Thursday, 31 October 2013

Kaleidoscope Complete The Look Competition | Vote For The Winner!

Not Dressed As Lamb-Kaleidoscope Competition
Here it is - part two of my Complete the Look competition in partnership with Kaleidoscope... this is where you vote for the winner! Two weeks ago I posted part one of the competition, where I chose three items to make up an autumnal look, leaving out one item for you lovely lot to choose. And the entries were fabulous! I had a hard time whittling down the entries to just four, but I finally made up my mind.

My Autumn Shopping Days outfit is definitely a casual look - jeans and a funky sweater - but the patent bag makes it smarter and adds a dressed up element. So I've chosen the four pairs of boots I think best complete the look, and created a separate style board for each to help you choose the winner. I want you to decide which boots work best... cast your vote (at the bottom) once you've looked at all four entries!

You have two weeks to vote; everyone everywhere can cast a vote during that time. (The widget will tell you if you've already cast a vote if you try more than once - it's clever like that.)

Voting closes on 14 November 2013 at 7pm GMT. The style board with the most votes wins, and the reader who chose the winning item* will be contacted after that date by email: They win ALL of the products from within the winning style board!

So... which do you think is the winning entry? Vote at the end of the four style boards!

Kaleidoscope Autumn Winter 2013
Entry 1: Joe Browns Studded Suede Boots
These low, studded boots are funky and would be so comfortable for shopping. Style-wise they work brilliantly with the poncho and as they're suede, they add a nice texture contrast to the shiny patent bag.


Kaleidoscope Autumn Winter 2013
Entry 2: Lunar Stretch Leopard Print Boots
Talk about a statement! Knee high leopard print boots are such a fabulous idea for autumn. Having a low heel means they'll be perfect for shopping, and leopard print is considered a neutral so looks great with my poncho/skinny jeans combo.


Kaleidoscope Autumn Winter 2013
Entry 3: Chestnut Leather Ankle Boots
As well as being a gorgeous chestnut colour, these leather ankle boots complement the tones of the poncho beautifully. They're a great shape and the chunky heel makes them easy to walk in - they'd look great with skinny jeans throughout the winter.


Kaleidoscope Autumn Winter 2013
Entry 4: Ravel Two Tone Wedge Boots
The deep red of these classy wedges coordinates with the patent bag and adds a sophisticated edge to an otherwise soft, casual look - perfect for looking stylish whilst out shopping this season.



Update 16/11/2013: Here's the winning entry!

Kaleidoscope poll results
Congratulations to Sue Walker who wins the entire outfit - including the boots!


Good luck to the four finalists - the winner will be announced via Twitter, Facebook and my Google+ page on or after 14 November!
Catherine x
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You can shop all the items featured here:


*The rules stated that if an item was chosen by more than one person and ended up as one of the final items, it would be the first person that left a comment suggesting that item who would be selected as a finalist. This did happen, so I will contact the four finalists by email soon after this post goes out so you'll know for sure if you're in the running. In the event of a tie, I have already put the four items into my personal order of 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place. Whichever tied entrant is highest will be judged the winner.

Kaleidoscope have compensated me to host this competition. All content is original and opinions are my own, however, and 100% honest.


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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

(Yet) Another Way To Style A Grey Marl Sweatshirt

Grey sweatshirt, red skinnies & brown booties
Finding ways to style a grey marl sweatshirt - or any colour sweatshirt - happens perhaps a little too often in my life when I haven't got anywhere especially important to go. They're just so easy and comfortable and have just the right degree of warmth for autumn (and spring). So if I can, I'll add a little more interest as I've done here, with the collar of my vintage shirt peeping out and a colour blocked cross body bag. Throw on some gold rings, a fabulous watch and a gold hair cuff and that's me happy enough.

The basics of this outfit (top and jeans) is identical to the one I wore earlier in the year in this post, but it goes to show how a few changes to boots, accessories and of course hairstyle make all the difference.

Are you like me and finding casual wear all-too easy at this chillier time of year? Or do you continue with the pretty dresses until your legs freeze to death and you can't take it anymore ;)

Grey sweatshirt, cross body colour blocked bag & red skinnies
Red hair, grey sweatshirt
Catherine x
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Sweatshirt: Asos, Shirt: Vintage, Jeans: Asos, Boots: New Look, Bag: Accessorize, Watch: Asos, Gold rings: Asos, Fingertip rings: Asos




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Monday, 28 October 2013

My 40 Year Old Face | Is There Beauty In Symmetry?

Is there beauty in symmetry?
This post is essentially two things: 1. A follow-up to the much-read post My 40 Year Old Face, Uber Photoshopped (though I am 41 now), and 2. A study in facial symmetry, and probably scaring the living daylights out of you. It still scares me, even though it IS me.

Now that you've hopefully stopped with the "Whoah, what is that?!", I can explain the technique I used to carry out this experiment, which addresses the theory that symmetrical faces are more beautiful. I'm not the first person to create images this way - since seeing it done by photographer Julian Wolkenstein, I've been wanting to photograph my own face and see how it would look in perfect symmetry.


So how exactly are these strange portraits created?


Not Dressed As Lamb
You take a standard portraits of yourself (as above) and create two symmetrical images - one using the right side of your face mirrored, and another using the left. The GIF below shows my face scrolling between the original, the right mirror image, and the left mirror image.

Photoshopped symmetrical face
The right side duplicated (my right side)

Photoshopped symmetrical face
The left side duplicated (my left side)

It is quite frankly bizarre, fascinating and totally FREAKY all at the same time. I did this experiment a while ago and the results were so frightening I was more than a little hesitant to share them with you. The mirrored right side looks like a creepy, thin alien girl, and the left... Oh, the left. I look like Sandra Bullock on steroids, masquerading as an Olympic shotputter. Not a good look.

I LOOK LIKE SANDRA BULLOCK ON STEROIDS, MASQUERADING AS AN OLYMPIC SHOTPUTTER.

I took the original at the same time I shot the photos for my How To Star In Your Very Own Luxury Brand Advertising Campaign post - I was purposely wearing a lot of contouring make up for that project, so I think it's interesting how the very thing that's supposed to enhance your features does nothing to improve the freakish creatures that have resulted. I was horrified when a few clicks of the mouse joined each side with its mirror image, and revealed that I have an uneven jawline, huge differences in each side of my neck, a mouth that's not in line with my nose and one eyebrow higher than the other.


But you know what? I'm sure you're already thinking this, but as with the result of Part One of my Photoshopped face experiment, the "new and improved" version(s) of my face are so much less appealing than the original. (One thing to note: apart from the mirror imaging, I have not Photoshopped my face in any way - so you get to see it completely untouched by the airbrush, pores and all. No amount of make up can prevent the glare of a ring flash that bright, so my face isn't oily, it's reflecting really bright light. In other words, no foundation is as good as it appears in the adverts.)

TAKE COMFORT IN THE FACT THAT OUR REAL FACES, WITH ALL THEIR IMPERFECTIONS, ARE MORE APPEALING THAN THE ENHANCED VERSIONS.

If you have a perfectly symmetrical face to begin with, then maybe this experiment would simply prove that symmetry is more attractive - I'd have to see the results from symmetrical portraits created of someone with such a "perfect" face. Otherwise the 99.9% of us that have asymmetrical faces can take comfort in the fact that our real faces, with all their imperfections, are more appealing than the enhanced versions.

So - beauty in symmetry? Not in my case, that's for sure...!

Catherine x
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Friday, 25 October 2013

7 Photography Tips For Shooting Outfits In The Rain

How to photograph outfits in the rain
I'm certain I now have the undivided attention of every blogger in the UK: after the rain we've had this week, this is the post for you! Having to photograph an outfit post (or two) when it's chucking it down outside is one of the most frustrating challenges a blogger can face. Sometimes you've just got to work with the rain, rather than against it, so read on for my top tips for how to get the best results in wet weather.

(If you're a Southern California blogger you may want something else to read, so here's a nice picture of a rainbow to gaze at instead. Unless you've already left us and have gone out for a jolly in the sunshine... I'm not bitter. Oh no.)



1. Lack of light is your enemy so face the direction of the sun

This may seem strange, as on rainy days there's usually a blanket of cloud completely obscuring the sun. However, you'd be amazed how much light still comes from the direction of the sun, so ensure you're facing that way. Otherwise you'll run the risk of an underexposed face and/or outfit as the sky behind you will inevitably be ten times brighter.


2. Get a fab umbrella or two

Please - no boring black umbrellas! There are some beauties on the market - just make sure it's a light colour underneath or reasonably transparent so that as much light as possible is reflected back onto your face. Some umbrellas have a plain colour on top and a pattern underneath, which will make a great statement in your photos (and you can get away with a darker colour on top with these). A fabulous umbrella is an accessory in itself, and will keep your outfit dry.

Photographing outfit photos in the rain: Get a fabulous umbrella

Shop these fabulous umbrellas if you want to replace that boring black one you've got...!






3. Use a tripod

Failing light can be a problem - the camera will probably have to slow down the shutter speed to get as much light as possible into the pictures. However, this can cause blur from camera shake, and if the photographer is grappling with an umbrella too, you're probably going to end up with some pretty blurry shots. The tripod will free up the photographer's hands, allowing them to hold an umbrella over themselves and use the camera simultaneously.

If you're thinking of buying a tripod, my advice is to spend as much as you can afford (triple figures for UK prices is not an extravagance if you want a serious one that does the job). A tripod that's too lightweight for your camera will run the risk of being blown or knocked over, which of course could cost you more in replacement camera costs. A heavy, sturdy tripod is more expensive but totally worth the investment... mine cost me nearly £100 in 1992 and is one of the best photography investments I've ever made.


A strange phenomena that I've found occurs when using a tripod in failing light (allowing you to use slow shutter speeds without blur) is that the quality of light in the photos is really unique and quite beautiful. It's hard to describe, but if you try it you may see what I mean - it's totally different to standard daylight.



4. Make a feature out of raincoats, puddles and droplets of rain

If you can't beat it, join it! Rather than sitting around waiting for the rain to stop, it can be nice to actually see the rain in photos sometimes. Put your wellies on and splash about in puddles, or wear a fabulous raincoat. If the sun comes out when it's still raining, that's a golden photo opportunity right there - shoot slightly into the sun (don't let the photographer blind themselves) and the raindrops will be highlighted by the sun and look beautiful. Take close up shots of the rain droplets on your jacket sleeves or bag, or photograph your wellies in the puddles.

Photographing outfit photos in the rain: Wear a hat, take close up shots of raindrops



5. Get a practical golf umbrella for your photographer. Cake too.

It may seem like I'm suggesting you get a huge umbrella to keep your photographer dry just to be nice, but really you need to make sure you protect your camera. Of course it's a good idea as well to keep the photographer happy, so lure them into the rain with the promise of tea and cake for both of you once you're back in the dry.


6. Wear a hat

Something with a wide brim, like a fedora, will keep the rain off your face and mostly off your hair. We tend to squint and generally screw our faces up if it's being lashed by rain, so the protection of a hat is perfect to prevent unfortunate facial expressions.

Blue fedora & a tie-dye grey snood



7. Take shelter somewhere that's near daylight

If you really don't want to venture out into the rain, get creative with outdoor locations that offer shelter. You need as much natural daylight as possible, so stand near the entrances/on the edges of these locations for your photographs:
  • A bandstand (this is at the top of my list of locations I want to shoot in)
  • A cool bus shelter
  • A pedestrian underpass (as with all location shooting make sure you stay safe, some can be dodgy)
  • A warehouse or loading bay entrance
  • A shopping centre (not a mall) with covered walkways
  • An open garage doorway (without the car - it needs to be mostly empty)
  • The doorstep of a photogenic house (not a stranger's house though, and definitely don't pose on private property without the owner's permission!)
  • The dugout on a sports field

Photo Tips | Location ideas for outfit photos when it's raining: Bandstand, Bus shelter, pedestrian underpass
Image credits: Bandstand / Bus shelter / Underpass


......................................................


Above all - have fun in the rain! Working with the rain is easier than trying to battle against it, and I've wasted many hours waiting for the rain to stop when I've needed to get outfit photos taken. 

Have you got any extra tips for photographing outfits when it's pouring down? Do let us know in the comments - and good luck!


Ideas for photographing outfits in the rain

Catherine x
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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Double Denim, Another Trench Coat & A Vintage Scarf

Trench coat, denim skinnies & blue heels
With all the rain we've been having in the UK I can't see me featuring an outfit post without a raincoat or trench coat for a while - it's been torrential! This was a weekend outfit that started off as just straightforward double denim: nice and easy and a bit of a no-brainer. My vintage Eiffel tower scarf added some colour (and matched my nails, but that was just coincidence), and I wore my short trench which is pretty voluminous but I just love the graphic black edging.

These were taken shortly after another downpour, so I was lucky to only have to battle with the wind in the end. However, rain sometimes presents a challenge to us bloggers when we have to get outfit photos taken, so how about some ideas to help you get round the problem? Come back in a couple of days for a Photo Tips Friday post with tips on how to photograph outfits in the rain - don't miss it!


Trench coat, denim shirt & vintage scarf
Trench coat, denim skinnies & blue heels
Trench coat, denim shirt & vintage scarf
Catherine x
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Trench: Dorothy Perkins, Shirt: Topshop, Jeans: Zalando, Scarf: Vintage, Heels: Zalando, Watch: 4itgirls.co.uk, Nails: Max Factor Red Passion





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