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 Plinth

Lately, I’ve been revisiting (ok, binge watching) all the “Friends” episodes and realized none of the episodes had titles. On Netflix however, they’ve title them. For example: “The one Where Phoebe Runs”, or “The one with Ross’s Leather Pants”. So this blog is lovingly titled, “The One With the Plinth”.

The story of how I got the plinth is this… Where I work on Carlaw Ave in Toronto, is a plethora of interesting businesses. One little boutique shop was moving from one hallway to another, selling some of their merchandise and displays. To my joy, there was a waist high, black, plaster column, for $20.00. How could I say, “no” to that? It was weeks later after having it in front of my desk, beside my desk, in the board room, etc., that I finally Ubered it and myself to the studio in Liberty Village.

The photo shoot happened some weeks past now, but for some reason I’m still going over the photos. Oh believe me, I’ve started to edited them. Even printed and framed 2 portraits. I have many successful images from this shoot that mesmerize me. I  going to let modestly hit the fan here and say, I feel this shoot is the best one yet.

Designing this set in particular, was quite fun, especially the task of affixing the ivy and berries to the plinth. In the end I’ve managed to have things look natural. I have to admit buying and collecting these items aren’t remorse purchases as one would think when you make up the excuse, “Yeah, I can use this for my sets!”. They have been used again and again, becoming interracial supplies that make up a repertoire of props and designs. When Nadia exclaimed, “It looks like a painting!” after taking one shot of the background, I knew this shoot would turn out well.

My hairstylist, Kai came to the studio with a more Gibson Girl look in mind. It completely blew me away. She is an amazing person. Having spent the morning with me, she had another job in Mississauga doing make up for a group of acrobats. When I hire her now, there’s no discussion. It’s not necessary. She knows what I want and what will look good. And I know she enjoys the fruits of her labours when I send her photos of the finished product.

For one hopeful reason, I won’t mention because I might jinx it, I’ve started hunting for antique frames. For those who follow me on Instagram, you would have seen them already. The feeling I got when the image was in the frame sent shivers through my whole being. It sounds silly, but there was a visual connection, a remembrance of seeing myself thus. This feeling was completely different from looking at an original photograph of a stranger from that time. I don’t quite understand it myself.

Be sure to check out my third Instagram account, The Anachronist Project. If you’re not already, please follow.

Stay tuned for my next blog, “The one with the Chair”.

 

 

Home Sweet Home – July 19th to 26th

Cape Breton

On Sunday Mom and I drove home from Halifax with a quick pit stop in New Glasgow to drop off Auntie Rie. We initially planned to stay the night, but once on the road, I just wanted to keep on going. I drove all the way home because being behind the wheel homeward bound is a right of passage. After St. Peter’s the roads are twisty-turney, following the Bras d’Or Lakes. It’s one of my favorite drives

Once home it’s a mixed sensation of calm and upheaval. It goes without saying that one has to plan carefully around a compressed list of to-do’s into a single week. I didn’t go to Louisbourg, Tasty Treat, Point Micheaud or Mira Gut. What I did do, I’ll try to recount.

Baddeck

Baddeck as some American’s pronounce it – Baad-deck. It sounds like a sheep’s brae when it comes out of their mouths. I wonder if they make the same mistake with the Bedeque in Prince Edward Island. One set of Americans, long ago, loved the community and decided to build a grand house a summer residence; Alexander Graham Bell and his wife Mable. Baddeck is also know to many celebrities who anchor in the harbour for a time. These people include Jack Nicholson, David Bowie (God rest his soul) and others.

Every Wednesday there is a farmers market at the fire hall. If you’re in town, I highly reccommend going. Though, that was not our only purpose. I wanted to walk around the town then head to Uisge Ban Falls. It’s a 15 to 20 minute hike leading to a waterfall with picturesque scenery along the way. The winding of the river is pock-marked with boulders, fallen trees, lichen and moss. On either side the hill, trees rise to a dizzying height creating a cool green canopy. Usually when I go, there’s hardly anyone and you have the place pretty much to yourself. There were many this day even though it was threatening to rain. on the hike I was happy to discover some beautiful mushrooms. I’m not an expert and still have the task of researching them in the fungus book I bought in Newfoundland last year.

Out on the Mira

Next day we went to Mom’s Friend’s house in Grand Mira North. She and her husband live on the Mira River with a dock ending deep enough for one to dive off of. It was wonderful to swim, even if it was the only swim I got in this trip. Swimming. Dorothy’s twin grandkids, who were there were not at all the shy type. They chatted and followed me to the river, allowing me to take some fun photos posed on the dock, thereby pulling them from under adult feet. They balls of energies and such hams. Somehow I managed to get some seriousness out of them, taking these lovely photos below. Before leaving, I let them get behind the camera. Elizabeth took the group shot of her Mom, brother, Blake and Baby sister, Annabelle. Good Job Elizabeth!

Breton Brewing

Mom and I went into Sydney River to pick up some groceries and since Sobey’s is so close to the newest brewery in Cape Breton, so I coerced Mom to go there, adding another stamp in my passport. Breton Brewing was a year old on my birthday, June 27th. What a funny coincidence. Inside is dark, yet surprisingly stylish and spacious with rows of long tables between a small stage for live music and the bar. I honestly thought that the interior would look more industrial, but it was warm and cosy. Along one wall, you can see the vast wear house where it all happens. There’s even have a line a clothing. Behind the bar is a mega huge chalk board describing only a portion of the beers they have on tap. I ordered a set of samples and went outside to try to convince Mom to come in. She said she was going to sit in the car and read. I had no such luck but a gentleman who had just bought a four pack of assorted tall cans assured me he would be successful, and he was. Mom too, was surprised at how nice and cool it was inside.

The sample tray is $7 and comes with 5 beers. Each sample is a little less than half a pint. Under each glass is a coaster describing the beer it lays under. Unfortunately, so much time has passed since said tasting, I can’t tell you all that I had, but the one I remember most vividly was the Heifenwizen. The girl at the bar describes it as having a hint of vanilla and banana. I didn’t taste these, but tasted a hint of cinnamon, which wasn’t bad as one may think, but rather a nice surprise. I noticed someone beside me and asked him if he had tasted the cinnamon (since he was drinking the same beer), after taking a sip, he agreed with me.

I don’t think Mom was too pleased with my running around collecting as many stamps as I could. She made the comment that perhaps I drink too much. No danger there. I’m not the stereotypical Cape Bretoner, drinking like a fish. But she did suggest a walk in Peter’s Field before heading home, to burn off some of the beer.

Peter’s Field is one of my favourite parks to go to aside from Groves Point on the North Side. It’s full of paths that weave in and out of fields, forest and harbour shoreline. It was once an estate to the McLellans, but originally owned my an X-American, David Mathews, who fled from jail for having attempted to assonate George Washington. Yet another American who discovered the beauties of Cape Breton. Thomas Crawley was the second owner of this estate, embellishing the gardens before it came into the hands of John Stewart McLennan in 1900, a native Cape Bretoner, he took over his fathers coal mining business, becoming a staunch politician, a hobbyist archaeologist studying the ruins of the Fortress of Louisbourg, bought two newspaper companies and was interested in botany.

This trip, I had pre planned a photo shoot here, which is why I brought a costume – my brown linen/cotton skirt, corset, two shirt waists and a petticoat, the later two borrowed from my friend Joy who generously lent these and other pieces to photograph. Also equipped with an Alien Bee studio light, my Paul Buff battery and light stand, I was to continue my “Anachronist” project on location. On our walk, I took photos as I usually do, but kept an eye out for spots that would work for backgrounds.

Gabarus

Another “Anachronist” opportunity came along that week. Each year, Mom and I go to Point Micheaud Beach up St. Peters way. But this year, I wanted to go to Gabarus. It’s a tiny community at the point of extinction yet is populated my mainly fisherman and has a historical value. In the the early to mid 1700’s when the English took over the Fortress of Louisbourg, many American Loyalist signed up to fight against the French. Some American troops landed in Gabarus setting up camp, scouting a way to the fortress on land through bracken and swamp. From Google earth, you can see a minuscule logging road that connects both areas. Apparently the access is through Kennington Cove.

Mom drove as I styled my hair in the car without hairspray, but with many bobby pins, which held for a while. But the wind being as frisky as it was lead to many escapee tendrils. Though in the end it made my hair look very authentic for the period in such a landscape. My poor boots faired just as well. Buttons decided to participate in the escape plan. Luckily I was able to find each and everyone that popped off, sewing them on later. When I got back to Toronto, the staff of Gadabout were so good in helping me find matching buttons for free. The boots were a little too big, but worked well in any case. When posing, I had to be careful my skirt covered the boots from the ankle up. Not for modesty sake, no. The tongue and the sides flapped about when I scurried from camera to sitting position. I really have to get a new battery for my remote timer.

I wish I had more time at Gabarus, but there was a large fog bank that rolled from over the hills, bringing with it a damp chill. One shot I wish I got would have standing in front of the water holding the back of my skirt like the woman in the photograph I found on Pinterest . Yet another would have been me stepping in the water, or standing next to the warf lined with lobster traps or the lighthouse. Alas, I need all day and to either be alone or with a proper assistant. Maybe it’s just as well, what I thought to be an ache from the hard mattress I was sleeping on turned out to be a pulled shoulder muscle from swinging my big ass camera bag over my shoulder. The only consolation for spending 4 hours in out patience on a beautiful Sunday afternoon was having a hot doctor look after me.

Hanging with Family

In the whirl of home activity, there is a the required getting together with family. Having already paid a visit to my Grand Parents in Stewiack on the way home from the valley, I wanted to spend time with the Webber family. It was a tight window but Uncle Roy, Aunt Daphne, my cousin Caelin and her two little girls managed to come over for a BBQ. What a lovely day we had for it! The girls were so sweet and well behaved, helping to put together strawberry shortcakes and bringing their dirty dishes into the kitchen. I’m so sad Caelin is moving back to Thompson.

If there’s one thing I love to be, it’s the cool artsy-fartsy aunt. After supper, we gathered on the slope in the backyard for photos. I used the Alien Bee for the first time this trip. I tried to pose everyone as best as I could, but it really is difficult to get everyone to look in the same direction with chins down, eyes open, stop talking! SMILE!

The kids and I ended the evening with making fun crowns out of plastic flower pots and reading them each a story from books Mom had given them as going away gift.

Peter’s Field Again

My last afternoon was spent in Peter’s Field, in costume with my hair pinned up. I repeated to myself, “I don’t care what anyone thinks of me. I’m just going to do it and have fun.” It’s a well used park but thankfully there weren’t too many people today. Just those walking and chatting. Those who crossed my path were polite enough to wait until the photo was taken which is a nice reprieve to the crowds of clueless Torontonians who don’t know what the hell is going on (or just don’t care) and walk through you photos. There were some who were curious. One gentleman thought I was photographing a wedding.

I wore a different shirtwaist and so glad I did because, phew, was it hot! My suite case when I opened it back in Toronto was almost as bad as a week old gym bag. Nothing a dumping in the bath tub of luke warm water won’t fix.

And here I close on this long drawn our blog that took almost a month to post. I thank Joy again for the loan of her period pieces, they made my photos come alive. I go home at Christmas and hope to have even more opportunities for more on location shoots. Or a chance to head out somewhere with George. It’s always nice to have some one to photograph with and share the adventure.

12 Dresses

My sewing teacher and Friend Marianne, wanted to have a ball with the new English Country Dancing group she joined a year ago. Her excuse to have the ball was to celebrate 55 years in Canada. To get people involved she decided to make 12 dresses and 8 vests for some of the hard core members of the group. I made my own dress.

When she first told me of the idea I volunteered to do portraits of people all lovely and dressed up. Here was my chance to try to recreate painted portraits with a modern tool, and yet still make them have all the charm a regency portrait painting would.

I had asked a good Friend to assist me on the day. What a huge help he was. Suggesting to people how they should sit, asking them to take off watches and glasses that looked too modern. He had set up the lighting and even moved the table from one side of the set to the other.

For my purpose, I had borrowed from Rob a mottled brown back drop that completely fit the bill along with a backdrop stand, and a 20 prime lens. How I LOVE the 20. I almost bought one at Christmas, but I had to pay up front and they had to order it from the Canon warehouse, maybe next Christmas bonus. For now I’m lucky to be able to borrow Robs.

Along with the back drop I brought some props. Books, teacups and saucers, a makeshift table cloth and another to contrast over that. This would give people a choice of things to hold onto so they may feel more comfortable. Some didn’t because I think it may have looked too contrived. But those touches come out very well in the photos.

Originally was going to borrow Rob’s 400 Alien Bees, but when I thought of even more things to carry to the venue, I decided to go with two speed lights with soft boxes over them instead. They worked quite well until the batteries started to run low. I tried to push the speed lights until they were nearly dead, which was a bad idea because when I went to edit them, I realized I had lost detail I wasn’t able to bring back.

At Photographers anonymous, I was given lots of great advice for the next time. Like use Alien Bee’s instead of speed lights. Use a larger space to make the background higher. I had to use the path tool to get rid of the rings that were in the fabric. Especially where there were tall people involved. It’s amazing how well the patch tool works. Another piece of advice was that the stage right light was too low. You can see it in the cast shadows on the background. I would have set them up differently was well. One light almost in front and the other to the side of the subjects. I would liked there to be a candelabra and flowers on the table as well. As it turns out, I didn’t have to bring my outdoor table after all. There was a nice small round table already there.

Everyone who had their photo taken was a trooper. On lookers would make them break into smiles, but I didn’t want full on smiles, Kevin was good to ask them not to. I had a very good plan to keep everyone straight, which was have everyone write their name and email on a piece of paper to hold up in front of them for one shot then onto the serious stuff. Well, didn’t I forget the paper and markers? Luckily I had my model sheets, though I had to ask Marianne to remind me who everyone was. Sorry guys!

So there you have it. All edited, resized and watermarked. Ready to email to everyone. I’ve only had 3 people say they didn’t want me to use their image online or elsewhere. Out of such a large group, I think that was pretty good. And now you see them here on my blog.

A huge thanks to the English Country Dancers in their beautiful costumes. And to all who worked so hard to pull it together. Thanks Mandeep for the first dance. I can’t wait to do it again.