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Home photography

I’ve been interested in photography for a very long time. In fact, back in the days before we all used digital cameras, I even had a darkroom and used to process my own Black & White 35mm film and make my own prints.

Lately I’ve been becoming very dissatisfied with the self portraits I post on Flickr, mainly in the area of lighting. So I decided it was time to do something about it. Some research online brought me to the conclusion that continuous lighting softboxes were a cost-effective entry. For sure, studio strobe flash would be better, but the cost is around three times more, like-for-like.

Home Studio Kit

Home Studio Kit

I found a nice studio starter kit on Amazon, which includes two softboxes with tripods and bulbs, a backdrop frame, three different backdrops (black, white, and Chroma key green), some mini clamps for attaching a backdrop to the frame, and a bag to put it all in. The Amazon price was £92 but I was lucky enough that they also had one through their Amazon Warehouse outlet for £70. Ostensibly second hand, it turned out to be brand new with all components still sealed in their original packing and unopened. The outer packaging was a little beat up, which maybe was why it was made available through the Warehouse. So a bit of a bargain there!

Click to view larger version on Flickr

Click to enlarge

I was fairly pleased how my “In the Storeroom” shoot had turned out (especially all the views, faves and nice comments that I’ve had), but I really wanted to revisit it and do it better. In particular, some of the poses were a success but the photos themselves unusable. I also wanted to try a nicer blouse and better lighting.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I found a seller on Amazon Marketplace called Yasong who were selling what looked like the ideal blouse. They’re based in China so I knew I was in for a long wait, and sure enough it did take several weeks to arrive. Fortunately, when it did finally arrive the sizing was just right and so was the fit. Yay!

On the day of the shoot, I arranged the items on the shelving in a better way and paid a lot of attention to how it looked, and then set up the lighting.

Disaster!

Disaster!

Before I started on my make-up, I decided that the blouse could do with a quick iron before wear, so set my iron to a medium heat and when it was up to temperature started to iron. Within a split second I knew something was wrong as the iron didn’t glide, so immediately pulled it back to see, with horror, that the blouse had instantly melted. To say I was upset was an understatement.

I must confess that I almost aborted the whole shoot at this point, but instead took a few moments to calm down, posted my woes on my Facebook page, and had a cup of tea. Talking it through with people on that Facebook post made me realise that the blouse might still be usable as the damage was just on one area over my left breast and if I shot the photos with my right side towards camera, the damage would be partially hidden and could be corrected post-process in Photoshop (well, GIMP actually). So the shoot was back on.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

I took quite a few pics in the storeroom, and was really pleased with how they turned out. I also gained good experience with the lighting, working out what worked and what didn’t. It turns out that it is quite easy to over-light the subject – perhaps I need to add dimmers to the two lights (that’s assuming that the bulbs are dimmable; I will have to check).

I’ve only posted one pic from the shoot so far. More may follow, so be sure to keep an eye on my Flickr page!

Next, I set up the backdrop frame in my lounge and moved the lighting and camera down there too, then got changed into a PVC corset dress I recently bought, plus my trusty Doc Marten stiletto boots. Unfortunately this shoot was a bit of a disaster and none of the photos were usable. However, it was a good opportunity to play with backdrops.

For my next shoot I’d like to play around with the Chroma green backdrop and have some fun pasting myself into different scenes, as I already have some experience in doing this in GIMP from other projects. Maybe a picture of me on a beach? Who knows.

 
 

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Project Reorganise

It’s been well over a month (6 weeks, in fact) since I last posted, and a few people have asked me what I have been up to and said that I should post it on a blog post. I confess that I have been wary of turning this blog into a “Dear Diary” one which is why I have held off a little.

So, what have I been up to since my last post?

For quite a while now, I’ve been rather ‘treading water’ in my house. I’ve bought the odd picture here and there, the odd houseplant here and there, have moved various items of furniture around, but haven’t made any really major changes since my divorce.

Over the past few years, as I have embraced all facets of myself, I’ve come to realise how much I love Art Nouveau and the whole vintage aesthetic. I also have come to appreciate Shabby Chic, whimsy, and quite a feminine vibe. It started with a few little trinkets and accessories around the house here and there, and then recently has coalesced into a grand plan for my bedroom.

The plan, which is already well-progressed, is to move the heavy antique pine furniture in my bedroom into the back bedroom, where the wardrobes from the same set already are, to end up with all pieces from the set in the same room. It should make for a really nice themed guest room. Who knows, maybe I might even have some guests over to enjoy it.

That leaves my own bedroom, and the plan is to go for a rustic sort-of Shabby Chic look but without going all the way to half-broken mismatched furniture. So a sort of “Shabbyish Chic”. 😀

I’ve been keeping my eyes open for suitable furniture and finally found what I think to be ideal in a branch of What Not Antiques. It’s a bedroom furniture set called Claremont that is made from solid reclaimed timber in a rustic style. Unlike true Shabby Chic, everything matches, but this is what I want.

Claremont tall chest, wide chest, bedside cabinet, and table

Claremont tall chest, wide chest, bedside cabinet, and table

Funnily enough, just after I bought the Claremont items I was in House of Fraser and saw a very similarly styled chest of drawers to the 7-drawer low & wide one. However, unlike the one I had just bought, this was all smooth melamine-faced board with smooth drawer runners and shiny handles, and completely lacked any character. And, ironically, it wasn’t a huge amount cheaper either. So although what I have bought is fairly expensive, I’m really pleased with it. It also comes with an extremely comprehensive insurance-based 5-year warranty which even covers it for having a glass of red wine spilled down it – if they can’t remove the stain they’ll replace the item.

Bed

Bed

I don’t want everything to be matching, though – I felt that would be just too much. I envisaged the bed being a metal-framed one, possibly in a Victorian wrought iron style – perhaps black with brass detailing. Benson’s for Beds had something sort-of suitable and, better yet, it was in their sale for £199 rather than the usual price of twice that. For the price, it was ok. However, I really had my heart set on something antique with some character and on Saturday I found just that at Victorian Dreams, which is a company based in Hampshire who specialise in sourcing and restoring antique beds. Although the prices were way outside what I was planning on spending, I found the most awesome bed with the help of the owner of the shop, and she gave me a good discount to help me afford it too. The bed dates from the early 1900’s and is apparently Portuguese in origin, and I’m so excited about how it’s going to fit in with the style that I have chosen.

The plan is to have the low, wide, chest of drawers across the foot of the bed, which is why a high foot was quite important to me. By my measurements the top of the chest should come to exactly the base of the vase on the bed, which is ideal.

Butterfly Lamp

Butterfly Lamp

Whilst this has been going on, I’ve been visiting various Antiques and Collectables fairs around the Hampshire, Berkshire and Surrey area, ranging from small village halls to large Sports Halls, looking for things to complement the look I’m going for. There are probably too many to mention here but notable purchases include a gorgeous Tiffany-style butterfly lamp and a mirror featuring artwork by Alphonse Mucha. I also bought a cheap table lamp also in a Tiffany style to use as a bedside lamp.

Mucha Mirror

Mucha Mirror

At one show I bumped into Amita Vetta of Love That Jewellery again, who was the person selling the Charles Horner necklace that I mentioned in a previous post. I bought a lovely earring and bracelet set off her, and was chatting to her about the Charles Horner necklace but it was quite clear she didn’t remember me. It was only when I got home that I realised that I was in guy mode this time and that I had chatted to her in girl mode originally. No wonder she didn’t recognise me!
A few weeks later I was at another fair and she was at that one too, and I was in guy mode again, so I went up to her and she instantly recognised me. I explained the situation and it was like a light bulb came on over her head and there was a look of relief on her face. She said she did remember the conversation and that I had been wearing a really lovely necklace when we’d been talking about the Charles Horner one, which indeed I had.
The thing that I found the most nice is that she totally took it in her stride and didn’t so much as bat an eyelid over the concept. How wonderful! I think it is yet more evidence that Society as a whole (the decent members thereof, at least) are much more tolerant to transgenderism these days.

Rose mirror

Rose mirror

Another purchase was a gorgeous mirror, although with the design of the room starting to mutate out of Shabby Chic and towards a more vintage bronze look (what with the Tiffany-style lamps, the bed, the handles on the furniture, and one of the candidates for the chandelier light fittings I’m considering), I’m starting to be concerned that it still fits. But I really like it so I think it will stay.

The furniture and the bed both arrive next weekend, and once installed there will be a little more still to do, but I will be sure to post pics when it’s all done. I’m not planning to re-decorate or re-carpet, but I do want to fit some coving to soften the feel of the room and make it less boxy.

Not only have I been pretty remiss on this blog, but I’ve also been remiss on going out in girl mode and taking pics for my Flickr. I think I’ve only done it once or twice since my last blog post. I’m at the stage right now where it is no big deal whether I do or don’t. Much as I love the clothes and jewellery of girl mode, it is a complete palaver and if I’m absolutely honest, after a long week at work I can’t really be bothered on a weekend. Especially in the cold weather we’ve been having, I just like to dress up warm and comfortable, and I can do that much more easily in guy mode than girl mode. There may also be some confidence issues too, but I think it is more down to the fact that warm clothing doesn’t really flatter any woman, although I do think I look particularly chunky in my more recent pics even though I’ve put no more than 5lbs back on. That’s well on the way to coming off again though, so perhaps by the time Spring comes I will be in a place where I want to resume.

I recently got to a stage where I considered stopping buying any more dangling earrings because I think I probably buy them more often than I wear them! So I told myself that I had two options – either stop buying them and start wearing what I have, or else say that I am collecting them. So, a Collector of Nice Earrings I now am. 🙂

I will have to photograph them all and make a static gallery-style page on this blog, I think. Something to do one day.

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2015 in Diary, Home furnishing, Transgender

 

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She’s not so dumb

I had been planning on going to the Flea and Collectables Fair at Woking on Sunday, but when I got up the weather was a little grotty and I decided that I really couldn’t be bothered. Besides, it was the final rounds of the BTCC and also there was a F1 race. So I decided to stay in. But I told myself I would get into girl mode and take some pics of the other of the two wigs; which I have not yet photographed.

Back in Black

Back in Black

I looked in the wardrobe for something to wear, and came up with a little outfit that I’m quite pleased with. The top is a semi-sheer shirt from Next, with a black cami-vest underneath, and paired with a simple black bodycon skirt. I’m quite pleased with how it turned out and it’s a cute little outfit.

Lisa Loeb?

Lisa Loeb?

A while back I bought some fancy dress glasses with an intent of doing a “sexy secretary” look with them, which I’ve never got round to doing. But I thought I would give them a go, and I really liked how it turned out. I think I look like Lisa Loeb.

I then went back to the wardrobe to see what else I could try, but nothing else seemed to grab me apart form a unisex retro t-shirt that I recently bought. Also, I have a “retro wall” in my house where I have retro posters, metal signs, and the like.

Retro

Retro

I thought it might be fun to take a photo of me in the t-shirt with that as the backdrop. The only downside is that it’s in the kitchen and the light is very harsh in there.

If you look carefully at the pic, at the parting of my hair, you can clearly see the lace front in action. It does an amazing job of making it look like a natural hairline, doesn’t it!

Keep Mum, she's not so dumb

Keep Mum, she’s not so dumb

You can’t really see the poster to the right of the picture, but it’s one I like very much which I bought at Bletchley Park. It’s a wartime poster cautioning people not to give away secrets – saying “Keep mum, she’s not so dumb!

On the face of it, it seems typically misogynistic in keeping with the era, but I find it strangely empowering. The woman looks very intelligent, confident and composed. And although the caption implies that men of that time considered women as stupid and of no consequence, the poster is pointing out that women can be intelligent and could be using their position to manipulate Top Brass in the Military (you’ll notice that the 3 men represent Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force) into giving away secrets. Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but that’s my take on it and from that point of view it’s empowering women.

 

 

 

 

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Fashion update

Baroque Print Skater Dress

‘Baroque Print Skater Dress’ by Tenki on Flickr

As I mentioned in a recent post, I recently bought the ‘Baroque Print Skater Dress’ by Tenki but had not taken a photo of me wearing it. I’ve now taken one, as you can see. I can’t say I’m totally happy with the way it sits on me, though; especially in the under-bust area. Definitely not a favourite, although it’s ok I guess. I think I’m not alone in this opinion because it has gathered below-average views, faves and comments on Flickr.

‘Smoky Floral Lace Skater Dress’ by Select Fashion on Flickr

Far more successful was this lovely Smokey Lace Skater Dress by Select Fashion that I bought during a recent shopping trip to Camberley. I love how it appears sheer yet has strategically placed modesty panels. It’s really comfortable and I absolutely adore it. I think the colour and design really suit me. Again, it seems I’m not alone there as the above-average views, faves and comments on Flickr reflect. Even better, it was only £14.99 – barrrrrgain!

Browns & Whites

‘Browns & Whites’ on Flickr

Another success, bought during the same shopping trip, was a really cute brown biker jacket that I bought in H&M. It’s meant to look like leather, but close up it’s not fooling anyone. But that’s hardly surprising as it was only £34.99 and you’d expect to pay 10 times that for proper leather. But I think it looks pretty cute (as do my Flickr followers, it seems). I paired it with a skirt and belt that I bought years ago, a top that has appeared in previous pics, and my favourite Timberland boots. To be honest, the boots are a little dark for this outfit, but never mind.

Moving on to New Look I bought a nice floral body in the sale, reduced to £7. You don’t tend to see them to buy that often (unless they are as a really expensive ‘shaping body’) – certainly Marks & Spencer haven’t stocked them for ages. That’s a pity because I find them really useful and they really flatten and shape the tummy far better than a camisole or vest do.

Short Sleeve Pointelle Knit Shrug

Short Sleeve Pointelle Knit Shrug

I also bought a cute little black Short Sleeve Pointelle Knit Shrug which was also reduced to £7. I bought it because I thought it could be versatile and useful for going out, especially as the weather cools into Autumn.

Topshop earrings

Topshop earrings

Yesterday I was out shopping in guy mode for some stuff, and visited Farnborough Gate because I needed to go to Halfords. Whilst there I popped into Boots to get a liquid eyeliner, and decided to try a liquid eyeliner pen. It looks for all the world like a felt tip pen. Perhaps I could have saved some money and used a Sharpie marker instead? Anyway, I’m planning to have a go with it this weekend (the eyeliner pen, not the Sharpie marker!) and will let you know how that goes.

Whilst at Farnborough Gate I also popped into Topshop, and saw these absolutely gorgeous earrings. I love how they have an Art Deco (or possibly Art Nouveau) vibe and the chains are really delicate. Also I really like how they have mirror symmetry – it really annoys me when asymmetric earrings don’t.

 
 

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Don’t look down on me

Ok, not the best title for this picture, but it was the best I could come up with. :o)

“Don’t look down on me” by Joanne, on Flickr

 

I took this pic with my tripod on its maximum height, looking down on me sitting down.
There was quite of a lot of perspective distortion which I had to correct post-production, and there is still some even now but this was about as much as I could do without it starting to look odd.

 

Fashion card

Top – Marks & Spencer (Woman range)
Jeans – Marks & Spencer (Indigo range, skinny fit)
Boots – Timberland
Accessories – I really can’t remember I’m afraid.
Makeup – as per my ‘Getting my eye back in” post

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2014 in Clothes, Shoes, and Jewellery, Photos

 

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Holy Crochet!

“White Crochet Fringed Hem Top” by New Look

I mentioned in my last post that I had gone out shopping after I had done my makeup. I popped down to Festival Place in Basingstoke (Amazingstoke!) for a spot of Retail Therapy.

I bought this “White Crochet Fringed Hem Top” by New Look which cost me £22.99. It’s not something I would normally buy, but I really liked it and I thought it would be something I could wear with different things maybe.

"Baroque Print Skater Dress" by Tenki

“Baroque Print Skater Dress” by Tenki

I also managed to buy a dress not dissimilar to that Mela Loves London one that I mentioned in a previous post, only this one actually fits me. Yay! This one is the “Baroque Print Skater Dress” by Tenki and wasn’t quite the bargain that the Mela Loves London one was because I had to pay £25 for it. But that’s still not bad. I haven’t managed to do a picture of me wearing it yet, but here’s one of it on the hangar. I bought it in Debenhams but I notice that New Look also sell it via their website, which is what I have linked to.

"Woven Shoulder Stitch Block Jumper" by Warehouse

“Woven Shoulder Stitch Block Jumper” by Warehouse

Finally, I found this cool “Woven Shoulder Stitch Block Jumper” from Warehouse for £15. The shoulder panels are sheer and the sides and a band of the sleeves are quite “holey” which means you can show off what your’re wearing underneath (or a bit of skin if you’re feeling daring) which should make it quite versatile. Trouble is that I am going to have to wash it before I wear it because I managed to get foundation all over it when trying it on. Oops.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sizing to flatter

Vanity sizing is nothing new. And no matter how hardened we are to it, there is a secret little thrill to getting into something the next size down. That’s why they do it, of course.

The thing that *really* miffs me, though, is when the sizing is completely wrong the other way and there is no bigger size.

Mela Loves London

Mela Loves London

Now, as you’ll know from my post about the coat, I have absolutely no problems with getting the next size up. But I think that when you sell stuff online you should be realistic and honest about the size. After all, you’re only risking a high rate of returns if you don’t.

Take this lovely little dress that I bought on Amazon from ‘Mela Loves London’. Gorgeous, isn’t it? Unfortunately “little” is the operative word since, despite allegedly being a size 14, it proved to be very much not the case.

Currently a majority of my dresses are size 14 (although some of my 14s are getting a little tight as I have put a couple of lbs back on but those lbs are coming off again) and I have sold, or donated, pretty much all of my dresses that are bigger than that. So I was really upset that I could barely get into this dress. And once into it, I certainly couldn’t pull the side zip up. And it was a little tight across the chest and I hadn’t even got my bewbies on. So a no-hoper really, no matter how much weight I lose.

Despite being an absolute bargain (£10.69 at the time of purchase, but back up to £16 at the time of writing) I’ve really reluctantly had to send it back under Amazon’s excellent Returns Policy. What upsets me the most is that if they did a bigger size I would have ordered it in a flash because it’s such a lovely dress. But, sadly, the only sizes are “10” (sic) and “14” (sic) which I suspect correspond to “tiny” and “small” respectively.

 

 

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Fashion update

As I mentioned on a recent post, I managed to pick up some more bargains on a recent shopping trip.

From New Look I got a lovely jumper for £11 (in the sale) and a vest top similar to the blue one I am wearing in the woods but in wine for £2 (also in the sale). From Accessorize I got a pair of earrings for £6. The earrings are in a sort of belly dancer style, I guess, but they are something I have wanted for a while now. In Primark I got a skirt for £3, a necklace and earrings set for £2.50, a pair of 120 Denier tights for £2.50, a 3-pack of “Emergency handbag tights” for £1.50, with each pair in a very compact tear-off plastic bubble designed to stay in your handbag till you ladder the ones you’re wearing. Very handy. And, finally, a DVD (Kill Bill: Volume 1) which I got in Poundland for, obviously enough, £1. Total spend was £29.50 plus £1.60 parking. Not too bad I think.

You can see the jumper, the skirt, and just about see the earrings, in this pic:

Jumper, skirt and earrings

Jumper, skirt and earrings

And here is a better pic of the earrings.

Earrings

Earrings

Then, today, I went to an Antiques and Collectors fair. I managed to buy four Royal Doulton port / sherry glasses in the “Georgian” style for £11 (negotiated down from £14), to add to my existing collection of this style, and also a pair of silver earrings for the grand price of £4 (I didn’t have the cheek to negotiate those down. LOL.

Earrings

Earrings

 

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I’ll get me coat

In my previous post I mentioned that I really wanted to get a ladies overcoat and I have now managed to find one.

Click to view in Flickr

Click to view in Flickr

I went over to Camberley on Sunday and had a good wander around, especially in House of Frasier (née Army & Navy). I saw this coat by Kaliko almost immediately, and the price was definitely right and I quite liked it.
The colour wasn’t what would have initially chosen, and they only had it in a size 10 (too small) and an 18 (I’m a 14 now). So I left it and moved on.

£79 from £249

But the more I thought about it, the more it kept coming back to me, so I decided that at the very least I should try the 18 on. After all, women’s sizing is all rubbish anyway and an overcoat has to go over all your other clothes. At the end of the day, it’s just a number and the important thing is whether it actually fits or not. So I tried it on.

The length in the arms was just right, it fit well across the shoulders without being too wide, and it looked smart. And you certainly can’t argue with that price. It’s the definition of a barrrrrrrrgain! And you know how much I love a bargain!

So I bought it. Yay.

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2013 in Clothes, Shoes, and Jewellery, Diary, Photos, Shopping

 

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Let your mind go and your body will follow

Regular readers will know that I tried going to Salsa for a while but for one reason or another, mainly confidence, I stopped going.

Since I’ve spent so much time and money on laser hair removal and Voice Coaching, I decided I may as well press on and address that too, and so I contacted my Salsa teacher since she is really nice in order to enquire if she does private tuition, and she does.

So today I spent an hour with her, just working on basic moves; moving to music and being encouraged to essentially do what the title of this post says (I’ll give you extra points if you can identify the film it comes from, but only if you do it without googling!)

Normally I have to be drunk to let go like that, and of course when you’re drunk you always think you dance better than you do. But something wonderful happened today – I was able to let go and just dance. And if felt wonderful. I was so pleased with myself and am going back on Friday for another session!

On the way back, I needed to call into Fleet to pick up some things I had bought online but with ‘Collect In-Store’ rather than delivery, and I just happened to see a little craft stall and fell in love with a pair of earrings, which I bought. Then as I passed Claire’s Accessories I recalled that it had been just over 6 weeks since I had my ears pierced there, so called in and asked if they would help me remove my starter studs. It proved quite tricky to remove them, but we finally got them out and we got the new ones that I had just bought back in. I’m so happy! I’d like to thank the staff at Claire’s in Fleet for being so helpful and nice; it’s so lovely when you get people going the extra mile to help you.

I also managed to get a really lovely jumper in New Look for over 50% off and which cost me £11. Bargain! I’ll not post a photo just yet – it can wait until a I take a pic of me wearing it.

I also had another go with liquid eyeliner when I did my make-up this morning and, as you can see from the pic, it came out pretty well. Yay!

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2013 in Diary, Out & About, Social

 

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