28 November 2014

Styling, Food + Photography at The School

A few Sundays ago I had the pleasure and the privilege of attending a food photography workshop as a guest of Olympus. It was two hours of fun at The School, led by the gorgeously enthusiastic Megan Morton and featuring some serious styling and photographing talent from the drool inducing Delicious magazine. 

This was a workshop in the true sense of the word. No sitting watching endless power points and taking endless notes - after a quick intro outlining some basics it was straight into an hour of styling and then an hour of shooting. I fumbled about looking slightly confused in the first hour. Even given the amazing surrounds and the treasures of The School's prop cupboard I struggled to style anything. Let's just say I have a new found respect for stylists and all of you vignetters out there in Instagram-land. 

I felt a bit more at home in the second half, the photo taking bit. It was heaps of fun playing with backgrounds and lighting; and picking the brains of people who do this each and every day. That's actually my favourite part of these kinds of things - the opportunity to talk to a professional, and to watch how they work. 

I learnt some stuff too. I realised I often get stuck in a rut; I reach too easily for the lighting and colours and angles that are known and comfortable. I need to break out of that. So I'm going to work on taking more vertically oriented (portrait) photos and trying different angles (not everything has to be shot from overhead!).

Here are some of my favourite photos from the day, taken with an OM-D E-M10 which Olympus lent to us all for the two hours...

20 November 2014

Jorpins Vintage on Etsy

Now that the renovation is finished (or as finished as these things ever are), and we're pretty well settled back in Australia, I've been turning my mind and my time to some new projects. One of which is Jorpins Vintage - my new store on Etsy where I sell retro goodness. 

Channelling my love of all things mid-century I'm focussing on the 1950s through to the 1970s. Each piece is selected for its good looks and excellent condition. I won't list anything with chips or cracks. I have a rigorous quality control team on board (ie. me).

Currently I'm selling kitchen and dining ware, plus a vase or two, but I will also be listing some amazing vintage frocks in the coming months. The number of items in stock right now is slowly growing, so make sure you add Jorpins Vintage to your favourites!

18 November 2014

Typography Tuesday : David Walsh on Death

And right here we have Exhibit A on why I'll never win Pinterest, why I'll never make a motivational poster, why I sometimes struggle with Typography Tuesday. Because sometimes the things I find deeply moving, deeply life affirming, kind of might seem like they stem from a slightly dark place. But to me they don't. To me they capture the complexity of life, the confusion and chaos and unfairness, and still say F**K YEAH life is GREAT!

This is a quote from David Walsh - the guy who made a stack of money from gambling and decided to spend it on something amazing. It's thanks to him that we have the beautiful, joyous thing that is MONA. This quote is from the tail end of an interview with Phillip Adams that aired on Radio National last week. 

David was musing on death, and the privilege of being alive. He talked about the ridiculous odds, the "incredibly fortuitous process", that played out to get to the end point of him being alive, now. He went on to say "And that's the great privilege of facing death, it's the privilege of having had the opportunity to contemplate it in the first place. I'll take that any day. I'll take it for as many days as I can take it." 

If you like listening to intriguing, honest, funny people discussing love, death and gambling then you should really listen to the whole thing here.

That lovely clean font is Futura, and the chunky hand drawn one is Monstro.

12 November 2014

14 Things in The Year of the Horse : An Update

Does doing something two years in a row make for a tradition? Yes? In that case - I have a new year tradition of writing a list of things I want to get done in the next twelve months or so, and posting them on the blog. The idea is to start the year off on an optimistic note and focus my mind on the things I really want to achieve.

During the year I like to revisit this list and grade my efforts. Mainly for comedic value. Things generally don't quite pan out the way I think they will, so I often review the list thinking 'how naive! how sweet! how innocent!'. 2014 has been no exception. 

I prepared a little infographic to explain...*

So yeah, my year hasn't quite gone as planned so far. I really underestimated the all consuming nature of the tail end of the renovation. (On the flip side I also really underestimated the awesomeness of completely unexpected things like Voices of 2014 coming my way too.)

I know it's a little late for an update (where has this year gone?!) but my list for 2014 was based on the lunar New Year because I'm a bit slow off the mark with these things. Technically I've still got three whole months before my deadline is up, so a November update it is.

The grades are going to be low this year, very very low. But, plough on we must...(also, channel Yoda we must)...

1. Read more. Specifically, read at least twelve books in twelve months. C+. I'm reading more, but I'm also reading very, very slowly. BUT - focus on the positives - I am making a concerted effort to read at least a few pages every, single day. And my brain is thanking me for it.

I've read six books since January, my favourite by far being Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas. And there were two quick, gulp it down reads I quite liked too -  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healy.

Currently I'm ploughing through A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. I'm also building a kind of scaffold structure around my 'to read' pile to stop it from falling over. It's pretty out of control.

2. Blog more. Specifically, blog at least six times per month. F. *falls about laughing* *wipes tears of hilarity from eyes* *gasps for breath between guffaws* Up to the end of October I've averaged 3.1 posts per month for 2014. Yep, definitely a fail. For so many good, valid reasons that I won't bore you with right now. But, that's all about to change! (It has been changing a little already - have you noticed?) I'm aiming for a strong finish on this one, yes I am.

3. Make Typography Tuesday a monthly thing. F. See above.

4. Do something with my 500px account. D-. In an effort to not get another F I just uploaded some shots. Yesterday. See - this goal writing thing totally works.

5. Assist on at least two photography shoots. F. I got half way there. I put some wheels in motion, but then the wheels fell off. But that's okay because a) life happens, and b) directions change.

6. Enter more photography competitions. F. I haven't entered any.

(Okay, this is starting to get a little embarrassing. Whose idea was this update thing anyway? Oh, mine? Right. Carry on then.)

7. Make a little book or zine. And sell it. F. No comment.

8. Develop some Instagram projects. B. Finally! A result! My addiction to love for Instagram has grown even more over the past few months. I find it immensely inspiring and strangely rewarding. I'm beyond happy that over 1,000 people are following me (and only a small percentage of them are Russian ladies in skimpy outfits urging me to chat with them).

My favourite project has involved the dogs, of course. I've currently got 42 photos tagged #morningwalkswithferdiandelfi. It's not just an overly long hashtag, it's also something that asks me to slow down; to appreciate and capture those early morning strolls.

9. Send more snail mail. D-. The only reason it's not another F is that we sent a heap of postcards when we were on our great European adventure. Outside of that I haven't really been doing my bit to keep the postie employed.

However, now I finally have my home office vaguely resembling something that looks like a home office I'm aiming for a strong finish on this one too. Stay tuned. (ps. Want me to send you a note in the mail? Let me know! I promise I will!)

10. Send cards to family and friends for every, single birthday. C+. I've only missed one or two. Maybe three. Or four. Let's be honest, I'm probably being a bit generous with the grades here.

11. Corral my clutter. B+. (I think the husband would probably grade me a D-, but he doesn't have a blog so B+ it is). I've reduced my shoe collection by two whole thirds, I've donated bags and bags of clothes, I've culled my ceramics and thrown out pretty much all of my magazines. We've sorted through all our DVDs and CDs and only kept the absolute best of the best. And when I buy something new I have to get rid of something old. I'm by no means a minimalist but my clutter doesn't rule me anymore, and corralling it feels like a habit now.

12. See more movies at the cinema. Specifically, see at least eight movies on the big screen. D-. We've seen quite a few flicks with the step-sons - the Lego Movie, Monty Python's recent live show, the new X-Men one. But that's about it. I keep saying I'm going to sneak off to the cinema when the husband and step-sons are away, but I always end up finding something else to do instead.

13. Proofread more. B+. I'm sure I still make mistakes, when I post and tweet, but I feel like I make less mistakes. I'm definitely more aware of proofing before I post. I think it's become a habit too.

14. Eat better. And yes, there will be blog posts! B (for eating better), F (for blogging about it). This year I've dabbled in grain free and low grain. And although in the end I've decided that grains are my friends, the experiment did help me break out of my pasta rut. I've now got a whole repertoire of quick, easy, low grain, high protein, high veg meals to turn to when I can't be bothered cooking. And I'm feeling better for it too. 

*You may recall that improving my Photoshop skills was on 2013's list? Well, I made this inforgraphic on Photoshop! Pie charts and all! And I've enrolled in a two day basic skills course for December. So I'm giving myself an A for that assignment, even though I've handed it in a just little late.

How has your year been tracking? Are you getting higher grades than me (I bet you are!)? Can you believe it's already November? Are you as freaked out by the speedy passing of time as I am? 

08 November 2014

The Search For The Perfect Spring Frock

Whilst I love a good dress all year round, I become especially obsessed with frocks when there's a sweet scent in the air and the chill of night dissipates. Come Spring I dream not of t-shirt dresses or shifts or shirt dresses, but of proper full skirted, fit and flare frocks. Preferably with pretty patterns and cute detailing.

Here's a few I'm liking right now:

It's so hard to pick a favourite! I am completely and utterly smitten with the ASOS midi dress, but being on the short side I couldn't pull it off. Sob. Boden is a new discovery for me and I'm liking all of their dresses. This colourful confetti print in particular caught my eye. The print on the Maiocchi dress is just wonderful; plus I bought a dress from them last year and it is the most flattering cut of any dress I've ever owned, so this one is very high on my 'must try' list. The ModCloth frock is simple and elegant and classic. Lovely. And I have a longstanding love affair with all things Made590. I actually have the Joanie dress in a different (super limited edition) fabric and I love it. I'm finding the gorgeous green and pink hues of this version hard to resist. 

Which would you pick? 


ps. I have a confession to make, because I know exactly what's going to happen next. I know that I will go out and buy several gorgeous Spring frocks. I will be unable to resist their ladylike prettiness. And then I will spend the entire season wearing one of my fourteen denim shirt dresses from Muji. 

ps. Also - side note to all dress designers - can you please, please stop cutting bits out of perfectly gorgeous frocks (like this one)? Not all of us want to share our back / mid riff / love handles with the world...

01 November 2014

Five Favourite Snaps From The Trip That Was : People

When we travel, sometimes we pretend we do it for history or art or culture, or simply relaxation. But really - if we're honest - we travel for food. And my goodness we had some good food on our European adventure. The greatest bolognaise of my life in Bologna; the best fluffy yet chewy pizza in the dodgiest of Italian port cities; the herby pot of sausages and lentils in Nice; the baguettes in every tiny French town we drove through; the roquefort in - yep - Roquefort; the olives and cured pig in Cadiz; the gelato everywhere... 

But, strangely, I rarely take photos of my food when I'm travelling (or when I'm not travelling, for that matter). This is for three main reasons: 
1) Everything looks so damn tasty and I'm pretty much permanently hungry so half the dish is normally inhaled before I even think about taking a snap.
2) I'm normally travelling with my anti-social media, anti-camera, pro-living in the moment husband who would mock me mercilessly if I pulled out my camera at the start of every meal. 
3) I'd mock myself mercilessly too if I pulled out my camera at the start of every meal. Basically - I'm too self-conscious and too afraid of being a cliche. Sad and somewhat shallow but true.

All of which is a long winded way of explaining why this is five favourite snaps of people, not food. And I'm quite happy that it is about people. Holiday snaps without people - without action and movement and life - can get a bit soulless after awhile, I think.

Lecce, Italy. This one fits with my 'the prettiest places don't always make for the best travel photos' theory. We spent three nights in Lecce, in a grand old hotel, and it was nice. It was a typical Italian city with a lovely centro storico, lots of alleyways and piazzas. And it had it's fair share of grime and graffiti too. Pretty and gritty in equal measure. But, packed with families and holiday makers, it was full of life. (And gelato - oh man! The gelato in Lecce was both plentiful and delicious!). 

I love this shot. I love how the strong afternoon sun brings out the colours and frames the family, the tweety bird balloon providing a focal point. I love the contrast between the extended family out for a stroll and the graffiti covered wall. I love the guy on the bike, so Italian in his polo shirt and sunglasses, about to disappear into the shadow. 

Lecce, Italy. There's the graffiti and the bin and the dirt of the street. But there's also family good times, gelato in the shade, relaxed holiday vibes. And now I want gelato. Damn.

Lisbon, Portugal. There is a lot of snobbery about cruising. Unwarranted, I think. One day I'll write a post about all the reasons we love to cruise, and I swear it'll make you go out and book one right away. But for now I'll just tell you that leaving port on a giant boat is a wonderful thing. The views you get as you slowly pull away- such a different perspective on a city. 

I love all the traditions around leaving port too. It's normally perfectly timed for aperitivo hour, so everyone gathers on deck, drink in one hand, camera in the other. They play Con te PartirĂ³ over the loud speakers, followed by Somewhere Over the Rainbow (the ukele version, of course). It may just be because I'm getting old and sentimental but it always, always brings a little tear to my eye. Which is a bit ridiculous, but also kind of great.

Leaving Lisbon was fantastic, you really got a sense of how impressive the city was, how it stretched down the harbour. You could picture all those explorers sailing out to discover the world, way back when. 

Civitavecchia, Italy. Now this was cool! When we were leaving Civitavecchia there was a maritime pilot who stayed on board the cruise ship, guiding the boat safely out of port. All good, right? But how does he then get off the cruise ship? Apparently, he does it James Bond style! 

Directly beneath our cabin I watched as the pilot inched down a dangling rope ladder, dwarfed by the enormous cruise ship. He clung there, waiting for the right moment, and then leapt on to the speed boat below. Impressive! This shot captures him in mid jump. 

It's one of those times when you think - how lucky that this just happened to take place right here, and how lucky that I just happened to be faffing about on our cabin balcony at the time.

Conques, France. I could tell you all the things that could be better in this shot. I could lament the fact that I rushed it, out of fear and that feeling of intruding (we were in a church!). I could mourn the image that could have been, that should have been.

But I won't. 

Instead I'll just enjoy the gorgeous tones of the old cathedral, the light streaming in from above. The beautiful french woman, the joyous flowers, the pink and the purple and that perfect red jug. Oh! And those glorious gold moccasins! It may not be the perfect image and yet - there is still so much to be happy about here.


Over to you - do you think the prettiest places make for the best pictures? Or do you prefer a bit of grit? Do you go for pristine, people-less shots when you travel? Have you got an 'almost but not quite perfect' image that you just wish you'd got right? Do you take photos of your food? Do you like to cruise? Do you want some gelato?