Office Race

My first goal towards creating a studio out of my office was to get this big, old, cheap Sears bookcase that takes up half a wall cleaned out and out of the room. I told myself I would get that done this weekend, and on Sunday I finally got up the energy to give it a go. It took longer than I expected, because while cleaning out the bookcase I realized I had to find somewhere to put the stuff I cleaned out of there (the stuff that wasn’t total junk anyway) which led to me having to clean out some other drawers and cabinets to make room for it. I don’t think I realized before today, because I don’t generally pay attention much to my surroundings, just how much useless crap I’ve accumulated over the years and strewn all over the house, as well as stuffed into cabinets and drawers. Every available space here within which junk can be placed is full, and I’d wager that 97% of it is useless. So there’s that.

I ended up throwing out 6 bags’ worth of said junk, along with the bookcase, and let’s just say I achieved two goals today – getting rid of the bookshelf and getting back into a workout routine – because at the end of the day I was tired and quite sore all over. But goal #1 is accomplished, and every time I walk into my office I do a little happy dance to see that open space against the wall, which I’ve already used to move my umbrella stands against instead of having them hovering over my computer desk like they were before. At one point today I got really overwhelmed thinking about all those overstuffed drawers and cabinets and bookshelves and feeling the need to de-clutter the entire house, but I calmed myself down and reminded myself I’d do a better job of it if I stuck to the plan and took each step one at a time. I don’t want to burn out by taking on too much too soon, and forgetting to celebrate each little victory. So, here I am with one more wall of free space, a sore neck, and a sense of accomplishment. Yay me.

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Un-insert big ugly bookcase here

My next goal is to get rid of that little cheap black and white love seat that is basically a dog couch – I’m going to take it up to the school for the students to sit on in the learning center next year. Hope they don’t mind sitting on a dog bed for relaxation! I’m hoping to get that done some time this week. I’m not sure I even need a truck to move this thing; it was delivered to my doorstep in a box, so it isn’t exactly heavy, just might be too bulky to fit in my car. We’ll see. And yes, I am sorry to separate Penny from one of her favorite resting places, but my mind is made up and this room will be a photo studio, so we’re all going to have to make sacrifices. Moving on.

I also edited two more photos from Friday’s shoot:

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I have no idea why I was making that face, but y’all know I like to find shots where I don’t look anything like the other 5,000+ shots of myself I’ve stared at over the years, and this one fit the bill. It kind of looks like I just spied a tarantula crawling up the wall, but I thought the expression lent an air of mystery and humor (and maybe even drama?)  to the portrait, so here’s hoping I was right about that.

This next one was really frustrating – I liked it enough to run it through Photo Ninja and Photoshop, but once I started tweaking it in Snapseed I couldn’t get all that into it. It was boring me, and I felt like something was missing. I liked the focus a lot, though, and way the light played on the hair, so I kept working at it.

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Even when I uploaded it to Pixlr and started trying out different effects and overlays, I  couldn’t hit on anything that gave it the pizzazz I wanted, and I was about to abandon it entirely when, as a last resort, I decided to try out some borders, thinking I could edit the heavy frame out as I’d learned to do recently and just keep whatever textures the border might impose on the image. And just like that – BAM! It all fell into place.

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See what I mean? The difference is subtle, but the visual interest the specks and smudges create give the portrait a grittier feel, as well as adding some warmth and light to the shot. I cropped out the dark black borders so that they weren’t so obtrusive (this was actually done using three different borders layered over each other) and was just left with the touches of texture and color that made me happy. Now I really love this shot!

Got to go in to work today, but we’re on summer hours now so I only have to be there from 9 AM to 1 PM. I’m planning on editing more from this set as well as move more furniture, so another busy week awaits. Happy Monday everyone!

Pictures Accomplished

Monday was the day of the big shoot, and although I was nervous in the beginning, things went OK overall. The studio was a lot smaller than I expected, and by the time we’d gotten about halfway through I was getting sloppy –  for example, I noticed after the fact that when I switched to my 85mm lens for portraits, I forgot to change the camera settings so most of them were out of focus, stuff like that – but since we took over 600 photos, I was able to salvage plenty even when I screwed something up.

My right arm is killing me, because I’ve been editing obsessively since I got home around 5 PM and it’s 11:15 now, so I’m going to keep this post brief and just share the first little sampling from the shoot. I’m most likely going to be working with these photos for awhile, so as I get into more specific sections of the shoot in days to come I can talk about issues I encountered throughout the day. For now, let’s just look at the ones I processed initially (some of these I chose first because my friends really liked them, others because I did).

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I think I mentioned previously that I had a vintage vision going on for the shoot, so I processed this one in a manner that gave it that feel. The poses were a little awkward here, because it was at the start of the shoot and it always takes awhile to get in the groove, but I thought the stiff formality of it rather worked in this shot. Of course, there’s the wreaths I spoke about in a previous post, and the costumes are all mine as well – you probably recognize some of them from other photos!

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My friend Candace (on the right) has no shortage of crazy concepts, and she is game for anything – the posing here was her idea. It was a very crisp, clear shot originally, but to give it a ghostly quality (and to make it make some kind of sense) I added a little movement blur, and some subtle fog at the bottom, as well as some texture.

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Tamara is very into yoga, so once Candace mentioned it might be fun to try out a few yoga poses in nightgowns (Tamara’s dress is actually an old ball gown of my mother-in-law’s) she started to loosen up a little too – literally as well as figuratively. I love this next move she executed (I can’t remember the name of the yoga pose) but I’m a little concerned it looks like she’s doing something obscene…? I swear she isn’t!

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The yoga photos are pretty small,  because the truth is this studio really wasn’t big enough for full body shots – I actually have more width to work with in my little office! So I had to crop the hell out of them, which is a shame, because it makes them noisier and reduces size so much. Working with a paper background was nice as that’s not something I’ve done before, and it eliminates all the wrinkle and crease issues I have with my muslin, but there just wasn’t very much of it. Literally right out of the frame to both sides of Tamara in the shot above, the paper ended and we were just looking at studio. It’s really a place for portraits only, but oh well. We made do (and for added fun, it was clear the woman working in the office there was not used to photographers using her space for this sort of thing – I think it’s a family portrait type place only, being in the part of town it is – so she kept peeking around the corner to see what the hell was going on, in a nice way, but still I got the feeling we were freaking her out just a little bit).

True to the weird ideas she comes up with in shoots, Candace also chooses crazy shots to want processed, which is amusing to me because as you can tell, she is photogenic as hell (she has skin that gives meaning to the phrase “peaches and cream”) and she cannot take a bad photo, but she always wants copies of the ones where she’s half-blurry, or falling out of a tree or something (just kidding, no one fell out of any trees during this shoot). Anyway, she chose this one as a favorite, which I popped off without any real thought or focus while we were standing in the back alley after the shoot talking about what we were going to do next. Notice she is wearing that fabulous faux-fur vest I got at Nordstrom a while back; the owner of the studio also rents out props, and told me I should rent out that vest to people for photos because it’s so fabulous. Remember  who convinced me to buy it in the first place? Yep. Candace.

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Obviously I Pixlr-ed the hell out of this one, because why not? Candace likes ’em crazy. If you look closely, you can see that I superimposed the photo of them facing each other into the trees. And yep, there’s the fur vest!

Soooo much more to come. Remember, over 600 shots people. In my mind, I will focus on a different section of the shoot in each post (yoga poses, jumping, levitation, portraits) but most likely that will not happen, and I’ll just work on a few each day then upload those results. Get used to these two faces though, because you’re going to be seeing a lot of them for awhile!