Collage Barrage

I’ve been writing so many wig review posts I got behind on sharing photos, so let’s catch up! Since I had so many shots to share, I decided to save some space and use the Pixlr collage function to group things together. Here’s the first one:

candy_collage

I shared the photo on the left in my last photography post, but I wasn’t pleased with it. However, Pixlr recently came out with a new set of overlays called ‘candy minimal’ and it’s got some great pastel color washes I love, so I moved this shot over there and played around until I came up with something I liked. Now I really love this shot; I even made it my new lock screen on my phone. Loving all the pretty pinks and blues and yellows those overlays have. I’ve Pixlr’ed some other photos too, but they haven’t come out as good as this one.

Here’s another shot I shared previously that I re-worked a little:

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The skin was way too plastic-looking in the first shot, so I worked to maintain more depth and texture when I edited it a second time. It’s still a little flat, but that’s because of the bright flash; at least I look a bit more human in the new version.

Next up, some macro florals:

floral_collage

Last week I had to stop by the grocery store to pick up some things I forgot to get the day before, and to make the trip less irritating I decided to grab some flowers and photograph them when I got home. They were hydrangeas, and yes, they were originally these colors; I did enhance them but I did not alter the color. For some reason I eventually decided to stick a doll in there; it was my Madame Alexander angel doll, so I used her wings in that top right shot too.I took 500 shots of these flowers, so I would imagine there will be more to come from this set in the future.

Then, after filming wig videos the other day, I decided to take advantage of the fact that I already had my studio set up and some halfway-decent stage makeup on to take a few portraits in some of the new wigs. One of the wigs I haven’t reviewed yet and I’m not sure I will –  it looks pretty outrageous and the cap is a hot mess, but it’s great for photos. It’s called Stream, it’s by Ellen Wille, and the color is Hot Chocolate Lighted. The other wig in these shots is the Shari by Envy I uploaded to the Wig Videos section a few days ago.

wig_collage

For some reason, I edited all those shots with a lot of greenish and bluish tint; not sure why but it felt like the thing to do at the time.

And last but not least, some random other shots that didn’t fit into any of the previous collages:

misc_collage

That first shot up top took forever for me to edit; all that fancy eye makeup was done in Photoshop, as well as the nose contouring, so just those two things took me quite awhile. Then I went for an almost cartoon-ish effect, and that also took me time to get exactly like I wanted it. And yes, the day I took all my Stitch Fix photos, I did do some light leaping. My bum knee hurt a bit when I was done, and I definitely cannot leap with the enthusiasm I used to be able to do (but that’s totally my fault for continuing to not exercise like I’m supposed to be doing to strengthen it) but I got a few good ones in before I had to call it a day and limp away.

So many shots in the hopper to edit and play around with; one week into summer and I’ve spent most of it either shooting photos and videos or editing what I just shot. Kinda sad, but lots of fun. More wigs coming this week, including a (gasp) topper, so probably more filming at some point and uploading of new reviews. Getting the old ones uploaded will also continue. That’s right, it’s me with free time, so I’m getting all busy on the blog over here!

And by the way, my beloved Pearl did not win RuPaul’s Drag Race, but the finale was all kinds of awesome and I’m sure all the queens will make loads of money on all the singles, albums, and other various business ventures they embark on after their time on the show. Pearl has actually come out with a perfume called “Flazeda,” and I bought it even though it probably smells like every other perfume on the celeb market and costs too much at $125. Still – FLAZEDA everyone!

Flower Trip

More flower macros! Today I decided to share some comparison photos as well; the first set shows the difference the FlashPipe made on the macros when I was focusing in really tight. Without using an external flash, such shots were too dark:

lana8b

I’ve used the Speedlite on macros before, and it definitely helps, but because of all the weird angles I’m using to get the shot I want the light kind of bounces all over. With the FlashPipe I get a nice soft diffused light that’s much more even, and definitely brighter than taking the shot without any flash:

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My next set of comparisons shows how using the RadLab plugin for Photoshop helps edit a SOOC photo into something more magical. Here’s the original shot:

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And here’s the shot after I adjusted the contrast and used RadLab filters to brighten and enhance color and detail:

lana9_RadLabbed

Big difference! So even if in the final shot you can’t tell how RadLab might have helped, it definitely does. Of course all this could be done without it, but for someone with limited Photoshop skills like myself the plugin sure makes things easier.

I then used Snapseed for final sharpening and to enhance color a little further, as I felt the yellow was a little blown out in the original shot (the downside of using the flash). So here’s the final version:

lana9_RadLabbed_Snapseed

This next one is a bit similar to a shot I shared in Sunday’s post; but that one was taken without the Speedlite/FlashPipe combo while the one I’m sharing today used those two additions. So as a reminder and further comparison, here’s the shot I shared Sunday:

lana6_final

And here’s the same flower (different angle though) taken with the external flash and FlashPipe (as well as water spritzing):

lana10_Snapseed

Both are nice, but the effect is totally different. Again you can see how the color gets blown out a bit by the flash, even after all my edits (this is a final version, achieved using the RadLab filters and Snapseed).

And here’s my last one for today. Definitely a favorite – final version only:

lana11_Snapseed

More flowers later, I am sure. Another busy week ahead, and then next week I must start getting back to work at least once a week to prepare for the year. Enough time to do a full self-portrait set complete with costumery still eludes me, but I’ll get to it when I can.

Mild Flower

I’ve had a chance to edit a few more flower photos, but only a few, so here we go.

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I really struggled with the color on this one; that yellow flower in the background looked very dark and muddy and it was distracting. I ended up using Rad Lab filters to take the saturation way down, which did the trick, but it washed out the pink flower too. In the end I still liked it, and the softer tones worked, but it was much brighter in the original. The yellows worked better in this one:

lana6_final

One thing I did differently when using the macro lens this time was to place the subject, the vase of flowers, on the floor so I could sit down and crawl around while photographing it, as well as being able to stand above it easily. This helped me get good angles but more importantly, it kept me from getting tired due to all the stooping and bending into strange positions I had to do last time I used the lens, when I had the subject on a table. I also attached the 7D to a monopod to hold it steady and rest my arm a little. Both strategies helped. I took most of the 500 or so shots with manual focus, too, to control the focal point better. I think all these things helped make the shoot more successful than my last attempts at using the macro lens.

About half the shots I did were taken with my umbrella lights only; but when I tried to get really close-up they were coming out too dark, so eventually I attached this little piece of magic I purchased recently called a FlashPipe – it’s a cylinder made out of some sort of plastic which slips over an external flash to give out an even and soft diffused light. I’ve used my Speedlite when shooting macros before, but it is hard to control the light when aiming in so close or leaning in at weird angles; the FlashPipe did a beautiful job of filling in shadows where I needed it without overpowering the subject.

This next shot is one I took with the FlashPipe; I have more to come using it and I may do some comparison shots so you can see the difference it made (I also spritzed the flowers with water at this point for added interest). But for now I just have this one:

lana7_final

The nice shadows and sharpness aren’t all due to the FlashPipe there; I did use RadLab and Snapseed to add contrast and detail as well as tone down the color, which was a bit too bright initially. But still, it did a wonderful job illuminating such a close shot without blasting out the subject or creating odd shadows. And it only costs about $30. Of the three I processed today, this was definitely my favorite – I’m thrilled that I finally got some genuine macros out of that lens!

In case you missed it when I mentioned it above, yes I did take over 500 shots of these flowers that Lana sent me as well as the ones I bought from the grocery store (Lana’s were pink and yellow, the grocery store ones are blue, orange, and green). So there will be more coming as I’ve just scratched the surface here of what I took.

Flower Powered

Would you believe that a day after getting out my trusty new super-tall step ladder to hang my old white backdrop on the wall the cool brick one from China came in? Figures. But as it turned out, my friend Lana sent me flowers Saturday, and given the day I had Friday it was a welcome and much-needed surprise. So thanks Lana!

lana4_Snapseed

Since I had the white backdrop up, I decided to use it for macro pictures of the flowers; these shots wouldn’t have worked against the printed brick background (at least I don’t think they would have) so it was probably best I hadn’t hung the other yet. These even inspired me to zip up to the grocery store and get some more to practice on, but I’ll show those later.

lana3_Snapseed

I used my macro lens, my two umbrella lights, my Speedlite on my 7D, and for added fill light in later shots I used a new gadget I bought recently called a FlashPipe – again, I’ll talk about the FlashPipe in a later post, as in these shots I’m sharing today I wasn’t even using it yet.

I don’t have many to share in this post, because editing them was time-consuming for reasons not related to the photos at all (my computer was being sluggish and difficult, and I had to re-boot a few times). But suffice it to say Simon felt he had to get in on the action, and I had to document that:

lana1a_Snapseed

This last shot is actually of the teeny little purple flowers you can see in the Simon shot. I think I got some nice magnification and focus here:

lana2_final_noDP

I also used my Dirty Pictures filters on this one, not sure which I prefer:

lana2_final_withDP

I’m leaning towards the Dirty Pictures version, but let me know what you think. I know this post is brief, but it’s late and I’m tired, so I’m going to hang it up for now. Much more floral-ocity to come – but to close this out, enjoy a little video I made of Simon playing around behind the white backdrop. something he always does. As usual I forgot to turn my camera into landscape mode, so it’s a silly little strip of a video. But it is kinda cute.

 

Wreath on edge

I’m trying with the titles, people, I swear.

Recently I ordered a few floral hair wreaths to use in my upcoming photo shoot on March 17th, and for some reason Wednesday I decided to snap photos of them. Unlike almost every single photo I upload to my blog, these are pretty much SOOC with the exception of one, and I’ll explain that one when we get to it. I did do some RAW editing before converting the files to .jpeg, but that’s it. I did this mostly because it was late in the evening when I took the shots, and I didn’t want to invest too much time in processing them, but also they just didn’t need much work. I used the ExpoDisc again so the white balance seemed fine, and I had my new 50mm lens on the camera which created some lovely, lovely bokeh and interesting focus, so I just kept the editing to a minimum to get things done.

Two of the wreaths are dried florals; one is baby’s breath and the other is dried violet. These two were bought off Etsy from a fairly new shop there called Junkyard Dandelions – they only have one review, and that one is mine. They are both incredibly pretty and well-done, with nice ribbon detail to tie in the back. They’re sturdy but appear delicate and they look exactly like the photos on the site.They shipped very quickly, and the seller/designer was pleasant to communicate with. Also they were not expensive – about $30 each – and for the price I think the quality of these is outstanding:

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Adorable little bunny tag

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Lace detail

I also bought, from another Etsy vendor, a floral wreath with very large flowers; it was only $20 which seemed like a steal for such a large piece. However, when I got it in, I felt it looked a bit cheap and fake (the flowers are silk). In spite of that, I still like it as I think it will work for other portraits if I end up not using it in this one (it was much more colorful than I really wanted for this shoot anyway). When I photographed it, it actually looked better than it does in person, so it’s all good. Plus, it really was a good deal for the size of the thing:

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And now, for the grand finale to wrap up this little post, is the one shot I did more editing on after processing the RAW file. When you see it, I think you’ll understand why, because this shot was worth putting out the extra effort for sure:

wreath1_Snapseed

If you ever needed proof that Sprocket is one seriously special dog – photogenic AND patient to boot – well here it is. He is so sweet-natured that even though he clearly did not enjoy having this thing on his head, he sat there with his head up like I asked him to so I could pop off a few quick shots. The framing isn’t great here, but that’s because I did have to snap the shot in a hurry, but it’s still a winner. This beats the time I managed to get a shot of him wearing angel wings, I think. And this shot also gives you a sense of how big that wreath is. Sprocket’s a ninety-pounder, so that sucker is big.

Eh, what the hell, I’ll upload one more Sprocket shot. I processed this one too, beyond the RAW processing. I like his facial expression more in this shot, but the focus was on his nose and it blurred out the flowers a lot, so in my opinion the one I shared above is the better photo of the two. Let me know if you disagree (and the flowers are around his neck here because this was the second attempt I made to take pics of him with the wreath on, and he would not sit still for me to put it on his head again. He just wasn’t going to fall for that twice).

wreath6_Snapseed