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.

Me me me

This is another post full of “me” shots – taken outside in natural light, using the 85mm to experiment with it a little more.

By the way, the wig I’m wearing in these is new, but since I’m no longer reviewing them on this blog, I’ll link to the blog where I did write a review – it’s called Real Life Wigs and is run by a friend of mine. A lot of the older information on that site is from the wig blog I used to run back in the day; Stacey took it and used her skills to create a much more comprehensive and manageable site. From time to time, I still write up reviews over there, but of course I no longer make videos of the wigs I buy. The wig I wore in these shots is called Seville by Noriko – it’s a new style, and while it is pretty, if you check out the review you can also see I have some complaints about it. Moving on.

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As I mentioned in my last post, as my attitude towards my job has improved, so has my interest in my closet. To that end, last week I opened up a second Pinterest account so I can keep track of great makeup I find and fabulous outfits I come across. I was on Pinterest a while back and couldn’t get into it; I really had nothing I wanted to pin personally and everyone I followed was constantly pinning recipes and home decorating ideas, and I think it’s been well-established here that those are two things I couldn’t give a shit less about. But what with buying all these maxi skirts and dresses over the Christmas break, I needed ideas regarding how to wear them, and every time I did a Google search for images I ended up clicking some link that led me to Pinterest, so I eventually figured what the hell and opened up another account. Now I get that the secret is not to just follow your friends, but people who are pinning what you want to see, and that pinning isn’t the key to finding Pinterest useful but following the proper boards is. So now, I am following anyone with boards about maxi skirts, drag queens, wigs, makeup, or what is known as “advanced style” (women over, say, 55 with killer fashion sense. They inspire me).

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This outfit is straight lifted from someone else’s pin on Pinterest. I got that skirt for eleven dollars while out shopping at Dillard’s for my husband’s pants. It was so cheap, I couldn’t resist, and in spite of being long and knit it fit me nicely. But when I got home, I realized I had no idea what to do with it. It was finding the pin that inspired this outfit that prompted me to sign up for Pinterest again. My board about maxi skirts is brimming with ideas already, which is of course tempting me to buy more crap.

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The chambray shirt I picked up recently from Downeast Basics, which is a site with great clothes that are often super-cheap but still well made. They are basics, as the name implies, and everything I’ve bought from there has become a staple. I think every wardrobe should have at least one chambray button-up shirt, because it goes with absolutely everything and can easily be worn jacket fashion over a cami or shell (I do not look good in button-up shirts; they’re just all wrong for me for reasons I cannot ascertain. But if I wear them open with something underneath, they’re okay).

On another note, I am really enjoying playing around with these outfit shots, but I wonder if they’re boring as hell to other people. They certainly don’t have the ‘art’ element my usual stuff does, so I get a little nervous about taking and sharing all of these. Then again, my creative life has always been my own to do with as I see fit; I’ve never answered to anyone else about what I do creatively and I don’t want to start now. I feel like this stuff is a little lame, most likely, but as I’ve always believed about creative endeavors, I think following this path of current interest is leading to something that eventually will be more interesting to others. That’s the way my art has worked out so far. It started with me wanting to take portrait photos of myself in wigs, and at first I couldn’t take full body shots at all as my cheap camera couldn’t do it. So I am going to remain true to what my heart is telling me to do even though quite honestly I’m a little embarrassed by it. I could say more about this, but I think I’ve already said it, so that’s enough of that for now. Let’s look instead at some more pics of the Space Dress:

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Told ya the dress didn’t move well when jumping

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This was not a crooked jump when I took it, but I did cut one of my hands out of the frame, so I decided to tilt the whole image and cut off both hands to make it look intentional.

In closing, if you have not seen the trailer for the documentary that coined the term “advanced style,” please check it out. These women are the shit, and they motivate me to stay fabulous (and perhaps get even more so) as I grow older. There is also a book with the same title (Advanced Style) by Ari Cohen, and a blog he runs as well. Ari moticates me as well as the women he photographs – he took a passion (older women with great style) and turned it into something unique and inspirational.

85mm

Man, do I suck at post titles! Sorry.

I mentioned yesterday that I managed to catch some evening light and use my 85mm for a few of my outfit photos (I need to come up with a name for these types of shots. “Outfit photos” doesn’t do it for me…feel free to make suggestions). I am spending way too much time sitting on my butt in front of my computer editing all this stuff, but I am also having too much fun doing it to stop. That said, after I write this post I’m going to attempt to get out and make something of my day. Moving on.

These photos are more “me” than I usually show. In fact, the first OP (short for Outfit Photo until I come up with a better name) is something I put together one evening to wear to work the next day, and I got a ton of compliments on it. A co-worker even showed up the next day in similar attire and said she’d gone to the mall after work the day before to try and find an outfit like the one I wore here.

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I also love white pants, but I have to wear something long over them to camouflage my wider areas. This isn’t perfect, but it works well enough for me. 

Sometimes I put a look together that makes me feel great, and this was one of those times. It has everything I love – jeans (somewhat disguised by being white; I’m a blue jeans gal for sure, so anytime I can wear them to work I do), Uggs (yes this is another new pair SO SHUT UP ABOUT IT because I already know I have a problem), flowy knit fabric (which I know I shouldn’t love as more structured pieces work better with my body type, but I love flowy things in real life as much as in photos, so I always keep an eye out for such items that I can get away with), and overall, comfort. In spite of all my costumes and wigs, I’m really a casual dresser at heart, so aside from the wig I’m sporting here, this could be me on any given day.

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You’re way more likely to see me wearing this at a restaurant than yesterday’s space dress.

From a photography standpoint, the white pants caused a serious chromatic aberration problem, but I dealt with as quickly and as best I could without stressing over it too much. No one at ModCloth or Flickr is going to care if there’s some purple fringing around the edges of my pants so whatever (OK, so some people on Flickr might, but not people who follow my photostream). Still love the look of photos taken with this lens. Like the next one:

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In case you’ve never noticed, I have freakishly long hands and fingers. Grandma hands, kids used to call them in elementary school. But my flute and piano teachers loved them.

I die every time I see the bokeh the 85mm creates; I just want to eat it with a spoon. So smooth. I knew putting more distance between myself and that big plant (can’t remember the name of it at the moment) would blur the background more, but I can’t do that with the 85mm when taking a full shot because just to get my whole body in the frame, I have to place the tripod so far away it’s practically mashed up against the opposite fence. So I just scooted in and did some half-body shots for the hell of it. And by the way – that gray ruched tee-shirt I’m wearing under the blue cardigan is from Athleta, a store with fabulous but expensive clothes; the little details they add are phenomenal, like the overlong sleeves this top has with thumb holes to keep them pulled down. Love that look.

After taking some closer shots, I decided to play with using my Speedlite outside for portraits to enhance what available light I had left:

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It was about 5:15 PM when I took this shot, so getting up close to the camera was too dark and created too many shadows without the Speedlite. I think I had it bounced off a nearby wall for this shot, and actually, I was staring at the flash to see what was wrong with it as it hadn’t gone off for the two shots before this one. Then it magically worked (Speedlites overheat easily, not to mention they CHEW through AA batteries), and I liked the expression my confusion created here. It’s a weird portrait, but I think it’s interesting. I take so many photos of myself that I’m always excited by any shot that captures an expression I’ve not seen before.

I kept the editing to a minimum in the shot above, although I did use Photoshop to remove some undereye wrinkles and sun damage where it showed (mostly on my forehead; I’ve pretty much stopped editing out the hyper-pigmentation on my neck at this point. It ain’t going anywhere, and it’s getting more noticeable with age, so it’s time to embrace it. It wasn’t bad here anyway).  But I like the little lines and wrinkles that remained, and although the light is weird here I think it’s a pretty honest shot. This next  one though, I may have overdone a little bit:

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I think my skin is softer than I’d like it to be here, but I did it for a reason. I took all these shots with photography makeup on as usual – extra contouring, highlighting, and blush; loads of black liner, false lashes, lips lined outside them to make them look bigger, extremely dark, painted-on brows – but that was all put on over the normal makeup job I’d done that morning, and it was done in a rush, so my blending was not spectacular. Since I was planning on doing primarily full-body shots I didn’t worry too much about it, but one thing a good camera does is pick up every little color variation of the makeup a subject has on (I’m sure different lenses work to enhance or detract from this as well), and in this shot there were about 3 different foundation shades showing up on my face (some areas were overly orange and others too yellow), as well as spots where the powder wasn’t well-blended and looked chalky. I used a skin softener filter from Nik Software to help blend all that mess together. There are lots of ways to blend and soften skin when editing, and I’m sure there are ways to do it more effectively than I can; this little Nik filter is the best I’ve come across but I’ve hardly done any real investigation of the process. Anyway, whenever you soften skin you lose clarity, but it was a compromise I had to make for this one.  The way I deal with that is to always soften skin first, then add clarity and detail to try and make up for it.

Moving on to another real-life outfit I shot outdoors – I have a third outfit to share but I haven’t edited those pics yet (remember, I shot over 500 yesterday). I got the inspiration for this look from ModCloth’s Style Gallery – another reason why I love it is all the ideas I get there for how to go into my own closet and put things together.

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I’ve recently become obsessed with maxi skirts and dresses, even though this is another style that is not the best on me. Maxis really require long legs (mine are short) and stick-like bodies (mine is curvy) to look fantastic, but even a more normal female body (read; not a supermodel) can pull them off if you find the right ones. The way I find them is to be willing to try lots of them out and accept how often they won’t work without getting discouraged – not a problem for me as I love to shop and blame the clothes when I don’t look good in something, NOT my body. Never blame your body, ladies; always blame the clothes; your body is a shape be it overweight or under, so it’s not that certain things look “bad” on you because of your weight, it’s the cut of the clothing that’s the problem. You could lose 50 pounds and still not look good in certain cuts or fits. So blame the clothes, ALWAYS. Moving on.

I bought this maxi dress at ModCloth over the summer, based on the loads of reviews that said it was flattering on all body types. It’s true, because it works on me too, and maxis generally aren’t good on me. The material is flowy but not clingy, and the top is a bit billowy which always helps me balance my small upper bod with my heavy lower half. I saw a pic in the Style Gallery of a gal out in the snow, wearing one of these with a sweater and some winter boots, and it just worked so nicely that I immediately pulled out some boots, a belt, and a chunky cardigan and gave it a go. Everyone at work loved this outfit, and true to form, I loved it so much I immediately went back to MC and bought it in the two other colors it comes in. Sigh.

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This shot totally contradicts what I said yesterday about how you will never see a shot of me with my upper body leaning back and my hips pushed forward. But whatever – it worked here.

On a more personal note, I have to add that all the fun I’m having with clothes and getting dressed right now has to be connected to the improvements I feel coming with my work situation. For most of the time I’ve worked at that school, I’ve rolled out of bed with just enough time  to throw on whatever’s clean and comfortable, and cared very little about how I looked. But ever since coming back from the break I’ve been really getting into wearing my clothes again, and it’s great fun. I think it’s definitely connected to improvements in my work life and I’m so happy about that,  but my checkbook is feeling the improvements, too, and may be less enthused.