Is THIS Bliss?!

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Zombie Makeup Tips

Like a virus without a cure, the obsession with zombies grows more and more each year. With tv shows, obstacle courses, walks and pub crawls, zombies aren’t just regulated to Halloween itself anymore. Our city’s Fourth Annual Zombie Walk was this weekend, which is a free event and a fundraiser for Toys for Tots.

Zombie Science Set

My donation? A Zombie Science Set.

And what I love best about it is that virtually everyone’s costumes are handmade and creative.

That’s what’s so great about being a zombie… anyone can do it. You’re just an undead human, so any clothes will do. Rip them up and roll around in the dirt, splatter them with paint or fake blood.

Depending on how long it’s been since you’ve turned, your makeup can be as basic as some blood. If you’ve been dead longer, you’ll want to go grey or green and add some black to your eye sockets, temples and under your cheekbones. Everyday ordinary black and grey eyeshadow can go a long way. Add a little black eyeliner on your lips.

Jay & Silent Bob Zombies

Our Jay & Silent Bob Zombies just used some black and green costume makeup, and a little blood.

If you want more wounds and decay, liquid latex is soooo much fun. It’s easy to use, and doesn’t really require any skill. Just paint it on your face, let it dry, and peel it back to have wounds. Apply red inside, and color the outside with whatever makeup you’re using on your face. For thicker flaps of skin, paint the latex on your face, then stick some toilet paper over it, then another layer of latex, and let dry. Repeat until you get the desired thickness, then rip it.

Zombie love.

Awwwww…. Zombie love at last year’s zombie walk, with liquid latex wounds.

For this year’s walk, I wanted to have my throat ripped out.

Swimming pool hose.

I started with a section of hose from a swimming pool pump, cut in half. At first, I thought I’d paint and attach the hose itself to my throat, but (and these are the kind of thoughts that run through my brain when I can’t sleep), I realized I could use it as a mold for my latex, and have a lightweight flexible larynx instead.

Hose with latex on top.

I applied a layer of latex over the hose with a paint brush, then stuck some TP over it, and brushed/dabbed more latex over that. Then I waited for it to dry, then added a few more layers. You’ll want to brush over the wet tissue gently, because it will tear. For rotted flesh, that just adds to the texture, but I wanted the throat a little smoother.

Once painted.

Once it’s fully dried, gently peel the latex off the hose, and paint it with red and white acrylic paints. Next, I applied latex and tissues to my face and neck as described above for flesh wounds, leaving an empty space in the middle of my throat for the larynx. Once my wounds were dry, I “glued” the prosthetic piece in place with more latex. I could have used spirit gum, but I already had the latex poured onto a paper plate, so… waste not, want not.

All assembled

For the makeup, I used a blend of flesh tone, green and black. I started to use red makeup inside my wounds, but it wasn’t red enough. I then switched to red acrylic craft paint. It worked great, was the perfect color, and actually washed off better than the red makeup…. I didn’t end up with blotchy red stains on my skin like I did last year. And it dripped and oozed beautifully. As it dried, it flaked a little, just like dried blood really would.

At the Zombie Walk.

Sadly, I budgeted my time poorly, and was running late to turn Fritz into a zombie as well, so he was a survivor. Since I was wearing my Resident Evil Alice dress (with longer shorts, tights and a leather jacket, since it was cold and windy), we bloodied up his Umbrella Corp shirt from last year so he could be a survivor. I put on rubber gloves and smeared handfuls of red paint on his shirt, leaving handprints as if he’d been mauled, and carried my toy assault rifle.

We had a great time, and got a couple of great photos…

Zombie

Zombie

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Here on this mountaintop, I got some wild, wild life!

Sometimes, walking instead of running is a very good idea. Like yesterday. When running could have seriously endangered my life.

Since I tweaked my ankle last week, and since it’s beastly frickin’ hot, I’ve been taking it a bit easy. I’m still doing “Zombies, Run!” but I’m walking most of it and only running during the zombie chases. Which, incidentally, seems to be the only way I can outrun the former Olympians that are my zombies. Sometimes even reaching speeds of over 10 mph, the walking dead can outrun me. That’s depressing.

So, anyway… yesterday. It was already hot, and getting hotter, so I thought, “Good time to go on the trails.” Shade. Sweet, merciful shade. I did notice that one of the rain puddles had been recently disturbed. Water was splashed out of it. Since I have seen deer and other wildlife, and there’s a BMX course on the trails, and sometimes people ride quads in the area, I didn’t think much of it. Until I saw something moving ahead of me.

First thought, people. No… not people. A dog? No. Dogs don’t get that big. Holy shit! It’s a ginormous mama black bear and three cubs. Even the cubs were about the size of Alaskan Malamutes. Mama looked like someone covered a Volkswagen with fur. I froze in place, eyes bugging out of my skull.

I gotta admit, my first thought wasn’t, “I’m gonna die!” It was, “Of all the times I don’t have my good camera!” Just my phone, which doesn’t have a good zoom. Mama and her kids were about 100 feet ahead of me and lumbering slowly away. Crazy as I am, I was NOT going to get closer to get a good photo.

It wasn’t until I backed slowly away, then walked a little faster away, then started running (zombie chase!) that I actually got scared. What if I’d been running when I came upon the bears? Not that I run so fast, but I might not have noticed them on the trail, since I would be watching where I placed my feet. I can “make myself big” and intimidate a stray dog, but I don’t think Mama would have thought anything more than, “Puny human,” while slapping me around like Hulk with Loki.

I’ve read, and I’m currently re-reading, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, where the idea that anything can happen to you in the wild, and no one would ever know, is a common theme. We feel so safe in our modern world. It’s humbling to realize that’s something that can still happen. That you could be happily running from pretend zombies, and suddenly have your life in real danger.

The funny thing is, I spent almost every weekend of my childhood at my parents’ cabin in the Poconos. I practically grew up in the woods. And the closest I’d ever been to a bear is seeing prints in mud and piles of poop. Yesterday, I was in a very small wooded area, a mile from my home, where I never saw any tracks but deer and raccoon, and I see four bears.

This is more my speed.

This is more my speed.

So, yeah. Maybe no more solo trail runs. Seeing deer and fawns, geese and goslings, ducks and ducklings, wild turkeys, blue herons, squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits is cool.

I almost stepped on this guy a few months ago. He was about 5' long!

I almost stepped on this guy a few months ago. He was about 5′ long!

Seeing snakes, slightly less cool. Bears? Terrifying. And very cool. But still terrifying.

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The Importance of Lighting, Angles and Posture

You’ve heard me harp about the importance of progress photos. It’s rare to see little changes in your body because you see yourself every. single. day.  It’s like watching grass grow. Plus, I’m convinced that what we see in the mirror is at least 50% what we expect to see… it’s a mixture of our self-image and our reflection. Somehow, it’s easier to be objective when we’re looking at a photo. Who among us has not been shocked at a tagged photo on Facebook? “Do I really look like THAT?!” goes both ways. I hadn’t realized I gained as much weight as I did until I started seeing that I had about 48 chins in photos.

But not all photos are created equal. Sometimes a bad photo is just a bad photo. Lighting, camera angles, how you’re posed, your posture, your facial expression, what you’re wearing, and yes, what you just ate, can all contribute to the final result. I see it on My Fitness Pal all the time. People take progress photos and you can just tell they’re slouching, and the lighting sucks, and the photo is all grainy, and the angle is bad, and the pose is unflattering, and they’re just doing everything they possibly can to make themselves look frumpy.

Dressing rooms are The Worst. Harsh overhead lighting that washes all pigment from your skin, and cramped into a tiny stall where you can’t even get far enough away from the mirror to decide if you like it or not. Throw a bikini into that mix, and you’re on a one-way trip to Depressionville. Want proof?

This is me Saturday, trying on swimwear in a poorly lit dressing room, and at home the very next day. I did not lose 15 pounds overnight.  The only Photoshopping was to crop the image and make it a tad brighter. I might be standing a little taller, but I’m not “sucking it in” any more in the home photo than I was in the dressing room. A solid 90% of the difference is the lighting. The other 10% is that at home, I felt better about myself (not seeing myself in the bad lighting), and that the picture was taken just after breakfast… not after breakfast, a morning snack, lunch, and a big honking slice of lemon meringue pie.

I still fully agree with Fabian from Pulp Fiction that “any time of day is a good time for pie,” but “after eating pie” is a bad time for swimsuit shopping.

So, how do I know which photo I “really” look like? Honestly, I don’t. But I do believe in the power of self-confidence. If I feel like I look good, I’m going to stand straighter, hold my head higher, smile more, etc. And if I feel like day old dog shit, well… I’m not exactly going to exude confidence.

Be kind to yourself. Give yourself every opportunity to feel good about yourself. Don’t let a crappy photo – or shopping trip – rain on your parade.

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