On Bringing The Kitchen Sink | Orms

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In the middle of a busy week, a box much smaller than what I expected, arrived at my front door. An elegant piece of machinery with all the trimmings, wrapped carefully in bubble wrap and neatly packed into an efficiently sized carry case, glared back up at me when I opened the box. Tentatively, as if not to bruise it, I assembled the nifty new Nikon Z7 with 24-70mm lens, into a lean, mean, content creating machine. It arrived at a time when I was deep in the rabbit hole of research, trying to decide what mirror less option I should venture into. Unlike cars, it’s harder to test drive a camera before buying it, so a huge thank you goes out to Orms for giving me that opportunity.

In my hand it felt almost like a toy. So compact and precise. I had previously been using the Nikon D850, which I borrowed from my partner to shoot digital content. Comparatively, that model is a lot larger, and heavier and physically more demanding, but I had grown accustomed to it. My first camera ever was a Nikon D80, so I’ve been an avid fan for years, but to be completely honest, this model had me stumped.


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 With only a short time to acquaint myself with the features, the learning curve was a little demotivating. I had to Google the features and specs several times before working up the courage to actually shoot. According to photographylife.com, a website I check when I need a little extra help, here is the full range of specs on the Nikon Z7 mirror less.

·       Sensor: 45.7 MP FX BSI Sensor, 4.35µ pixel size

·       Sensor Size: 35.9 x 23.9mm

·       Resolution: 8256 x 5504

·       Native ISO Sensitivity: 64-25,600

·       Boost ISO Sensitivity: 32, 51,200-102,400

·       In-Body Image Stabilization: 5-Axis

·       RAW Formats: 45.7 MP (RAW), 25.6 MP (mRAW), 11.4 MP (sRAW)

·       Processor: EXPEED 6

·       Dust Reduction: Yes

·       Weather Sealing/Protection: Yes

·       Body Build: Full Magnesium Alloy

·       Shutter: 1/8000 – 30 seconds

·       Shutter Durability: 200,000 cycles, self-diagnostic shutter

·       Storage: 1x XQD slot

·       Viewfinder: 3.69 Million Dot OLED Electronic Viewfinder

·       Viewfinder Coverage: 100%

·       Viewfinder Magnification: 0.8x

·       Speed: 9 FPS (only 12-bit RAW, no AE), 8 FPS (14-bit RAW, no AE), 5.5 FPS (14-bit RAW and AE)

·       Built-in Flash: No

·       Autofocus System: Hybrid PDAF, 493 Focus Points

·       AF Sensitivity Range: -1 to +19 EV (-4 to +19 EV with low-light AF)

·       LCD Screen: Touch-enabled 3.2″ Tilting LCD with 2.1 Million Dots

·       Slow Motion HD Video: Yes

·       Movie Modes: 4K UHD @ 30 fps max

·       Movie Output: MOV, MP4

·       Movie Video Compression: H.264/MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding

·       HDMI Output: 10-bit 4:2:2 N-Log

·       Silent Photography Mode: Yes

·       Intervalometer: Yes

·       Focus Stacking: Yes

·       In-Camera HDR Capability: Yes

·       GPS: No

·       WiFi: Built-in

·       Bluetooth: Built-in

·       Battery Type: EN-EN15b

·       Battery Life: 330 shots (CIPA)

·       USB Standard: Type-C 3.1

·       Weather Sealing: Yes

·       Weight: 585g (Body Only)

·       134 x 100.5 x 67.5mm (5.3 x 4.0 x 2.7″)


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Feeling wholly out of my depth, not understanding half of what the above meant, and with one more day to play, I enlisted my best friend visiting from New York, to sit for me for an hour or two. I made doubly sure to announce that I had no idea what I was doing when it came to this camera, and not to expect too much from me, but the least I could promise were some cute new pictures for her Instagram.

I had my professional photographer partner stay close while we shot, just in case the camera fought back a little, but not close enough to make me feel sillier than I already it. Although most of the settings are the same, the user interface is a little different. I lost the first half of the day fiddling with the settings while gawking in awe at the piece of equipment in front of me. It feels like it does everything, has everything, and knows everything. The camera feels like it’s smarter than me and I struggled to shake that feeling of intimidation for the rest of the day.

I’m a 4x4 driver and this camera feels like a sporty little Porsche.


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 The first hurdle was storage. The Z7 uses XQD cards instead of the SD that most of us are familiar with. For this I lost a day; it wouldn’t make sense for me to purchase one, as the camera I would be using primarily at the end of this experiment (a decision I became sure of while editing these images), is incompatible. I realized however that the D850 has an XQD slot, so Anthony volunteered to get one so it wouldn’t go to waste afterwards, and the day was saved.

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The second hurdle was the UX, though much of the settings are the same, I couldn’t figure out on how to turn on the live view light meter, and that made me anxious. Customs buttons are a huge source of anxiety for me because they present you with too many options. I like when things have a set place that is predetermined, but I figured later that if I understood the camera better, these would come in handy. As the day went on, it became an exercise in accepting your own limitations. For the same reason we don’t let the unlicensed drive cars, so should we forewarn the inexperienced about the Z7. I felt awful. Anthony had to talk me off a ledge of ‘I can’t take pictures’ and remind me that although I have been using Nikon for a while, I am not a native Nikon user; I am in fact, a Sony user, the difference in which is massive. To compound that, I was attempting to shoot award winning wildlife photography…in my bedroom…with my best friend, no wildlife in sight. And to compound on top of that, the images are only for digital. Working myself up over my inability to find the right focus (the shutter is razor sharp and lighting quick) was less a symptom of my ability, and more so of my anxiety. I had built this camera up to be a masterpiece, that when it came to using it, I lost my nerve, nerve he said Instagram wouldn’t be able to discern.

This is no entry-level camera; this really is a piece for the pros. For all the people reading this who might be contemplating getting into content creation or photography, this is not the camera for you, for either of us really. I learnt a valuable lesson here; in most aspects in my life, I like the overkill. I like to bring a gun to a knife fight, but this camera brought everything, including the kitchen sink, and I wasn’t ready. There is a great opportunity ahead of you if you can acknowledge your position and the appropriate needs for the stage you are in. This camera just isn’t it for me. I was crippled by the features and lost focus on the work.


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More than anything, I learnt more about myself as a photographer in the day I spent shooting with the Nikon Z7, than I had in the entire year before that. This is the kind of machine you aspire to, you work towards, you earn. I had set myself an impossible goal and cracked under the pressure. Since that day however, I have strengthened my nerve, learnt better to work calmer under more pressure. On the second go around, I’m confident I shan’t be defeated; but until then, the kitchen sink stays where it is.

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Leather & Suede Care | Crepe Protect

 

There’s a certain kind of romance in wearing your shoes down to the stitching. Cities leave marks, memories make holes, and your feet become a kind of scrapbook; a shrine to all the things you’ve seen.

That time you stepped in a puddle and splashed an old lady who later told you not to ever bite your tongue, over a cup of too sweet tea. Or the time you stumbled up the stairs at 125th street dizzy with Whiskey and landed in the lap of a Spaniard with a guitar.

Buffing your favorite Stan Smiths feverishly as you peel them off coyly at your desk in favor of the 2006 Suede Chanel boots you had to save 2 seasons for.

Yes, shoes have stories, and histories and memories; the trouble is, some don’t last long enough to gather enough evidence to prove that they actually meant something to you. I had a pair of shoes I only got to wear twice because the suede scuffed the first time I went dancing in them, and never came out. It’s hard to walk confidently into an interview with marks on your Aldos, so you retire them and eventually forget about them, and chalk it up as a waste.

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My closet is full of missed opportunities. Leather and suede that could have taken me on a myriad adventures, but instead, sit rather meekly gathering dust because I’m too afraid to ruin them. Hiding them, and occasionally visiting them just to gaze upon them, but never daring to take them out into the world. I’m so clumsy, I might take one step out of the car and end up with my foot stuck between a tire and a beer can, and suddenly my Lilac Suede Sling backs aren’t Lilac anymore. Tragic, I simply can’t bear it.

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Cue knight in shining armor. He’s a sneaker kind of guy. A Dessert Rat, Off White collab, Converse of the Commes Des Garcons variety wearing kind of guy, and this I discovered is the key to saving all the sling backs of futures past. While conducting my routine snoop of his guest-bedroom drawers, I discovered a very well kept secret amongst sneaker heads and street-wear aficionados; the Golden Goose my friends, is a handy little product called Crepe Protect. It’s a magical spray that forms a silicon guard between your leather or suede and the outside world, that is basically a liquid repellant. Puddle? Fear not. An unexpected drizzle? Don’t fret. I wonder if it would protect against the ill wishes of Internet trolls, the research isn’t strong on that front but I’ll keep you posted. While we’re talking about the internet, I Googled Crepe Protect and DJ Khaled swears by it, so don’t play yourself.

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Although used predominately to care for sneakers, the DIY princess in me discovered that not only does the spray make your favorite boots last an extra 2 seasons, but all the products in the range work equally as well for handbags a like. Not only is there a spray, but the range consists of a scuff eraser which essentially buffs out the little marks on your leather, fragrance pills that keep your gym shoes smelling fresh enough to sit next to that really hot guy from the 5:30 spin class, shoe trees to keep the shape of your more structured pairs, but also these handy individually wrapped cleaning wipes that I may or may not have wiped my laptop down with after polishing my new White Leather Vans for the third time. This is innovation I tell you. It’s time to break out that super cute patent leather Fendi pump that my mom bought me for my birthday, and finally unleash that Nude suede mule I’ve been hiding since my last trip to New York. It’s a brave new world. Buy your Crepe products at Archive in Braamfontein or any Sportscene store near you and join the movement. A fearless footwear revolution!

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Room Makeover | Plascon

Earlier this year, after moving into my new loft, I wrote a piece for Visi Magazine on the architecture of my home and what that means (you can read here), but after having lived in it for 6 months, I’m thinking more about the interior, and what that conveys about who I am and the home I want to create.

When I first moved in, I painted over the cerulean walls in the master bedroom, the taupe walls in the guest bedroom and the off-white cream colour of all the ceilings. The aforementioned ceilings are double volume and extremely high, so naturally, white all over made the most sense for the feeling of freshness that I wanted to impart on my new space.

My taste is quite simple, minimal, and earthy. I like neutrals and organic materials, bamboo and basketry. I left the face brick accent wall the raw dark colour it was and left the concrete floors the sandy grey colour that they were, and instead opted to play with those colours and textures in the rest of the space.


For the most part, my home is done, at least the most commonly used spaces. The guest bedroom/office/wardrobe/storeroom and downstairs bathroom are the final frontiers of my total home makeover, although before writing this, the biggest eyesore of them all was my entry hall.

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The entrance hall to my loft is a double volume space adjacent to the black cast iron staircase against the face brick wall. It’s windowless and awkwardly shaped, with a bathroom opposite the front door and the hallway directly right of it. Because of where it’s situated in the space, it’s a rather dark corner. The previous owners had a floor to ceiling shelving unit built into the wall with a protruding desk with it’s back to the bathroom. It was truly awful; chipboard is a pet peeve of mine. Of course I had to rip it out, exposing a much roomier space capable of housing a small lounge area. For months I had some of my larger furniture pieces stacked against the wall, awaiting placement in a more permanent home. A 16 door locker unit I picked up at a junk yard and had sanded and powder coated, a 40’s era leather travel trunk with brass hardware and shelving inside, a green leather chair my mom let me hijack from her office, and a few odd books and trinkets.  It was kind of sad to walk into every day. Although the walls were white, the lack of light kept it very dark and shadowy, and all the furniture I had in there was either black or very dark, which only made the space gloomier. I decided that much like with most things in life, it’s always a good idea to accept the things you cannot change, in this case, the lack of light.


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In true academic nerd fashion, I began researching how to uplift and elevate a space. Spiritual teachings preach the use of scents and healing organic materials like sage and bergamot; home décor mags recommend bashing down walls and building windows, but the solution that resonated most with me was brought forth by none other than my second favourite app, Pinterest. I gravitate towards high contrast spaces that make clever use of raw materials and play with light. Dark floors against stark white walls with accents of wood or white floors with dark walls and accents of cement. It’s a fascinating design technique that tricks the eye into perceiving the depth of a space differently. These principles make so much sense for my sad and dark entrance hall, so why not go all in!

Job number 1 was to remove all the furniture there to really get a sense of the space I was working with and the light I was working against. The previous owners had left behind a rather gaudy crystal chandelier that I’ve hated since I moved in, but since I don’t have a replacement yet, I had to leave it up. Next, with a little help from my Pinterest board, I began looking for the perfect shade of ‘dark’.

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Black would be too harsh to cover a wall of that scale, so I settled for a charcoal colour, which of course there were hundreds to choose from. Instead of mixing a paint from scratch which could easily be disastrous, I went perusing the Plascon website. Under ‘ Colour & Inspiration’ you can find the Inspired Colour System, that allows you to not only pick a shade, but see your colour on a swatch in relation to other swatches in that family. For example, while I went looking for grey, I stumbled upon grey’s with blue undertones, purple undertones and green undertones, which I was only able to really notice, because I could view them next to each other, so helpful.


My hunky new neighbour who’s just moved in next door is currently painting his walls and ceiling a shade of charcoal called Tribecca Corner. I know this because I’m nosy and make friends easily (hahaha). His shade is a little bluer in its undertones that’s what I would have gone for myself, and so with that as a starting point, I hunted down a more green shade of grey. Enter Phantom Ship in Plascon Cashmere. Plascon Cashmere is a low odour, premium quality, plush matt wall coating that is highly washable and stain resistant; not that I intend on having kids any time soon, but it’s never a bad idea to get all the quality coverage you can. This is a very dark grey, almost indistinguishable from a slate, but with a very subtle green hue in the light.

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I figure, instead of fighting the darkness, I should embrace it, and then brighten it up with furniture and accents. The paint job itself was quick, and with a few new pieces and a couple of the old, my once dull and dark entrance hall was transformed almost overnightinto a very grown up lobby that felt mature and edgy and earthy all at once. I love that the space feels warm but also very chic; it complements the wooden furniture and my taste in Abstract Expressionist art really well. Anyone who knows me even just a little is aware of my love of leafy green plants. Against the darkness of the walls, those very same plants that looked dull in the shadowy corners now look extra lush against the moody backdrop of my fancy new lobby. The last thing I have to do in that room is switch out the chandelier for the really gorgeous woven basket lamp I imported from Morocco, but I have to wait a couple of extra weeks for it to arrive. Till then, I’m going to enjoy my chic new space, and I hope all who visit me do too.

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Seven Days With | Spree

Shop the looks here.

Ph x Anthony BIla

#ConsciousExclusive | H&M

H&M CONSCIOUS EXCLUSIVE 2018 BRINGS TOGETHER POWERFUL FEMININITY AND SUSTAINABLE FASHION INNOVATION WITH RECYCLED SILVER AND ECONYL®

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By combining the latest in sustainable fabric innovation with designs inspired by the creative home of the Swedish artists Karin and Carl Larsson, the 2018 H&M Conscious Exclusive collection is a thoroughly modern expression of beautiful craft and powerful femininity. For the first time two new sustainable materials, recycled silver and ECONYL®, a 100% regenerated nylon fibre from fishnets and other nylon waste, are introduced to the collection. Launching on 19 April, the Conscious Exclusive 2018 collection will be available in selected stores worldwide and online at hm.com.

All garments H&M, Photography Niquita Bento

All garments H&M, Photography Niquita Bento

For its seventh edition, the H&M Conscious Exclusive collection comprises of beautifully crafted womenswear clothing, lingerie, shoes and accessories that balance strength with softness. This year, along with organic linen, organic cotton, organic silk, TENCEL™ and recycled polyester, H&M introduces the two new materials recycled silver and ECONYL®, a 100% regenerated nylon fibre made from fishnets and other nylon waste.

“It is a great thrill to introduce two new sustainable materials into the collection. By creating gorgeous lace made of ECONYL® and beautiful jewellery crafted from recycled silver, we continue to stretch the boundaries of sustainable fashion. Also, the work of Karin Larsson in particular took on a lot of significance, her stylised motifs, bold compositions and use of colour throughout the house were ahead of its time. She was such a strong woman and it’s that spirit that we channelled.”

                                                                                 Ann-Sofie Johansson, creative advisor at H&M

 


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Handcrafted tapestries and needlework made by Karin, her love for their garden and contrasting characteristics of the rooms in Karin and Carl’s home were the key inspirations for the 2018 Conscious Exclusive collection. They were cleverly translated by the design team into the stunning floral jacquards, abstract embroideries and prints based on specific objects in the house.


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There are several statement pieces, such as a white ECONYL® sleeveless full-length dress with organic cotton embroidery and a green floral metallic jacquard full-length dress made from recycled polyester. Meanwhile, a black floral jacquard trouser suit features an open slit at the back of the blazer and cropped flare trousers for a contemporary touch. Overall, the colour palette consists of greens, white and black with touches of dusky blue and powder pink. Accessories include delicate yet striking tulip-motif jewellery made from recycled silver, elegant satin slip in shoes made from recycled polyester, beautiful printed scarves in a TENCEL™ blend and a delicate pouch handbag made fully embellished with recycled plastic beads and sequins.

“Ever since I learned about this collection I’ve been really impressed by what it stands for and the designs are equally appealing. Fashion and sustainability is no longer a contradiction in terms and I think re-using and recycling is an important initiative across fashion. It’s really inspiring to see such fashion-forward designs being made from recycled materials,”

                    Christy Turlington Burns, this year’s face of the H&M Conscious Exclusive campaign

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The 2018 print campaign was shot by fashion photographer Mikael Jansson and stars Aamito Lagum, Giedrė Dukauskaitė and Christy Turlington Burns, world-renowned model and founder of the maternal health organisation Every Mother Counts.

As part of the social campaign promoting the new Conscious Exclusive Collection, I was invited by H&M to create three looks around one garment from the collection. I chose the longline tuxedo blazer, and my three looks are pictures above!