Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Photo Tip Tuesday: Shooting Indoors

*wearing Sheinside kimono c/o & Shop Ruche dress

I'm still figuring out interior photography and working on closer self-portraits for when I want to show a hairstyle how-to or makeup trick, so as always before I start a photo tip post I feel obligated to state "I'm not an expert!" Since I don't have photoshop I have to get creative when taking pictures indoors and finding a large white space to use as a backdrop instead of creating one post-picture taking. Through trial-and-error and one "lightbulb" moment I've figured out a few tricks that will help you create a studio look without the proper equipment or money!

Use as much natural light as possible: One of the reasons I always shoot outside is that my home is not that well-lit. When I do shoot indoors I try to shoot in the early afternoon when a lot of light is coming in through my windows and I face my windows in my pictures. This is essential when you don't have any lighting equipment. Overhead lights don't tend to offer a lot of dramatic light anyway and using natural light from your window gives you a better opportunity to get purer colors (instead of a yellowish tint) and a sharper image.

Start at a higher ISO: You can read more about going manual here, but if you already play with your settings then it's a good rule of thumb to have a higher ISO when shooting indoors. I typically set my ISO at 500 which gives me more flexibility with my other settings but doesn't make my pictures too grainy (the higher the ISO the more grain).

Use inside out wrapping paper as a basic backdrop: I turn the bright red wrapping paper I got for wrapping Christmas presents last year to the inside (which is plain white) and tape it to the back of my door. The door is a clear space free of clutter and it faces my window so I'm better able to use the natural light from that. It is a smaller frame than a professional works with so it isn't necessarily the best for full-body photographs, but in a pinch it is a super easy and cheap backdrop for self portraits. Avoid wrinkling the paper and tape it a few inches above your head; you can turn it sideways if you're shooting a landscape photo and keep it long for a portrait image.

For self-portraits invest in a remote: I have long resisted getting a remote and I'm not entirely certain why I was so attached to my "set the self-timer and run" set-up, but while that works ok outside when I can use a prop to set the focus--indoors against a plain white backdrop I have nothing to set a focus on. So if you're shooting indoors a remote will make self-portraits 100% easier. The remote I use only cost a little more than $20 and has been priceless in its usefulness.

Move around: Although you might be in a tighter space and merely trying to shoot detail or beauty shots, it's still important to show different angles/expressions to keep things interesting. Shooting a hair style: are you showing all the angles of how the hair looks? Consider also taking a few shots further away and few closer photographs to show details. I always think you want to avoid that stiff "yearbook photo" look that comes from being afraid to move/blink/sneeze.

Inside out wrapping paper also works for accessories: Set the paper on a smooth surface (like your floor!) for a flat white backdrop for other detail shots as well. When working with accessories it definitely provides enough space and helps you achieve that "indoor studio" look without any professional equipment. A plain white backdrop really helps focus the attention on whatever detail you are photographing from accessories to makeup.

Turn your paper around for a patterned background: If you have fun patterned wrapping paper that can also become an easy backdrop! Experiment! For this photograph I borrowed my housemate's star printed wrapping paper; out of focus it looks like pastel polka dots.

Read all of the photo tip posts here.

Vintage Barbie

This dress reminds me of vintage Barbie. You know the classic Barbie in the striped swimsuit? Yeah that one; of course my proportions are different and my makeup is less fierce. Still a graphic dress like this combined with my pink hair makes me feel like a cartoon character if not a doll. Right before I studied in Japan a friend told me I wanted to go to Japan because I "wanted to look like an anime character" and he wasn't far from the truth. More than fashion magazines or pop groups and actors my early visual influences were definitely anime. I mean I read a lot of books, but they didn't have pictures so when I think about the clothes I aspired to wear or the people I thought were attractive it was usually an anime character. What I didn't know then was some animators were being inspired by runway collections. Naoko Takeuchi the creator of Sailor Moon created different costumes and manga pages inspired by 90s runways and ads. A villain was clad in Christian Lacroix while Sailor Pluto wore Chanel. It's interesting when you re-visit things that made an impression on you as a child and realize how they relate back to what is inspiring you now. I've watched a couple of the Sailor Moon Crystal episodes, but right now I'm more likely to be digging through the latest runway collections on Style.com than reading manga.
P.S. This dress is described as a navy and white on the website, but mine definitely arrived pure black and white.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Charmed, I'm Sure

*wearing this Modcloth dress (old, similar), this makeup, and pink star hair charmsies
My hair is doing this strange ombre affect as it fades--my tips are almost completely back to being blonde! I think the cause is the pink dye I mixed into my conditioner (a tip from a couple of people about preventing fading); it seems to be working on top but I guess my tips are too saturated in the shower to hold the color as well! Anyway, it's sort of fun and making me feel like a My Little Pony. Adding to that feeling is these Charmsies I've been wearing in my hair. They were another suggestion from someone on Facebook and I thought when else will sparkles look appropriate in my hair than when it is pink? They're surprisingly hard to photograph and I thought they were rather subtle in person, but I keep getting compliments on them whenever I go out so I suppose they aren't that subtle!

She's Cheer Captain and I'm On The Bleachers

Something about this skirt is giving me "back to school" vibes. I think it might be the stars with trailing rainbows that reminds me of the Reading Rainbow logo, but maybe it's just the cartoonish print that looks like the patterned folders you'd buy in Elementary school or the stickers you'd use to decorate your locker. Whatever the reason I couldn't think of a more appropriate backdrop than some school bleachers which are as uncomfortable as I remember. Without being a big sports fan I still managed to sit through a few games on similar bleachers--not to mention the times I was forced to run up and down them in gym class. I never understand television shows or movies that act as if high school were the best years of your life; I was quite glad to graduate and have never wanted to go back...

Outfit details:
Cheap Monday tee (old)
old flats (similar)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Animals Like Us

Sunday Remix: The Basic Trench

I don't advocate buying a lot of so-called basics many sites and magazines tout as being necessary in every wardrobe. I think everyone ends up having their own, unique basics; for example white button-downs and black trousers barely get any wear in my closet. Even when I briefly worked as a secretary my blouses were more colorful and a knee-length skirt was always preferable to trousers. One constant basic in my wardrobe is a trench coat. I usually own several in different colors and patterns (one of my favorites right now is this green one), but this khaki-toned trench is my most worn style. It's from ASOS a couple of years ago, but they still have similar styles available. It's not necessarily a piece everyone should invest in, but it's a basic I can't go without.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Weekend Wedding Planning: The Shoes

*shoes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
My wedding shoes are giving me a bit of a dilemma. I keep finding styles I like and then thinking "oh but will these work outdoors?" A lot of heel styles will sink into the ground so I need to look for flats or wedges, but I'm not finding a lot of "bridal" feeling flats and wedges. The ones I tend to like are simple, elegant and a little sparkly. I actually think blue shoes would be very fun, even if I don't follow all the traditions of the day they can be my "something blue" but I haven't found many bridal-looking blue shoes either...And since I haven't decided on a dress I might want to put off picking a shoe until I know my exact dress, but I know I need to have it figured out by the time I do a dress fitting so the skirt length will coordinate with whatever heel height I decide on and I do know what style dress I want so I can discern what sort of shoes would coordinate. Anyway, as you can see I just keep going in circles. When I want to be decisive I end up being wishy-washy. In my defense I will say I haven't found a shoe I really love yet; I haven't seen something that I immediately think "I need to have that" and envision myself wearing it on my wedding day. So perhaps it's just a hunt right now for that glass slipper...
Everyone's been really helpful with advice on wedding checklists and such, so does anyone have a tip on where to find practical and pretty outdoor wedding shoes? Or flats that look appropriately bridal?

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