Lucy Maud’s, Take Two

I couldn’t help but feel a little pride in how things were going so efficiently right from the gecko. Joanne and Jeremy arrived at my apartment building at the scheduled time of 7:30am and exactly 12 hours later Joanne and I unloaded the car. Along with Joanne and Kai, I asked someone else to join my team. Jeremy, a co-worker, was enlisted to shoot documentary style video throughout the day.

A week before the shoot I noticed Pinterest had added a new feature in which you are able to create a subcategory within a board. I only found this out because they sent a survey asking how I liked it. There are a few kinks they have to work out (especially in the transition from internet to mobile ap), for instance, when you’re in the main board, you should be able to continue to select images you want in the subfolder by clicking on each picture. Once the subfolder is created, you can’t check additional images within the mother board, you have to pin them as usual to the subfolder. In my case, I found this counterintuitive. There was too much time taken up scrolling and saving. I unfortunately couldn’t take the survey again to mention this. Hopefully, there’ll be another one soon.

The goal was to take advantage of the beautiful natural light in the bedroom as would have been done then. To fuel my ideas, I saved to my Pinterest subfolder compositions of women in front of windows, which had a silhouette or rim lighting effect. The last time we were at Maud’s; I had regretted not taking advantage of the morning light. However, I can’t remember now how the light looked and where the it was at that time in May. We made a careful note this time, however. The bedroom windows face southeast, the front of the house then faces north. I can’t recall in the second journal if Maud had ever mentioned in which direction the house was. Thank goodness we were there in the morning this time, chasing the sun as it went from the back to the front of the house taking advantage of the natural light until we no longer could.

Amongst the other donations of Edwardian clothes from Joy, there was a wonderful nightgown with a beautiful eyelet yoke. Because of the authenticity of these clothing pieces, the bedroom photos seem to be so real, capturing the time even when looking at the images in colour. It’s because of this I’m so pleased with these compositions in particular. Although Kai was late, we had shot in the bedroom until she arrived, around 12:30. By this time I changed from my nightgown into my under things. After my hair was done, we did the same kind of compositions but I’m dismissing most of them because I realized how unflattering this particular corset is. I put boning at the top, which flattens my chest instead the other way around. NOT a good look. My next sewing project will be a shorter corset, one that stops just below the bust, or at least has more support.

Somewhere along the way, I realized I hadn’t taken off my nail polish the night before. On a break I tried Goo-Gone, but it didn’t work. Thankfully, the nail polish was chipped and faded, so perhaps this will make for easier editing. That being said, I was still angry with myself for being so negligent. NOTE: perma-pack nail polish remover.

When Kai arrived, I asked Jeremy to record her doing my hair. He warned me on Friday he only owned one battery. Not more than half way through, his battery gave up the ghost. Throughout the rest of the day, he had to charge it on and off. It was my hope to catch the entire day. Instead he filmed 1 to 3 minute segments. I will have to really on his expertise hoping he captured fun, interesting and important tid-bits. Jeremy was none-the-less, very professional and I can’t wait to see all of the footage.

Now that my hair was done, my time in the bedroom was not. There was one last thing I wanted to do. I wanted to take reflections of myself in the mirror. It didn’t work for a few reasons. The biggest reason, I hadn’t fleshed out the composition even though I saved a few ideas to my subfolder. Two, the dressing table was actually a burrow, so there was no legroom underneath. I thought, if this indeed was the type of dressing stand Maud had, how very inconvenient it was. Sorry Maud, but there it is. And, three, the mirror was not on the wall. It rests on the top of the burrow, which was not the right height requiring much uncomfortable and unflattering bending. What was actually funny about this scenario was that Joanne and Kai had a very involved conversation of how the composition could actually work. They would ask what I thought, but somehow, I couldn’t manage to get a word in until I looked at the clock, which told, 2pm. It was getting late. We had to move on.

On with the show. The stairs was another composition I really wanted to do. There were many different attitudes in which one can come down the stairs. The bane of these shots were the prominence of my double chin over my collar as I looked down the stairs. I’m jealous of women who have beautifully shaped necks and chins. Can one do ANYYTHING to exercise this section of the body? At one point, I was advised to jut out my chin, but I felt so ridiculous doing this that I couldn’t keep a straight face.

Before we wrapped, as Jeremy puts it, I wanted him to take a video of me walking through the gate and up the walkway into the house. But I wanted him to do this from behind, from the sidewalk and then in front. In the first shot, I looked like Rachel Lynd in the Sullivan adaptation of “Anne of Green Gables” marching to ask Marilla, where on earth Matthew was going in his Sunday clothes smoking a pipe! Those who cherish this version will know exactly what I’m talking about. Kai was very helpful in making suggestions like standing up straight but leaning back a little to exaggerate my posture, not to swing my hips or move my shoulders too much. All these instructions made me wonder if I should take deportment lessons. Clearly the corset can’t correct your posture completely. Women really must have walked with books on their heads.

Working with a team is an amazing feeling. It’s a different sense of accomplishment then working by yourself. I’m grateful to have a great bunch of people to work with. To acknowledge my thanks to them, I took them to the Hobby Horse Arms in the town of Uxbridge (a place I highly recommend) were we all enjoyed a bite to eat and a drink. On the way home, I could have fallen asleep quite easily, but the chatter in the car ride home on many different subjects kept me awake.

Even though I had the house this day, it was also open to the public. Spying a couple on the sidewalk while my hair was being done, I asked Jeremy to invite them in. We chatted for a bit before they toured the house and chatted again when they returned downstairs. She grew up in Sri Lanka, but now lives in Australia with her husband who is from British Columbia. They were doing an Anne tour, having just come from PEI. It was great to see such a huge fan! She was all a flutter about seeing all the landmarks, there and here in Ontario. The second couple was not so enamored, at least they didn’t seem like it and they didn’t at all seem impressed with me in costume if I could discern their funny looks correctly.

I was so exhausted upon arriving home from the euphoria of the day. I went to bed at 8:30, turned the light out at 9pm, slept until 7:10am. That being said, this has been the best Anachronist shoot yet, bar none! When looking at the photos I realize the phenomenal amount of confidence I’ve gained from this one shoot. I believe in myself. I believe in my team. Together, the day was like a dream come true. How often can one say that? I will live off of this wonderful feeling for a very long time.

Many Thanks to The Lucy Maud Society of Ontario

“It’s delightful when your imaginations come true isn’t it?”
LM. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

The One With the Chair

A few days before Christmas vacation, we were handed our Christmas bonuses. That weekend, when walking in my old hood, The Beaches, I noticed a new antique pop-up store next to Ends. Needless to say, I went in to see what treasures could be found. It was destiny to have found a beautiful Victorian chair and a mid 1930’s sewing machine. Destiny? At that time I was wondering what my next Anachronist shoot would be. When I saw the chair in the window, I knew immediately what that shoot would become. In the case of the sewing machine, my 1950’s Omega was on the fritz. Quite the regression, I agree, but it works wonderfully! Each was bought at an amazing price, including delivery.

More recently, a girl, who also uses the studio space, and I went halves on a storage locker a block away. How convenient! Slowly we’ve been filling it up with things like chairs, fabric backgrounds, fake flowers and other things. I have a feeling our little 5×5 storage unit will soon be full enough upgrade before too long. Especially at the rate I’m going because on my way to work one day, walking up Pape Ave I found rolled up, slung over someone’s fence a beautiful area rug. There’s a large red (like Cool Aid) stain at the back and a small bare spot, but otherwise in excellent condition and thankfully not too large to prevent me from carrying it. So into storage it went. Along with a a new pair of IKEA faun coloured curtains bought at Value Village. The three most recent arrivals made up 90% of my set for this shoot.

It’s dangerous having a storage locker. It has become an excuse to go shopping for things that you think will do well on a set. When shopping at antique and second hand stores I’ve begun to ask myself a list of questions; How will this purchase fit into the look and design of your shoots? Does this object look authentic period wise? Is “X” amount of dollars really worth it for this purchase? How often will you use it? Are you buying for the sake of buying it, or will you use it? I’m sure there are many more questions I ask myself as I gaze in stunned contemplation around the store. My general rule, if it’s something amazing that you just can’t pass up, buy it! If it’s on the sidewalk in good condition, take it! Back to the subject at hand.

When looking back at these photos, I love how the colours are so soft and graceful. The background, the curtains and the first two costume changes worked well. When the image is changed to sepia, it’s a cohesive image. That being said, some of the images do well with an autochrome treatment. Something I’ve recently discovered in the many hours of pouring through Pinterest.

A while back I had asked my friend and sewing teacher, Marianne from Costume Witch, to help me with dressing and keeping an eye on the general all around look of my costume to ensure there was nothing sticking out, the train of my skirt was nicely laid out, in short, that I looked presentable. She worked in the costume industry for some time on film sets and plays, eventually opening a costume store. We’ve been Stitching and Bitching for many a year now, helping each other out with fittings, asking advise and just hanging out having fun.

I’m extremely happy with this shoot, but not as much as I was with the last one. Perhaps it’s because I’ve realized, unless I do the shoot again with hair down and in my under things, or re-do the moon making it out of ridged insulation board, The Anachronist Project is swiftly coming to a close. From here on in I’ll be shooting on location. My much anticipated shoot at Lucy Maud Montgomery’s house I hope, will be the crowning jewel. To prepare, I’ve begun to read volume two of her selected journals. Throughout the summer, I’ll be hitting, picturesque parks, beaches, gardens and wooded trails here in Ontario and home in Cape Breton.

There are a few ideas for what comes next floating about in my head. The main goal of this project is to create a museum-like photography exhibit. I was hoping to get a spot within Gallery 44, the Members Gallery, but sadly that did not come into fruition. It doesn’t do to dwell on rejections, but I can only think, this body of work is not contemporary enough despite the following definition from Foto Relevance: “A relevant definition of the word contemporary is happening in the same period of time, of/or, in the style of present or recent times.” Hmmmmmm……..in the style of present or RECENT times. Since I’m using modern technology, wouldn’t this count as contemporary photography? Like I said it doesn’t do to dwell.

Kelso Lake

Antoinette is a fellow member of Rob’s Casual Tuesdays or Photographers Anonyms. She and I have wanted to shoot together for some time now. We were drawn to each other’s style, methods and images we’ve seen from previous workshops. So I proposed to her a shoot based on what I did at the Bruce Peninsula with Amanda V. in the low level water.

Ironically, our model Monday night was also an Amanda, but my friend and co-worker. I signed up for Model Mayhem, posting a casting call asking for a young woman with long wavy or curly hair. Since I had no nibbles from the site, Friday night after work I practically begged Amanda P. to model for me. Surprisingly she agreed. I say surprisingly because this isn’t the first time I asked. Now she’s had this experience, I hope she will model for me more often.

Antoinette picked us up at 4pm. Amazingly we got out of the city within 45 minutes. Which is strange because we were really confused by the directions Google Maps was giving us; not really understanding where they were leading us. Relized it was navigating us around construction on the Gardiner, thus avoiding a crazy long line up. Thank you Google Maps. Since we made it to Milton in good time, we had supper at the Ivy Arms on Main St. Monday night is 55 cent wings. They were good, but a little dried out.

Well fed, we made our way to the lake. As I suspected, it was the lake you can see from the 401; the one at the bottom on the ski hill by the escarpment. The water level was deeper that than what I expected, but it still worked out well. Amanda P. was such a trooper even though it wasn’t crazy cold, but cold enough to get use to. I’m one to talk, I was wearing rubber boots.

Antoinette was a trooper as well. Not having brought her lights on an on-location shoot like this before. Best off all she had a battery pack ,which allowed us to move the stand into the water and NOT get electrocuted.

Just as I was getting into the swing of things, directing Amanda to do this or that or lamenting the fact that I didn’t have a ladder, a set of lights headed our way down the hill to the beach.

It was funny because we all felt like rebels for bringing the car down in the first place. If they told us we couldn’t photograph down there, then we would leave. As I walked towards the park ranger getting out of the Jeep, I explained we were photographers. He said, “ I don’t have a problem with you doing photography, but the car isn’t allowed down here.” So I told him we would pack up because I don’t think any of us relished the idea of carrying the equipment back up that hill without a car. He was so nice about it and cute to boot. Perhaps I should have batted my eyelashes asking him if could give us another half hour then we’d bring the car up. But I doubt he could see fluttering eyelashes in the dark. A soft seductive voice perhaps? A light touch on the shoulder? Please Mr. Park Ranger, just a half hour more?

It was Antoinette’s turn after all and what she did was really fun. She methodically figured out how to make the lights form the ski hill haze into round halos, to make in interesting backdrop for Amanda’s portrait. I didn’t see the result of these, but I hope to at the next Tuesday workshop. I especially want to see the portraits were we strung the battery operated twinkle lights around Amanda’s head and shoulders. There was the perfect gentleness of winds that blew her hair to the side that completed the image. I know Antoinette wasn’t too crazy about these one’s, ditching the lights in the end. But she captured some beautiful rim lit and silhouette shots with the beauty dish as her final shots satisfied with what she took.

I’m going to consider these test shots. Now that I know what the water level, lay out of the land etc. is, I defiantly want to go back, but our warm days are getting fewer and far between. Not to mention the water temperature will not always be comfortable enough for skimpy, lacy nightdresses.

All in all I was very pleased with the evening, especially pleased Antoinette was “there for the experience.” I felt bad that she didn’t shoot when there was more day light like she wanted to.

On this outing I tried to get together an on-location kit. I started with buying clear plastic drop sheets at Home Depot, but realized I needed so many more things like clamps, duct tape, flashlight. So below, I will endeavor to put together a list of things you need for a shoot like this. I looked online to try to get an idea of what other people use, but the list I found was all camera equipment which is all very important, but didn’t help me with the “just in case” items. Actually this is an article all in on it’s own so stay tuned as I’m going to do another collage of things you’ll need as well as a list and why you need them.

Bruce Trail Part 9

INTRO

Below is an article I wrote for the Beach Photo Club. I thought I’d include it to give you an idea of what the outings are all about. Enjoy

Mount Nemo Conservation Area

This outing will forever remain in my memory as the perfect day. Norm, Joanne and I were laughing on the way to the park about how we were covered head to foot in many layers of winter clothing for the last Bruce Trail outing to Pretty River. Night and day! I seemed to have remembered the feeling of all those layers; hat, mitts (doubled), scarf and neck-warmer. Not to mention; two pairs of socks, a turtleneck, polar fleece sweater, a sweater over that and jacket. Oh! And long johns. Phew! Not anymore! There were blue skies, some clouds, warm breeze, once we got into the forest, dappled sunlight, hardly any bugs……….. yup! The perfect day.

It certainly was the best attended Bruce trail yet. There were 5 of us. Norm, Joanne and myself being the usual suspects, joining our group was Claudia and her friend Doug. Doug was not a photographer, but was happy enough to come for the hike. Rather the amble. At one point he looked at his smart phone, declaring we had walked 3 kilometers and burnt 0 calories. I don’t know what the app was, but I believe it. Rather we had to have burnt some calories, but the way we walk and stop, and shoot, I can believe we may have burnt hardly anything at all.

Can you believe I’ve never seen anyone climb a rock face before in real life? Well, we got this experience firsthand. There were many people who also thought it was the perfect day for climbing. I forgot how many feet the escarpment was, but Joanne would ask the climbers how long it would take them to get to the top. Roughly, it would take them 20 to 30 minutes to climb. Pretty cool! Just looking down on them was a dizzying sight. There were many look offs to take advantage of watching them. We even happened upon one photographer in the bush, practically hanging off the edge of the cliff from his waist just to photograph the climbers. Better him than me.

On the way through the conservation area we came across many plants and objects that seemed to glow in the sunlight shining through the leaves. I had thought of those photographers who prefer not to shoot in afternoon light, thus whiling away the time. It came to me that finding a forest to hike in at this time of day was the perfect way of taking advantage of afternoon light at its best. I found myself adjusting the settings on my camera to fade an object to black. Like a lily floating on the waters’ surface watching the stem disappear into the black depths of the pond or lake. The effect was very whimsical. I used my teleconverter to achieve this. Though Norm said I was cheating and deviating away from my challenge of only using my 50 prime. With the teleconverter, I can get amazing depth of field, so if there was the slightest bit of colour in the gradation from light to black, the background would look like an artistic smear of oil paints.

I can’t understand the concept of not shooting in afternoon light. Some will say it’s my lack of experience, things will look two dimensional, blah, blah, blah. I say, this gives the effect of a Maud Lewis folk painting which is a style I love an embrace for its uniqueness and non-conformity to the usual photographic rules. So next time you have a bright, sunny afternoon with nothing to do, hit one of the many ravine trails in Toronto if you don’t want to travel outside the city. Look for the magic in dappled light that brings objects alive and glowing with a touch of whimsy.

To finish our day, we ate at a place called Lowville Bistro, http://www.lowvillebistro.ca/ in Lowville, literally just off the Guelph line. Luckily we were in time for brunch, ending at 4pm. If there was any place that had creamy scrambled eggs and local micro brewery beer, this would be the place and I was right. We sat outside on a garden surrounded patio, some of us enjoying the shade of the umbrella and others enjoying the sun. The beer went down smooth, the food, fantastic. If you’re looking for a quiet place to eat outside of the city, this is the place. Maybe go on Sunday when there’s live jazz. I can tell you, next time there’s an outing along the Guelph line, I’m going to suggest we go there again, the experience was…… perfect!

To end our perfect day there were a few more surprises to go. Admittedly I was a little heady from the beer, but I thought I’d throw out a suggestion to the group. “Hey guys!” I yelled to them up the road. We had spotted an old stone school house at the mouth of a picnic park and a bridge with gurgling water running underneath it. “I have an Edwardian costume with me. Do you want me to dress up?” There was an affirmative from all, so I made a dash back to the restaurant to get gussied up for the impromptu photo shot. I was eager to see if my self-made costume looked authentic enough even though, I didn’t make it from 100% natural fibers. *gasp*

Instead of changing again, I climbed into the car in full garb asking Norm to have a look out for a garden center. We stopped at a market as a possibility. There was no garden center, but we were able to go in, even though it was closing, to get some sweet baked goods and ice cream all around. Thanks Joanne!

If one were could add a soundtrack to one’s life, or day; right there and then it would be “Perfect Day” by Lou Reid:

“Oh, it’s such a perfect day
I’m glad I spent it with you
Oh, such a perfect day
You just keep me hanging on
You just keep me hanging on”

That reminds me of the scavenger hunt. Think of these lyrics as a bonus round if you want to photograph them.

Well folks……… one more Bruce Trail outing to go. Rockway Falls Side Trail in the Niagara Region. It’s only a 2k hike, which is nothing, so we’ll have time to explore the surrounding area. Bring your tripods as there does look like there will be the opportunity to shoot water.