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Thanks for all the Fish

Saturday, 6 August 2016

I've been writing this post in my head for a while (and actually drafted it up early June) but it's been difficult to put down in writing for two reasons. One is the puppy who like a time traveler from a more simplistic era cannot fathom why the universe, as her plaything, will not let her access the people and movements held within my laptop screen and there is much whining and pawing in my household as she learns the hard way that The Simpsons aren't sentient beings and she cannot chew them and my typing is not an invitation for her to join in. And the second and a lot more relevant reason is that i've spent 3.5 years carving out my place, my niche in the blogging world and gained a caring, intelligent readership who are undoubtedly the hardest people to fess up to needing some time away from what connects me to them.

My collection is amazing, it is exciting and it is not crying out for new additions. I would not call it complete but it is certainly not lacking in any way and I haven't bought any lingerie since early May, I haven't properly browsed for any new lingerie for even longer and you could say I was wholly disinterested in any of the summer sales. I've lost that buzz, the thrill that buying new lingerie used to give me, a feeling that kept me adding to my collection and planning the destination of the bulk of my paycheques months in advance. I'm not completely 'over' lingerie but there's an obsession that is no longer with me. I guess i'm less greedy than I thought as I don't want an ever growing collection of lingerie taking up my space and my finances, i'm happy with what I have right now. I'm content in how my collection has grown and what it contains. I can't in good conscience keep peddling reviews for lingerie when i'd rather spend my own money elsewhere.

I'm also tired, damn tired of being oversaturated by images of slim white girls against white walls wearing the same lingerie being everywhere I turn and i'm sodding one of them. I can't tell them all apart and I long ago gave up trying to befriend them or keep track of who is who. The community isn't the same for me anymore and it's entirely by my doing but i'd rather focus on giving something back to the people who have proven themselves to be there for me when I desperately needed them, than creating and maintaining what feels like hundreds of hollow, shallow friendships based on having one thing in common; lingerie and seemingly nothing else. Because nothing makes you feel more alone than being haunted by ghosts of friendships when you actually need something more tangible. And that's not to say i haven't created some lasting, amazing friendships and don't enjoy interacting with you all, I just can't keep up with the lingerie community as it is now in particular and I don't want to anymore.

I also work 9 hours a day, 5 hours a week whilst battling my depression and anxiety and maintaining a clean apartment, caring for a 3 month old puppy, spending time with my Beau, working out to stay strong, conducting astrophysics research into short period Novae in M31 and keeping myself alive. It's no more than others do with their time but it can be overwhelming for me and right now I have no motivation to answer my emails, take on the pressure of working with brands or push myself to stay relevant and in the loop. I don't want to half arse something i've put my all into for years, it's not fair to you guys and it's not fair to me. Being kind to myself is something I have to do right now, even if it goes against my nature and i'm in a place where being overwhelmed is like my second most used emotion.

I also have a review on TLBC that I haven't put together yet because my skin is in a state I haven't experienced for 5 years and it's showing no signs of improving but I do owe them that post and as much as i'd love to just disappear, that is going to come soon. It will come after this post is live just to appear terribly contradictory but I couldn't hold off on checking in with you all and telling you where i'm at any longer. Which is a shitty thing for me to do to all parties. I just can't see another way around it.

So this isn't necessarily 'goodbye', it's just 'see ya later' because there's every possibility this is just a passing phase and it passes soon but i'm also hyper aware that my last post was a while ago and I owe more explanation than just silence and the odd instagram post. The lingerie blogging community is a landscape that is continuously changing and shifting and I long ago lost track of where we're up to but if you're looking for new bloggers or lingerie information then I can only highly recommend the following for being a perfect place to start:

Write Me Bad ChecksComics Girls Need Bras and The Lingerie Addict are flying the flag for diversity in a heavily white saturated niche of blogging so if you're looking for POC, LBGTQA+ bloggers (although there's obviously a hell of a lot more to their blogs than that and worth checking out anyway) then you can't go wrong starting your search here . A close friend of mine Thigh Highs and Glitter is flying the flag for both the large bust/small band crowd and anyone post partum. My favourites for the fuller figure or bra fit are Sweet Nothings NYC, Big Cup Little Cup and Fuller Figure Fuller Bust. And of course if you're looking for small busted bloggers then Morning Madonna and The Lingerista are your goldmines. Through these i'm sure you'll be able to find a whole host of bloggers to suit your needs and your interests and failing that, there's a database of all the lingerie bloggers (past and present?) to sink your teeth into.

So, so long and thanks for all the fish.
Of Lambs and Lace would've been nothing if it weren't for you and i'm sorry.

Fréolic Lingerie

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Freolic-3
So back in January, which sure feels like a long time ago, Fréolic debuted their collections and we all died inside over the Grace signature collection. A heavy but delicate corded lace layered over a barely there beige base that's not masquerading as a 'nude' but highlighted by colour matching straps and hardware. We've all seen the lace overlay, it's been everywhere from Primark to La Perla, but this is a set that changes the game. This is a set that brings the necessary lining fabric to the forefront whilst still letting the lace do it's thing. The styles of bra available in this range say 'everyday, practical but beautiful' the three matching designs of knickers say 'you can wear me for any occasion and to any comfort level' and the suspender belt says 'I'm a god damn lavish princess'. Often sets are either showstoppers or "wearable" and this is a weirdly amazing mix of both.

So that's why when I was offered the chance to chose a set to review, my first choice was Grace and I didn't even have to look. Although i'm glad I did look because Fréolic are killing it with a bunch of their other designs too. So as per usual, I sent over a long list of their designs I couldn't resist and my sizes and then went about my daily business (read: having a terrible depressive breakdown, oh joy). So I kind of forgot all about it until lo and behold, on a particularly bad day for my anxiety, a perfectly wrapped white box adorned with a big white satin bow arrived. Best post day ever.


Freolic-2
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Freolic-5
I was insanely lucky to be sent the Grace Plunge Bra in a 30B, the Grace Brief in a size Small and the matching Grace Suspender in a size small, and all in the Duck Egg blue or 'Greige' colour.

First off I should definitely preface this by saying my editing wizardry makes this set look a little more electric blue but it is true to the colour depicted on Fréolic's website. It's a truly beautiful dusty blue matched with an almost peach based beige and bright gold hardware. The lace on this is the thickets, strongest lace i've ever seen and it makes the delicate nature of pieces like the Grace suspender belt a lot less of a concern. I definitely feel like this set will stand up to some heavy wearing. The construction is borderline flawless with seams adding to the overall design or being so small they're almost invisible. A lot of thought and care has gone into designing this set to compliment the body with curved lines (I don't know what it is about the shape of the bottom of the bra but it's making me very happy. Such a pleasing shape). The briefs have a flattering sheer mesh behind which of course I did not get a decent photo of but that's what product shots are for; so I can rely on them when i'm useless!

The Grace bra comes with soft inserts for 'extra' padding in the cups so you can choose whether to use them or not. Personally I find the cups run quite large on this design so without the padding i'd have no chance of filling out the cups whatsoever. I also purposely asked for the plunge style as i'm too wide set and shallow to fill out balconettes and whilst this bra gives me a wondrous lifted, rounded shape when I swoop and scoop, I do still experience quite a lot of gape, mostly around the centre of the bra (maybe a lower gore? I don't know I am about the furthest thing from a bra fit expert). It's a real shame because I adore this bra and I adore the shape it gives my bust but it's going to need some clever alterations to be wearable for me (something i'm going to have to consult with someone with more knowhow than me so i can add a few darts and not reduct the attractive shape I get in this bra). My advice to anyone with a shallow, wide set bust is to possibly size down in the cups if you can.

That being said, the Grace brief and suspender belt are a perfect fit. The suspender belt fastens tight enough to stay on my 24" waist with the lace splaying perfectly over my hips and the briefs sit comfortably but not overly snug on my tricky 32.5" hips. There's no mass spillage because of either of those pieces which is a huge bonus if you're someone as soft around the edges as me! The suspender straps on the belt are also amazingly long and adjustable so if you have a penchant of wearing your suspender belts with over the knee socks like me, you'll be pleased with this too. 

I'm really smitten with this set, it's still as exciting to me as the first time I saw it and i can't wait to start wearing it. Usually i'll botch some darts in bras to make them wearable if they're just too big for my bust but i'm going to treat this bra with care and, hopefully asap, i'll be able to locate someone with the knowhow to alter the Grace bra to fit as perfectly as the rest of the set. And then I can guarantee it'll be in regular rotation for me. A set this beautiful but also flattering and of such high quality is not made to be kept in a pretty box for special occasions. It's made to be loved until it dies an honourable death after years and years of happy, regular wear.

If you're used to paying AP prices but are after something of better quality, and want to support an indie designer, then you genuinely cannot go wrong with Fréolic in my opinion. To have such a stunning and varied debut collection offering great construction and ethical manufacture too, it's pretty impressive. So saving your pennies and treating yourself (to Fréolic of course) is my advice for the day.

*All pieces gifted to me for the purpose of a review. All opinions are my own

The Photography of Of Lambs and Lace

Sunday, 12 June 2016

I love writing reviews but sometimes I want to change things up a teeny bit, write something a little different and show a side other than 'look at what i got, listen to my opinions'. So when ONE person suggested I put together an updated 'how I shoot and edit my photos' post, I was like yeah; I want to do that. So here we are, a post only one person wanted to see and only one person wanted to write. Ridiculous, but i'm feeling it. If you have zero interest in this level of information then don't feel like you're missing out on anything by not reading this.

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I guess the first thing I should tackle is kit. I own a Canon 350D, it is beyond obsolete. They stopped making these in 2005(?) and I got mine second hand in 2012-ish. I used to own a great little 50mm f/1.8 lens but then my tripod fell over and the whole thing split into many pieces so now i'm stuck with my 18-55mm lens. I have a second hand tripod, it's just over 5' tall. I use a generic camera remote that can be bought off ebay for less than £3. Occasionally when he's feeling generous and i'm feeling lazy I get my Beau to play tripod as it gives me more freedom to try new poses and have different angles in my photosets.

I shoot in RAW format to have a bit more quality to play with. Since my camera is so rubbish, and my lighting may not be perfect, RAWs allow me to edit a lot of this out without compromising on the quality of the photo until I compress it into a jpg. They do take up more space on my camera and hard drive though (macbook airs are great at everything but storage) so it's rare I actually keep copies of them.

And i guess here's really where the 'magic' happens. A great photographer doesn't have to rely on editing to make photos look amazing, I am not a photographer let alone a great photographer. Without editing my photos look like pure shite. I used to use a free Chinese online editing software for all my editing and it served me well for a decent chunk of time but eventually I migrated to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5. As far as cosmetic changes go, it only has the clone and heal tools and the rest is just playing with levels. Lightroom 5 (and maybe others, I don't really know) has this great function where you can save the exact changes you've made to a photo as a present so it makes it ridiculously easy to edit an entire photoset the same way and keep that editing style for future use. 

I usually just play about until I don't hate a photo but I figured i'd talk through some examples to show my workflow, if I have any at all:


_MG_0075recerche-15

Aperture f/4.5 Shutter speed 1/500 ISO 1600

Possibly my most loved, stolen and commented on photo of all time, this shot of my Recherche set was actually taken by my Beau on my instruction with my 18-55mm lens on a 34mm zoom.

I stole an IKEA chair from the hallway of my building for this set and just draped a white blanket over one of the arms for no real reason. I also actually thought I was going to have to re-shoot this entire set because i'd accidentally left my ISO too high (my camera can't handle anything above 600 really without adding insane noise) but then I was lazy and just went with it.

Honestly, looking at it now, it clearly didn't need much doing to it. The captured white balance was pretty spot on and there was nothing to clone out so I: increased highlights (+100), decreased shadows (-42), decreased white clipping (-93), increased black clipping (+8), decreased vibrance (-19) and decreased saturation (-18), decreased contrast (-20), decreased exposure to (-0.5), decreased clarity (-17) and saturation (-18).


_MG_0761agashibCO-2

Aperture f/3.2 Shutter speed 1/30 ISO 400

This photoset was also shot with Beau playing tripod with my 50mm lens.

I literally just stood in front of my bedroom wall which just so happens to have a monochrome vibe and it all kind of worked out nicely.

I adjusted my white balance to have the white wall be recognised as the white point first. I then cropped out the pillow at the bottom and the bulldog clips at the top and made minor adjustments to the angle to try and get the photo frames looking straight (photo walls are a nightmare backdrop because unless you're dead centre with your camera placement, they all look wonky!). I then irritatingly applied a present i'd named 'hmm' (I usually name my presets after the lingerie so I know where they originated) and I have no idea specifically what levels that altered but clearly my thought process on this one was to go through all my previous edits and just find one that looked good for this photoset (I do this a lot). I also went in with the mask tool which allows you to play with the levels in specific areas of a photo and made the shadows a little less harsh.


_MG_0931bluebella16-5

Aperture f/2.2 Shutter speed 1/80 ISO 400

These were taken with a tripod and my 50mm lens.

I stood with one foot on my coffee table, the other on my couch to get the right height and a flattering angle/not have lots of crap in the background. My abs were looking ridiculous because I was calorie restricting/eating cleaner on top of my usual workouts and even i'm jealous when looking at these photos (but life without bread and on 1200 calories a day is not worth it)

For this set I just re-set the white balance using the wall in the background, increased the exposure (0.25) and increased the sharpness (also using the mask tool to go over the patches and increase their clarity in some photos to make sure the text stood out). Most of my time was spent with the clone/heal tool. I was going through some pretty big hormonal bollocks right here and as you can see it was fucking with my skin big time so I edited that out. I also weirdly cropped this photo to an entirely different aspect ratio, something i never do, but hey I wanted my chin removed and clearly I didn't hold down the shift key.


_MG_0282Uri-11

Aperture f/4 Shutter speed 1/25 ISO 400

Another photoset my Beau played tripod for (which is hilarious because 90% of my photos are taken by me, I guess I just kept the RAW files for more of his shots) using my 18-55mm lens with no zoom.

I'd just got my new headboard, a large canvas print of one of my friend Bryony Good's photos and I was jazzed to have it as a backdrop (I also have another of her photos to interchange with this one as a headboard for funsies). Her photos remind me of home, and even though this one is most definitely not of home, everything about her work screams Yorkshire to me and it's a comforting feeling. So I wanted to match the hardness of the print on the headboard with the hardness of the lingerie but then diffuse it with soft textiles. I don't know what I was thinking with the fairy lights...

I removed some spots, set the white balance using the small patch of wall and then got to work on my levels: decreased contrast (-31), decreased exposure (-0.2), decreased highlights (-10), increased shadows (+100), decreased white clipping (-70), increased black clipping (+15), decrease saturation (-23), increase vibrance (+8).


_MG_0646KayleighPeddie-1

Aperture f/6.3 Shutter speed 1/15 ISO 400

This was a tripod shot with my 50mm lens at my mother's house (yeah I do often travel with my full kit to take advantage of having new places in which to shoot when i'm feeling particularly uninspired).

I was exhausted and struggling with my anxiety, not to mention i'd just spent my christmas dealing with major floods and helping clean up my little town. But i'd had this set for way too long and not reviewed it, a mouse had nibbled through the cotton gusset (don't ask) and i just wanted it all out of the way since there was a designer waiting patiently for my blog post. So I rolled out of bed, and just shot in the very stark morning light. I took about 5 photos before giving up and thankfully I had some useable ones.

I removed some spots and got rid of the clutter in the bottom right corner with the clone/heal tool. I then just applied the preset i'd made of my Recherche shoot above and voilà, good to go.


freolicrawFreolic-5

Aperture f/5.6 Shutter speed 1/25 ISO 400

This is my most recent shoot, for a blog post that isn't even live yet, and was taken using a tripod and my 18-55mm lens with a 47mm zoom.

I'd literally just got home from work around 6pm-ish, the weather was vile so the light was super dark but this set had just arrived and I was excited so i thought i'd do a test shoot. Couldn't find any nude stockings anywhere so just went with knitted socks... I basically just threw a blanket over my couch, put a faux fur stole over that and then moved my large photo (which is huge and i've never got round to hanging it in this apartment even though i've been here 3 years so lives behind my couch) so it was in the background. Tripod was perched precariously on top of my coffee table, my couch is directly in front of my window (well like 4 metres away) so I wanted to minimise the appearance of shadows from the tripod so above was kind of the best bet. For this shot I increased the zoom to get more of a details shot than full body. 

As far as my edit went for this shoot, it was pretty different to my usual style, washing everything out just wasn't working at all. So I went a bit mad and I: increased exposure (+0.45), increased brightness (+61), increased contrast (+25), decreased the temperature, increased the tint, increased clarity (+41), increased vibrance (+22), increased saturation (+1), played with split toning so my highlights had a yellow hue and my shadows had a purple hue and then messed with my tone curve a bit for good measure. 


So that's pretty much it, I export my photos to jpg, upload them to flickr and add them to blog posts. Usually I aim to have three photos per blog post and one or two that are different for social media but I don't enforce this strictly. Sometimes i'm just happy to have any photos I like at all.

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Sorry if this was a long, rambling post but i've had some fun putting it together and it's been interesting to analyse my own workflows. I can now see why some people say I definitely have a photographic style, I clearly just love certain editing techniques and just endlessly recreate them without realising i'm doing it. Whoops!

 
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