Portrait Control

A few days ago, I clicked on a link that kept showing up in my Facebook feed for some software called Portrait Pro; I don’t generally pay any attention to those links so I’m not sure what motivated me to do it this time – but as it turns out, I’m glad I did. I recently paid over $100 for another portrait program that I was just figuring out how to use; I liked it fine but it wasn’t anything thrilling, just a very good skin smoothing and softening program without any fancy bells and whistles. So, it wasn’t like I needed anything else at this point, but after spending about two seconds with the freebie trial version I realized I had to have it:

Changing face shape and other features has been part of my photo editing for awhile now, but I’ve just been doing what I could get away with in Photoshop without being able to really go for it. This software was available as PS plug-in, which made it even more appealing to me, and the controls are incredibly easy to use as well as providing sliders for just about every little thing, so I can really control the final results. I’ve only had time to edit two photos so far, and admittedly I went overboard (especially on the first one) but so far I’m pretty amazed by what this program can do.


I used Portrait Pro not only to soften skin here, obviously, but in no particular order, I also changed my face shape, change my eye color as well as add a ring light reflection, move my eyebrows down a little and trim them, plump up my lips, add eyelashes, blush and highlighter, a different lip color, change my eyeshadow color as well as the shape of my eyes, widen the distance between my eyes, lengthen and slim my nose, perfect my skin tone, shorten my chin, and add light and shadows to my face. And other stuff I probably forgot. Because I made each change on a separate layer, this took a pretty long time, but photo editing is like being a kid scribbling in coloring books to me, and I can do it for hours anyway.


I decided to work with this photo because I found it rather funny, I clearly had blinked during the shot, and something about the way I was holding my hand just made me look really tired and kind of over it, whatever “it” was. I really didn’t expect the software to improve the photo so much it was no longer goofy, but it did a hell of a job on that half-closed eye and actually turned it into a nice photo. It was harder to work with this shot since the program struggled a little to properly locate all my features, but if you watch the video I linked at the top of the post you’ll see how it works, and that you can easily move the detection points around to get them placed properly.

I can’t wait to work with the program more; my mind is reeling with the possibilities, but as I mentioned it takes a great deal of time so I can only work on about one day. Certainly you could just open up the program and edit the entire photo at once, but I don;t think you get the most realistic effects that way, so I literally just work on one portion of the face at a time and put them onto layers in PS – the eyes, then the eyeshadow, then the nose, etc. My poor old computer really grinds away at stuff like this and moves slowly, but I get it all done eventually. I’ll share more later when I have them.




Picture Imperfect


New Year’s Eve day (is that an oxymoron or a paradox? or neither?) I had  a few errands to run, and while I was out I popped into the local Pier 1 that is in the strip center where I was picking up some other things. They had a 50% off sale for Christmas items, and since over the years I’ve used a lot of stuff from the store in my photographs, I always stop in there when I’m nearby (while I share some photos and talk about this shoot, I’ll also work in a few other random shots for older sessions that I’ve edited while on vacation – both the one above and the one at the end of this post).

Photo Dec 31, 1 00 42 PM
See that furry little bird there? It didn’t survive the shoot – or rather, the wrath of Simon.

I had a free day New Year’s Day, since Doug and I typically don’t do much and just hang around the house, so I got all gussied up and jumped right in. I’d purchased several wigs over the past few weeks that I wanted to try out, so between those and the props from Pier 1 I figured once I got my makeup on and set up the studio I’d be good to go:

Photo Jan 01, 11 25 49 AM

Unfortunately, the photography gods were not smiling on me this day – or rather, the prop gods weren’t on my side. Neither was the god of unruly pets; my biggest issue on this day was Simon, who would not stop messing with my things. Every time I turned around he was knocking something over, trying to eat something, or making off with an item I needed so he could bat it around and play with it in a corner. I always have to keep him locked out when I am taking photos because he’s too curious and rambunctious, but on this particular day Doug wasn’t home and I felt bad just locking all the pets out of my studio for that long (silly, I know, but there you go). Normally Doug is here, and he keeps the animals occupied while I lock myself up in my office and snap away, but on this day I kept the doors open so the pets could wander in if they got lonely. In the end, I had to lock Simon out though; him knocking over an entire bottle of Coke from which I was sipping onto my makeup counter and getting everything wet was the final straw (no pun intended, but I did have a straw in the bottle since I always use one when applying my stage makeup so my lipstick doesn’t get messed up, and Simon LOVES straws which is what tempted him to knock the bottle over). Unfortunately, as I ran around I kept forgetting what doors I’d left open, and through the entire shoot I was finding him in the most disruptive places – the costume closet, for example. At one point I left the door where I had all my wigs and props laid out open since I’d just gone running in there for one item, and he not only managed to sneak in and out with a little feathered bird ornament I planned to put on my head, he then left it on the floor in the den for Sprocket to chew to pieces. Grr.

The bird that survived

Simon was not my only frustration this day; my props just wouldn’t work with me, either. I started out OK, but the more costume changes I tried the more frustrated I got with how  nothing was working as easily as I’d hoped it would; clips fell off of ornaments I’d planned to pin to my wigs, this adorable little crown ornament would NOT stay pinned to my head no matter how hard I tried, a few really cool ornaments I wanted to wear as earrings didn’t have any way for me to attach them to my wig (I usually can use the string that hold the ornament on the tree to bobby-pin them to my hairpiece), and then there was the aforementioned cat-stealing and dog-chewing. About halfway through the shoot, I just said to hell with it and abandoned the props entirely, choosing to spend the rest of my time simply putting on the new wigs and flinging them about in the photos, which is probably what I really wanted to do all along anyway.

The rare cooperative prop

Not only was all that a royal pain, but my camera was being finicky. It wouldn’t focus properly a lot of the time – a problem I also had when I went with my father to photograph airplanes right before the holidays – and I’m starting to think this 7D is in need of replacing. It’s not such a bad deal, since I knew I eventually wanted to upgraded 7D anyway, but it is a lot of money to spend for a new camera body so I was not wanting to make the purchase any sooner than I had to. The time may be coming, though.


Even as I was viewing the results of this shoot on my LCD screen, I was pretty frustrated with what I was seeing. Throughout the shoot I felt that I wasn’t getting many really good shots, and for most of the time I was feeling irritated and discouraged. So imagine my surprise when I went to load the images onto my computer and discovered I’d taken close to 700 photos. I haven’t taken that many in one session in a long time; I’m sure the number of new wigs had a lot to do with it, but for whatever reason it happened, I ended up with a TON of really great shots to process. Don’t I always say that? Anyway, it’s true; once I could see the images on a full-size screen I was pleased to find so many I liked. And I made many costume changes, too, which I haven’t done in awhile, and which will make it more interesting for me to work with lots of shots from the shoot since there are many different looks to choose from.

This was my second attempt at erasing my real eyebrows and drawing on fake ones that are much higher on the forehead – I think I did better this time but i still had to do a lot of smoothing in PS

I’ve been using my Portraiture plug-in religiously to smooth out my skin and even the tone, but I haven’t much gotten into the Retrographer with these photos since they came out nicely without all the extra processing. I’m sure I’ll play around with it more later, once I start to get bored with editing the photos straightforwardly and want to start messing around a bit. I’m still loving  both programs though; hours of fun playing around in Photoshop with them both.

Ugh, I hate this. Didn’t come out at all like I envisioned, but I worked hard on it so I’m sharing it anyway.

More to come as always; school starts again on Tuesday and we have to report for a staff development on Monday, so one more day of relaxation and then it’s back to the grind. Hope your new year was festive and your 2016 shines bright! Let’s get to it.

Plugged-In Christmas


Among other things, I treated myself to some new Photoshop plug-ins for Christmas, and I’m having a hell of a lot of fun trying things out.


The frames feature is actually my least favorite aspect of Mister Retro’s Retrographer plug-in; most of the frames chop the hell out of the photo to fit it into the frame, which bugs me to no end. But, many of them are pretty convincing (the one I used above is cheesy, but they have a bunch that are cool):


Frames aside, I am enjoying all the options Retrographer offers me as I was getting bored with the software I’d been using steadily for the past year and half, so I’ve been going processing-crazy with all the new bells and whistles.


This has also allowed me to dig back into past archives, work with old stuff, and see it in a new light (by filtering the hell out of it, of course). As a result, I haven’t taken any new photos, because I’d rather just sit down at the computer and play with my new editing toys than spend all day doing a shoot; but with thousands upon thousands of photos to choose from, this is hardly a problem – especially since I get bored with photos from the same set quickly and end up overlooking a lot of good shots.


I also bought a program called Portraiture, which focuses on correcting skin tone and texture – one of the aspects of portraits I am the most picky about, and often the most dissatisfied with in my own photos. Early test results are promising, but as usual I tend to get too heavy-handed with the smoothing and look a little too plastic, at least when first learning something new. Still, even for plastic results, these are better than I’ve been able to pull off up to this point:


Once I had a feel for the Portraiture plug-in, I started going to town with the Retrographer effects and used WAY more processing than I’ve done in quite awhile:



While going through old photo sets for stuff to play around with, I came across this idea I’d had a year or so ago, where I would throw clothes into the air and shoot it in motion, then composite it into a shot of me with clothes flying around me. At the time, I didn’t like the shots of the dress I tossed around and didn’t pursue the concept with my final shots; but this time, I decided to give it a go. Although i still struggle with shadows when it comes to creating composites (a skill that is made more difficult, I think, by the fact that I shoot against solid backgrounds rather than shooting with a set behind me – the shadows’ imperfections are much more obvious against a solid gray background than they are against, say, a grove of trees) I am definitely better at it than I was at the time of the original shoot, and the fact that I still really struggled with it may have been why I didn’t pursue it at the time. In fact, when i took the photos, I think I was still using Corel Paint Shop Pro as my main editor and barely knew how to use Photoshop at all.

So – I took one photo of my body as the main photo, took a second photo of myself and layered my head from that shot onto the original since I was making an unattractive face in the original, then composited two shots of the dress in motion into the same shot, with them flying above my head to fit into the frame (and no, I don’t think “composited” is a word, but I used it anyway). I then pulled the whole thing into Retrographer and used a lovely film filter than took my background from gray to purple and really brightened the pink of the dress, and topped it off with some subtle pink lens flare. I am pretty thrilled with the results, and this has to be a favorite of anything I’ve done recently (this and some of those red dress shots, like the first one in this post):


Ain’t technology grand? Just when I start getting bored with myself and what I can and can’t do, along comes some new stuff to revitalize me all over again. I’ll probably have more to share later since I’m working with pictures at least a little bit each day right now. I also have some plane pics to share from my recent outing with my father, which wasn’t much of a success due to bad weather and poor camera settings I forgot to check, but I managed to snap a few. One more week of vacation before the insanity starts up again, so let’s get to it!


Red China Dress Set

Remember that red dress I mentioned in a previous post? Well, it finally arrived – and as soon as I got a free day to myself I shot some photos in it. They turned out amazing, but I’ve only had to edit three of the shots so far; the end of the semester was flat-out awful (at least as far as my stress level goes) so I’ve not had time to post, visit other people’s blogs, share anything on Flickr, or do much of anything except work and cry the last three weeks so it’ll take me awhile to catch up. Sorry!


In the photo above I was sitting on a small stool, but obviously I managed to edit out of the shot. The dress moves beautifully, although it is a heavy linen and a bit stiff; it’s also lined, so it was actually a pretty nice deal at $60. The shape of it is also strange, so it created some beautiful movement shots. I can’t wait to edit more – but first, let’s back up and take a look at a few more photos I edited from my silver wig set a few weeks back:


I could easily edit more from this session as I loved the colors and the movement of the wig; in fact, I found two or three more wigs from the same company in this color and ordered those, too, along with some other fun colors I intend to play around with soon. One of them is shorter but still wavy, and then I bought two long straight ones. I also got this one jumping shot from that shoot:


This one’s a bit of a composite in that I added more hair to it from another photo; the Robin wig I’m wearing here is lovely but it’s quite light and low density so it doesn’t create a lot of movement in shots, and I often take two photos of the wig in  motion and blend them together to give the illusion of more hair as well as something more interesting to look at. I’m also wearing a lot of my Oh My Gauze stuff here, which as usual photographs fabulously (oh, and my shaggy Free People cardigan I paid WAY too much for last year but have worn repeatedly since and therefore don’t regret it).


Believe it or not, this is also from the same shoot; right at the end of the session I threw on a few other wigs and messed around a little, but I was already tired and uninterested in continuing to pose so nothing was much good at this point. But one night recently I got the itch to edit something, so I pulled this one up and gave it a go. it isn’t bad, but it’s not thrilling either, so I jacked around with the colors a LOT to get something going that I liked. It’s still just OK in my book, but at least it’s worth looking at now (at least I think it is).

Now back to a few more of the new red dress:


In some of the photos I was actually leaping while in others I sat on stools or chairs which I edited out later; this one was an actual leap. My feet were sticking out at the bottom but I removed them in Photoshop, and I added a little texture to the background just because the black against that bright red looked a bit too stark. But you can definitely see how nicely the dress moves here.


I’m cheating here, because this is actually a pose I’ve done before, but I liked the shape it created so I edited it anyway. I was actually sitting on an ottoman but it looks like I’m pulling off a nice little plie or something.

That’s all I have for now; tomorrow I am supposed to go out to IAH with my father to watch planes, so I may have some jet shots to share soon. But there’s lots more where these red ones came from, so you’ll be seeing more of those in the future too. If I don’t get back to blogging here before it happens, Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates it! Even though I’m off I’ve got a busy week ahead with doctor’s appointments and visits with friends, so I’ll be back here when I can.

(Oh, and for anyone who has access to my private blog, I wrote a new post that you can find here. It’s mostly about work and friendships – you know, the usual).

Quick Silver

As I mentioned in my last post, I finally got a chance to put on the full face and take some portraits while I was on vacation last week. So here they are:


That wig cost about $35 and is called Elveen, by Janet Collection. After a few hours of shooting, the synthetic fiber was starting to frizz and dry out noticeably; I have to comb through a wig every few shots when posing in them because they get thrown around and messed up so much, and brushing isn’t good for even a high-quality synthetic fiber, much less a cheaper one like this. On the plus side, though, the fiber here is heat-friendly so I could probably use a blow dryer or curling iron to smooth out some of the frizz. I wasn’t looking for longevity anyway; I was just so curious about this lovely color that I decided to try one. It is gorgeous; at least for photos. Although as a so-called “ethnic” wig, the lace front is way too dark for me. Moving on.


Many people who’ve seen these photos have commented on the interesting makeup choice I made here; truth be told I didn’t intend to take all my photos in this wig and had several other costume changes planned, involving far more colorful stuff that would work better with all that orange and gold. However, I got the wig on and started snapping, and everything was just working in it so well that I decided to stick with it; I didn’t end up shooting much in the other wigs and costumes I’d picked out at all.

tuesday4_pxr (2)
This was one of the others I intended to use more – glad I didn’t

I was really surprised that even the makeup application process went smoothly; I found a stock photo online with makeup that inspired me and decided to copy, and even though i didn’t completely go in the direction of the photo, everything from contouring to shading and even applying false lashes went off without a hitch, turning out almost exactly as I planned and without any major screw-ups to correct.


The photoshoot went the same way; well, at least until I took off the silver Elveen and tried some other hair choices – nothing else worked as well, and I was starting to get tired and bored by that time so my heart wasn’t in it. I tried a few leaping and levitation shots, but I’ve only processed one so far because by the time I got to that point in the shoot (I always save the jumping and movement stuff for last, since it tends to mess up the makeup) I was way too sloppy in my execution for anything to look stellar. Plus, it was really the silver stuff I was interested in processing, and I knew that by that time, so I probably shouldn’t have bothered. I did process one though:


But back to the silver wig. After some straight up makeup and hair shots, I wanted to play around and create some holiday looks, so I dug out the Christmas stuff I bought last year at Pier One and decided to mess with it a bit:


When I processed this one, I was annoyed with all that orange and gold glaring at me – although it did really work visually, I wanted to compliment the silver hair and sweater more than all that bright color was able to do. So, I actually used a black and white filter to change the makeup and layered it on over the original shot. Notice I even managed to pull off the stripey eyebrows – yeah I told ya, the makeup all worked out well for some reason this time.


I was just goofing around here, obviously; I don’t think you can tell but I used Pixlr to add in a bunch of patterns to the ornament. If you look closely you can even see tiny birds flying around in there – those came compliments of a Pixlr filter. And yes, my nails were fabulous.


One thing I noticed when working with these photos was how nicely neutral the silver was; I could really manipulate color in all sorts of ways and create different looks entirely. The only issue that created was skin tone; I struggled in most of these to keep my skin from going too gray, and in some shots I don’t think I pulled it off very well, but hey, I tried. Skin tone is always a bitch in photos anyway. Here I obviously added a lot of blue, and I even stole the sparkle from the center of the magnolia in my hair and placed it over my real eyes.All that glittery-goodness was added to the sweater in Photoshop, although in real life it does have a bit of shimmer.


This one wasn’t working for me at all, mostly due to the skin tone issue, until I pulled it into Pixlr and attempted to cover it with some sort of overlay that might disguise the splotchy, odd-colored skin that was bothering me. I often do that with photos I can’t get quite right (I did the same with the one photo with the short blonde hair); I figure if Pixlr can’t save it for me, it probably isn’t worth saving. This overlay was from a very geometrically-shaped collection that I almost never use, but lo and behold this one gave me exactly what I was looking for. It added just the bit of interest I felt it needed, as well as covering up my skin a little and distracting the eye so perhaps no one will notice it’s weirdness.


I also struggled with lips in this set; mine are quite thin and dry (I often widen/thicken them in post) so this is nothing new, but I made matters worse by choosing to use gold glitter lip liner as lipstick and then outline it with orange – you can see it in the first shot above where I didn’t edit that mess out. For most of my other shots, I changed it in some way, because it looked pretty sloppy. In the photo directly above I just did my best to change the lip color to orange all over, and then soften it. This photo is my favorite, by the way – it’s a composite of three different shots of the wig since there’s no way it has near this much hair. And the wreath wrapped around me is a Pier One prop I used last year, too.

As always, there’s more from this set I want to edit, and it looks like my red dress from China is set to arrive today, so there will, of course, be more coming soon. Although I may not get to the red dress photos until Christmas break. We’ll see!

Wigs Over Houston

OK, not really – it’s WINGS Over Houston, but I figured, with the wigs on the site and all…you get the idea.

Yellow Rose
B-25 – The Yellow Rose

Going back to October, this year’s Wings Over Houston Airshow was Oct. 17th, and I went with my dad (as usual) and my boss/friend from work. She’s a former employee of US Airways (now part of another airline, can’t remember the name right now) and loves airplanes, too, so it was fun to share the experience with someone else.

MK959 Spitfire

I told myself that since I wasn’t very satisfied with my aerial pics last time, I’d focus on shooting the planes during the viewing hours of the show, when you can get up close with them before they take off. However, once the planes got in the air I couldn’t help myself, and since I knew a bit more this time about what settings to use on the camera for decent shots, I managed to get some really nice ones this year. I also made sure to try for shots that would be more unique or interesting than the typical stuff everyone else snaps – the two above were taken during a war simulation, and I particularly liked the effect the smoke from the faux-bombs created.

The Breitling Jet Team – from France

The Thunderbirds were there this year (instead of the Blue Angels who performed in 2014) but my friend and I were wise enough to leave before the final show; my father and I spent over an hour in the shuttle line the year before since we left with everyone else, and since there were two performance jet teams this year, I still got to see some high flyers before we took off. It was a good idea, since it meant we walked right onto a shuttle instead of waiting in line forever.

straight up


In 2014 I saved my camera strictly for photos of planes in the air and didn’t even take it out when we were wandering around viewing the planes, but since this year I wasn’t planning to take any aerial stuff anyway I took my camera with me to the touring area earlier in the day, and got some nice shots there too:

Standing beneath the wing of a C-17; one of my favorite shots of the day

I took my telephoto lens again this year, but am considering taking the wide-angle next year; it was hard to get all of the planes in my shots while we were walking around with the zoom lens, and it wasn’t the most convenient lens for these types of shots. We stood in line to tour the inside of the C-17 and my lens was pretty much useless inside it; I could not even get a shot of the cockpit once we got in there because it was so small – and we stood in line for over an hour to get up there! I did get a shot of the stairs leading up to it, though:


I also got a few shots of one of the servicemen standing in the cockpit and looking out the little round window that overlooks the huge cargo area where we were all waiting in line, but with the lack of indoor light and my inability to get my settings right, all the shots of him looking through it were crappy and blurry. I processed one of the shots, though, and just edited the hell out of it to disguise the fact that it’s a bad photo – I had to process it, because the dude was looking right at me in the shot.


There was also a nice big United 737 that I took some snaps of; I tried to keep all the crowds of people out of these shots so it might appear that I was actually just getting super-close access to a plane on a runway instead of at an exhibition; for the most part I think I pulled it off:

united 737 2

united 737

Another thing I wanted to try this year was taking pictures of interesting people, as well. There certainly are a lot of them:

Yes, “interesting” is one way to describe these guys

blue hair baby_pxr

I love it when I get to piggyback off someone else’s staged shot; this veteran was posing for someone else so I snuck up behind them and snapped the same photo:


That’s actually a composite of two shots I took of him; in one, a woman walked into the frame right as I snapped the shot, and her body covered up half the flag. In the other, she wasn’t in the frame, but his features were not as clear and the shot wasn’t quite as focused, so I layered that less-focused shot over the better one and erased the woman’s body out of the frame. And there you go.

Last shot for now – I snapped this one quickly while we were waiting in that hour-long line for the cockpit of the C-17; I snapped a bunch of one-offs through the open cargo doors since there wasn’t much else to do and nothing I could get decent photos of inside, and right after I took this one I looked at it on my LCD screen and realized it was a nice one. How much more alike could these two look anyway?

Yep, definitely related

I processed this one in black and white because the color just didn’t add anything to it. I especially like the young guy’s shadow on his dad’s (I assume) shirt. They were probably looking up into the cargo hold at all the people standing in line inside and thinking to themselves, why on earth would those idiots stand in line so long just to spend two minutes inside a stuffy cockpit? Well, because we can, dude. That’s why.

I edited most of these shots over the past two days; that’s how busy I’ve been and have just now gotten around to really editing these photos. I’ve decided I need to start dedicating myself to editing at least one photo a night since I’ve got such a backlog of stuff and what I’m really craving is a good old portrait-and-jumping photo session. I don’t want all this other stuff to get completely forgotten, though, so I’m trying to work through it all now. Still lots I’d like to edit from this set, as well as my trip out to IAH back in September, so more planes to come.

Next week – vacation! I can’t believe it’s Thanksgiving already. A whole week off, and I’m going to try and take my portrait shots then.


Pause for Gauze

Last week I mentioned that I’d become obsessed with an online store called Oh My Gauze, and at the time I said I’d take some pics of my new outfits eventually, so here’s part one of me fulfilling that promise. I’m also going to link to items when I can, so you can go check them out if you want (some of the pieces I bought were discontinued and are no longer for sale through the store, although many times you can find them on eBay). You’re welcome.

Photography nerd alert: this is a composite shot – my upper body is from one photo while the lower body is from a different one.

I say part one because I seriously bought a lot of pieces from this store in the past few weeks. About 8 items are at the tailor right now, because in tops and dresses especially OMG clothing tends to run a little large on me. I’m skinniest in my shoulders and torso area, so with the generous sizing of this brand those things can look sloppy even though they’re already intended to be loose. Pants and skirts, though, are generally fine, although I did take one skirt in for alterations as well, because the balloon hem combined with big pockets made it a little heavy and it was pulling the skirt down (the waist was a little big, but it wouldn’t have mattered had the skirt not been on heavy side).

I will say that my outfits were a big hit at the tailor’s; it was a holiday here today so a lot of parents were taking their kids in for alterations on this or that (no idea what sort of kid-events go on in October, but there sure were a lot of people there) and as I kept coming out of the fitting room with more artsy, funky outfits, women began to notice and ask where I got all this fabulous stuff. I told them, of course; I have no need to keep a good thing secret. Since my last beloved baggy-clothing store, CP Shades, shut down, I certainly want to send OMG as much business as I can so I don’t lose another manufacturer that I love.

This past Sunday I decided to throw on some of the new clothes and shoot some photos; but pictures of me just standing around in outfits isn’t of much use to me beyond this blog, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and do some jumping shots I could have more fun with. Little did I know how fabulous these clothes would be when they are in motion! Sure, I knew they were made to move and flow, but they created such amazing shapes I almost jumped myself to exhaustion playing around with it all. If you’ve followed my blog or Flickr page at all, you know how much I love using fabric in my movement photos to create interesting shapes, but most of the things I wear in those photos aren’t things I’d be caught dead in day to day. With OMG I have finally found a clothing line that works wonderfully in jump shots but that can also be worn out of the house! Heavenly.

Yep – right after the shutter snapped that shoe hit the ceiling

Those pants are called the Ida pant and they are a new style to the store. I about died when I saw these, as I’d seen pants like them all over the Lagenlook boards I’ve been following on Pinterest, but as I mentioned last time, usually this stuff is pretty expensive. The Ida pant is only $63, though, so they were really affordable. They are amazing, and in spite of their general craziness they look great on; not bizarre at all, just interesting, and almost like a skirt if you don’t look closely at them. Comfortable and fun and no one else I know is going to have a pair of these. Moving on.

The top is called Vanna and I have two of them; as I mentioned earlier, OMG’s tops can often be big on me, and even when altered their slouchiness can weigh me down and make me look like I’m drowning in clothes, so a top like this is perfect for me. A flowier top balances my skinny torso out with my bigger hips, and this one with the cropped length gives me a waistline. It’s also very easy to wear; like most of OMG it’s a throw-it-on-and-go affair.

Some of their items, though, are not so convenient:

PS – I had NO makeup on during this shoot as I’d spent the whole day in the pool, so I thought some funky glasses would detract from that. Not sure if it did or not.

OK, this is another new piece from them called Jeane; they call it a dress but it’s actually more like harem-pant overalls. Some of you know how much I love overalls and have been lamenting their lack of cool-factor since the 90’s, so a combination harem pant and overall seemed to be a slam dunk for me. However, the entire jumper is resting on those tiny little straps, which are basically shoestrings that tie in the back, and they are not up to the job, in my opinion. First of all, I despise anything that ties in the back (bathing suits come to mind; I love the look of a halter-style bathing suit top but they almost ALL tie at the neck and I just can’t stand that. And yes, I’ve been looking at a lot of bathing suits lately, too) and secondly, those skinny little straps don’t feel resilient to me at all. Plus, the first time I washed this one of the straps came ‘unthreaded’ (not sure what else to call it) and I had to use tweezers to force it back through, so they are not secure at all. I started to send this one back, but then I took these photos and realized how amazing the whole thing is, so I took it to the tailor and asked her to replace the shoestrings with something more sturdy that I would not have to tie. I don’t think I can get the straps in the same green, but I told her black would also be fine.

See what I mean, though, about the pictures proving that I really need to keep this piece? It takes some amazing photos – only one of which I’ve had time to edit (trust me there’s more):

My eyes went really wonky in this shot, so I ended up actually copying the left one and pasting it over the right one, then flipping it horizontally. I still look weird here, but not nearly as weird as I did before. Sorryboutit.

The shoe match here was great; those are from Urban Outfitters and are always on sale two for $20. I have a ton of them and find uses for them all the time, aside from photos (I learned long ago that bare feet are not the business for jumping shots unless you have pretty ones and can point your toes well; shoes make for a more flattering photo without the distracting dragon toes or, in my case, super-long skinny feet that look awkward). This was one piece people at the tailor’s place today were really freaking over how cute it is. Really unique; I just hope she can fix the straps to make it more manageable.

And while I’m thinking about it, I want to link here to another fabulous clothing discovery I recently made: Sleevey Wonders. I’ve always hated having to wear full-length tops under sleeveless dresses and things, but I also am not a big fan of sleeveless things (I just like being more covered than not; I’m not modest, I just think covered arms are prettier). Sleevey Wonders give you, well, sleeves, without the bulky top attached. Brilliant! They aren’t cheap, but for me they’re worth it. So far I have a blue mesh one and a white jersey, and I’m going to be picking up an ivory one soon. I wear the two I already have all the time – including in the pictures above. Moving on.

Now this next item is also unusual, and I was uncertain whether or not I’d like it, but in the end I’m glad I tried it out:


This is a color I’d generally never wear, but OMG is having a sale of discontinued colors right now that’s up to 50% off, and I couldn’t bring myself to buy this in a more wearable color (for me, anyway) and pay twice as much. So, chartreuse it is. I paired it with a pair of Chico’s Black Label satin cargo pants and a long-sleeved tee from Ann Taylor Loft, and bingo – I really like this look. It’s especially nice how well all this stuff goes with so much of what’s already in my closet – it’s not my first time at the artsy-flowy-fashions rodeo, people. Remember my Free People obsession of about a year ago? Most of what I bought from there works great with this stuff too, so my wardrobe has literally doubled over the past three weeks. It’s a little overwhelming, but it’s all good. This can also be worn on it’s own as a dress, by the way.

Also good for leapin’ – YEP!

Speaking of overwhelming, I had to quit editing outfit shots after these last two, but believe me, there’s more where this came from.

The hair is Laine by Rene of Paris, by the way

The top here is called Lynn, and it’s a narrower cut that didn’t require alterations for me. They also make a short-sleeved version of this called Grace that is great under other things. The whole line has some really interesting hemlines – there’s lots of angles and asymmetry that makes layering really eye-catching. The pants are pretty fabulous – they’re called the Osprey and I kept resisting buying them, because the price was around $85 and I couldn’t bring myself to spend that much when the sale pants were around $30 – finally they also went on sale and I snatched up two pair (in this color, called Fig, and also in Bone). I will say these pants looked AWFUL right out of the box, and I thought I’d made a mistake until I washed and dried them and they fell into place. The shoes, by the way, are another pointy-toed flat slide from Free People that I bought recently – so comfy and so unique with the shiny fabric. Love them.

Simon is also impressed

I have a lot of really fantastic jumping shots to process later, and more outfits for a future post, but I did want to go ahead and show off some of this stuff now. I think I’ve calmed down on the purchasing for awhile, but I definitely plan to go back often and add to my collection when I can. Dressing has been so much fun the past few weeks, and I think you can see why – this stuff was made for me. And comfy, and easy to clean (machine wash and dry), and affordable! Love.

I’ve also got some self-portraits to share that I’ve edited recently, but I’ll upload those later. For now, enjoy the rest of the week, and I hope you have as much fun getting out of bed and putting on clothes as I do!

Plane of Pools

Stupid title, I know. I was just trying to think of something to incorporate the two completely unconnected subjects of this post. Because last week, this happened:


I’ve never been so happy to see concrete in my life. The next step is to clean the interior of the pool and prepare it for the plaster, which will happen today – I’ve been envisioning some really crazy self-portraits in the empty pool wherein I don a ball gown and a snorkel, but unfortunately I’ve caught the first round of crud that circulated around the school  last week (in my case, it’s an upper respiratory infection, but I know others who came down with strep throat) and I feel lousy. I’m not sure I’m going to be up for taking photos for the day or two that the option is available to me, so it may be a sorely missed opportunity, but one I’ll have to let go if I’m still sick. Boo.

I stayed home from work today and went to the doctor for meds, and when that was done I processed more airplane pictures. At first I wasn’t to thrilled with the shots I got last Sunday at the new location; they definitely don’t allow me the super-close proximity the official observation spot provides, but they do allow for a lot more variety, due to my ability to shoot the planes coming all the way up the runway:


I’m farther away, but getting to snap the planes taking off over buildings or just lifting off the runway is pretty cool, and means I get bored less quickly while processing the shots:


Of course, I did have to hang out in what appeared at first to be a fairly suspect location to get them:

Looking back from the dead-end where I parked

For most of the time I was there, I was the only person at this spot:

My car at the bottom of a hill that provides a nice vantage point to see the planes 

But occasionally other plane-spotters stopped by, although I was the only one who went to the top of the hill:



So overall, it was a fine place to hang out, although I was pretty nervous at first, thinking it had to be a bad idea to spend time alone at the end of a fairly deserted road behind an airport. I felt plenty safe soon enough, once I realized it really wasn’t as deserted as I thought it was, and appeared in fact to be a little plane-viewing spot for a lot of people with kids who were trying to entertain them and out of ideas, I guess? Moving on. Next time I’ll bring a blanket or something to sit on up there, though, since the grass was pretty high and brushy and it wasn’t too pleasant the times I tried to sit down.

Severed head in a bag, or discarded Carl’s Jr.? You decide.

I got to this spot around 11:30, I think, and while I mostly shot United planes, I managed to snap a few others before I was done:




I also had a chance to snap some planes landing on farther runways, and although they were too far away for the shots to be great ones, I did want to capture how close some of them fly over before they land, since it gives me a nice sense of scale:

Low United

And I managed to snap this little bright-yellow Spirit Airlines budget plane (I definitely was able to get better shots of planes landing farther away from me than I can at the Lee Road location, too) :

Yellow Spirit

And then, of course, were all the United planes:




That last one really took me by surprise; the little hill I stood on overlooked two runways running parallel to each other, and for the most part they were all taking off from the runway farthest from my location. But this one used the closer of the two, and when it roared up overhead I was actually focused on a different plane and didn’t see this one coming. It’s positioning really gave me a nice shot of it’s underbelly passing over; with the landing gear already retracted.  I guess it took off a longer runway, or something. Moving on.


I planned to head for home no later than 1:00, since these runways were fairly busy and by then I’d already taken plenty, but at one on the dot it was as if United opened the floodgates (or plane gates, if you will) and sent an onslaught of airlines taxiing over to take off, and well, it was just too good to walk away from at the time. They must have been taking off two or three minutes behind each other, at the most, so I kept snapping until my 32G CF card filled up. That’s right – 2600 shots of airplanes, people. And many of them are worthy of processing this time! How will I ever get through them all…?


Of course I’ve got more to share later, but for now this is all I’ve got. Time to go lie down and let that Nyquil I slugged about 20 minutes ago work it’s magic Until next time, y’all!

Sunday Shots

I’ve not taken any self-portraits in quite awhile, but I have been taking photos here and there when I’ve had the chance.


In fact, now that I look back over what I’ve processed the past few weeks, it’s quite a few shots. A few weeks ago, while out buying groceries for the week, I stopped by the floral department and picked up some flowers to shoot, then spent the rest of Saturday taking photos of them. In the shot above, I was mainly trying to catch the reflection of the petals when the flower was lying on top of a plastic handbag liner I yanked out of one of my purses (it’s a piece of plastic you can insert into a handbag that lacks shape to give it some across the bottom – #themoreyouknow!). It was a challenge to get a whole lot of the reflection into the shot without getting into some really weird framing, but I guess it came out OK.


Simon ended up in a lot of the shots because, well, that’s how he rolls:


Sprocket and Penny got into the mix for a bit too:



I also saw some flowers that were wrapped in netting to keep their shape (no, I don’t know what kind of flowers they were) and I really liked the pink and purple color combination that created, so I took photos of them without taking off the wrapping, although that may actually look stupid. Still, I liked them:


I unwrapped them eventually, and took some super-macros of the petals:


Then eventually I ended up putting all sorts of crap on them, just to see how it would look:


That’s baby powder on the rose above, which I was hoping would look like snow. I also threw some glitter on the pink flowers, but I haven’t processed any of those shots yet. I took about 600 pictures of flowers, then got distracted by work and pool drama and ended up not processing nearly enough of them. For about a week there I didn’t process any shots at all, although lately I’ve had time to work with about one each night. This is the last flower shot I’ve had a chance to edit so far, but I know there will be more to come from this set later:


Then, at one point during all the pool construction drama, I looked in the back yard and this tipped-over, mud-covered wheelbarrow caught my eye; I thought it’d make a good picture, so although it was already dusk I grabbed my camera and braved a trip into the muck to get a few shots. My husband almost had a cow when he looked out the window and saw me crawling around back there, because he knows what a klutz I am and how easily I can hurt myself just walking into a room, much less wandering around a construction area with a camera. But, I survived, and got a few cool shots out of the deal:



I have a few more, of course, to process from this set (don’t I always?) but I have yet to get to them, either.

Now, if I thought Doug would have a cow about me scavenging around in our backyard with a half-constructed pool in the vicinity, he would have really flipped his lid if he’d seen where I was hanging out this past Sunday:


I drove out to my usual planespotting location at IAH Sunday morning, but when I got there I realized I’d mis-read my flightradar24 app in thinking the airport was utilizing that runway for arrivals, and in fact there were no planes at all flying in that direction. Since it was early and I was already out there, I decided to be a little brave and try to find a second planespotting location I’d read about – I’d always been wary to try it out before because I’d heard you had to call airport security to let them know when you were there, and that alone sounded sketchy enough to me to discourage the trip. Plus, it’s not uncommon for the areas around an airport to be less than ideal locations to start with, and since I’m always by myself when I take plane pics I’d been a bit chicken to give it a try. But I was feeling up for it this time, plus I’d driven all that way and didn’t want the drive to be a total bust, so I found the dead-end road that stopped right up against two runway fences, made the airport security call, and got to work.


These two runways are used mainly for departures, and they were pretty busy, although mostly with United planes – I didn’t get very many unusual planes this time. I did get some new angles than what I can get from the official observation lot, but the planes are farther away, so I was once again feeling the limitations of the 70-200 lens. It did the job, but I would have been happier had I been able to get closer. And the clarity isn’t the greatest either; I think I had the ISO setting too low this time. Still, the weather was nice, and it ended up being a fine place to shoot although, as I said, my husband probably would have freaked out had he known I’d driven to a dead-end road, parked the car, and hiked up a hill all alone to take plane photos! Actually, while I was up there I saw a lot of cars come and go; mostly people with kids taking a moment or two to watch some planes take off, but still. When I really stopped to think about it, it probably wasn’t the wisest decision. Not to say I won’t go back, of course.


I say this so much you can probably all say it along with me by now, but once again: this is all I’ve had time to process from this set  so far, so there will be more to come. Although I haven’t been able to get dolled up lately for a selfie shoot, at least I do have a lot of photos to work with when I get a spare minute here or there.

Okay, tomorrow’s Monday, so let’s get back to it.

Photo Finish

Work started back up last Tuesday, and quite honestly it was a welcome change. I actually started getting bored that last week off, so I wasn’t bummed out about having to go back. The first month of school is always a crazy one, so posts may be sparse for awhile, and I’ve not taken a lot of photos lately either – but I do have a few new ones to share. So let’s get to it.


This macro is from an older set – I believe I shot these back in February, or something.Yep, I’ve been digging into the older stuff again, since new photos are scarce at the moment. Still, it’s nice to go back through older sets and find a few more gems to edit. I take thousands of photos a year, so it’s good to let some older ones get some love.

The wig is Miranda by Amore, if you’re interested

I bought the mustache back in May, and just never got around to using it before now. I had ideas for using it that didn’t work out; so I basically just threw on different wigs and necklaces and made goony faces. It was a quick shoot – well, aside from the almost two hours it took me to apply makeup, that is. Speaking of which, I was pretty disappointed with my makeup in this shoot. For two hours of work, I sure didn’t turn out to look a lot different than I do in most of my photos. The goal is always to transform myself, but lately my makeup skills have plateaued, and no matter what I start out trying to achieve, the end result is coming out pretty much the same every time. Not that I’m displeased with how I look in general, but when I first started using drag makeup it was always thrilling to see how I turned out in the final shots. Now, not so much, because I pretty much know what I’m going to look like before I even start. If I were more skilled I could really use makeup to create completely different looks each time, but as I said, I think I’ve reached the limit of my skills in this area.

Hair = Angelica by Noriko

I don’t really care for this one all that much; the focus wasn’t as crisp as I would have liked and I over-softened my skin so it looks a bit phony. Plus the mustache didn’t look nearly as good as I’d hoped it would; for starters I spent so long on makeup that ended up disappointing me that I just was NOT in the mood to mess with spirit gum and take the time to apply the mustache properly, so it’s just stuck on my face with double-stick tape, which means it fell off a lot and in all my re-applying it went crooked in a lot of the shots. Aside from that, it just looks more fake than I wanted it to – too dark and those weird blunt ends look really lame. This one is a little better:

Another Angelica wig

But…it’s kinda too serious for the mustache to work. I was hoping to seriously emulate some of the lovely bearded drag queens I’ve seen, but meh. It just didn’t really work. I think if I edit any more of these, I’ll stick to the sillier ones, like the first one I shared. So far, that one’s my favorite. Oh, and I was playing around with my new pop-up backdrop I got in a few weeks ago; so now I can have a black or white background in a snap instead of having to hang something on my wall. I already had a gray one and I quite love it, so the black and white one was a good addition to my arsenal. Thinking of getting some of the mottled pop-ups, too, since they’re not terribly expensive, do not wrinkle, and are so easy to use. Not big enough to use in full-body shots, but great for portrait work!

I did go a little processing-happy with this one, but it seemed to work:


I was thinking a bit of Terry Gilliam-esque cartoonery with this shot; not sure I achieved that but it does look more like animation than a real-life shot anyway. And yeah, there’s the crooked mustache again.

I’ve been way into portraits for quite a few months now and have not done much full-body work or movement shots, but my photography pendulum is swinging back in that direction. Spending so much time on prep work for these portraits has become tiresome, and I’m running out of stuff to do when posing again. No worries, though, it’s just may be time for me to find some other way to get inspired. I’m sure something will come to me soon enough. In fact, today I decided to head out to IAH for more planespotting, since that is always a fun photography diversion for me, but in the end it was too damn hot (we did, in fact, have a heat advisory today) so I blew it off.

The kids come back this coming Thursday, then it’s off to the races for the rest of August. I’ll get back to uploading wig reviews soon enough, though, so until then, take care everyone!