is, so I haven’t tried as many out as I’d like.

A few examples

Once you get away from basic solid colors or mottled ones, these suckers get pricey. The two pictured above (they’re reversible) run anywhere from $150 up to $220 depending on where you buy them, so I haven’t pulled the trigger on them just yet. And by the way, they are called pop-ups (if you don’t already know) because they fold down into a small circle the size of that blue case you see in the left and right pane of the collage (the middle shot is just to give you an idea of their size). Fun fact – folding these backgrounds down to fit into that circular case is A BITCH. As proof of this, there are probably about eight million videos on YouTube of people showing how to fold them, and I STILL struggle to do it every single time and have to watch at least ten of them to get it done. In fact, the gray one I use for wig vids is still popped open and sitting out in the hall because I haven’t had the energy to put myself through the anguish of wrangling the thing back into it’s case – I am literally almost in TEARS every time I have to do it because it’s so frustrating! I am incredibly challenged spatially; I have no sense of direction and have to stop and think if you even tell me to raise my right hand because I am not sure at first which one of two hands that is, so that’s probably why it’s so difficult for me to do. Here, allow me to show you a video example so you get the idea of what I’m talking about:

Make sense now? Yeah, I still don’t get it either.

One day I’l have to make a video of ME folding one of these suckers; it would start with me wrangling it to the ground using my legs to hold it to the floor, then getting popped in the face when one end snaps up, then me falling over, getting up, picking up my glasses that have been thrown across the room, then me wrestling it to the ground again, getting popped by the other side when it flips back open, then me picking the whole thing up and throwing it across the room and throwing myself on the ground in a fit of tears, then leaving the room and coming back with some chips and a soda and sticking the background, fully open, into a corner, and giving the cat the little round carrying case to play with since I’ll never figure out how to put the background back into it. DONE.

Although I love how this chick does it so quickly the hooker in the corner doesn’t even have time to put down her phone (just kidding, I ‘m sure it’s just a model. Or a drag queen.)

ANNNNYWAY…my real point is that in all my searching around for interesting backgrounds to use I came across two that I just had to have, even though they were $180 each. After I got them in, I used them for some quick test shots – some of which you’ve already seen.

These are called Lastolite Out of Focus Backgrounds, and they’re the only two styles available that I’ve seen. Wish there were more, even though they’re pricey.

The set on the left I’ve already used and I shared some of the photos from that shoot in a previous post:


I am pleased with the green foliage background, but the so-called “city lights” side didn’t thrill me all that much. After using this one a few times, I became obsessed with getting the other one; both sides looked like they’d take some lovely photos, but I had to wait awhile for it to get back in stock in one of the three places I managed to find it on the internet. I thought the beach scene side was, obviously, seasonally appropriate, and I was anxious to try it out:

Yep. This works for me.

I actually went ahead and bought a stand to hang these behind me, because they are smaller lengthwise than my other backgrounds, and I couldn’t just stand them on the floor like I can those.

What do you mean Photoshop? Me? Never heard of it.

I couldn’t be more pleased with how lovely the beach side turned out. I love the subtle wash of color it creates, and you can’t see it in these shots but there’s actually a little bit of the sandy shoreline running along the bottom edge.

Another totally natural shot. I hate makeup.

Now, I was pretty excited about that beachy side, but the real deal-clincher for me was that fiery yellow autumn background. When it comes to photography, I am a sucker for some fiery reds and yellows and golds – I love it in makeup and I love it in fabrics, and I LOVE IT in this background:

Yeah this wins.

That wig, by the way, is one of those fabulous $19.99 ones I get from Sam’s Beauty online (don’t go there, seriously, you will lose HOURS looking at hair) and cannot ever wear out of the house but will wear AROUND the house for days feeling like Carole King or Oprah Winfrey in a curly phase. And that background! GAH! It is beautiful. So worth the money.

Photoshop trick stolen from drag queens: I am not skilled at blocking out my natural brows the way drag queens are, but I do sometimes use Photoshop to raise them. Really changes the look of the whole face. Here, I moved them to just above their natural placement, then used some other trickery to cover the natural brows with “eyeshadow.” 

I also finally switched out the big, wall-sized background I keep tacked up in my office from  black to gray, and did a few jumping shots that I haven’t work with much yet. In fact I only have this one:


The leap was pretty boring, but I’m not gonna lie – I processed this shot solely (no pun intended) because I was happy with my feet. I almost never jump in bare feet, because I am so NOT a dancer and my feet usually end up looking awful; but this was just a test shot so I hadn’t put my shoes on yet. But, I actually managed to point my toes pleasantly, so I had to work with this one. Since it wasn’t very thrilling, I did the usual and filtered and textured the hell out of it in the hopes that someone might find it interesting. I actually think most people are just gonna notice the feet.

That’s all I have for now; I have some updates to my work situation that I’ll post later on the private blog – as I move out of the classroom and venture out on my own, I may at some point go back to posting the more personal stuff publicly, but for now I’m still keeping it locked down. Happy Wednesday, everyone!


10 thoughts on “Back Dropped

  1. Loved the pictures as usual. The fold up backdrops remind me of my car windshield screens that block out UV rays. I have to fold those up into circles in a similar fashion. Maybe if you have some you can practice folding those 😉 xo Rachel

  2. I know nothing about photography except how to point and click! All I know is I love looking at your photos –they are like works of art! Don’t be so hard on yourself!
    Did you thing of becoming a professional photographer for portraits??
    Bonaparte’s grandfather, the photographer, Jacques Henri Lartigue, was self taught and went on for success! You will too!

    • Believe me these were two of the shortest ones I coud find – usually the person goes on for two minutes explaining what a popup background is before they ever get around to foldiung the stupid thing LOOL

  3. With what I know about photography, you couldn’t even fill a thimble, so I definitely will not be critiquing your work. But I will say that I think your photos are aesthetically pleasing. Ahhhh, the pop-up backdrops…..I wondered where you were making those videos with what looked to me like a marble wall in the bkgd. Nice that they at least come with a different pattern on each side but for that money, you can buy a nice wig, lol.

    Hoping all of your personal plans are progressing along nicely with few, if any, setbacks.

  4. The babydoll parts/fruit croquembouche in the first picture would make an ideal centerpiece at our Thanksgiving table. I think you’re on to something, here.

    Those people who magically fold up the backdrops are clearly wizards who have sold their souls to the devil.

    p.s. I did not notice the feet. I noticed the cute dress!

    • OH yeah I got that off a vintage store on eBay where I like to shop 🙂 LOL at the backdrop comments; getting those things folded quickly is some black magic for sure.

  5. Pingback: Video Wig Review: Kate by Sensationnel in DR27 | mareymercy.

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