Welp, 2016 finally pissed off, but not before bitch-slapping me one last time on the way out the door.
Over the winter break, Free People kept having all these awesome sales, and I ended up buying WAY too much stuff but it was all really inexpensive so no harm done. Of the many things I bought, there were these “body baubles” I kept scrolling past on the sale page; they were little face jewels pre-packaged into interesting shapes, and after much hemming and hawing I eventually put some of them in my cart – they were on sale for about six bucks a bauble, so I figured why not. They came on a thin adhesive strip, so all I had to do before the day’s shoot was peel them off their backing and stick ’em on my face. Easy-peasy.
I took all of these on December 31st, and this was one of those shoots where everything worked – I used the right lens, my lighting was on point, and I went ahead and used my DermaBlend (which I usually just use on my neck and chest) on my face since last time out my Smashbox foundation didn’t work so well, and it did the trick. I put on a decent amount of foundation and highlight/contour, as well as lot of liner and mascara, but I purposely went light on the rest of the cosmetics so I could really play around with PortraitPro’s makeup effects on a cleaner canvas than usual (foundation is always a must, though – I’ve learned that the hard way).
I didn’t just play around with makeup in PortraitPro, though; I broke out a really long wig and really flung it about when posing – something I don’t do as often as I used to because, quite honestly, it’s a pain in the ass. You have to stop and re-brush the wig every few shots or you end up with an ugly, tangled mess, not to mention all the wig hairs that get in your eyes, your lipstick, the fan that’s blowing your wig around (it doesn’t just happen to Beyonce), and, of course, it gets hot. My laziness lately has pretty much led me to forgo long wigs for shorties that are colorful and easy to play around with, but this long ombre pink one made for some amazing movement shots – in fact, I have already edited a HELL of a lot of the long wig photos and am still going.
PortraitPro can also change haircolor, so even though all these long hair shots are the same wig, I managed to make it look a bit different using the software. I really can’t explain how much fun all this stuff is for me to do – as a kid, I used to get fashion magazines and lay them out on the floor, then get colored markers and ‘improve’ all the models’ makeup and hair. So with Photoshop, I basically get to do what I enjoyed doing so much as a kid, only with more effective results, which I think is pretty damn cool. Technology, yay! Although, I still do miss the JC Penney catalog I used to deface year after year. Moving on.
I made sure to do a few costume changes so I’d have lots to work with, but I didn’t really think about switching out the ‘body baubles’ once I got to the multi-colored set you see in most of the photos above. I wore the silver ones with the blonde wig and the polka-dotted PJs (yes, they do have feet in them, something someone on Facebook guessed without me telling them – is it that obvious?) and then switched to the colorful ones for the long wig, and kept that set on for two more costume changes, leaving out the green set I got entirely (after a few hours with the adhesive on my face, it was starting to itch, so I decided to stop and save the green baubles for another shoot). So, while I had some different wigs and outfits to play around with when editing, I had the same bauble-face in most of them. Enter Photoshop again:
Aside from eyeshadow/mascara, I didn’t add any makeup to this shot – I started to, but for some reason it worked better without added blush and lipstick
Yep, I realized that it was super-easy to copy the face baubles in PS and paste them onto other parts of my face as much as I wanted. Score! So that gave me plenty more ways to take shots from the same set and make them look a bit different. I also worked the hell out of the makeup tool in PortraitPro – when using the tool, you can only add one eyeshadow color at a time, so I usually use it to add to existing color and move on. This time, I kept using and re-using the tool to get all these different colors of eyeshadow on my face – it’s tedious work, because every time you load PP you have to move the guide points around the subject’s face to get all the outlines right, and on my poor old laptop (got a new one on the way, thank god) the software slows to a crawl. But using PortraitPro and Photoshop’s blending tools, and a LOT of patience, I was able to create some pretty realistic and different makeup effects from photo to photo.
I purposely left off any eyebrow liner or pencil when putting on my makeup, because I knew I wanted to play around with my brows, and I do not like using the glue-stick drag-queen trick to block my natural brows out and draw them on higher (tried it once and it yanked out a lot of my already-sparse eyebrow hair). In some shots, I was able to remove the brows entirely and use copied and pasted face baubles in their place (like the photo above with the short purple wig), while in others I used Photoshop to raise them high, drag-queen style. In the shot directly above, all of that eyeshadow was done via editing: my first round with PortraitPro added the green-gold shadow, and then I went in a second time to add the copper color on the lid. You can choose whether or not to make the shadow matte or shimmery, and you can see in that shot how realistic the shimmery shadows look. Each photo took hours to work with this way, but as I mentioned already, I was having fun doing it, so no problem there.
You can imagine how long this one took to edit, with not one or two but THREE eyeshadow colors happening. My dedication is real, people. Another fun PortraitPro makeup fact: Because I lined my eyes using white in the waterline and bringing the dark liner down below (another drag queen trick to make eyes look bigger and change the shape), I was able to use the software to apply lashes and mascara below the dark eyeliner – something I could not have done on my own (drag queens can do this with false lashes, but I was already risking it with the bauble-adhesive on my sensitive skin and wasn’t gonna go there). I think if you scroll back up to some of the previous pictures, you can see the effect of this better than you can in the shot above, but it is amazing how realistic the eyelashes look. I also used PP to over-whiten the eye area to increase the big-eyed effect. So fun.
OK, I already had a strange look on my face before editing this shot, but by the time I was done, I literally looked NOTHING like myself. And I didn’t even edit this one nearly as much as the others! Go figure. I think it’s because it’s an angle and an expression I don’t normally do.
But wait – I started this post saying 2016 kicked me in the ass one last time on December 31st, but so far everything sounds hunky-dory. So what happened? Well what happened was this: after I took about 400 shots, and my face started to get itchy, I called it a day, uploaded my shots, and removed all the makeup from my face so I could start editing. And a few hours later, I started to get – itchy. But on my chest, not my face. I was so focused on the photos that it took me awhile to notice that I’d gotten SO itchy I was scratching my right side, right around the rib area. Then I felt a big old bump, like a huge mosquito had bitten me (not an unlikely thought, since it was about 84 degrees around New Year’s, and there actually WERE mosquitoes outside). I went to the mirror to see how bad the bite was, and YIKES. It wasn’t just one bite – it was whole cluster of them! No wait, upon further inspection – there were TWO clusters of bites on the right side of my chest.
I realize this photo in no way goes along with the story I am telling – but trust me, THAT photo you don’t want to see.
I showed Doug, and he agreed that they looked like some kind of bug bites, which was freaking me out more than the itching. I hated to admit it, but they sure looked like bed bugs. Bed Bugs! Ugh! I freaked out and washed a LOT of shit in hot water that evening, not gonna lie, even though it was not logical that I would have been bitten by bed bugs all over while my husband had none anywhere, or that I wouldn’t start feeling them until four in the afternoon. Could we have fleas? How was this possible with all the money we spend to keep our totally-indoor pets flea-free? Or – was it actually an allergic reaction to the adhesive, and if so, why was it on my chest and not my face, where the baubles actually were glued? The mystery, and the itching, deepened.
One of my faves from this set so far – I love the tones in this one
As I’m typing this, I’m wondering if it’s even a good idea to share it at all – but, the real story turned out to have nothing to do with bugs. I loaded up on Benadryl to get through the night, then realized in the morning when the bites hadn’t changed a bit (they hadn’t gotten worse, but certainly were no better) that I was going to have to hope against hope that a clinic somewhere was open on New Year’s Day so I could find out what was going on (isn’t it always the way that you develop some weird something or other on a holiday, or a weekend when doctors aren’t open?). Thankfully, a RediClinic was open in our local HEB and I headed up there, along with every other sick man, woman, and child desperately looking for emergency care on the first damn day of 2017.
Lots of added face baubles in this one, and you gotta give me credit for using PortraitPro to create that ombre lip. Fake makeup takes work, people!
Anyway, long story short (too late) – the doc takes one look at my chest and identifies the rash immediately as shingles. Something I have never had – and three days in, I hope to God I never have again. The rash has not spread – but oh my GAWD is it painful. Not to draw too clear a picture, but I eventually had to cut the right side out of a t-shirt just so I could be somewhat covered up around the house because I cannot stand to have any fabric touching my chest right now. And of course, it finally decided to get cold here in Houston today, so I not only have on a t-shirt with the right boob cut out of it, but a legwarmer stuck on my right arm to keep me feeling somewhat covered since I had to cut the sleeve out too. That’s right people – the glamourpuss in the photos above is currently typing this blog post in a green, half-ripped t-shirt, with her rashy right boob hanging out and a brown legwarmer on her right arm. Earlier, one – ONE – hair from my head fell onto my chest and it felt like someone rubbed sandpaper on it, that’s how bad it is right now. If ANY fabric from this ripped-up shirt comes close to the danger zone, I feel it, and it feels awful.
So, day one of 2017 found me in a clinic getting diagnosed with shingles. And I was so ready to hit the ground running this week too, to finally buckle down and get my tutoring business up and running. Instead, I’m hiding out in the house dedicating all my time and energy pampering and protecting my chest. I blame Donald Trump. But hey, I’ve had plenty of time to play around and edit my pictures! Notice I’ve already processed ELEVEN of them, and I just took the shots four days ago. That’s gotta be a new record for me.