Saturday, December 25, 2010

Seeing Red

(Snapped on 12/20/10)

Giving new meaning to the phrase, "Ho, Ho, Ho'!"

All right you guys, I tried - I swear I really did...I don't know if it was some sort of Christmas curse? Or whether it's because my general lack of enthusiasm for all things Christmas rivals my equally sourpuss sentiment towards birthdays (or perhaps simply because I detest the color red? Tough to say) but no matter the reason - the fact is that I had no luck at all getting the Christmas self-portraits that I'd so vividly imagined. And sadly the ones that I did wind up with - were definitely nothing to write home about... 

However! It is Christmas Day, and rather than show up here completely empty-handed, or hide under the covers until New Year's - I come to you today, bearing the pics. of the litter (relatively speaking) because they're literally all that I have to offer...

The bathtub photos were not conceived with Christmas even remotely in mind (at first). But over the course of four separate attempts (my record for most total shoots devoted to any singular idea, *guh*) I migrated from simple shots of myself taking a bath, surrounded by a fleet of rubber duckies - to a bubble bath with only one duck - next I goofed around with the soap-bubble beard - and after lookin' at those pics., the Santa thing happened. 

Although I experimented with artificial light (the one time that I tried this at night) and relied on sunlight only, during the three daytime shoots - I never managed to corral the exaggerated contrast of bright light and dark shadows, which wreaked havoc on this entire group of pics.. I even broke down and tinkered with my camera's ISO settings (hadn't ever done that before!) but after 230 + shots, and back-to-back-to-back-to-back clean-up efforts (to prevent the excessive amount of water that I repeatedly tracked onto the floor - from seeping through to the room below) my options were exhausted, as was I. I'd been spinning my wheels for too long...

(Snapped on 12/21/10)

I shan't boast about the fact that while I anxiously waited for quality shoots to materialize - I filled the downtime by relying on the very most cliche of Christmas themes: "girl tied up with a bow like a gift, waiting to be unwrapped under the Christmas tree".........*yawn*

Perhaps my punishment for daring to sink to such shallow depths, was that (just like with the dumb bathtub debacle) my inadequacy forced me to attack this concept on several different occasions (I wised up though, and quit after only three miserable tries this time) Once again, the war waged between me and my cam - and the impossibly confusing lighting situations - left me feeling pretty much ANYthing but "in the spirit". 

I have to give a metaphorical high-five though, to my favorite new gadget - the handy dandy Joby gorillapod! During the bathtub and the Christmas tree shoots, it enabled me to secure my Cybershot to a high ladder step, and angle it in a way that the dish with the tin foil would never have allowed. 

Seeeeee? There may just be hope for me yet! I tried something new, and I liked it!

(Snapped on 12/21/10)

Way back in December of 2001, just before my 4th child was born - I came across the most wonderful display of vintage Christmas yard ornaments, while walking (for exercise) through a suburban neighborhood. I hadn't thought about that impressive collection of hard plastic snowmen, and angels, and carolers, and Santas - since that winter when my youngest daughter was born...But this Christmas, while in the throes of my Christmas pics. panic - I had a flashback to the elaborate holiday vignette. 

I went to the house, for the first time in 9 years - delighted to discover that the homeowners still went to the trouble to do their yard up all fancy, the way that they had when I'd first seen it. I sat in my warm car writing a note to leave on the door (in the event that no one answered when I knocked) when I was startled by a woman's voice asking, "Hello? May I help you, Miss?" I screamed, "AAAAH! Jesus - you SCARED me!" which startled her!

Once I explained to the woman why I was there and what I do, we both laughed about my minor freak-out. I then told her about how I'd admired her holiday set-up years ago, and asked if she'd mind if I took some pictures there. Lucky for me - she was down wit it!  

(Snapped on 12/22/10)

On my last childless night before Christmas, in the midst of doodling on my computer in my warm(ish) studio, I was stricken with an urgent desire to brave the cold and take one last stab at getting some decent holiday pics. damnit. 

I had recently acquired a cheesy red, pageant gown, which I later adorned with a bunch of white feathers. My original plan for the dress fell through, and so I settled on a 10 minute drive to the river, in the hopes I might come across something...anything - to inspire me to put the holiday-specific dress to good use.

I had only been driving alongside the river for a couple of minutes, when I found the perfect place to pull my car off of the road, park it out of sight from possible passersby, and get to work. It was the most gloriously beautiful, (albeit freezing) first full night of winter - imaginable. The bright, full moon played peek-a-boo - from behind a swift-moving, temperamental, low cloud cover. To the naked eye the conditions could not have been more sublime...and yet somehow I still managed to completely blow the shoot...

When I asked my 12 year old daughter for her opinion - as to which of the photos from this shoot was the least bad - she replied with, "It's hard to tell what I'm even looking at, Mom"...I completely concurred, "Yeah...same here"...

(Snapped on 12/24/10)

Soooo...Christmas Eve rolls last big push to redeem myself by snapping some holiday self-portraits that don't SUCK, right? I packed up the car with my kids, and the baked apples and cookies that we'd offered to contribute to the dinner that we were about to attend...but I also threw in the red undies that I'd embellished with ruffles and bells, earlier in the week - just in case I could sneak away from the party for a minute (or 30) and sport 'em in some last ditch Christmas pics....

After dinner was through, and the sweets had been munched, my kids along with all of the other attendees - hunkered down in the living room to watch a movie. Now was my chance. I warned the host and hostess that I was going outside - to take some NSFW pics. on their porch and in their yard...heh.

I snatched a present from under their tree, went to the bathroom to change clothes, and then slunk outside to have one last go at it.

I don't know if it was the painfully extreme cold, or the threat of getting caught in the act by someone else's kid - but I only stayed out there for 20 minutes and 27 frames...

I just have to hope that this is some kind of unfortunate phase, and that maybe when the pressure of the holidays is behind me, I'll get back to the much preferred - free and easy approach to my pics..

Nevertheless, I'll quit my grousing - cuz the point of this post was not for me to whine and moan, but instead to wish you all - a MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!


  1. Merry Christmas you sweet, sweet girl! Any pictures from you are a welcome gift, and much, much, better than no pictures at all!

  2. Must say that I adore the photo taken of you in the red dress, with the moon peeking behind the trees - it seems ethereal. Amazing.

  3. long time reader, first time commenter: love what you do with your self-portraits and must admit I'm glad you broke down and bought a tripod, it will really free you up creatively.

  4. Merry Christmas to you TOO, G.! Thanks for being so tolerant, haha!

    @Anonymous - Wow...REALLY?! That's AWEsome! I wish I could say that it happened on purpose...seriously though, before reading your nice comment - I considered the pic. to be an unfortunate mistake!

    Thank you so much for stoppin' by The Big Ugly!

  5. @Anonymous #2- So nice to hear that I haven't scared you OFF (yet)! THANK you so much - for reading my blog AND for letting me know that you're OUT there!

    Yes! The gorillapod thingy is VERY cool! Not exactly a "real" tripod, but it's compact size and grippy, little legs - perfectly suit my typically unusual needs! (Still relying on my table and dish with tin foil for most pics. though...I'm definitely a creature of hard habits to break!)

  6. Well, I am breaking my own rules and commenting out of sequence, but it *is* Christmas. I absolutely love the red dress in the moonlight pic. Really beautiful. One in a thousand images makes me go woowwww and stop in my tracks and that is one of 'em. That moon through the branches, the clouds and you there blurred with movement. Wonderful!

    I laughed out loud at the reindeer and red knickers image. Lovely idea... and the picture with the snowmen in the yard is way cool too.

    ... Finally, why do *I* never get a parcel under *my* tree like that?? ~pouts~

  7. Your photos always get better the more times i look at them! I wasn't that blown away by the bathtub photo, and now I think it is probably the best image of the bunch! You all bunched up in the end of that big tub with your Santa hat and bubble beard contemplating that lone little rubber duckie is almost as haunting as that specter beneath those web like branches under that dramatically lit clouded sky. I also like the young girl in her red shoes and ribbons looking as if she was transported from the 1950's. There is always so much more to your pictures than is first seen, maybe even by you. That may be part of your natural genius!

  8. Anonymous #1 here - to give you an idea how great that photo is, in my view, I have seen paintings and lithographs that sell for many hundreds that weren't as good.

    Remember that, while you have a naturally good eye, that at the end of the day, we all see and like different things. Oh, and I agree - I asked Santa for what was wrapped below your tree, but he must be running late!!!