October 30, 2008

Shopping Tip

Have you ever taken the time to look at Goodwill Industriesí online auction site, ShopGoodwill? If you search thoroughly for a short time once or twice a week, you can find excellent deals on good photo equipment at extremely low prices.

Let me give you a few examples. About two weeks ago I purchased an old but still functional JVC professional studio video camera with power supply, battery pack and cables in a hard case for a total price with shipping and handling of only $103. Last week I picked up a very clean Pentax ME 35mm camera in a hard case with flash, lens extender, uv haze filter and full paperwork for less than $30. And I do mean full paperwork. It still had the 30 year old product registration card.

Iíve seen used cameras at local camera shops that were not as clean as that Pentax. To use an overused word, it is pristine.

Regularly very expensive Nikons go for under $100, and I do not mean just the camera body. I mean full cameras kits with good lenses, filters, cases, flash units, even auto winders. Sure, some outfits go for higher amounts, but even at that I do not remember seeing any one of them going for more than $250. On eBay similar rigs go for 2-3 times more and there is no guarantee you will get any better equipment.

Quick word of advice: If you decide to pursue a search on the goodwill site, you will find that overall the best and cleanest camera equipment tends to come out of the Tacoma, WA and Portland, OR area Goodwill stores. People in the Northwest seem to donate quality items, not the garage sale leftovers you see so often in other places.

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October 29, 2008

Lighting Experiment

Today was an experimental day in that it was my first opportunity to work with lighting not purchased at Lowes Hardware or Domme Depot. Yes, what was once accomplished with $5 clamp lights, $2 halogen bulbs and $12 worklights I should now be able to do with a set of genuine, honest to goodness Pho-To-Graphic lighting.

Sure, they were from Ebay. Yes, they cost a fraction (and a tiny one at that) of what I would have paid even for one badly abused light stand with no light, umbrella or bulb at a pawn shop or local camera store. But based on the digital photos I took today, I would say that they did quite well.

I am pleased. With a muslin background and a subject dressed in black, the lighting was soft and more than adequate. It neither washed her out nor underlit her. In fact, it did very good things to her skin tones that I had not thought possible from florescent lighting, even full spectrum florescent lighting.

To this point my entire experience was with incandescent and halogen spots and those bulky portable halogen worklights you find anywhere with a hardware department, and I will admit that I do like the starkness and hard contrast they provide. But they do have their drawbacks, primarily that they give everything that hard contrast, and also that they are very hot. I mean, they are blistering hot.

You most certainly donít want to reach down to move one after it has been lit and hot for a while. Nor do you want to be posing your model and brush him up against it. That is one sensation that will rattle a hard core pain slut, much less a normal masochist. You do not want to know what it does to a sadist with no tendency whatsoever toward masochism. Second- and third-degree burns are not my idea of pleasure by any stretch of the word.

These florescent lights donít generate even a miniscule fraction of that heat. They were safe near the dogs who wandered in and out of the set area. They did not overheat upholstery when a chair tilted back into one for several minutes. Best of all, they did not act like little furnaces and cause me to feel like a big walking hot flash while I was trying to work. Hot Flash=Bad. Bad is not Good.

They are not the be all or end all as far as my art shots go, but they do open up options that I did not have until now. I can now do portraiture and softer shots that were not possible until now. So Iím happy. And I hope my subject is happy with her portraits as well.

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October 28, 2008

Saturday, November 1st is our Monthly Lillith Munch for members of Lillith-Indy and the local BDSM community.

Doors open at 7 for food, conversation and a discussion with play to follow at 9pm in our lovely, well appointed home dungeon.

New members are encouraged to attend to meet each other and the other members of Lillith. We strive to make the Lillith munch an open and warm gathering for everyone who attends.

We provide a main course each month, as well as finger foods for snacking throughout the evening. Desserts and side dishes are always welcome. Bottled water will be provided, as well as our "Darned Near Bottomless" urn of coffee.

The dungeon includes a wall cross, corner suspension, bondage bench and bondage bed, subbie-go-round, Mistress Chair for worship, fully functional shower for those who like wet, sticky play, and music selected to enhance the
mood of both the submissives and Dominants who play. And for those who cannot access the dungeon because of the stairs, a very accessable spiderweb is available on the first floor.

RSVP as soon as possible. The address and directions will be provided promptly.

We look forward to seeing many of you on Saturday!

Mistress Lila

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October 27, 2008

End of October

The winter season is upon us, which means time for submissions for the spring and summer art shows and competitions. In fact, submissions need to be submitted for the first one in just about three weeks.

Needless to say, this also means that negatives need cleaned, scanned, retouched and cropped, applications need to be requested, completed and sent., frames decided on and purchased, and (if accepted, of course) the pieces need to be sent off.

As it stands, I have enough on hand for the first show, but will need to get several new pieces together over the next several days for a little contest I want to enter at Jockstrap Central. I enjoy their site, love the way they present their merchandise, and have purchased a few pieces over the last few years, so when I got the email announcing their contest, I decided it was a good thing be involved in this year.

Hopefully I will be able to get my micro-studio set up on my day off tomorrow so that I can get a quick roll off before Friday. I had considered just going digital but decided to stay with film. I would hate to have a wonderful session with many good final shots and not be able to use any of it beyond this contest. That would be not only a horrible waste of time, but of something far beyond that.

Maybe Iím odd in a way, but I believe that once a moment is gone, it can never be regained. As hard as one may try, as attentive to detail as one may be, no two shoots can ever be the same. Something will always be different, and generally that difference is in the head of one or both of the artists, either in front of or behind the camera.

Today I will get the cameras loaded and ready. Tomorrow I will get the drops hung and the lighting set. Perhaps tomorrow evening I can do a test with the girl to check the lighting, since she wants a few vanilla portraits for her parents and this would be a good opportunity.

Maybe the dogs would like their photos done as well. One never knows with them. Toss in the promise of a peanut butter dollop or a scrap of Popeyeís Chicken and Iím sure theyíll cooperate, even if only for a few minutes. Sometimes all it takes is a few minutes. It would be good to get a few nice shots of them. Iíd love to submit a photo of them to a few local periodicals and one of the pet supply websites I frequent. This may be an opportunity for getting a few pieces I can actually share with my family.

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