Well, having stated in my post yesterday that I seldom go out, I decided to go out today. 🙂
Category Archives: Clothes, Shoes, and Jewellery
I popped out to a local Antiques & Collectables fair in Hartley Wintney today.
Despite having far too much jewellery, I couldn’t resist this cute pair of silver earrings for £9.
I liked how the inner and outer hearts moved independently of each other.
I also bought yet another ring, despite having far too many already. I just thought it was unusual. In case it’s not totally obvious from the photo, the ring is formed from the word “Love”.
I then had a little wander round the shops, and snapped a nice little selfie in a full length mirror in a shop.
I’m wearing a dress by Atmosphere that I bought ages ago for £5, a jacket by Jane Norman (which you will have seen many times before), and a glass heart necklace that I bought on Friday for £2 in a charity shop (you can see it better in the pic at the top of the post). The bag is by Radley, and the shoes are by Rocket Dog.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
In my previous post, I mentioned that I had bought an office style / school style blouse for a photo shoot, and also if you follow my Flickr, or my Facebook page or Twitter, you’ll know that I also bought some fake glasses for the shoot.
Last Saturday I actually did the shoot, and it’s meant to be either a secretary or school girl in a store room. I left it ambiguous as to which it is, although I think most people are assuming secretary.
In order to make the background, I had to tidy the actual store room that I have in one of my two spare bedrooms. I have it set up with free standing metal shelving and an old office desk which I use for product photography. It was quite a lot of work to get it tidy like that, and I’m annoyed that I didn’t pay enough attention to what was on the shelves. The EVO magazine folders are fine, but the clutter on the top shelf of the units could have done with more tidying.
I spent ages on this shoot. Initially I tried with the glasses on, the blouse tucked in, my hair in bunches, and my larger breast forms. I also tried a variety of different poses, including sitting on, and reclining on, the desk.
It was a monumental disaster. Having my hair in bunches does not suit my face shape at all. Also, the larger breast forms made me look overly busty and top-heavy with this outfit.
I tried a few without the glasses as well. And with my hair down. And all combinations thereof. Pretty much all of them looked awful, although the poses worked on a few and I might revisit those.
I realised that my smaller breast forms would work better, so changed for those, and took even more photos. I took about 200 photos in the end. The pic shown above is pretty much the final picture I took and I think it is the best of them.
For this final part of the shoot, I un-tucked my blouse and wore it over the skirt. That’s why it’s so creased. Maybe I should have fired up the iron and ironed it, but to be absolutely honest I was very tired by this point and had pretty much had enough of the shoot so I had no enthusiasm for that.
I’m already thinking about what I would have done differently, and I may revisit this look. I’d like to get a different blouse – there is one on Amazon that I really like and might get, although the reviews suggest that it is a very slim fit. This would push the shoot firmly to ‘secretary’, of course, but that would be fine.
I’d also like to give a lot more attention to the lighting. For this shoot all I had was the light in the room itself, which is quite harsh. The light is a large circular fluorescent tube that fits into a normal bayonet pendant and gives off a really bright daylight tone light. It’s ideal for a store room but somewhat harsh for photography. I really should invest in some photographic lights.
Finally, I would pay a lot more attention to what is on the shelves and arrange things better and more tidily.
Still, as a first attempt at a photo shoot like this, I don’t think it was too bad and it was certainly fun to do.
Yesterday I returned to Farnham Maltings for their monthly market. You might recall from a previous post that I went to the June one.
Given the slight confusion that buying earrings in guy mode caused a seller last time, I made the effort to go in girl mode this time. I wore the Dorothy Perkins dress that I wore in the photos I posted to Flickr a few weeks ago, which wasn’t ideal for photos as I like to have a different outfit in each pic I post to Flickr. But this was the dress I wanted to wear (it’s very comfortable, fits me really well, and is very flattering), so that’s what I wore. If that means I have 4 photos in a row in my Photostream with me in the same dress then so be it.
I got down to Farnham in good time, although the dual carriageway down near the station was rammed solid as usual. I must try to find an alternative route in future.
The first surprise on arriving was that the Pay & Display machines in the car park are now active on a Saturday and charge £1.30 for an hour, and £1.40 for two hours (rising to £5.40 for all day). I guess that even adding on the 50p admission fee for the Market, this is still not too terrible but is obviously a big jump from last time when parking was free.
The second surprise was that, unlike last time, the Courtyard, Great Hall, the area behind the Great Hall, and another room (whose name I forgot to note), were all closed off and without stalls. This meant that the Market was probably about half the size of June’s, which was rather a disappointment.
I had a good browse, and talked to several stall holders. I don’t know if it’s a case of me being more relaxed and talkative when in girl mode, or the way people (especially women) react to other women, but people seem a lot more friendly and chatty to me when I’m in girl mode. People even smile at me.
My first purchase was a lovely pair of earrings in an Art Nouveau style. The seller wanted £30 for them and wouldn’t budge on price, pointing out that the stones were topaz and amethyst. It was more than I wanted to pay for a pair of earrings; in fact I think it is the most I have ever paid for a pair of earrings. But I thought they were really special so I reluctantly agreed.
My second purchase was a figure of a lady, around 10″ in height. The age and provenance are unknown, and it feels like resin. It’s stamped Annie Rowe on the base of the casting, and on the underside of the plinth it says “The Leonardo Collection”.
The seller was asking £15 and reduced that to £13 when I asked if it was her best price.
Some research on google once I got home has suggested that, as I suspected, there isn’t much age on this and it is of this century. eBay suggests that I paid pretty much the going rate. So that’s fine.
Finally I was all done – there was nothing else that I desperately wanted so I left.
When I got home, I changed into my shorter wig as I was a bit hot and bothered, and when I looked in the mirror I liked the look it gave me, so I took another selfie.
I didn’t really do much for the rest of the day – just lounged around taking it easy and watching telly.
If you are into clothes shopping in charity shops, then I can thoroughly recommend a visit to Eastleigh. And if you’re not, then try it – there are some ridiculous bargains on nearly-new (and sometimes actually new) clothes to be had.
There are a disproportionately large number of charity shops in Eastleigh, in the area North of the Swan Shopping Centre (on Market Street and High Street, to be precise), and they are all really large stores too. I guess the rents must be very reasonable or something.
I’ve only recently discovered Eastleigh, having had until now no reason to visit, but necessity brought me there recently and I’ve since been back twice by choice. The first time I visited, I parked in the multi-storey car park at the Swan Shopping Centre because I didn’t know any better, but it’s worth noting that the ‘Pay & Display’ on-street parking on Market Street (and possibly elsewhere, but not everywhere) lets you park for free for up to an hour from 3pm onwards. You park as normal, go to the machine, and press the green button to get a free ticket for an hour’s parking. Do check the machine first though, because not all roads do this. For example, Leigh Street (literally round the corner from Market Street) does not.
Another thing worth noting, if you do this, is that the closing times of the various charity shops vary quite markedly. Some stay open to as late as 5.30pm, but others close as early as 4pm, so it’s worth bearing this in mind and planning your visit accordingly. I’d suggest that arriving at 3pm and getting your ticket at 3.01pm would be the sweet-spot, otherwise if arriving later then prioritise the earlier-closing shops.
Without exception, I found the clothes in all the charity shops to be clean, pressed, in very good condition, ordered by size, and very cheap. Prices seem to range from £1.49 up to around £8.99 for normal day dresses, tops, skirts, etc., with prices averaging in the £3 ballpark and with it being exceptionally rare to see anything over £4.99. Some shops have higher prices than others, but overall they are all pretty cheap. Prices tend to end in either .49 or .99, although you’d be pretty tight if you didn’t put the penny straight back in the collecting tin by the till (if paying with cash, obviously).
I picked up a number of tops and dresses in my visits, from brands such as Store Twenty One, Tu, Marks & Spencer, H&M, Dorothy Perkins and Papaya. None were more than £4.99 and one was little as £1.49, with the next most expensive £2.49
Favourite pick was this gorgeous dress by Dorothy Perkins, modelled by the lovely.. um… me. 🙂
It’s a size 16, which is a size bigger than I usually go for, but it fits really well and I’m really happy with it.
The only poor choice I made was this white linen dress by H&M. It was sold as a size 14, but when I got it home and tried it on it was way too small, in both waist and chest (in fact it wouldn’t even go round my chest without any breast forms). When I looked at the actual label I could see it was a Eur 40 / USA 10, which depending on whose conversion chart you look at is a 12-14 (predominantly 12).
It didn’t cost much though so maybe I will re-donate it.
In every shop I visited, nobody batted an eyelid that I was buying ladies clothes in guy mode, and everyone was very friendly.
Anyway, I just thought it was worth sharing the knowledge.
Update: By May 2018 I had lost enough weight that I could get into the H&M dress. Yay!
On Saturday I popped over to The Maltings in Farnham for their monthly Maltings Market. I’ve not been to one of these before, despite Farnham not being too far away for me. But a recent advert in a magazine mentioned that it has around 200 stalls of arts, crafts, jewellery, antiques, collectables and memorabilia, and that sounded like it was right up my street.
It was a quick and easy journey and after a bit of searching I managed to find a car parking space – the car park was pretty full.
There were some sellers with trestle tables out in the car park and immediately outside the Maltings, and I started to browse them when I suddenly realised that I had come out without my wallet.
A quick search on google revealed that there was a branch of my bank nearby within walking distance, so I walked over with a view to trying to get some cash.
So without my card or any identification, and armed only with the knowledge of my account number and sort code, PIN number, telephone banking password, internet banking password, inside leg measurement, and with my mobile phone in my possession (and whose number they have on file and could ring), I asked to withdraw money from my account. The cashier said that all she needed was my signature. Which, it turned out, they did not have on file, despite me banking with them for 25 years, because they had recently gone digital and hadn’t digitised their paper records. D’Oh.
All my passwords etc. were no good to them – all they would accept was my signature which they didn’t have on file. It was all rather Last Century and it initially looked like I was out of luck. Fortunately when the manager was called, she had the good sense to ask me various questions about my account activity which I was able to answer, including recent transactions, where my monthly salary payments came from, and eventually was satisfied I was who I said I was and authorised the cashier to let me withdraw the £50 I wanted.
The fact that I was in guy mode probably helped enormously in this case as it would have complicated matters enormously otherwise, as I would have had to explain why a woman with no identification was trying to access a bank account whose account holder had a male name. I think that if I had been in girl mode I simply wouldn’t have bothered and would just have gone home.
Anyway, I walked back to The Maltings and tried again.
Once I’d browsed the outside stalls, I headed inside and discovered that The Maltings is an absolute rabbit warren. It has several halls, on several levels, and also has a large courtyard and also several side rooms. All of these were full of stalls. Some were selling the usual Antiques and Collectors Fair stuff (and, indeed, there were some familiar faces from other fairs), some were local artists selling jewellery and art that they themselves had made, there was one stall with handmade leather goods, there was vintage clothing, new clothing, art, postcards, ephemera, cakes, jams, and all sorts. And being in many different rooms and halls meant that there was quite a bit of exploration and wondering if you had found everything. I loved it and will definitely go again.
One seller had some dragonfly drop earrings which I liked. She saw me looking at them and said that she makes them herself, and without really thinking I said that I love dragonflies and butterflies, and drew her attention to the little silver butterfly stud earring I was wearing.
“So, um, are these something you’d wear then?” she asked, slightly surprised. Rather than be embarrassed or flustered at the fact that I had said something out-of-gender, I simply smiled and replied “Well, not dressed like this. I’m disguised as a guy today. But when I’m dressed in girl mode then definitely”. She didn’t seem overly bothered by this, and merely asked if I had both ears pierced to which I said I did, and she just shrugged in a sort of “fair enough” kind of way and I bought them for £9.
Another seller was selling older stuff, and was playing 1930’s music on a period gramophone. It surprised me just how much volume it was managing to kick out, despite appearing to be purely mechanical.
Amongst the stuff he was selling was a necklace which caught my eye (pictured). It was unusual not just because of the shape and decoration, but because it was the same on both sides. Usually necklaces have a show side and a back side, so if they turn themselves round whilst you’re wearing them then they don’t display properly.
I asked the price, and he said £25 and that the chain alone was worth that. I asked if he’d take £20 and he said that he couldn’t budge at all on price. And he didn’t – I couldn’t get him to drop even a penny, which is quite unusual as you can usually get something off. But I decided to buy it anyway.
I had a good wander round all the stalls and whilst there was some nice stuff, there was nothing else I wanted to buy, and eventually I headed home.
I will definitely visit the Maltings Market again next month and this time I will make sure I don’t go out of the house without my purse or wallet (delete as appropriate).