Drag Days of Summer, Part Two

OK, here we go with the actual photos! The ones I’ve had a chance to edit, at least, from Wednesday’s shoot. But first:

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I actually have some shots to share from June that I never posted. First up is a few more with this fab striped skirt I got from The Gap – it really photographs well!

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That was actually what I call an “unjump,” meaning an attempted jump shot that I timed wrong and did not capture properly. Both the unjump above and the next one are also composites – the top half of me is from one shot while the bottom half is from another:

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In both cases, I just didn’t like something that was going on in the top half (I think in one my hair was completely covering my face and in the other I just didn’t look too graceful) so I did my best to layer two different shots together. Took a long time, but I think I pulled it off OK.

Also, not gonna lie – in the shot directly above, the shadows were hitting my face in an unflattering manner, causing my nose to look unnaturally big. So, I used Photoshop to make it thinner. Then, I realized my eyes looked wonky with the thinner nose, so I worked some more magic to move them a leeeeetle father apart from each other, and thus  balancing them with the nose. Have you ever heard how if you try to get plastic surgery on one part of your face, you often have to alter another to make it look right? Well, that’s kinda what happened here, only, not permanent. Still, in the end I look a bit less like myself than normal, but whatevs. I already had a torso from one shot and the legs of a different one, so why stop there, right? Moving on.

Here’s another shot I took of Robin when I was messing around with her after making my video review:

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As in the last shot I shared, this one is also two different pics of the wig combined to give it more interesting movement. And lately I’ve been experimenting with some softer light filters than I’ve ever used before; I’m in a phase of feeling less insistent on absolute clarity and trying out softer looks. Who knows why. Always something to change up.

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This is a shot I took of Brandi during the same shoot where I took the Robin pics (obviously, since the clothing is the same). Brandi is much more full, so I didn’t need to layer two photos together to get that much movement. One more from this set, this time ridiculously Pixlr‘ed:

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The original pic was out of focus, but I really liked how it looked in spite of that; there was a really nice shape to the flowing hair, so I chose to work with it anyway. I think I may have over-done the Pixlr overlays, but they have added so many cool ones lately I kind of can’t stop tinkering (I love the ‘mermaid’ and ‘candyminimal’ ones in particular). Speaking of overdoing it with Pixlr:

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I’d really started to get bored with June’s shots by this time, and dug back into the ol’ archives to find something else to edit. In the end it felt a bit boring, so I ran it through the Pixlr grinder also. Another old one I worked with that I did NOT Pixlr-fy was this one:

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That’s one of my favorite photo wigs, even though I tried to trim the bangs myself and really jacked them up. Not too noticeable when I’m throwing the wig around, fortunately.

Okay, so now on to the most recent stuff:

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I already mentioned the makeup process I went through for this shoot, so can we talk about this sweater now? I got this from my favorite online store for vintage costume-like goodies, The Kissing Tree. Whenever I’m feeling a little bored with my current stash of costumes I go check them out (usually at their eBay store), and when I came across this thing I knew I’d found my next purchase. It is perfect for portraits because there’s so much going on, it can be used in many different ways even within the same shoot without it really looking like it’s the same sweater every time. It has a great feathery collar, and I love love LOVE clothing with texture; the sleeves are not only striped BUT they have little fabric balls AND beads AND rhinestones – fabulous! Just moving my arms around in interesting ways make very unique pictures – like this:

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Then, for added fun, it also has that huge heart right in the middle. I didn’t actually use this sweater in nearly as many ways as I could have in this set, but I love any article of clothing that lends itself to a lot of different looks just by positioning the body in different ways. And at $34 it was a steal. The only downside is that it’s a sweater, and a heavy one at that, so for taking photos under bright lights in July in a small studio with tons of windows, it can get pretty hot, but I just stuck on some shorts and did the best I could – most of the shots I took were portraits; I spent two hours on that makeup and I was determined to get the most out of it! So for most of the shots wearing shorts that in no way matched the top was fine.

To maximize the shoot, I also made as many wig changes as possible:

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See what I mean about that sweater? This photo doesn’t even look like it’s from the same shoot! And there’s that softer lighting again. One thing I did differently this time was really neutralize a lot of the color in the RAW files so that I didn’t get some of the blown-out brightness and discoloration I tend to get when processing, but I think that resulted in my face looking too white later. That, and the fact that I used too much highlighting on my face when applying the makeup. Anyway, that led to me having to add some detail into the shots using shadows and filters, and I think I leaned towards softer light effects to help soften the face overall. If any of that makes sense. Also, my blending wasn’t great so I spent a lot of time smoothing out that eyeshadow, and I messed around with my nose a lot in most of the shots. I found that enlarging my nostrils just a bit really changed how I looked, so I did a lot of little tweaking like that here and there just to accentuate the drag-effect I was going for. Kind of the same technique I used for this one:

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My face came out REALLY white in this one so again, the softer light helped to add some dimension and detail back to my face. And who knew that Rene of Paris Caitlyn would make such a great photography wig? I almost sold it, but in the end I decided against it because t was inexpensive and I thought it MIGHT be good for photos – that sure was a good call, because I LOVE how it looked in this set. I’ve been gravitating towards short wigs lately for photoshoots anyway, especially when I’ve just spent two hours on my makeup; they are so much easier to work with when posing, and they stay out of the face. I can’t get all that good flowy motion I love, so there’s always a tradeoff, but especially with the summer heat the shorties are definitely a good option to have.

They don’t look as good for jumping, though,but it was pretty hot in the sweater already so I stuck with Caitlyn for my leaps – which really weren’t leaps but levitations:

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For this one I was leaning over a stool, then I layered that over a blank shot I took of the background so I could erase the stool out of the shot. This was mainly tricky because of the hand I was leaning on in the original:

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That hand was a real giveaway; it did not look at all natural when I was “floating” and made it obvious I’d been leaning on something, so I went back to my other shots from this point in the set, and found a hand I thought I could layer over the original one. However, THAT hand had all my fingers spread apart, and it was an absolute bitch to essentially cut and paste properly without the edges of the fingers looking really unnatural and obvious. I am not sure why it took me so long to give up on that hand and just go find another one; I think I spent something like four hours working on this photo and a good two of those hours were dealing with that stupid hand! In fact I gave up for the night eventually and returned to it the next day – at which point the solution became obvious, which was, duh, go find another hand.

Funnily enough, the hand I used ended up being the original hand from the next shot I processed; I didn’t notice that until I was editing this shot and working to erase the stool and had to maneuver around the hand again and thought, hey, this is as easy as it was working with that hand in my other shot – oh hey! It’s the same hand! Hi, Hand!

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So now you can scroll up to the first levitation shot and see the same exact hand in that one as is here. Isn’t that completely uninteresting? And aren’t you glad I spent an entire paragraph and half talking about it? Of course you are. And in this shot, I was once again posing on a stool in the original, and used the same blank backdrop shot to layer over. My lips were also wonky in the shot, and in trying to fix the wonkiness I made them huge, then decided I kinda liked how they looked and kept them. Oh, and shadows. They’ve been a bitch for me ever since I started trying to edit them into levitation shots to make them look real, and I finally figured out a strategy that works for me. Instead of using the burn tool with a fairly small brush and drawing an outline around myself, I just make the thing HUGE and slap it over the entire subject several times, then erase the shadows from my body and reduce the opacity, and BAM. A nice shadow every time!

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that I was playing around with lighting throughout this set, too (remember, I spent two hours on that makeup and was determined to get as many different looks as I could out of this shoot!). In most of the shots I had my Speedlight attached to the camera and bounced off the ceiling for some nice soft light, but occasionally I’d attach a light bender to it and aim bright light directly at my face for a different look:

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Much harsher shadows behind me, and a lot less shadows on my face with a much brighter light. It’s a harsher look, and overall I don’t care for this effect as much as I do the softer ones, but for something different it’ll do.

And to sum up for now (who knows how many more of these I’ll edit – I have a few wigs and looks I haven’t even processed yet) here’s one last wig change:

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That wig is called “Sava” and I think it was made by Vanessa Wigs. I’ve gotten more photographic use out of that $20 wig than many of my costlier ones; it’s interesting, it’s easy to wear, and it works with so many different looks, believe it or not. Great wig. And those are some older Zenni Optical glasses I got and kept even though they are no  longer the right prescription, because they’re awesome.

Whoo I am all out of words! Which is great, because I’m also all out of photos for now. More to come though, as well as some new wig reviews: Camille by TressAllure (which is really Shilo by Noriko, but with a lace front); Miranda by Amore; Stevie by Amore; Kenzie by Noriko; an updated Code Mono by Ellen Wille; a Seville in Macadamia-LR by Noriko; a May by Noriko; and another Noriko Angelica (also in Macadamia-LR). Sheesh, did I really just admit to buying all of those?! As I may have said before, it’s my birthday this month, so I partied it up a little early with my purchasing. School starts in two weeks anyway, and I know my wig reviewing will either calm WAY down or possibly grind to a complete halt, so I’m getting it all in while I still can! Never fear though – I still have oodles of old vids to upload, so that should continue to either annoy or entertain you through the first semester, at least.

Oh and also – my July Stitch Fix will be here Wednesday, so that’s happening too. What can I say, folks – stay tuned!

Flickr Tricks

I want to talk about something that happened to me a while ago – back in September, I believe – and how it has affected my choices about photography since. Many people still comment that they “miss” my self-portraits, so it’s probably obvious I’m not doing them near as much as I used to do. I’ve talked about a few reasons for this already – time constraints, boredom, lack of inspiration, etc. – but there’s one issue I haven’t talked about on the blog, although some of you know about it already. This weekend, when I was considering taking photos and before I decided to go planespotting, I briefly considered getting dressed up and posing, but quickly brushed it out of my mind for a reason that may be more influential than I previously thought. It’s not a big deal or anything, just one of those “real life” things that sometimes intrudes upon our virtual lives (I’ll throw in some super-old selfies in this post, just for the hell of it).

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Right at the beginning of the year, I struck up a conversation with a twelfth-grade boy in my class who is very into photography. He plans to study it in college, and is actually exceptionally good (I would link to his page but I’m not sure that’s appropriate). As we were discussing the subject, I pulled up one of my pictures I’d uploaded to Flickr so he could see it – and he got super-excited about the fact I had a Flickr account, because he had one too, and asked for my username.

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Now. I’m normally NOT one to share my personal information with my students. I know teachers who do – they share their cell phone numbers with them so they can text them important things, friend them on Facebook, talk to them more like buddies than teachers, and so on. I’ve never been one of those. I was never “friends” with my students; I just wasn’t comfortable with it. I much prefer to stay in the role of teacher around them, while they remain students. So, while  I was OK sharing certain photos with this kid, but I did not want him to see every photo I’d ever taken and uploaded. However, I am not a fast thinker, and when he asked for my Flickr name I couldn’t think of anything else to do but tell him. He then immediately ran back to his laptop to find my account and follow me, while I ran back to my computer to desperately try to make “private” all the photos I didn’t want him to see before he got to them – which turned out to be a lot of them.

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It’s not that I am ashamed of my portraits, but they are, to me, rather personal. That may be an odd word to choose when describing photos I’ve shared with all sorts of strangers on the internet, so perhaps it has more to do with maintaining my professional persona as a teacher than it does with feeling they share too much about me. The truth is they don’t share much at all; it’s me in costume trying to be someone else. But it’s not a behavior I want to have to explain to my students, and it’s not what I want them to see when I’m standing in front of them in the classroom.  A lot of my friends don’t understand this, many of whom work at the same school.  One of my friends is an art teacher here, and she told me how one day she pulled up a bunch of my self-portraits and showed them to her class. I wasn’t too happy about it, but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings because she genuinely showed them because she thinks they are awesome; however, it did feel to me like a violation of my privacy. Again, an odd way to feel when putting one’s self out there on the internet in so many ways, but there it is.

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So now, every time I think of dressing up for photos, or upload a self-portrait to Flickr, I hesitate. What will this kid think if he sees it? Will he think I’m trying to be “sexy”? Will he show his friends? I don’t care at all if he shows them my doll photos or my plane shots, but me in a wig and drag makeup is a different story. In fact, if you go back to my Flickr stream and look at the self-portraits and costume shots I’ve uploaded, you’ll find (if you are one of my Flickr friends) that a good deal of them are marked “friends only” so he doesn’t see them. It’s a bummer, since it means some of my best stuff ends up getting limited attention, but it’s the only way I feel comfortable right now. At one point I thought I could go back later and switch the settings back to public, because I figured once he’d perused my whole stream he’d most likely only check out new stuff, but then I realized Flickr bumps pictures up to the top of my followers’ stream when I do that, so they all see them as if I just uploaded them. This bums me out, but it’s what I have to do to feel comfortable right now.

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It’s just one more reason the self-portraits have fallen to the wayside. Knowing there’s one of my students seeing everything I do, or that I will work hard on a set of photos only to have to limit them to a few people to see, has taken some of the fun out of the whole thing for me. I’ve been hanging on in the hopes that once he has graduated and moved on (which he will do in May) I can stop hiding my self-portraits again; once I’m not seeing him every day in my teacher role, it will at least feel a little bit more OK. And then hopefully I’ll be comfortable changing my profile name back to Marey Mercy as it used to be (I changed it to Marey M at this time also, because I didn’t want him Googling “Marey Mercy” and finding my blog – I’d really be screwed then!). All part of the perils of living a life online, I reckon. Real life intrudes at times, and can put a damper on things. It’s not the worst thing ever to happen, just an added annoyance that has me second-guessing a lot of my portrait work right now. Here’s hoping my comfort level will improve once summer comes, and the kid is no longer my student.

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Self Post-rait

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I get asked quite a bit why I don’t “do” self-portraits anymore, and since I have several responses to that question I decided to lay it all out here. Self-portraits have always been a huge part of my work; in fact, at one time they were all I did. But for many reasons they are not all I do anymore, and I don’t do them as often as I used to.

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First portrait pose, age 18 (not self-taken)

For starters, I do still take self-portraits; in fact my last session was a few weeks ago when I did the zombie shoot. I used to be able to hold a selfie session once or twice a week back when I started and was not working, but that is impossible now and at the moment I’m lucky to squeeze in one session a month. As I mentioned on Flickr, I have obligations to aging family members that must be met, and now that I am working again on top of that, my free time has been reduced considerably. I really need a full day free to pull off the sort of self-portraits people are referencing when they ask about my photos, but it’s rare I get a full Saturday or Sunday to myself anymore. That’s just how it’s going to be for the foreseeable future, so in the meantime it’s not like I want to quit taking pictures entirely. To counter that I’ve branched out and explored taking pictures of other subjects that don’t require me to spend an hour and a half in the bathroom putting on makeup and another hour setting up my studio and getting dressed.

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Very much an oldie (taken in 2011), very much a goodie – still a favorite 

But. Even if I suddenly had time to do a session a week, I probably wouldn’t. Why? Because the God’s honest truth is that there’s only so many times one person can mug for the camera before he or she starts to get bored, and the poses start to get stale. I’ve been posing for selfies for five years now, and lately every time I do it I feel lost and repetitive with the process. I’m honestly out of ideas for how to make my facial expressions not look like something I’ve done before – I mean, I only have one face and there’s only so many things I can do with it, and trust me at this point it’s all been done. If you don’t believe me or can’t relate to that, I challenge you to spend the next five years taking a selfie of yourself once a week and see if at the end of it you don’t feel like you’ve got nothing new to offer. Then come back and we’ll talk.

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“Bug-eyed surprise” has been a go-to expression for many years

However, I enjoy my self-portraits very much, and I appreciate that they are a large part of what makes my work unique and interesting. So how do I combat the boredom? One way I’ve been doing that is by changing the manner in which I work. For five years, I’ve been able to suit up, turn on the camera and just go – move about, jump around, growl and grin and see what turns up at the end of that. Initially, when I first started, I didn’t even wear costumes other than some weird colored lipstick and a wig. When that got old, I started incorporating costumes. When that began to bore me, I learned drag makeup to make myself look different each time. Then, I started jumping and trying out Photoshop techniques to make myself levitate and float. My latest step in the process has been to plan very specifically for how I want a final shot to look – something I’ve never done before. In the past I knew what costume and makeup I was going to wear and what the color scheme was going to be, but other than that it’s been just playing around and seeing what shots I got out of the session that I liked. But even with jumping, again, there’s only so much you can do, and I’ve done it all now. So, I am learning to plan for very specific shots before getting in front of the camera. It’s a totally different way to work, but it’s the only logical step forward for me now, and it changes the game significantly.

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One of my first successful “planned” shots, where I knew how I wanted the end result to look. Also – damn you if you can’t tell that my skills have improved from the older stuff posted above

What this means is that I take a lot less shots in costume than I did when I didn’t have the first clue what I was going for. It also means I process a lot less of them at the end of it all. Where I used to process as many as 10-15 out of a 350-shot set, now I might edit 3 or 4 and be done (the truth is, even originally only 3 or 4 of the shots from a set would be excellent, and the others were mediocre). It also means I shoot less, because once I feel I’ve got “the” shot (or shots, since I usually have a vision for more than once specific shot as well as tossing in some spontaneous stuff) I’m basically done. So where I used to take 350 shots to process, now it’s maybe 150. This also means I upload less from each shoot – which I think has contributed to people thinking I’m not taking as many selfies as I used to. Because I used to edit so many shots per set, I could upload nothing but selfies and still be uploading at least one shot per day. But now, a shoot may only net me 3 photos, and then there’s other stuff I upload once I’ve finished with those (photos of pets or objects, etc.), so people feel overall like I’ve abandoned the art form. However, if you look at the shots from recent portrait sets you can see that they are better quality, without all the filler you used to see in my stream.

I think this collage is a great example of what I’m talking about. That photo I posted above, originally titled (creatively enough) “All She Ever Does Is…” was really the only photo I needed to post from this set. It was the right shot, conveyed the right mood, and said exactly what I wanted it to say. But back then, oh no – I had to post as many shots as possible from each set because I couldn’t stand not to. Now I don’t think any of these needed to be shared once the original was posted; in a way, I think posting these lessened the effectiveness of the one “real” shot.

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I guess no matter what some people are never going to be satisfied, and will insist all my self-portraits are awesome and I can do no wrong and should therefore upload nothing but selfies every day, but I think we all know that sort of feedback isn’t approaching the subject from the same place we are as photographers. It’s nice enough for people to say, but it also means they kinda don’t get it. I consider myself an artist, and as such I am constantly needing to grow, and uploading loads of mediocre selfies just to show off my makeup or wig or the fact that I took 200 photos of me in the same getup doesn’t make me happy anymore. It did at one time, but now I expect more from my photography and want better end results, and I want to edit myself better and reduce my compulsion to share too many photos when one or two (or, OK, three) would suffice. People will understand that or they won’t, but either way I’m going to follow my instincts and move on.

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And seriously, when you start posing like this you at least need a break (this was taken before I got into costumes, can you tell?)

On another note: when people fixate too much on my self-portraits, it does bum me out a little bit, because the truth is I work hard on all my photography and I don’t like to see the other stuff get shortchanged because it doesn’t contain an image of me in a wig. I’d like to think I can do more than self-portraits and still be an interesting photographer, but I do get that people started following me when selfies were all I did and so they are thrown by seeing airplanes and flowers instead of the stuff that inspired them to follow me in the first place. But most photographers who stick with the hobby are on a path that rambles and twists and turns, and new interests replace the old, and I am no different. And it also bums me out because, as I said, if I had more time to explore my self-portraiture I would, but I don’t right now, and often I have to settle for photos of my pets and flowers and raindrops because it’s all I have time to pull off lest I abandon photography entirely. So don’t bum me out by reminding me that my self-portraits are better than my frog shots or whatever. It doesn’t mean I don’t recognize that my self-portraits are probably always going to be my best work, and I certainly don’t mind people acknowledging that. But realistically it just can’t be all I do, because I don’t have the time for them that much right now. And they will always have to develop and change. Thanks – I know you all will understand.

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Sofa Float

Continuing with yesterday’s post about my levitation experiments, here’s the second set I worked with to practice floating composite shots.

As I mentioned previously, taking the first set of photos took almost no time compared to how long I usually shoot. I got the shots in about 15 minutes, then spent a few hours noodling around with the results, and was done on the computer at a decent hour. Just as I began to put my room back together I was thinking to myself, okay, I still have some daylight here I can use to do laundry, steam the wrinkles out of some new clothes I’ve yet to wear, and exercise – and then I moved the small love seat I keep in my office up against the wall (part of my office reconstruction process when the room transitions back to that from a studio). In one quick second the thought flashed into my head that some shots levitating above that love seat would probably be pretty cool, and the wicker ottoman I used in the previous shots would just about fit on the sofa cushion for me to pose on it. Sure enough, I got the wig and the dress back on, set up the camera and lighting again, annnnnnd the rest of the day was effectively blown. Almost got out without a marathon editing session, but didn’t quite make it.

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The couch in question

I tossed the ottoman up there and popped off a few quick shots, then got to work with Levitation Editing Round Two:

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As you can see, I remembered to use a fan this time to fling the hair around and create some movement. I kept having to remind myself that I didn’t have to worry about the fan showing in these shots, as I’d be layering my body over the background shot of the sofa. Trying to hide the fan in shots where I want to use it to create movement is a pain, and it was nice to be able to get it so close this time.

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So here’s the composite shot – not too bad, but of course there’s those shadows to worry about again. This took me awhile to get anywhere close to right, but in the end I used the darken tool in Paint Shop Pro to trace an outline around my lower body at a fairly low opacity. My first attempt at doing this wasn’t my best, but I think this worked better than yesterday’s method (which wasn’t much of a method at all). I also think having something to work against other than a white backdrop made shadowing easier, at least for me. I used the darken tool also around my body’s edges overall, as it seemed to make them less stark and more realistic.

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The end result here is okay, but the edges aren’t great, and I think it looks a little obvious. There’s also a shadow in the upper-right corner from my umbrella stand that I forgot to edit out, but I remembered to do so in the shots below.

My second attempt came out better, and started with a background shot including my dog Penny, who kept insisting on sitting on the sofa while I was trying to take my picture of it. In her defense, this love seat is more hers than mine anyway; between she and Sprocket, I never get any sitting time on this thing. I managed to get Penny off the sofa, but then she slunk down to the floor and refused to move for awhile. As soon as I thought, fine, I’ll put you in the shot too then, she of course got up and moved. By that time I’d decided it was a fine idea to keep her around, and I had to coax her back into position. She never really settled down (Penny isn’t a cooperative model, like Sprocket is) but I managed to get one taken before she split again:

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You can tell she’s not into it, though

I didn’t do any piecing together of different body parts for these shots; as I said in the previous post, I don’t at this point feel much need to do that. I just used a second shot taken when I was on the ottoman and worked with it in its entirety:

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I tried for poses here that had cleaner lines, and that didn’t have too much going on around the sofa or the wicker, as I knew those two areas would be a bitch for me to edit away from the edges of the dress. It still provided complications, but I think I did an OK job getting this into the composite shot:

sofa float dog

Overall this was the easiest pose to work with, and Penny’s apprehension works well with the appearance my body gives of being slightly out of control. I also love it that she’s the one looking at the camera, while I am looking away.  I added shadows using the technique mentioned above, and I actually think they worked out nicely this time:

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For whatever reason, the shadows really work to add the right dimension to my body floating over the sofa. Of all the levitation shots I tried Saturday, I’d have to say this one is my favorite.

I do have one more though – I had some fun poses I took while on top of the ottoman, and I wanted to get one where the hair was really blowing as we all know what a fan I am of that. So I went with this final one to edit:

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I left the dog out of this one, as I didn’t think I could top the first one I created using her background photo. The one foot that was at rest on the sofa in this original turned out to be a bit of a bitch for me to get placed right on the background shot, and I actually had to also include a bit of the indentation from it when layering; without that it just looked like my toes were cut off. It was hard to do, and I don’t think I pulled it off in an entirely successful manner, but I worked with it as best I could:

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You can see a dark line where the layered indentation of the sofa is, at least I can, but I worked to darken the fabric around it so it didn’t stand out so much. I don’t think the shadows were quite as successful in this shot as they were in the previous one, but overall they weren’t bad. I like showing the editing steps here, as it really reveals how important those shadows are; I look awfully flat and pasted-on in the photo above in spite of my attempts to get all the edges smooth and sharp.

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I’ll take it though

Discovering the use of the darken tool to trace some decent shadows into the shot was a big help here, but having something aside from a white wall to put those shadows against may have also contributed to their improvement in the editing of this set. I do think that foot ended up getting darkened too much in all of this, but aside from that I think this one works. At the least, this is further than I’ve ever been able to take a process like this, and the end results make me happy. I feel like I’ve discovered some techniques I can build on in the future, and I can begin to realize some new visions I’ve had in mind for some time. I’m excited to see where I can go next.

For that last shot, I did add a filter to it after all the processing was done, just to see if it added a little punch to the photo. Still not sure if I like the one above or the filtered one below better; let me know which you like better in the comments, if you don’t mind!

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It’s Not a Tumor

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Kindergarten Cop, but does everyone know that line even if they haven’t seen it?

I posted a few of the attempted levitation pics with the sheer backdrop on Flickr, and one of my followers said the material looked like a big tumor, which made me laugh. Of course, he was referring to one of my color-alteration shots, which I haven’t shared here yet:

levitate4a_Snapseed

I started getting bored just playing around with the few shots I took of me posing in this material, so I used a filter to change the colors and ended up really loving the look of the blue. I thought this one was still a little meh though, so I ran it through Pixlr to add some subtle texture:

levitate4a_Snapseed_pxr

This next one I do think has a very tumor-like quality, but if that can in any way be a good thing, I think it is:

levitate5_Snapseed

That’s probably more leg than I’ll ever let show in a shot again, BTW. I Pixlr’ed this one too, for some added interest:

levitate5_Snapseed_pxr

Of course, after editing two photos with the blue filter (it wasn’t actually a blue filter, it was some sort of “ink” filter and I can’t remember any more than that. I’m terrible about not paying attention to what I am doing) I was bored with that too, so for these last two shots I played with layers to add texture. I probably went a bit overboard with this first one, though. I’ll show the original first:

levitate1

And here’s the final, super-textured version:

levitate1_Snapseeda_pxr
Yep, probably too much

This was the last shot from the set I edited; my only regret with this one is that I forgot to take my glasses off before posing. I liked the movement here enough to work with it anyway, but I do find the glasses out of place here. I don’t have the original to share, but I added a background layer to give texture to the wall, then layered a bit of white texture over the floor to conceal the wrinkled in the fabric a bit:

levitate7_Snapseed

Right after writing my last post about my need to learn Photoshop for reals, I realized there was actually some more experimentation I could do to create better levitation shots using the programs I currently know. So I played around with those techniques Saturday afternoon, and will start uploading and discussing those photos tomorrow. Some of the techniques are so damn obvious, I can’t believe I didn’t think of them before; but there you go. At least I figure shit out eventually.

More purple

So this costume change isn’t much of a change from the photos I shared yesterday. Basically the difference is I have on these wide-legged purple pants I bought off Amazon when I was searching for dance attire to wear in photos (this was before I discovered the joys of online vintage shopping via eBay). The pants are actually praise dancing pants, and I can honestly say I had not heard of that particular term before when I bought them. I had heard of liturgical dance, obviously, but the phrase “praise dancing” was new to me. I was sure I was the only person among my friends who’d ever heard of it, but so far, everyone I’ve told about it has already been familiar with the activity. So I guess I was just out of the loop on this one. Moving on.

Anyway, I put on the purple pants to add more flowy fabric into my movements, and I like the way they turned out even though the purples don’t quite match. This was actually the first outfit I wore, and these were some of the first photos I took; I realized after the fact that I needed to move the camera back some as a lot of these shots do not capture all the fabric in the frame. Bugs me a little bit, but I liked many of the shots enough to use them anyway.

I just realized I only have a few from this costume so far; much more to come. It may not be until the  weekend when I have time to work with more editing but I know I have more to edit from this section of the shoot.

purple4
I blurred the edges because I felt it made the cut off material look more intentional. Not sure that’s gonna fool anyone though.

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What can I say – I could not be any happier with how these curtain sheers worked with the camera.

So just two for today. I am itching right this second to dig into the RAW files and find a few more to edit before posting, but I know it’s going to throw me off schedule if I do that, because I will get so engrossed in the work I won’t get myself to bed on time or anything. So I will have to be happy with only sharing two photos today. More later though! There are wigs and Mardi Gras masks involved in the next set of shots!

Flipping out

I’ve been having fun flipping more photos this weekend. I’ve got some ideas for how to make this more effective when I shoot again, too. I need to get the hair and the fabric both moving in the right direction to get the effect of falling, or flying, or whatever. And now that I really see how this is going to work, I think I can pose better to make the shots more convincing; I was trying with the last shoot to pose in ways that they could be flipped, but until I worked with them and saw what needed to happen I didn’t really know what to do.

And I apologize if I am sounding a little incoherent right now. Three weeks out from my bronchitis, I still have a wicked cough that won’t go away. It’s worst at night, so I’ve resorted to swilling Robitussin every night to keep it under control and, hopefully, finally make it go away. As a result I’m a little loopy right now since I am writing Monday morning’s post on Sunday night like I always do, and I’ve already taken my nightly dose.

Anyway, here are my latest flipped pics:

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flip_Snapseed

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OK, so flipping completely upside-down doesn’t work – yet. Still, I had to try.