I Should Be Dancing…But I’m Not

I edited several of the shots I took a few weeks ago where I looked up photos of dancers on Google images and tried to imitate their movements (much safer and more appealing than photos of me actually attempting to dance) and worked them into a collage because on their own, I thought most of the shots were kinda boring.


I picked which shots to use intuitively, with the idea from the beginning that I would put them into a collage and therefore each shot would be small, so I didn’t think too much about my facial expression in them, or that my hands and feet were as close to perfect as I usually like them to be. Basically, I wanted interesting shapes that were varied from photo to photo but still complimented each other, and that was all.

However, several people on Flickr asked to see each shot on its own, and while I’m not going to use up my one photo a day upload over there posting these shots individually, I’m OK putting them up in a post here. Maybe I can Pixlr them later and then I’ll feel they’re worth sharing other places, but for now, it makes for an easy blog post since it’s late and I don’t have time to say much more. So without further ado, here they are, in no particular order:

move1_Snapseed move2_Snapseed move3_Snapseed move4_Snapseed move5`A_Snapseed move6_Snapseed move7_Snapseed move8_Snapseed move9_Snapseed


Tutu shoot

After my disappointing grocery store trip that yielded little in the way of decent photos, I decided to throw up a backdrop and try out some more jumping shots Saturday night, with the intention this time of flipping them to look like I was falling. It’s a different sort of jumping this requires – I am used to facing the camera as I leap, and trying to get my legs as high off the floor as possibly to add to the effect of height, but for these flipped shots I just need to look like I am falling backwards or forwards, so I can make smaller leaps with my feet staying closer to the floor. It’s also a fairly different process to edit the shots, but in spite of the differences I think this was a successful experiment.


I also noticed how different it is to jump without all the fabric and hair to worry about as I usually do. I’m normally concerned with getting the hair and the clothing to move in a certain way, but here, it was just my body I had to concern myself with. The tutu wasn’t going to flow in any other direction but outward no matter what I did, and since I had no wig on I didn’t have to concern myself with flinging it about. The end result was a lot of really nice jumps that didn’t have some of the usual bloopers such as wonky hands or weird faces, although that did happen on occasion. But all I had to think about was keeping the toes pointed and the fingers from going crazy and I think that’s why I got so many good shots in such a short time. Not that this means I’m ready to reject my usual layers of flowy clothing and long hair, because I will always love that stuff. But sometimes it’s nice to change things up.

Of course, the occasional weird face did make it into the set. I still liked this one enough to process it in spite of the strange expression.

Because I didn’t get started until later in the evening (I usually set up and shoot in the morning and early afternoon) I did not bother with stage makeup or an elaborate outfit; I also didn’t much feel like putting on a wig – I just wanted to jump around.


I used one of the fabulous headscarves I bought from BeauBeau headcovers – these things are great if you are like me and can never successfully tie a real scarf around your head. They’re pre-tied and just slip over your head like a cap. I love the look of a good scarf over my hair, and even though they are marketed towards women with hair loss I have a ton of them and wear them quite often – but I digress.


I also incorporated another plastic mask I got from Party City, a white one this time, but I’ve found that after trying masks out twice, I really don’t care for what they do to a photo. I guess I like faces and facial expressions too much, or maybe I need to buy better masks instead of the $3 cheapies at the party store. Not sure, but neither time I used them was I pleased with the effect. So I most likely won’t be doing that again.

Um, no.

For the tutu pics, such as those I’ve shared above, the lack of stage makeup didn’t bug me too much, but I also wanted to test out this idea I’ve had for quite awhile and keep forgetting to try, which is layering myself in petticoats and letting them all fly about in jumping shots. I did put a wig on for these, and I really felt the lack of proper makeup later when processing them. I am not criticizing my appearance without loads of war paint or anything – it’s just that in photos, with the amount of bright light I use, facial features disappear if they’re not exaggerated. My eyebrows in particular won’t show up at all, and my eyes appear to sink back into my skull. I’ll have to try this again when I have time to apply a full face. Also, I need to fluff up the petticoats some more, that bottom green one wasn’t moving about as much as the blue one and it kept leaving a “gap” in the material.

Love that wig! It’s a Gothic Lolita, of course.

I have tons more of the tutu ones to process, and a few more with the petticoats I’d like to work with also; this isn’t even everything I worked on the past two days. In fact, I sat at my computer processing shots from 10 AM to 3 PM Sunday, which would be pathetic if it didn’t produce something I consider to be art at the end of it all. But it did, so I am happy. Also, while I usually work with different filters and textures for each shot I edit from the same shoot, this time I kept the process the same for all the tutu shots (except for the mask ones) which feels a little odd to me, but I thought it created a better sense of consistency. I am always changing up what I do and how I do it, so that’s what I went with this time. Here’s a quick collage of everything I’ve edited so far:

By the way, I use good old Pixlr for my collages. Is there anything that program can’t do?

And that one in the middle occurred right before I tore down the set; Sprocket had made himself comfortable on the fleece blanket I’d laid down on the floor, so I decided to do a few leaps over him for fun. Here’s the one I ended up processing:


9/1/2013: Finally some new photos

Finally got to gussy up and take photos Saturday. I’ve kept the studio set up so I can hopefully get more done today or tomorrow as well, but they won’t require elaborate makeup next time as this took forever to create:

I’m supposed to look like a deer, but after I got the makeup on I realized I did not own a deer costume, so I had to improvise with finger-antlers.

The brown and white wig is new; it’s from Gothic Lolita Wigs, which is my favorite costume wig store. The hair fiber on this one easily tangled and was hard to comb out though, so it was a pain to use. As much hair-flinging as I like to do, I have to brush out my wigs every two or three shots to avoid having a massive rat’s nest by the end of the shoot, and this one was difficult to comb through every time. Bummer because it otherwise is easy to wear and I love the color combo.


I used a Speedlite behind me for most of the portraits; it’s become my favorite way to light tighter shots. I love the way it frames the subject and adds some depth to the background.  I added a softbox to the Speedlite on my camera to help erase shadows on my face as well.

I decided to Pixlr this one up a bit.

I had a few costume changes in this set so this was just my first “look.” I’ll share round two tomorrow.

Outtake Awkwardness

I set up for a weekend shoot Thursday afternoon, and while I was at it I threw on a crinoline and attempted some sofa-jumping pics (I worked in the interior design industry in the 90’s, and to this day I cannot use the word couch when referring to that particular piece of furniture; it was considered in poor taste to do so, which is one of those completely random, useless factoids from a past career that has never vacated my brain). Anyway, most of the shots were crap, but I did snag this one, which I enjoy:

I have very veiny feet, and until my mid-20’s I had hair on my toes. My nickname in high school was “hobbit feet” because of this. True story. 

I took this one shot where I hit the sofa hard and the face I made was so awful, I deleted it directly from the camera. The second I hit the delete button I realized it would have been perfect to upload in an outtakes post on my blog, and actually shouted “Nooooo!” but it was too late. So, the best outtake I cannot upload. But I did find a few lovelies to share.

This one illustrates the importance of being sure one’s Hobbit Feet are pointed

Nice framing

Believe it or not, I’m making an even worse face in the shot I deleted. But at least my Hobbit Feet are pointed.

I always watch a Rifftrax or old Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode while shooting. Weird, I know; but I can’t sit still to watch anything, so I use my shooting time as movie time. Sometimes between that and the industrial-strength fan I have blowing, I have a hard time hearing the timer count down This was one of those times I couldn’t hear it, and realized it was about to go off too late. I tried to scramble into some sort of pose, but I didn’t have time to come up with anything, so I punted:

When in doubt, make this face

I’m going to try out some new costume stuff this weekend, which will require a trip to Party City tomorrow. Time to buy more cheap crap! Maybe I can get my hands on some Hobbit Feet slippers or something. But it would probably be better to get my feet on them (or in them).

Cape Collage

What is honestly on my mind tonight is that I’m thinking about getting a perm. So I’m posting a set collage because I really don’t want to be that person who writes an entire post about getting a perm. I’ll save that post for after I do it and need to unburden myself of the regret and anguish I will most certainly feel when the damage is done (but seriously, I am reading that “the perm is back” and of course it’s “not your grandmother’s/mother’s/other-women-my-age perm”). Secretly I have always wanted to look like Elaine Benes from Seinfeld, and really, who doesn’t?

In other news, OMG I just found my Halloween costume for this year

Anyway, since I’ve got nothing else rattling around inside my head tonight, I thought I’d access the pixlr collage app again and share one of my favorite sets. But after making that collage, I remembered that I did a previous set using this same Red Riding Hood cape I got from the grocery store’s Halloween section for $10. I’d totally forgotten about that first shoot until writing this post tonight, so I dug out my external drive and MAN do I have a shit-ton of photos. Sadly, all the older ones are poor quality because when I first started editing I didn’t understand about shooting in RAW and not saving a file to a .jpeg until absolutely finished with it; I would literally open and save and close and open a file as many as 15 times, reducing quality every time. Still the creativity was there, and I’m struck by how much cool stuff I’ve been able to do with such a cheap, simple prop:

Original red cape shoot, taken sometime during the summer of 2011

Notice that all these are portraits and no wide shots? That’s because with my old camera and its kit lens I couldn’t get decent photos of my entire body that had any sort of clarity. All I did for the first year of shooting was portraits because of that. As a result I was often only in costume from the waist up, and below that I had on my sweatpants and houseshoes.

Here’s the set I was originally thinking of posting; it’s from October of 2012:

I’ve learned a few things since that first set. And yeah, one of those shots isn’t red. Screwed up the collage but looks better that way as a standalone photo.

In looking over my sets from this past October, I see at least three that stand out as favorites. Since that time, my costumes have gotten more elaborate, and I’ve come to spend more time on my makeup as well; I’m wondering if my creativity has been stifled by some of that rather superficial focus. Perhaps I’ve come to think too much of the costumery and not enough of the photography? Not sure. I did notice in my last shoot, with a costume on that was easier to move around in than my usual,  I had a lot more interesting movement and jump shots than I’ve been getting lately. So maybe there’s something to that. Not that my later stuff isn’t worthwhile, or that there isn’t room to focus on the fashion or costume aspect of what I like to do. But I’ve come to believe I have to always have on an elaborate costume and drag makeup, and that’s really not the case. It certainly takes loads more time to prepare for a shoot with all of that (the makeup takes me at least an hour since I’m not very skilled) and often by the time I’m ready to actually take the photos some of enthusiasm and energy has waned. So maybe some less elaborate costumes are in my future. It’s hot outside right now, which makes my studio hot also, so too much makeup or fabric is hard to tolerate anyway.

Now, off to look at Google images of perms. I’m sure mine will make for fascinating photos.


Recent work

Here are some of my favorite shots from the last year. Some of them you may have seen before. Loads more on Flickr but I’m warning you – since their re-design of the site my page is just a mess. I hate the way they’ve organized member pages without providing the option of changing the presentation, but I love the community over there, so I stay. And yes, these are all photos of me, but I swear that is due to convenience and not vanity. Using myself as the subject matter means I can shoot exactly how want precisely when I want; besides, I am always game for a bit of dress up and costumery.