Instead of ‘applause,’ get it? OK, moving on.
I’ve not been posting much on the blog lately because once July 4th was over a tiny fire was finally lit under me to start thinking about the fall, and what the hell I’m going to do with the whole tutoring business – you know, since I quit my teaching job and all. So of course, being me, the first order of business has been to get a website put together for it (also using WordPress), and the first course of action I took in THAT regard was to get everything looking awesome. Actual written content on the blog is still in development, but I do think I finally have a look that I like (leave it to me to spend weeks on the visuals without adding any useful written information).
I am using the same exact layout I created for this blog, and I knew I wanted a header that was unique to my business name, so I figured once my business cards came in I could take a good photo of one and turn it into something. I ended up taking a high-quality photo of the business card, extending it to the proper WP header length using Photoshop, then adding a lens flare effect using my Retrographer software. It looks pretty cool – but I don’t want to share my business or real name here so I’m just going to show what I can of it here – it has my last name as part of the title and my contact info on the right of the vertical line:
Now here’s the amusing part: I envisioned having little graphics on each page that were photos of happy students and graduates, doing student-y graduate-y things, but the only student photos I had were of kids from my last school, and I didn’t have permission to use them anywhere. So, I took photos of my nieces and nephews from past holidays and pasted their faces over those of the students (LOL), and voila! Instant happy graduates!
If you look at them too closely, a few of them in particular look pretty freaky; but I’m not using them anywhere much bigger than in those collages. And the two non-graduate photos are actually unedited, because those are some senior photos I took of my niece to start with, so there was no need to change those faces. I used one of each collage as a runner across the bottom of my pages, and in other places I use them as side borders, like this:
So, the faces may be a little freaky-looking in places, but I doubt anyone will look at them closely, and they add a little panache to the blog. The written content is still being developed, but I’m getting there – I have to write an 18-paragraph manifesto for each page, just to get all of my ideas out of my head and written down, then I spend a few days whittling that down into something succinct. My husband is not sure why this is taking me so long, when all I need is a quick run-down of what services I am offering and a list of prices, but I enjoy blogging so much and creating the proper ‘look’ that I’m kind of going all-out here. I want it to be impressive; especially since I am going to be sending the link out to a lot of former students and their parents once it is done. Plus, it’s fun, and after all the disappointment at my job this last year I at least deserve to enjoy myself a little with this.
So, that is what I’ve been up to for the most part. I still have a few wig reviews in the can that I haven’t edited yet, so I’m working on that when I have time, and I’ve also been processing some more photos when I get the opportunity:
That’s the Mary wig I reviewed awhile ago, still one of my favorite short wigs; I took some quick snaps after filming a slew of reviews, and this was one of them. Here’s another – this is the April wig with the funky colors I love; I shared this photo on the review page, but in case you didn’t see it there here it is again:
Notice the awesome backdrops, too! Those are my Lastolite Out of Focus backgrounds I bought at $180 a pop – expensive, but totally worth it. The first time I used that ‘city lights’ background I didn’t care for it, but it works great for video and for whatever reason, even the photos worked better this time around (although with a wig that awesome, how can you go wrong?). And I actually had some time last week to do more of a ‘real’ photoshoot; I decided awhile ago to buy some actual stage makeup foundation in unusual colors so I could kick up the portraits a notch; even though I am still in absolutely LOVE with the PortraitPro 15 software I’ve been using, perfecting my normal makeup and face in photos was starting to get a little old, so I figured if my face was, say, purple, or pure white, when editing it would definitely make things more interesting.
I was right
But here’s the fun part: the only real makeup in that photo is the white foundation. The rest of it I added in PortraitPro. And although I really did TRY to apply the white evenly, in reality it was just a big old mess – very hard to get an even application as it’s the sort of stuff you have to add water to in order to use. Against my better judgement, I am going to show the original of this photo – it hurts my pride to do so, but y’all know I can’t resist a good B&A (Before and After) comparison:
Honestly, that before shot still makes me laugh…believe it or not that took real effort! All the editing in post took a lot of time, but believe it or not it wasn’t all that difficult, and it was incredibly fun to watch the transformation take place. Getting the rest of my skin to match my face was a bit more work when editing the full-length shots, of which I took a ton because I bought this amazing gown off eBay (for only $60!) that took lovely photos:
The movement of it was divine, and as much as I love color, I’m also a sucker for washed-out earth-tones and monochromatic color schemes. Lots of color editing going on here, but this was one of those dresses that could easily transform, and since the backdrop was gray it was not that hard to match everything up. In order to get my skin to match my face, I used a layer to create a black and white copy of the original photo, and then I layered that onto just my skin. Worked out pretty well.
I’m sorry, I just still can’t believe this dress was only sixty bucks! It’s gorgeous. In this next shot, I pulled out a lot more of the gold; in reality the color is much closer to the photo above than it is this one:
That’s a composite, by the way, of two different shots, layered onto a blank background. I liked the sweep of my arm in one of my poses, but the skirt wasn’t moving in an interesting manner in it, so I found a second shot with more movement happening there and layered them over each other. And of course, I’ve got the fan blowing everywhere to keep the fabric floating about.
I did some great leaping during this shoot too, but then I got distracted by the MOST AMAZING THING EVER. Tuesday morning I was clicking around on Facebook when an ad for LandscapePro software scrolled across my screen. Could it be?? The title was so similar to my Portrait software that I figured it HAD to be from the same company, and how awesome would it be if I could easily transform my admittedly sub-par architecture and landscape shots using the same method? Lo and behold, it was from the same company, and it was only $60 (what’s with all these awesome things costing sixty bucks lately? Not sure, but I am definitely taking advantage) and so, I made the purchase and set to work.
Remember me saying how I’m not a good outdoors/landscape/whatever photographer, and so most of the photos I took at the Villa de Matel last month weren’t up to par? Well now I can go back and turn them into something interesting, and I am THRILLED. Check out the B&A of this photo:
When I posted the B&A on Flickr, I got a bit of ‘noooo I like the original better’ from the purists, but editing is my THING, and the washed-out light and boring sky in my originals did nothing for me, so I am now having a FIELD DAY working everything over that I originally felt was useless to me:
The software is a bit testy to use; it isn’t difficult, but getting the program to recognize what is sky in the photo vs. what’s a tree or a building is tedious. Trees against sky, in particular, is a real bitch – you have to go over and over the branches and leaves to sketch out what’s what and it can take some time to do, so the less small detail you have in your photos when using this program, the better. Mine tend to have a lot going on, so isn’t always useable for me, but usually I can at least get better light and tones out of shot. I tried using it on a plane photo, too, thinking I could add an awesome sky to some shots, but it didn’t end up feeling necessary and didn’t really add anything to the photo, so I didn’t save the results to show you.
So, I am busy busy busy with various things, and slowly but surely moving on from my end-of-school disaster. I’m still upset and disappointed and angry, but there’s only so much time I can spend on that when school will be starting soon and it will be time to give this academic coaching and tutoring thing a try. Got a nice little stack of new wigs to review, and a few more from my last filming session to upload, so I will be back with more of that shortly. Happy Wednesday everyone!