Shooting Products – Again.

There was once a little photographer who wanted to be a fashion photographer. The photographer tried time and time again to get into the London College of Fashion to do their Fashion Photography BA but was never accepted. However that little photographer managed to get a job shooting fashion and product images for one of the biggest photography companies in the UK, and the little photographer got to work for iconic brands like Austin Reed, Mary Portas and House of Fraser.

The little photographer was now a little fashion photographer and was initially very happy. But then the vacuousness of the fashion industry began to get to the little fashion photographer and despite working with fantastically awesome people, the little fashion photographer began to get a more than a little jaded.

After a year or so the little fashion photographer reverted back to just being little and virtually gave up photography completely. Eighteen months went by and little’s closest friend asked if she’d like to photograph a LRP event. Little didn’t really know what LRP was, but her closest friend was very persuasive and so little went along and had a go.

Little became a little photographer once more and began to make friends with the most enormously talented artists who came together in a LRP field on a regular basis. Soon the little photographer began to see that lots of the artists didn’t have good photography of their beautiful pieces of art and that made the little photographer sad, because people this talented should be able to show off what they do to the whole world.

So the little photographer became a little product photographer once again and decided to give these artists pictures of their work that they can be really proud of. And the little product photographer enjoyed it way more than she did when she was photographing vacuous fashion images.

With thanks to the following artists who gave me so much joy to photograph their work:

Kate Lee - http://ift.tt/1rFDxqf & Rich Smith - http://ift.tt/1rFDxGv

Kate Lee – http://ift.tt/1rFDxqf & Rich Smith – http://ift.tt/1rFDxGv

Rich Smith - http://ift.tt/1rFDxGv

Rich Smith – http://ift.tt/1rFDxGv

Rich Smith - http://ift.tt/1rFDxGv

Rich Smith – http://ift.tt/1rFDxGv

Steve Lunn - http://ift.tt/1pUVEFB

Steve Lunn – http://ift.tt/1pUVEFB

Steve Lunn - http://ift.tt/1pUVEFB

Steve Lunn – http://ift.tt/1pUVEFB

Steve Lunn - http://ift.tt/1pUVEFB

Steve Lunn – http://ift.tt/1pUVEFB



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Photographing Empire – For Me

It’s not often I get time to photograph at PD events stuff that just I want to photograph. Last year I took my old Yashica TLR to the field during setup and shot some little portraits before time in. I really enjoyed it because in a world where people say ‘have you got some good pictures?’ you can genuinely answer with a smile ‘I’ve got no fucking idea’. Which sometimes is precisely the answer you want to give, but you can’t because that’s a bit rude.

So anyway, I headed down to site yesterday with something that looked like this:

SONY DSC

A while ago a friend on Facebook said that one of the big reasons he shot polaroid was because it enabled him to strike up conversations with strangers. It’s true with this too. You plonk down a tripod with this on top and a black cloth draped round your shoulders to block the light and say ‘Can I take your picture?’ and people always respond positively. In fact it’s more than positive, you begin to find out things about their life. Like my friend Douggie telling me how his Dad used to do photography and how he would dabble in the darkroom himself when he was younger. I love hearing stuff like this, it’s so much more interesting than ‘what camera do you use?’.

The other thing is that people want to have a look. The screen on the top is so accessible, so crisp and so BIG! People just want to look through it and move the camera round to frame things up themselves. It’s so different to digital. And slow. I like the slowness of it all.

So here’s some shots, with Douggie up first, that were shot yesterday. But not on my film camera, these were shot on my normal camera with a tilt shift lens. (Yes, a real one David. Not a computer filter.)

_MG_9702web

_MG_9758web

_MG_9721web

_MG_9665web
_MG_9726webAnd just because it’s beautiful, this is what the lens looks like:

311488-canon-ts-e-90mm-f-2-8



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GPA Frustrations

So I just had a sneaky little look at my results from my first year at uni again to revel in my success for a bit (hey, I’m allowed to celebrate…) and noticed my GPA had gone online (it wasn’t last time I looked).

My GPA is 3.88. Oh Noes.

You see, I really want a 4.0. I wondered why I didn’t have an average of a 4.0 though, as that’s how I’d worked it out on my calculator the other week. Then I read again how the averages were worked out and was sad.

Here’s the deal.

The GPA or Grade Point Average is an American measurement of success at university. It roughly equates to our own 1st/2nd/3rd system here in the UK. A GPA 4.0 is a 1st. A 3.5 is an upper 2nd classification, and so on. You can be awarded a GPA of between 0.0 and 4.5.

Here are my results from this year:

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 10.11.21

As you can see, I kind of sucked at the subjects that were not History of Art (Arts of Japan and Rise of the Modern World). However, that’s not the point.

When I added those marks up and averaged them out, I got 70.37%. GREAT! I thought. That puts me tentatively into a 4.0. Exactly what I wanted to get. A 4.0 opens the doors to lots of top American and International universities, giving me plenty of options if I want to take them.

So why did I get a 3.88 in my official result?

Well you see they’re sneaky and they average it in a different way. Instead of going the way I went about it, they instead go:

Give each module GPA score -> Average GPA scores.

So basically above I got 3.5, 3.5, 3.5, 3.5, 4.5, 4.5, 4.5. When averaged that means I got just 3.88. That unfortunately doesn’t take into account my extraordinarily high 80%, or the fact that I got a 69, narrowly missing out on a 4.0 for that one. It defaults to the lower end of the category – i.e. no point in working harder than 65% if you’re not actually going to get a 70.  This to me encourages the wrong attitude.

But I’ll suck up my GPA 3.88 (which isn’t a GPA 4.0) and see if I can work ultra hard to get a few more 4.5′s next year to bring up the average. That’s going to be very hard. Because just getting 4.0′s will not bring the average up enough.

Bad system. It should take account of your total average mark, not allocate individual modules a GPA score. It effectively downgrades each of your individual grades up to 4%. And when you’re working at the top, those grades are hard-earned. And 4% at the top is much harder than 4% at the bottom.



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Paperless Studying

I have lots of tech-savvy friends. I have lots of tech-savvy friends who discuss the merits of going paperless including lots of very technical ways of doing so.

I am not very tech-savvy. (The other night I booted up my Windows install for the first time ever and managed to get malware on it within about ten clicks of the mouse.)

However I have managed to go almost entirely paperless with ease for university. I mentioned it to someone and they said I should write down how I did it so that others can do. So that’s what I’m doing.


I decided when I started university that I wasn’t going to be one of these people who spent hours and hours trying to locate notes when writing an essay or being frustrated that I couldn’t find that little golden bit of information that I required at 3am in the morning. Yes, I’m looking accusingly at some of my friends here. I’ve been through the pain with you on Facebook.

Would you like to see the total amount of paper that I have accumulated from my first year in a humanities subject?

image2

And actually, everything you see between the hello and the pink dividers in that shot is just one subject where we were given all the readings we needed for the module in a photocopied book. Without that it would have been about one centimetre or less of paper. The stuff in plastic folders right at the bottom is the sum total of my first four modules in Semester 1.

Of course, you’re probably all LOL’ing right now and doing something like…

26zt9

And in return I’m going:

85236

Anyway. Here’s the dig of how a non-tech-savvy person went paperless. Without all your fancy gadgets.

  1. I bought a premium subscription to Evernote. That allows me to upload 1GB of files per month and have 100MB per note. Sometimes I hit those limits with notes I write in the course of my business, but rarely. Never have I hit it with stuff for university.
  2. I bought one of these portable document scanners. I know it’s like, £200 on that Amazon page. But I got mine on eBay for £60. People buy this shit and then never use it.81DhsL6M2WL._SL1500_
  3. I bought a Macbook Air. Yeah I know, not the cheap option. However my old laptop virtually died on me and I needed something new. Plus I had some money to spend on a laptop (and Apple do a nice educational discount). The fact is though that you could buy one of those cheap £300 laptops to use at uni and never suffer because of it. All it needs to do is run Evernote and browse the web.

    In total my Evernote membership and the scanner cost less than many of my classmates spent on printing this year because they printed journal articles and stuff. So I figure I’m still onto a win.

  4. Every module gets it’s own notebook in Evernote.
    Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 07.35.59There’s a complicated filing system going on here, as you can see. Modules that are ‘in progress’ just have their title. Modules that are finished get their module number added to them. Brookes handily uses the U pre-fix which means that they automatically drop to the bottom of my notebook list. Also it means I don’t have to remember the prefix when key wording which helps.
  5. When in class I write as much as possible directly into a note in Evernote. When we discuss paintings I also try to bring the images up in a Google search and paste them directly into my notes. Like this”
    Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 07.41.04As you can imagine, this is pretty helpful. Much more productive than staring at a page of handwritten notes and trying to remember what the image looked like.

    You see it’s worth pointing out that I’m fundamentally lazy. I’ll do anything to avoid doing more work later.

  6. Journal articles. Evernote handles these particularly well. Journal articles almost always download in a PDF format. I import them into Evernote on download and then Evernote allows me to annotate them directly in the program. So I read them, highlight and make notes on them within Evernote and then save them. Evernote Premium churns them through it’s text recognition software too, so they’re all searchable within the file from within Evernote.

    Handily Evernote also has a feature that allows you to see your annotations at the top of the note too. So you don’t have to go searching through a 30 page PDF to find the five words that you annotated. It looks something like this and is extremely helpful for writing essays:
    Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 07.47.08Helpful, no? In fact you wouldn’t believe how helpful this is when you’re scanning through trying to find stuff you want to quote in your essay. Brilliant. Just a flick of the down arrow key and you’re onto the highlights from the next journal article.

  7. Scanning all paperwork given to us. On that neat little document scanner. Then I file it away.

    The only process I’ve not managed to do more efficiently is taking notes from books. Kindle books are easy, but paper books not so much. I get pages that look like this and then scanned, and that makes me unhappy:
    image3But it’s not so bad. I keyword them so that I know what the subject was.

  8. Web Clipper. Evernote has a web clipper feature that allows me to save pages from my browser directly into notebooks in Evernote, with keywords. Awesome. I use this for looking up words I don’t know on Wikipedia and things and then saving them for future reference. It’s great for general background info about a subject. Or even for capturing a freeze of a page that you want to reference in an essay, because then you have a copy of the page you’re referencing, even if they change it.
  9. Tagging and saved searches. We’re usually given our essay subjects way in advance. In fact, most of the modules we were given them in the first week of the module. I like to spend lots of time thinking about my essays so I come up with some rough ideas and plans as soon as I get the title. Then whenever I read anything or take notes or save a journal article that could be relevant, I keyword it with something like “Museums and Societies Essay 1″. Evernote has a feature that allows you to save searches that you do regularly, so that I do then is I save a search for the relevant keywords and then pin it to the sidebar of the program.

    Of course I also include notes from past modules and other random clutter that I’ve collected from the web over the past few years. Like when I wrote an essay about the Africa galleries at the British Museum. I knew that I’d studied Benin and the way their art was presented at the BM during my OU degree, so all those notes got tagged and then brought into my smart search. We’d also touched on how minority art was treated by galleries in our Reading Art History module, so I pulled that note in too. Because keywords and smart searches allow you to pull notes in across subjects and keep all the relevant info at your fingertips without having a dozen open notebooks and folders.

And that’s it really. As long as I spend half an hour a week scanning bits of paper that I’m given I stay on top of everything. I also use my phone to photograph whiteboards etc if I really need to.

It works. It means I can spend more time working on learning stuff, writing essays and prepping for exams than trying to find that random note that I wrote in some long forgotten class. It also means that I have everything I’ve ever read or written with me at every lecture. Which is pretty bloody brilliant.

In fact something I really love that Evernote does is that it shows you related notes while you’re writing. Sometimes it’s not quite right, but often when I sit down and start taking notes in a class it suggests things that I might want to review that I’ve written previously – which I always do when we come to a lull in the action.

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 08.02.32



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Mythlore Costume – Battle Skirt

The leg armour has affectionately become known as the battle skirt.

Here’s something resembling a step-by-step of what I’ve done so far.


So first of all I draped the fabric on the stand so that I could just draw the pattern onto the fabric and cut directly on that. I’m using the calico for the middle layer anyway so there wouldn’t be any wastage. Initially I planned to make the battle skirt in just two pieces so I’ve pulled the fabric up over the hip to cut the waist in a curve so that I didn’t have to add darts to the quilted layers.

Evernote Camera Roll 20140713 085813

And here it is cut out… At this stage I decided to split each one down the side and create the skirt from four pieces instead of just two. Just in case it was a bit stiff and he struggled to sit down.

Evernote Camera Roll 20140713 085811

I worked up some samples with the double needle – I wasn’t sure how well it would quilt with the walking foot, but as you can see it appears to work just fine.

Evernote Camera Roll 20140713 085809

And so onto the actually quilting… *insert boring in progress shot*.

Evernote Camera Roll 20140713 085759

This is where it starts to get interesting. Well, I think it’s interesting anyway. Here’s one of the back sections of the skirt after it’s been quilted. You can really see the nice blue-grey colour of the fabric in this one too. My iPhone is not great at colour reproduction.

Evernote Camera Roll 20140713 085807

And then the really interesting bit happened. I started to add studs.

Evernote Snapshot 20140713 085925

Those white lines are just the chalk marks where I lined everything up.

The back looks something like this at the moment, it will eventually go blue and neat.

Evernote Snapshot 20140713 085945

But this is what the finished section looks like on the mannequin:

Evernote Camera Roll 20140713 085803

The drape of this ‘new’ fabric is just beautiful. It’s stiff, but not so still that it doesn’t still drape and move nicely.

In fact you can see that here in these pictures how different the sections are in various stages of assembly:

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I had to take a break there and wait for more studs and more thread to arrive in the post. But now I have these things so I guess I will start again!

 



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Mythlore Costume – Texturing the robes

I treated myself a few weeks ago. I bought myself a pintuck foot and some double needles because I had this crazy idea that I could add texture to the base layer robes for S’s costume.

This morning I decided to try a sample piece. Unfortunately I have no matching thread, but you get the idea. I photographed it in different lights so that you could see how subtle the texture is.

It worked like a dream. Wonderful. This is going all over the robes.

photo 2-1 image-6 image-5 image-4



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Film industry inspiration: Pt II

So I wrote a while ago about the techniques that I’ve drawn from the film industry that I try to apply to my work with LRP photography. I spied this on a friends feed today, it’s a making-of video of Game of Thrones Season 4. Well, the SFX anyway.

Keep a close eye as they drop the effects in place, and then apply a colour grading over the top to tie all the elements together.



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My top 15 LRP photos.

Yeah, I couldn’t narrow it down to just ten, so here are fifteen. I also couldn’t narrow it down to just Odyssey or Empire because I love them both in equal measures.

I’m quite happy at the amount of shots of awesome women vs awesome men that I seem to achieve. It’s been a goal since the outset to do so.

Empire 2014 E2 - Profound Decisions Ltd CharlotteMoss-001web Empire 2014 E2 - Profound Decisions Ltd CharlotteMoss-007web CharlotteMoss-005web CharlotteMoss-006web CharlotteMoss-002web CharlotteMoss-003web CharlotteMoss-004web CharlotteMoss-013web CharlotteMoss-014web CharlotteMoss-008web CharlotteMoss-015web CharlotteMoss-009web CharlotteMoss-010web

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Laura Bates: Everyday Sexism

I love TED Talks. I love Laura Bates. I love The Everyday Sexism Project..

In this talk she lists some pretty convincing reasons as to why women have not yet found equality.

“Women are equal now, more or less.” Apparently. So I am often told when I’m told that we don’t need feminism. When I’m told that I’m making a fuss about nothing.



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Living with ‘not quite serious enough to be serious’ OCD

Warning: Contains some description of surgery (from my head) that some might find upsetting.

I have a general fear of being mentally ill. Mostly because I’ve been told by quite a few people over the years that I’m depressed and should seek treatment. I’m not depressed, I’m just a melancholic kind of person. To say I’m depressed would be grossly undermining some friends of mine who have clinical depression and who genuinely suffer.

But I’ve always been concerned that I suffer from something that lies on the OCD spectrum. However genuine information about the OCD spectrum is hard to come across because the internet is full of people who think that OCD is Monica Geller from Friends who likes to be neat and tidy. I’m not neat and tidy, anyone who knows me would testify to that. I mean, I don’t let me house become dirty, but I’m not tidy unless I know someone else is coming round.

I picked up this book a few weeks ago. I was actually looking for one they had in the window about creative industry management. Except that book turned out to be about how to manage creatively, rather than how to manage in the creative industries. But this book was almost alongside it in the new releases section and it caught my eye. It’s called The Man Who Couldn’t Stop: OCD and the true story of a life lost in thought, and I’m rather gutted it’s now available on Kindle for a tenner less than that I paid for it in hardback.

Anyway, he tells his own story about his thoughts about catching HIV from extraordinarily random places but it’s interspersed with scientific case studies, evidence and stories of other genuine sufferers. He talks about how it’s a spectrum, where you might be able to control things in your daily life, but that at any moment you can tip the scales and suddenly find yourself needing very real clinical help.

But most of all it throws light on OCD and the fact it’s not just about being clean and tidy. I might have read it on a hunch, but I’m now entirely sure that I’m suffering way more than I thought I was. That’s the problem with books like this, you start to have to face your own demons.

So it started a few years ago when I was living with my ex. I was quite unhappy because I’d not been able to find a proper job since moving in with him so I decided to reorder all the books on my rather large book shelf. In colour order. Most disappointingly I don’t seem to have any pictures of this, but they went quite gloriously from white at the top left hand corner to black and the bottom right. I kind of fooled myself into thinking it was because I worked in a visual way and that I could recall books by their cover colour, but honestly, wouldn’t it have been more practical to arrange by subject?

Except that wasn’t the first time I did that. When I was a child I used to arrange all my books in height order. I had several shelves in my bedroom and each one would be arrange in height. But not just on each shelf, across all the shelves. There was a sequence with each shelf being in a particular order, even if it was in a different part of the room. And the magazines that wouldn’t stand up properly were shoved in the desk drawers because they wouldn’t fit my system. I never knew this was weird, apparently it was.

I’m not so sure it was the actual doing it that was weird, but it was the obsessing about them getting out of order that was weird. Being left alone all day was dangerous with my colour coding. I would compulsively remove books, check them on the colour spectrum to make sure I had them in order and then replace them. Sometimes I’d even pull up colour wheels on the internet to check that they were in order. I even considered buying one of those Pantone systems where you put the sensor over a colour and it tells you exactly what colour it is. I probably would have done if I’d had a job and therefore had some money.

The worst bit was though that I hid it from my partner. ‘It just looks nice’ I used to say. Along with some feeble excuse about how having the white books at the top meant that to a short person like me the bookcase didn’t feel so oppressive. I even found validation in the new industrial estate at Milton Keynes. If River Island like colour graduations then perhaps I wasn’t so weird…

2669761_74bc1a1c

And then there was the weird counting thing that I developed as a child. I really don’t like odd numbers – except number 7 which is a good number. So I have these stairs at home at my Dads house and I have to go up some of them two steps at a time and some of them one step at a time. I can’t tell you the exact formula, but I do it every time I use those stairs. I went back to live there last year, and even now at nearly 30 years old I still do it. I developed it when I was tiny apparently, when I was just big enough to be able to take two of the steep stairs at a time. But I’ll still do anything to avoid uneven numbers. Now it tends to manifest itself with things like my iPhone volume and my car stereo. I can’t have my iPhone volume at just one pip from the loudest setting – it has to be two. Or an even number away. And my car stereo is the same, to the point where I’ve nearly had an accident on more than one occasion because I just couldn’t leave that fucking dial set at 15.

It got worse when I started dating someone into solitary sports. I would worry obsessively to myself that he was going to get killed on the roads and would check Facebook repeatedly to see if he’d logged in when I knew he was going out for a few hours. It didn’t help that this period coincided with my foray into polyamory and the fact that quite frankly it’s none of your business what your partner is doing when they’re not spending time with you. (Well, not quite so crude if you see what I mean, but none of it helped). At it’s worst, logging off Facebook for too many hours after what I thought should be a short outing meant he was dead. I never phoned the local hospitals, but I was irrationally close on more than one occasion.

It wasn’t just him either, I started to get other fears related to relationships. Manifesting itself in a sports injury was an easy one to deal with, but the real fear came when I worked out that some people I dated were trying to get me to become monogamous. And then it started. Now I obsess before dates, during dates and after dates that someone is going to attempt to force me to become monogamous, which isn’t what I want. I will turn people down outright if they express even the hint that they enjoyed monogamy and I now have to physically force myself to go on a date with someone who is single – like me. It’s becoming a problem. It’s a problem because while you can to an extent control your own internal obsession, it’s not fair to start projecting it onto other people. In fact, I’m reasonably sure that my OCD-like behaviour was the downfall of a particularly favourite relationship. Not directly, but almost certainly indirectly.

Anyway.

The latest one is super weird. I’ve always been a bit funny about my body image, possibly because I worked in the fitness industry for a while. Where everyone else sees ‘normal’, I see ‘fat’. If I ain’t got a six pack then I consider myself a fat mess. (And before anyone starts accusing me of fat shaming again, please, lets remember that this is a real problem that exists within my brain and isn’t healthy for me but I’m not projecting this onto anyone else. Additionally, it’s probably caused by the media to some degree, which I actively campaign again.) It tends to express itself in pretty ‘normal’ ways like upping the exercise level, tracking calories precisely and religiously taking photographs in the mirror to compare week in and week out. You know, the things you’d expect a qualified personal trainer to know better about.

This time it’s different though. Last year I was supposed to have some day surgery (specifics not really required here) but for reasons of there being an industrial accident on the day I was scheduled for surgery, it wasn’t possible. Because I moved to Oxford I had to then change NHS trusts and start the process again. But the problem was that I was afraid that the surgery would go badly because I have too much fat on my stomach for the Laparoscopy to be done. That my surgeon would not be able to get his tools and instruments through the layer of fat covering my abs in order to do his stuff.

There are four reasons I know this is dumb.

  1. I’m an intelligent person who understands that fat is easy to slice through. I have prepared meat before, I know you can cut through that stuff with virtually a blunt knife.
  2. For a while I worked with morbidly obese people to try and get their weight down so that they could have life saving surgery for things like cancer. Their problem was that at their weights they would most likely die when put under general anaesthetic. When we sent them in for surgery they were still massively overweight, thus proving that surgeons in fact can find their way through body fat.
  3. I’ve watched disgusting documentaries on tv that contain surgery.
  4. I’m not fat. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I have perhaps an inch of tummy fat above my abs. That’s it. And it’s probably not even an inch.

Last year it resulted in me going running a fair bit and to be fair I did lose almost all the tummy fat before I was due in for my surgery. This year it’s got worse.

I don’t even have my date yet and I’m already panicking. There’s nothing logical about this. I look down at my stomach and I see it huge and I have to stop eating in order for it to deflate (I suffer quite badly from bloating after eating, so I’m used to this in theory). And I’ve joined the triathlon club. I’ve actually joined a sports club to help make my fears of dying on the operating table go away.

Actually it’s not a fear of dying on the operating table. Why be scared of death? You don’t know you’re dead – that to me is totally irrational. My fear is that what will happen is that he’ll try to insert the tools into the skin either side of my belly button, but that he won’t be able to get them through the fat. So he’ll have to hack away at the surrounding area until I’m just left with a disgusting mess where my abs used to be. And then they’ll sew it up and it’ll never heal properly. It’ll never look like it does now. In fact I even have tattoo’s planned just in case it goes wrong and I have to cover the extensive scarring up. That’s how far this obsession has taken me. To design tattoos to cover extensive scarring that will never happen.

In reality I know if they had a problem with the laparoscopy then the worst that would happen would be that I’d get a larger scar extending perhaps six inches. Or they’d abort it. Either way, not so bad really.

But another problem is manifesting itself this time around, a year later. During previous consultations I was told to get a special type of skin wash and wash with it daily for the ten days prior to surgery. I think it’s to stop MRSA and other nasties. I have no fear over infection generally. I’m a really healthy person and I can fight infection as well as anyone else. But there’s this niggle. A niggle that tells me to wash my stomach with this vile smelling pink surgical scrub every day. I’m not going in for surgery for another two months. Of course this then leads to the fear that this scrub might wash away my skin and scar me horribly. But that doesn’t stop me using it.

Fuck me, I’m so fucking weird.

If you know me, you probably never even knew these things go on in my head. That I exercise for fear of extensive scarring, that I am paranoid of people I care about getting hit by cars, that I religiously wash my stomach. And most weirdly of all, that I line my books up in colour order. Actually I’ve not done that in my current place, because I don’t have a suitable bookshelf for it. But when I buy myself a bookcase you can be entirely sure that those damn books will have to go in colour spectrum order. And I might even treat myself to the Pantone gadget.



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Female participation in e-sports

I want to talk about the recent decision that the IeSF made to remove the ‘male only’ qualifier from their ‘world championship’ type tournaments. And hey look, I’m going to be good and I’m not even going to discuss the fact I’m faced with Jaina’s great big sexy almost-bare tits every time I log on to play my Mage in Hearthstone! Although on an unrelated note, I just tweeted this:

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

Apparently some guys have got pissy that there is still a female-only competition, while there is no longer a male-only competition. Basically it’s unisex for the big prize and a secondary female tournament without quite as much status. Women can compete either with the men on equal terms or with just their own gender.

I’ve said before that I find much positive discrimination uncomfortable, I don’t agree with it being the best way to sort out that whole inconvenient patriarchy thing. However sometimes you just have to make a temporary exception – where temporary is at least a few years.

The IeSF aren’t holding a separate female tournament because they’re misandrist, no matter what a load of these whingy geeks might think. I was going to quote some of the bile from the comments of the article I linked above, but to be honest I think you get the idea. Generally it sounds like ‘waaa waaa waaaaaaa, I don’t want to be forced to play with girls’. Or they’re playing the ‘reverse sexism’ line, and saying that it’s sexist towards men to exclude them from the female-only tournament.

Here’s why it’s not sexist.

The IeSF aren’t doing this because female gamers are in a minority. In fact, a massive 48% of gamers are female. Didn’t expect that, huh? There’s lots of people saying that female gamers are in the minority and they’re simply not. However female gamers are underrepresented in the ‘top tier’ of gaming – even down to the leading raid groups on my warcraft server which appear to be male dominated.

I’ll say now, I’m a Warcraft player. I love raiding with my Paladin. I love doing pickup raids from OpenRaid, but the raids with voice communication are out of the question to me. Why? Because there’s always the chance that you’re going to get a group of guys who feel that women shouldn’t be there. Unfortunately this isn’t an unusual occurrence, it happens more often than not.

The comments range from sexist comments (usually something clever about getting back in the kitchen) to something that basically amounts of sexual harassment (the guys seem to enjoy telling you about how they’re rubbing their massive cock over the thought of you). All this happens in front of everyone else in the room and no one ever stops it. Homophobic comments are common place too (“Why did you wipe us? You fucking gay fag…”).

So by having a tournament that only women can enter it encourages a safe place for women. Hopefully this will also encourage women-safe places to play too. Perhaps women’s only guilds. Or even guilds that women run, where men have to be vetted in. But this is all just a short term (and slightly uncomfortable) solution.

The longer term solution is to educate male gamers that sexist (and homophobic) abuse is wrong and that even if they’re not the ones doing the abusing, everyone has to speak out when they hear it to get it to stop. But that’s the longer term solution in wider society and we’re not doing so well there either. But in the short term we need to get more women comfortable playing in this kind of environment, and creating their own spaces where they have the confidence to speak up to abuse.

At the same time the women-only tournament will create role-models for other female gamers. Someone to look up to and to aspire to be like. And eventually the standard of female gaming will raise because women are allowed an environment that is both safe and also full of great role-models.

Then, and not before then, we can start to encourage more cross-over. To migrate the women over to the mainstream tournament. This has to be a multi-sided attack and it has to be done in conjunction with stamping out sexism and homophobia in gaming. And guys, you need to be a part of this as much as the women. We need you on our side, not whinging about the fact that women get their own tournament.



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Mytholore Costume – Using Blue in LRP costumes

I know that LRP isn’t historically accurate, but I don’t care. I’m an art history student and one of my favourite things to do is to research. Coming up with the concepts for S’s Mythlore costume has been a chance to research and take some inspiration from a culture that I’ve never really looked at before – Persia.

One of the things that I’m extraordinarily aware of as an art history student is the use and connotations of colour. When selecting the colours for the outfit I wasn’t just conscious of what would go well with his skin tones (he’s ginger so I’m keeping the colours muted) but also the colours that represent him as a character.

Initially I started off working with a palette of creams and browns, but it just felt too generic. I needed to introduce some other colours to create a statement about what he did. First came the blue, I won’t lie I have this gorgeous slate blue muslin that I’m itching to use on a project, and when I put it next to the grey linen that I picked up the other week they really just sung together.

But blue is problematic for me to use in kit. The problem with blue is that before synthetic dye was created it was only possible to obtain blue pigment from lapis lazuli rocks (the Egyptians also created Egyptian Blue, but the recipe was lost in the middle ages). And those rocks were only found in a handful of cave systems in Badakshan Province – modern day Afghanistan.

Ultramarine blue – the name of Lapis Lazuli once it has been made into pigment – is just the most beautiful blue and it’s the one that everyone chooses for their kit. They don’t generally use prussian, cobalt or cerulean because those blues just aren’t as eye-catching and wonderful. They use ultramarine, because it shines and sparkles in a way that you just don’t get from any other blue.

I’m not saying here that people shouldn’t wear blue kit for LRP. Of course not, that would be ridiculous because it isn’t historical reenactment. However for my costume concept the use of blue sparingly is important.

Just so that we can get an idea of the kind of blue we’re talking about, here’s Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl Earring.

640px-Girl_with_a_Pearl_Earring

And one of my other favourite uses of ultramarine blue in the Wilton Diptych.

The_Wilton_Diptych_(Right)

During the Renaissance patrons would actually specify a value of ultramarine pigment that would be used in the finished piece. The more money you spent on ultramarine then the more wealthy you would appear. Ultramarine blue was a status symbol, designed to show your wealth.

Did we see a similarity between the Vermeer work and the colour scheme in my designs? If he can use golden/mustard yellow with ultramarine blue then I certainly can.

So the key is that I’m using the blue sparingly on prestige pieces. At the moment I’m going to use it to line and trim the robe and also to create the armour and sashes. But I’m using an extremely thin and delicate fabric, a muslin. Something that wouldn’t have required too much dye – in fact as little as possible. And it’s a dark shade of blue too, so perhaps it might have been created with the remnants of a grubby dye bath that had been used for other garments beforehand. Ultramarine was almost always used at full strength in paintings so as not to dilute it’s richness – or sometimes with white added to create a tint.

Fortunately this group have a concept of being down on their luck. Once more wealthy than they are now, which allows an opportunity to play with the idea of people holding onto their kit that was once a status symbol. That is why I’m hoping to be able to create fantasy detailing to the back of the robes – this was someone who once had the money to spend on fashionable clothes, but perhaps now has been forced to sell everything he owns, and just keep his favourite pieces.

The golden yellow gown on the other hand has a different kind of symbolism. This character is cowardly and doesn’t want to fight or get involved. Judas (of Jesus’ disciples fame) is almost always painted in yellow garments and from there yellow has developed a potential reading of betrayal and cowardliness when interpreting works of art.

Here’s Judas, fourth figure from the left hand side, wearing a blue shirt with a yellow robe, in Da Vinci’s Last Supper.

1280px-Última_Cena_-_Da_Vinci_5

And in Giotto’s The Kiss of Judas.

666px-Giotto_-_Scrovegni_-_-31-_-_Kiss_of_JudasYellow is not a colour of cloth that was not difficult to get hold of. In fact the Roman’s used to due their white clothes using urine. How… pleasant.

But anyway, since yellow cloth is available with far more abundance than blue, I decided to go with it for the base layers, which require far more cloth than any other piece. Yellow also has connotations of sickness and disease, appropriate for a physic I think. I’m not sure where that idea comes from, I’ve not managed to throw up any historical research (although I admit, I have not delved into any academic journals to write this – I’m doing it all from my head and class notes). If I was to make an educated guess I would assume it is due to the colour of infection. Lovely.

So there we have it. The reasons that I chose certain colours for this costume.

I also have another concern about this costume though, a little colour related. We’ve chosen muted colours deliberately. If this is a costume for a desert dwelling person, then strong colours would not stand up to the constant bleaching from the sun. Especially since this is a character who is down on his luck and may well be spending time travelling from place to place. And as I said before this kit is old, bought in times when things were easier.

But lots of larpers see Persian and other Eastern influenced nations as an excuse to wear lots of colour, so I’m afraid that this costume might stick out for those reasons. And also because of the fact we’ve opted to create entirely out of natural materials, which means linen and cotton basically for this one. The Eastern influenced nations across games seem to prefer often to use synthetic materials that have been heavily printed and so forth.

Oh well, hopefully it’ll fit in!



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Mythlore Costume – Armour

“Every LRP character needs armour” he said. “I think I’ve got some leather under the bed, I could make some”.

Hold up. We ain’t wearing no generic leather armour with this outfit.

We’re wearing Samurai Kusazuri inspired plates with these Persian robes.

armor_drawingYou see, the trade routes would have extended all the way just about to Japan, even if Japan was closed to outsiders for much of it’s history. It’s not unreasonable though that traders would have met Samurai and may even have brought back examples of armour and so forth.

map13see

But we’re talking about a Physic, not a fighter here. He needs something to protect his back while treating casualties. Something lightweight that can be worn all the time if required.

ashigarukusazuri

And maybe a little inspired by Elizabeth Swann.

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Quilted panels are what we’re going for. Long panels – almost to the knee – with horizontal quilting lines to help them drape and also mimic the lines of the Kusazuri.

Worn over the undershirt, but under the belt and robes.

Simon Armour



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Mythlore Costume – Outer Cloak

“I’ll need something for the deep desert”

That was the first response when he saw my sketches. Talk about an unappreciative client friend. (Love you really S…)

So I figured a cloak was the way forward. Maybe a cloak that can be just loosely wrapped. I’m not sure yet. I pinned this image because I like the cut and the way it drags. I also really love the distressed fabric, but we all know you can’t just buy fabric like that. I watched a documentary about clothing sweatshops in China a few years ago and in passing they showed the way that jeans were fashionably distressed. They actually apply the finished garment to industrial sanders in order to thin the fabric and pull the threads. Clever. I’ve always wanted to have a go, but terrified in case I either wreck something I’ve spent ages making, or sand my hands off. Maybe my face. I worry about myself and industrial machinery.

1a03f461d0e7067833567a3ca0b4e056

He nodded in some kind of approving-yet-non-commital way. I don’t have to make it yet because it’s not until September, and this will be the last bit of the costume that I do make because he already has cloaks from over 20 years of doing LRP. But I have a really special idea up my sleeve.

I’ve discovered this technique that allows you to texture fabrics basically however you want. First of all you take your top layer and wash it hot several times to make sure it will never shrink again. The author suggests fabrics like velveteen or linen. Don’t iron it, store it on a roll to keep it vaguely flat. Then when you come to create your new fabric, you back it with another fabric, like a muslin, that will shrink a fair bit. You can then basically quilt the two layers together in any pattern you want, before putting the fabric sandwich in hot water for half an hour then drying it in a hot dryer. Repeat as required to get as much shrink as you can. The backing fabric shrinking basically pulls the top layer out of shape, creating the most fabulous texture imaginable!

I’m thinking that either straight lines or something wavy like this would be cool:

93-machine-sewn-textures-04



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Mythlore Costume – First Ideas

Here they are, the rough and ready sketches of the initial idea. I’m entirely sure things will change, in fact I think I’ve already changed the sketch in my book.

simon sketch



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