Day Off Shots

Since we had the day off due to the early freeze, I threw on some clothes and took photos for the afternoon. And yes, I know I said I was going to lay off taking pictures for awhile because I’m so backlogged, but I lied. Anyway, I actually have to go to work on Saturday as it’s the big placement test day, so the school will be overloaded with eighth graders and I have to be there to meet with the parents. So all in all, it was nice to have the day off today since my weekend is cut short by work responsibilities.

I thought I’d share a few new photos, even though I’ve got at least three previous sets I still haven’t processed and shared. I also tried out some new hairpieces today – what I’m wearing in these shots are two hair wraps, which are basically ponytail scrunchies made of synthetic hair. My hair is just long enough to pull into the tiniest ponytail imaginable, so on it’s own it looks rather silly, but I can wrap one of these scrunchies around my little ponytail nub and it looks rather cute. I bought this piece off Vogue Wigs; it’s called “Jolt” and only cost $7,95, but based on the recommendation of the reviewers on the site I bought two:

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I am way too old for this outfit, but I had fun wearing it anyway

I wouldn’t ever wear the scrunchies that way for real, I was just playing around with how they could be used. Unfortunately they’re a little darker than my real hair, but Doug says it isn’t noticeable. The best way to wear them is one wrapped over the other, for added fullness, like this:

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And I know that’s another really weird outfit, but as I said, I was playing around. You’ve seen that lace dress before, in a previous post; for the hell of it I decided to throw it over this great maxi dress I got from Modcloth and see how it turned out. It might have looked better over the other version of the maxi dress I bought, in black and brown:

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Then again, it might just be a bad idea to put it over either one of them, I don’t know. It seemed interesting enough in pictures.

One thing these photos made me think of was how much I dislike jewelry. I noticed when wearing my hair up tucked into the two hairpieces  that I really could use some earrings, but I hate wearing them and never do. I tried to cram some into my neglected but pierced ears for the shots with my hair up, but in the end I changed my mind because they make me uncomfortable as hell. I really don’t like rings either; about three years ago I developed an allergy to the nickel in my white-gold wedding ring, and when I went to buy another one all I had to choose from was platinum or sterling silver (due to the nickel allergy). Not liking wearing rings in general, I really couldn’t bring myself to shell out thousands on a platinum one, so I ended up picking a simple sterling silver band from Tiffany’s for $150. My friends thought I was nuts not to get  a “real” ring when Doug was  telling me to buy whatever I wanted no matter the cost, but it was honestly the only thing I liked. In fact, I adore it – it has that pretty ribbon of Tiffany’s blue running through it and it is completely unobtrusive; I forget I have it on, and I doesn’t make my skin turn red and itchy like my old diamond ring did.

To sum up this weird ramble, here’s a third way you can wear these scrunchy hair headbands:

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I think you can see it there; I just have both of them wrapped around a low ponytail. This is my favorite way to wear it, although when I started jumping in this outfit they both flew off (and yes, I do have a picture of one of them sailing off my head). As I said, it  helps cover up the tiny little ponytail I have going right now. Truth be told, I could have gotten away with just one, but since each one was only eight bucks I don’t mind owning two. Simon will probably end up finding and destroying one anyway; he greatly enjoys stealing things and running around the house with them in his mouth, then chewing on them until they’re destroyed. At least he doesn’t swallow anything, like Sprocket does.

Speaking of Simon, when I was first setting up for the shots I intended to hang this gossamer-thin backdrop I bought over the white dropcloth I still have hanging on my office wall. But in the end it was too hard for me to easily hang; it’s so light the pins wouldn’t hold, and I gave up pretty quickly (I’m quite tired of the white backdrop but have yet to buy the black one I keep intending to get). So I tossed the big old thing into a corner (it was huge) and started putting on my makeup, then later discovered Simon had made a nice little home for himself in it. Of course I have photographic evidence of this:

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Kind of sucks that this is the cutest photo of the bunch and it isn’t of me. Oh well.

Right on Target

Got up about 7 AM Sunday morning, enjoyed a leisurely cup of tea, then got to work on taking photos with the pink Target wig my friend Chadwick sent me from Chicago. Setting up the studio took about 30 minutes, including breaking down the office and converting it into a studio space, then setting up the camera and lighting, then it took an hour so to apply the makeup. All in all, I was ready to shoot by 9:30 and completely done by 11:00 AM, which may be a new record for me. I’m sure the extra hour from ending daylight savings time helped (and am I the only one who does not get up in arms over the whole daylight savings thing? To me, it indicates the start of a new season, so I enjoy it both coming and going), plus I’m not including the reassembly of the office into all of this. I didn’t clean up until late afternoon as I immediately got absorbed in editing the shots, as I always do.

Overall I am pleased with this set. I really went on a marathon today trying to process as many shots as possible, but as usual I couldn’t get them all done. The portrait shots came out better than the jumping and movement ones, because I forgot to change the lighting setup when I switched from close-ups to full-body shots, and as a result the lighting is off on those (too bright and the focus isn’t very crisp). But when I spend as much time on the makeup as I did with this set, and the portraits don’t come out nicely, that’s a real pisser – so I’m happy enough to have gotten some great shots that accentuate the work I put into my face.

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I’m going to share with you a little secret about posing for portraits that I picked up from an online member of a wig message board awhile back: before taking close-up shots with bright lighting like this, I shave my face. I do this because I have a lot of peach fuzz (getting more as I get older, too – thanks nature) and with the amount of bright light that I aim at my face, it all shows in close-ups. It’s always bugged me and I’ve done my best to edit it out, but when she mentioned the face-shaving thing I decided to try it, and I love the results. The woman who shared that she did this lives in Japan, where apparently this is a common practice for all women – peach fuzz apparently is a much bigger deal there than it is here, and is considered very unappealing. I got online and read up on the subject, and it turns out you can go to an aesthetician and pay a hundred bucks or more for a service called dermaplaning, which isn’t much more than a straight-edge razor shave. I use what’s called an eyebrow razor and my husband’s shaving cream, and do it myself (this actually is also great for shaping eyebrows, which is how it’s marketed). It makes the face smoother and the makeup blend and stay put – it looks so much better in photos and is actually the secret of many a supermodel. I don’t believe for a second that it makes the facial hair grow back any darker or more coarse, so no worries about it on my end (I’ve been shaving my little lady-mustache for years anyway; creams burn my skin and to go for waxing constantly is too much maintenance. Never had a problem with it). If you ever want to try it, don’t be afraid of those old wives’ tales about facial growing back darker if you shave it off. It’s baloney. And a good face shave is better than a scratchy old exfoliant anyway – that’s why men always look so fresh-faced after shaving. .

But enough about my face shaving:

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Not totally pleased with this shot, but I edited it anyway because you can really see the eye makeup. My eyebrows have gotten sparse over the years, but they are still dark, so I actually used a long-wearing Lime Crime coral red lipstick called Suedeberry on them, then blended the pink eyeshadow into that. I got those false lashes on sale after Halloween at the grocery store, and as you can see they didn’t stay put too well. One of them is popping off there, but hopefully it’s not too noticeable. I can also see on my chin where either my skin was dry or my face powder wasn’t blended very well – that’s how harsh the lights I use can be. Makeup really does need to be flawless, because every little error will show. Not that anyone else would notice when looking at the photo. But I do.

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A bit of a weird shot, but I couldn’t resist that shadow on my face that frames one eye. You can also see that I played with layers in this set – all of the shots were taken in front of my beige backdrop, but I changed the color of it to work better with the bright colors of the subject. Also, I got those paper butterflies at Party City over the summer, and finally found a use for them. Unfortunately the butterfly at the very top fell out at some point during the shoot, and I didn’t realize it until I caught it in Simon’s mouth after shooting was done. So I have loads of pics with one less butterfly (More about Simon later – this was his first time experiencing photo day and he was quite interested in what was going on).

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Now this shot makes me happy. At some point I applied a bit of talcum powder on my face because it kept appearing shiny and I wanted my skin to look a bit lighter. I think that worked well here, and this is one of the shots I did not end up editing much, as tempted as I was to jack with it like I do most of my shots. I thought it worked as is, and just made a few adjustments. Oh and the butterfly isn’t actually balancing on my nose – kinda gross, but the butterflies were stuck to very thin, long pieces of wire that I was able to stick into the wig to get them to stay – here, well, I have the wire shoved up my nose. Just keeping it classy, people!

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I admit to having run out of good ideas for portrait poses at this point, so I often end up reverting to some old standby stances and faces to get some variety. This is a goofy, half-surprised look I seem to enjoy making (probably in life as much as in photos). Sometimes I move the camera around to shoot my face from different angles, but from the sides in this wig you could see too much of the wig cap and my natural hair. These wigs are cool as hell, but not exactly easy to wear. In fact, most of the problems I had with this shoot were due to that wig – once I managed to get it on my head properly, I could not in any way shape or form put my glasses back on, so I had to focus the camera without seeing what I was doing at all, which is less than ideal. It also kept banging into doorways and lighting umbrellas and was just generally a nuisance for self-portraits. But it looks great. It had also, after about two minutes of wearing it, worn off all the makeup on my forehead.

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Simon, however, had no such issues.

Speaking of Simon, as I mentioned earlier he was fairly curious about what was going on during this shoot. His main fascination was with my little remote, since I toss that to the ground after pressing the button for each shot. To him, that was a clear indication the item was there for his enjoyment, and he kept grabbing it in his little mouth and scampering away with it. He also got into swiping and biting at my skirt a bit, but not nearly as much as he got into pouncing on the remote.

Although clearly he got into pouncing on the skirt a bit too – as evidenced in this next gem, which was not intentional on my part in any way, shape, or form; in fact, I had no idea what Simon was up to until I saw the shot. I’m sure I felt him landing on my skirt and starting a little kitty-war with it, but at the time I had no idea I’d managed to capture his little ambush on camera:

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Eyes on the prize, Simon!

My makeup also didn’t translate well to the full-body shots and I should have slapped on some lipstick for them. So overall, not too pleased with the full-length photos in this set, but that one was too good to pass up. Also, in this shot my right arm actually was in the photo originally, but the angle the camera caught it at was just plain weird, my elbow looked huge and distorted, and overall I found that arm to be a huge distraction. So I just edited it on out of there and figured I’d pretend my arm was behind my back or something. Much better this way.

More later!

Meet Simon.

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When I posted this photo on Facebook with the same title as this post, someone immediately commented, “That was quick,” which I took to be a judgment because I am paranoid. But yes, it was quick I suppose. However, this is how I do when it comes to my pets – as soon as one dies, I want another, because I know it’s the only thing that will heal my heart. I am not like this with people, and I don’t think it makes me callous, I just know it’s the only thing that allows me to move on after losing a pet.

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Perhaps they said that because we still have no proof Ramone won’t come back. But Doug and I talked about it, and together decided that if Ramone did come back, and we suddenly found ourselves with two cats instead of one, that would be wonderful; we have had two cats before. But neither one of us thinks it’s going to happen; we feel Ramone left us to die in peace. Truth be told, I was willing to wait a week or so, but my husband got up Sunday morning and was walking around the house talking to the dogs and saying, “Don’t worry, babies, Mama is going to get you a new kitty real soon,” which I took to be a big huge hint that he wanted me to do so that day.

Allow me to explain:  I am always the one who goes out and picks our pets. Doug can’t stand going into animal shelters; he gets upset and wants to adopt every animal in the place, as well as give them all his money, so we’ve learned to leave him at home and let me do it myself.I never have preconceived notions about what I want, I just act as a divining rod for the treasure that will be our new pet. I had this feeling I really wanted to bring a cat home today, though, and was concerned about the local shelter as they won’t let you bring home any pet until they’ve been spayed or neutered. I of course was thinking we’d want a brand new kitten (of which they had tons), but in the end I went with a four-month-old because he was already neutered and ready to bring home. Sorry if that sounds superficial, it just felt like today was the day to get it done, and I was able to do it this way.

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Took me all day to find him though, because it was Sunday, and the shelters have weird hours as well as going out to local pet stores for afternoon adoptions, so although I got in my car around 10:00 AM, I didn’t find Simon until around 3. It was a long day, but Simon is home now and fitting in nicely with our two pups. He had to hiss and swat at Sprocket a few times before he got the message not to be overbearing, but I appreciate that this kitty isn’t intimidated by Sprocky’s size and exuberance. Sprocket is now sufficiently cowed, and Penny is showing her usual feigned indifference. He has successfully used the litter box, found and eaten his food, and investigated the nooks and crannies of the house. He has also learned the power of the water spritzer when he tried to get into the fireplace, behind the refrigerator, and into my plate of food. I like it that he learns quickly and will take no for an answer – if it comes with a squirt of water that is (never sprayed into his face, of course!).

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The paperwork we got on him said he likes to lick, cuddle, and play – and so far those things are all turning out to be true. I have my usual nagging fear that he is carrying some horrible illness with him from his time in the shelter ,and that he is either going to cost us thousands of dollars to get well, or die (he’s sneezed several times since we brought him home, and I’m particularly worried about that). But I have a load of errands to do Monday and am taking a day from work to do it all, and getting Simon to the vet will be one of those.

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As a bonus, he poses nicely for the camera.

We did OK last night but about 4:30 in the morning he got really feisty, so I took him out into the den to let him run around and slept the rest of the morning on the sofa. I have way more patience with puppies and kittens than Doug does, and actually enjoy even the nighttime disruptions, so I usually take charge in this area. Our sofa is quite comfy, anyway, and aside from a few foot attacks Simon nestled into one of our den chairs and slept through the night.

I still have loads of photos from this weekend’s air show to share, but I wanted to show you Simon with this post. So air show pics coming tomorrow!

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Turns out I didn’t have as many house photos as I thought I did. But I went ahead and edited a few of the sweet cat I bonded with while staying in the guest house last weekend – I never did ask what her name was, and nobody told me, so I have named her Gertie. She never would sit still long enough for me to get a decent shot, but I managed to pull together a few that weren’t a total blur.

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Any time I came near her she’d crawl out from under the little table where she hangs and demand my attention. OK, she didn’t have to demand, she got it just by being cute.

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Yes, my sister-in-law did stamp turkey tracks into the concrete of her guest house. Did I mention she’s a stickler for details?

Gertie also liked to rub her head against the metal stair railing; she’d bang it so hard you could hear it ring out like a gong. I don’t think she’s into self-abuse, just being an enthusiastic cat.

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I don’t know why, but I like this picture.

Here is a picture of the water silo as seen from my bedroom window. I don’t know why I like this picture either, it’s just water storage – but I do.

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And here is a shot of the new house, although this isn’t all of it. It’s longer, but I was too lazy to continue walking backwards to get it all into the shot. Yes, I really did just say that.

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And this is a photo of a painting made by my husband’s grandmother. My sister-in-law had this spot over the dining table set up for this painting in particular; it has its own special light beaming down on it.

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Their grandmother and grandfather moved to some land in Big Bend at some point in their lives, building a house of stone there with their own two hands and basically hiding out from the world in the middle of the desert. My SIL loved going out there and spending time with them. In a way she’s created her own place out in the country to mimic theirs, albeit more refined and less deserted than her grandparents’ place. Apparently that old stone house is still standing but has been abandoned for some time; no one has lived in it since they passed away. My SIL went out to see it a few years ago and said it still has the table set for company (I just realized I’ve never asked if this is a painting of the actual stone house; my guess is that it is but I have never gotten that confirmed).

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As I might have mentioned, I’m returning to work tomorrow, so I expect my writing will get more sloppy as I have less time to pull these posts together. Hopefully you will forgive my lack of grace or grammar as I move forward.* In closing, here’s a shot of some more barn kitties, ones with which I did not bond. They were sweet enough, just not as convenient as Gertie, who was always hanging out right outside my bedroom door.

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*For some reason, I like to upload posts both here and at Flickr right after midnight each day, but clearly that is going to have to change also. My plan is to continue writing the posts a day in advance, and to upload them first thing in the morning when I get up. That’s what I do on Flickr when school is in session.This probably matters to no one, but I’m mentioning it anyway.