Fare thee well.

“All the world ‘s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.” – As You Like It

I’ve moved! Find me at theblackberrybelle.com.


Back To Film.

Photography has always piqued my interest.  In college, I had a job for a few months at an Eckerd Express Photo, and went back to Eckerd’s again after moving to Metairie.  A few years after being laid off, I landed a job at Lakeside Camera, one of the major professional photo labs in the New Orleans area.  I was a lab tech there from 2002 to 2004.  I really enjoyed working at photo labs – I’ve always been interested in photography, and seriously played with it a lot while I worked at Lakeside.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, Doug’s dad gave him a Pentax Spotmatic – he gave it to him while I was working at Lakeside. I had someone take a peek at it to make sure everything was working, and it was. It’s been packed away in a camera bag since then, because I was too afraid to try going totally manual. Shortly after that, we got our first digital camera, and then it was all megapixels instead of ISO. I had some unused film in the bags, which mostly expired back in 2005 – ten years ago.

A couple of weeks ago, I finally replaced the battery in the Pentax for the light meter, loaded up a roll of Kodak Gold 200 film, and took it out to shoot. However, I discovered after taking the whole roll that the film did not wind around the spool, so I essentially took 24 pictures on one frame. I discovered this when I rewound the film and opened the camera, and realized that there was a slot to insert the film tab in.

Lesson number one – learned.

I loaded the camera up with another roll of Kodak Gold 200 and took it out to shoot.

These were the only images I got off of that roll:


Last weekend, I purchased a Lomography La Sardina. It came in on Wednesday, so I loaded it up with an old roll of Kodak Max 400 and snapped off some pictures while out and about this week. These are the only ones that came out:

Not as bad as the first ones, but still…eep.

I did some research and apparently when a film has been expired less than five years, it shouldn’t have any drastic changes unless it is exposed to water or extreme temperatures. However, after five years, the ISO drops, so you essentially need to overexpose the film a bit. So, what happened with this was that the ISO 200 film dropped to 50 (or something like that), and the ISO 400 film dropped to 100. Hence, the reason why the photos only taken in bright sunlight came out.

Lesson number two – learned.

I’m not letting this bring me down, though! The images from the first roll, even though they are dark and grainy, are NOT bad pictures. The picture of my coworker is actually pretty good – he’s in focus and the background behind him is pleasantly blurry, which teaches me a bit about depth of field and aperture. The images from the La Sardina are not bad, either – they have a nice lo-res quality to them that I like. I particularly like the street view in downtown Hammond.

I’ve bought some fresh color film from a store and loaded it in both cameras.  I’m going to take these around over the next week or two and shoot some things with them.  With the manual camera, I think I’m going to focus on bracketing images (taking multiple shots of the same thing with different camera settings) so I can see what does what.  With the La Sardina, I’m going to just shoot what interests me.  I’m waiting on a flash to come in so I can get some good low-light shots, too.


Here’s all my expired film: Two rolls of Kodak Tmax 100, one roll of Kodak EliteChrome 200, five rolls of Kodak 400UC, one roll of Kodak Gold 200, and three rolls of Fuji Superia 800.  I wish I would have known to put these in the freezer years ago…I probably wouldn’t have the problems I had with these two rolls!

After some major consideration, I am not throwing this film away.  Now that I know I need to overexpose them, I’ll shoot outside and with flash.  I mean, the only thing I need to pay for is the developing.  I did buy some fresh Fuji Superia 400 (which is what is currently loaded in the cameras) and some Lomography Lady Grey 400.

The only other struggle I’ve had was getting the film developed.  I’ve been planning for weeks to take these two rolls to Bennett’s Camera in Metairie, since they still do film developing.  According to their website, their film processing is a 3 hour service.  All I needed was for them to be developed and scanned to CD.  However, when I brought in the film this morning, they told me that it wouldn’t be ready until Thursday night!  I was confused, and asked them why it would take so long – maybe they thought it was another kind of film?  Nope.  I was told that they weren’t planning on turning on the machines today.


I’m with you, Benedict.

So I decided to go check out my old workplace, two blocks down – Lakeside Camera.  I walk in, and ask the nice lady at the counter if they processed film.  She said yes.  I asked how long.  She replies, “Three weeks.”


I’m with you too, Loki.

So I leave the Southshore, annoyed since it looks like I have to mail all my film off to be developed.  However, on the drive across the lake, my mind starts wandering, and I gave my local Walgreens a call.  Sure enough, they still develop C-41 film in the store.  I dropped it off, the lady said to give it about two hours, and I picked up my rolls this afternoon.  She was even nice enough not to charge me for the roll from the Pentax, since it only had two images on it.



So if I keep using color rolls, I at least have a place close to me to get my film developed.  Eventually, I might buy a film scanner for my negatives, but for now, CDs are fine.  I’ll have to mail out true B&W film, but I’m okay with that.

All in all, some good lessons learned, and it’s pushing me to be better at this hobby!

A Facebook break, and some long-awaited lessons.

For the majority of the past week, I did my best to avoid Facebook. I did find myself opening the site a couple of times over the course of the week – a few times for work and even opening the app on my phone out of habit. Hiding the icon helped prevent that, though. Most of my posts to Instagram automatically went to Facebook, but other than that, I didn’t post or “like” anything.

Honestly? It was wonderful. I feel less stressed, less annoyed, and I was very glad I missed most of the Katrina anniversary sadness and nostalgia. I also felt more productive at work.

The lesson I am taking from this is that I don’t NEED to be constantly connected to everyone, online, all day. It’s good to get together with someone and actually catch up. As wonderful as it is that we have this great big connected world now, I need to pull back from that and do my best to physically connect with people.

Lately, I’ve been really struggling with depression and really bad moods. I came to the realization that I am ignoring my personal needs lately, which may be the main cause of my issues. With this Facebook hiatus, I tried my best to take care of that. I spent the majority of one night at home this week watching Eddie Izzard, laughing, and giving myself a manicure and pedicure. That small amount of time for me made me feel a lot better. I’ve always struggled with self-care while advocating it for others, mostly because I never wanted to come off as selfish.

I learned that:
Self-care can be as simple as you want. Just a night watching what I wanted and putting cuticle oil on my nails was exactly what I needed. I’ve been focusing on my creative side a little more lately, by doing some writing and rekindling my love for film photography. I’m finally teaching myself how to use a manual SLR. Doug’s dad gave him his old Pentax Spotmatic years ago and I’m using it. I’ve also fallen in love with the Lomography movement and am planning on bringing a film camera with me for my trip to see my friend Laurie in October.
Needing time for myself is not selfish. I have purposefully scheduled nothing for Labor Day weekend. Those three days are going to be spent doing things I want to do, and I’m keeping it unscheduled. I might stay at home and marathon anime while laying in bed with Gizmo, I might head across the lake to get some film and play with photography some more, I might spend the day cleaning and organizing the house. I might do all of these things in all three days. I don’t know, and I’m perfectly happy with that.
It’s perfectly okay to say no. I have a habit of trying to be involved in many things. Once I am involved, I don’t want to let anybody down, so I throw myself into it, which often results in stress and burnout. I need to remember to step back from things once in a while and evaluate what I have on my plate, and avoid or turn down things that I don’t have the time or desire to do. This is one of the hardest lessons to learn, because I am constantly worried about people being disappointed in me. This leads to the last lesson:
Your true friends will accept and understand you, no matter what. As big as I talk, and as much as I bluster about “not caring what people think”, I do. It’s a hard thing to realize, but I do care – too much and to my detriment. I want to please everyone, and when this doesn’t happen I struggle with “why” and “how can I fix this”. NOTHING hurts me more than when people say “I am disappointed in you”. It sends me into a deep depression and a downward spiral. I really, really need to work on being who I am and doing what I love (within reason, of course). My friends who know and truly love me will support, accept, and understand. My friends that don’t – well – I need to consider it a lesson learned, and say “don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya”.

It’s odd, how less than a week off of Facebook can make you become so introspective. Heh. I’ll still be on Facebook, but not nearly as often (might check every couple of days, might check every week – I don’t know). I’m preferring Instagram and Twitter these days, and I might – if I feel up to it – start writing in my blog as a journal more. After all, that’s why I started blogging in the first place.

I’m 38 years old, and I still have a lot to work on.

Review – Elomi “Etta”

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Since leaving my job as a bra fitter, I’ve tried my best to stay in touch with new styles in the brands I love. Elomi has consistently been releasing new styles that run the gamut of basic to fun fashion prints, and one that I’ve been eyeing for a while was the Etta. When Abigail from Getbras.com offered to send me one to review, I eagerly accepted! Getbras.com was kind enough to send me the beige Etta and matching bottoms.

Yes, that’s right, I got the Etta in “nude”. If you know me, this is a BIG DEAL. Since I wear a lot of patterns and colors, I tend to gravitate towards fun, bright, or rich colors in my bras. Honestly, the only beige bra I have in my drawer is my Elomi strapless. However, I’ve been wearing a few light-colored tees and such and wanted something that would work with those.

The Company:
Getbras.com ScreenshotGetbras.com is the sister website of The Enchantress, a bra fitting salon located in San Diego, California. The company carries sizes from from a D to an N, and band sizes from a 28-54. That’s a great size range! When I poked around the website, I found that they had a good filter to narrow down what sizes, brands, and colors you prefer. They seem to carry a good bit of Eveden – mostly Freya, Fantasie, and Elomi – but they also carry Panache, Parfait by Affinitas, Curvy Kate, and other brands. They carry lingerie, swimwear, shapewear, and some sleep / loungewear as well. Most of the items I found online seemed to be continuity styles, but it seems that they’ve added more fashion styles to the website since I looked there last, so they are definitely updating their stock on a regular basis.

The Details:
ETTA-NUDE-UNDERWIRED-BANDLESS-PETITE-BRA-8840-SHORT-8846-FThe Elomi Etta was specially designed for the petite frame. This is really great because a lot of plus-size companies tend to be under the impression that larger women are also taller women – which is totally not true (ahem, Lane Bryant). The things that Elomi took into account are: no banding on the bottom of the cup, and lower underwires on the sides.

The Etta also comes with a really great feature – a hook on the back straps to convert the bra to racerback! Elomi introduced this feature a couple of years ago with the Rita, and it’s gone over very well. Just remember – you HAVE to loosen up the straps so it won’t dig into your shoulders! You can also move the clip up and down on the straps, so you can adjust where it hooks depending on how your top is designed or your comfort level – and if you push the hook up higher, it allows you to hook it yourself.

The cups are made out of a lovely matte simplex fabric, and the top of the cup is tulle with delicate floral embroidery. There is a keyhole in the center of the bra, which is a cute and fun little detail.

Etta comes with a matching panty in a cute cheeky short.

My Review:
A couple of weeks before I got this bra, I’d gone to Bra Genie and bought the Nina in a 36 GG, which fits perfectly. So when I ordered the Etta, I stuck with that same size since they were similar in design. This is the perfect example of WHY trying bras on is so important! The styles are similar but the fits are totally different. The cups were perfect, but the band was SO tight. I wore it a few times and ended up having to remove it after an hour because it was so painful! I put a bra extender on it and it feels great now. I think this is more due to the fact that I am more like a 37, so 36s can be a little too tight and 38s tend to be too big.

As someone who is right on the cusp of the “petite” height (5’4”), I can tell you that there really needs to be more plus sized petite bra options out there. The lower wires on the sides are really great! I can’t tell you how many bras I love that I can’t wear because the wires are so high and dig into my armpits (I’m looking at you, Panache and Parfait).

ETTA-BLACK-UNDERWIRED-BANDLESS-PETITE-BRA-8840-SHORT-8846-B-2The fabric is light, soft, and comfortable – great for the sweltering Louisiana heat. The racerback feature is great for cute summer tops. I can easily wear the racerback, but if it’s too close to my neck it kind of digs in after a long time (6+ hours). It’s much more comfortable when I have someone pull it down and hook it near the center of the straps. The color of the fabric is the standard “nude”, which is just beige. I hate calling beige bras “nude” because what’s nude for my white fair skin tone is not nude for someone who has darker skin. Dear Lingerie Companies: please start making “nude” bras in different skin tones for EVERYONE! #DiversityInLingerie

When you look at the center of the Etta in pictures, it gives the impression that it’s a little bit of a plunge, but it isn’t – it’s more full-coverage. So I have to be aware of that when I wear it with low-cut tops.

I got the matching panties in the same size as the shorts in the Nina – and they are too small! ~cries~ They are definitely lower on the hip, so if you love low-slung or “hipster” bottoms, you’ll like these. The back of the panty is all sheer, which combined with the cheeky short, is a little sexy. However, the fabric does not a lot of stretch to them, so if you prefer your undies a little less snug, size up! I really should have gotten them a size bigger. I’ll probably order a new size soon, since I prefer matching sets.

Etta is a continuity style, which means Elomi is carrying the beige and black on a regular basis, and will be introducing fashion colors in upcoming seasons. This is a really great basic style, and I look forward to getting more wear out of it! I also plan to keep an eye out on the Getbras website to see what new styles they offer as the seasons go on!


VEDA Day 10!

This week’s #SSSVEDA videos are all about BRAS. I’m a former bra fitter and I’m really passionate about bra fit and bras in general.

Do you have a question for me about bras? How they’re supposed to fit, how they’re supposed to feel, where does the support come from, and so on? ASK ME! I’m taking bra questions and answering them in future videos!

You can comment on this video, or email me your questions at theblackberrybelle@icloud.com. Looking forward to hearing from you!