Hywel Phillips

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  • in reply to: November 2013 previews #16799

    Oh, yes… how did that happen? 🙁 Not a sign of anything sinister, she’s back in December in stills and video and in the archive, we’ve just shot with her again and we’ve got two more days of shooting booked with her in a few weeks’ time.

    Cheers, Hywel.

    in reply to: Database problem 12 October #16795

    UPDATE: site is back up, but running at risk today while support track down the source of problem. The server may require additional reboots to patch.


    in reply to: Autofocus #16790


    For stills I use autofocus 100% of the time, using the focus and recompose technique. I’m so used to that that when I go back to using another camera, I force it to a single focus point so I can do it that way. (Usually the centre sensor). I’ve found that the camera is capable of much more accurate focus than I am through the viewfinder- focussing is extremely critical with a sensor as big as the ‘Blad’s but pretty damn critical even on a 7D or four thirds sensor. I never over-ride the focus by adjusting manually, only by focus and recompose again if I think it has done the wrong thing.

    In contrast, for video we almost always focus manually. Doing so on the 7D or AF100 is tricky without an external monitor; doing so on the RED is easier because the on-camera monitor is bigger and for critical focus it can punch in to 1:1 pixels (like the 7D, but unlike the AF100). I’ve recently acquired a follow focus rig so we can mark focus points for rack focus, and fitted lens gears on my old stills lenses to use them that way.

    I would really like to have a video camera with decent autofocus again. Given that we’re almost always operating with fewer crew than we’d like, there are times it would make our life much easier. I’m thinking of flogging the AF100 and getting a second hand GH3 instead for that reason.

    Cheers, Hywel.

    in reply to: Zip Links Broken? #16781

    Hi All,

    Try again now… seems to be fixed for me, both on the voting scripts and the ZIP file issue. Tech support updated a few things on the password security scripts.

    Cheers, Hywel.

    in reply to: Zip Links Broken? #16780

    Weird, the voting seems to be broken for me too. I’m sure it was working a couple of days ago. I’ve not changed anything, must be something at the web hosting end, will open a support ticket about that too, sounds like it could be a second manifestation of the same problem (it looks like it may be to do with the server not correctly figuring out user access credentials somehow).

    Apologies, am on it.


    in reply to: Zip Links Broken? #16778

    P.P.S. I just tried it and I get the problem on Firefox but it works fine on Safari both under Mac OS 10.8.4, there’s obviously something going on, will chase it up with tech support immediately.

    Is anyone else seeing the problem? If so could you let me know what OS/browser combination you are using as it does seem to be browser specific again.

    in reply to: Zip Links Broken? #16777

    What OS/Browser are you using? I know Mac OS users had a problem like this a while ago. I thought it had been caused by an update to the password swapping scripts on the site, so I’ll chase it up with tech support our end 🙁 🙁 🙁

    My first recommendation would be to try a different web browser and see if that fixes it; it seemed to be browser specific last time.

    Make sure your browser is able to accept cookies from the site. Try turning the privacy and/or security settings down for a test; I don’t recommend running with them switched all the way down, obviously, but try turning them off, quit and relaunch the web browser, empty the browser cache, then try to download. See if you still get the problem. If not, turn the settings back on again one notch at a time to see if you can figure out what is blocking it.

    Third thing to check is that your firewall is similarly not blocking anything; turn the settings down BRIEFLY just long enough to quit and restart your browser, clear the browser cache, and try again.

    Have a go at that and let me know what you discover, and I’ll feed that back to tech support at our web hosts.

    Apologies. Hopefully we can figure this out for you ASAP. Has anyone else experienced this recently?


    P.S. does it definitely happen for all ZIP files, all of the time? Or only some of them or some of the time?

    in reply to: Ariel and Hywel at Fetishcon #16805

    Many thanks to Lurker who has already posted some Fetishcon pics here:


    in reply to: Ariel and Hywel at Fetishcon #16804

    Here are some photos kindly sent to us by Cuffkey:

    in reply to: Hywel and Ariel at Fetishcon 2013 #16820

    Hooray, we’re back from Fetishcon! Had a great time, got a mountain of work and emails to catch up on, will post some of our snapshots when we get a chance too.


    in reply to: Photos from Fetishcon 2013 #16822


    Great to finally meet you at Fetishcon! And thank you so much for posting some of your photos!

    I agree that one can stress out too much about where the hairlight is going. Generally I find it is impossible to get the hairlight looking perfect from all the angles one needs to be able to shoot from when the girl is in bondage, so I do what you suggested and just make sure that most of the photons are going in the right direction most of the time.

    I’ve found it helpful to rig with light-weight lights (even a speedlight) on a C-stand and boom sometimes when working in confined spaces like hotel rooms. That can help you get the hairlight where it needs to be, above and behind, without too much risk of the light stands getting into shot. A gorillapod can also sometimes be called into use to attach to the top of a door, or the room light fittings, too.

    If you have full control obviously a plate in a the ceiling or a scaffold pole to rig lights to is ideal, but when you can’t screw into the wall or ceiling, clamps and booms and gorillapods are your friends 🙂

    Cheers, Hywel.

    in reply to: Bhowami bondage #16815

    Well, since his site is all about silk and satin blouses and silk scarf fetish, I guess it isn’t going to be to one’s taste if one prefers nude damsels. The blouses are his primary fetish, I think, since he also runs a non-bondage blouse fetish site (http://www.blousesforsex.com).

    It’s a perfect example of not being able to appeal to everyone. I’m sure his members absolutely adore the fact that the girls are wearing blouses, and the blouses don’t disappear as soon as the ropes appear. So whilst he might be able to appeal to a different audience running a nude bondage site, that isn’t likely to be of interest to his existing membership… and probably not to him, either.

    So the business-empire-building thing to do would be to launch more sites covering a wider range of interests- like nude bondage (or barefoot bondage, or gags, or whatever).

    I’ve noticed that photographer who branch out into fetishes they don’t really share often run into problems. It is why I don’t shoot fem-dom, despite having tried it once or twice and having been approached to do it more often. There might be money in it, but I don’t get the fetish so I don’t see the little details that make the difference between a site that looks superficially OK, and one which really works if that’s your fetish.

    For example, MadMax commented that Bhowani’s ropework looks top notch- something you get, because you are into bondage, and Bhowani delivers because he is also into bondage, and RE hopefully also delivers because we too are into bondage. Look at the bondage websites which are part of the mainstream porn production houses, and the bondage is often desultory or lame, because they DON’T get it. Which means it is very disappointing – and is why niche bondage websites like ours can still exist even though we’re not part of a larger conglomerate.

    In the end I think each photographer and producer has to shoot what appeals to them, and put it out there primarily for people who are into the same things to enjoy.

    Cheers, Hywel.

    in reply to: Mac/Safari Password Problem? #16969

    We updated the password protection scripts a few days ago.

    The problems seem to be fixed; let me know if anyone else sees this problem again.

    Cheers, Hywel.

    in reply to: Dark Danielle #16963

    I sometimes like to experiment with very stark lighting.

    I’m conscious that that doesn’t let you see everything. Which is why I try to shoot a goodly fraction of the set with more light before turning off all but one for the stark stuff, as I did here. Hopefully there’s still a set’s worth even if you consider the really dark too artistic for your tastes 🙂

    Cheers, Hywel.

    in reply to: Japanese Reverse Prayer #16965

    Well, the short answer is that yes in principle this tie could be unsafe because of that rope around the base of Ariel’s throat and we should add a comment to that effect on the lexicon.

    So why did we do it?

    In practice, because of the way the tension on rope pulls there’s not really very much chance of that potential for harm being realised, even if Ariel were to faint or fall.

    It is all one rope and if she starts to pull one way, the tension on the continuation of the rope the other side quickly limits the extent of the motion. Even if she fainted and fell over, her arms are not going to have much leverage to pull the ropes because of the position she’s in (unlike say a strappado, which always makes me nervous- dislocated shoulders aren’t fun).

    Critically, there’s nothing else attached to that rope – she’s not anchored to a wall or a chair – and the rope is hemp, so it won’t slip its knots the way nylon is prone to doing.

    Furthermore, she was in it for a short space of time (the first shot was taken at 16:10 and the last at 16:15) with two people on set, both armed with safety scissors/safety cutters should she have developed problems. Ariel herself is an experienced bondage model who would have alerted us if the rope felt at all like it might have started migrating upwards.

    Is it a tie you should attempt on your first bondage date? No, and we should update the wording of the lexicon accordingly.

    Is it a tie that presented an unacceptable danger to Ariel on the day? The best judgement of the three experienced BDSM practitioners was that it did not. Nonetheless, the presence of that rope does present a specific risk of which anyone attempting to replicate the tie ought to be made aware.

    We should devise a variation which reduces that risk still further by replacing the front rope with ropes that pass under the armpits, say.

    Cheers, Hywel.

    in reply to: Mac/Safari Password Problem? #16967

    I can replicate some of the behaviour, using Safari 6.0.4 on Mac OX 10.8.3, but don’t get the download failures.

    I get the password prompt when I try to download using “Download linked file”, but the download works; the file is not automatically unzipped.

    I don’t get the password prompt using “download linked file as…” and the download works; the file is not automatically unzipped.

    Clicking directly on the ZIP file icon downloads, no password prompt, and the ZIP file is automatically unzipped.

    Firefox 21.0 also works for me, with no password prompts.

    I don’t actually understand why something different happens (password prompt) when using download file, but at least I don’t get a failure to download ever, just an annoying extra pop-up.

    The fact that the problem is intermittent is maddening- because it might happen for me too, if I try at the right time or when the right mix of other things are going on. I don’t suppose you’ve noticed any pattern to when it happens, have you? There are a few things which might change with server load, or when a small number of timed things happen on the site (caches get cleared once an hour, updates happen once a day, backup jobs run, etc.)

    Has anyone else using a Mac seen similar behaviour?

    Cheers, Hywel.

    in reply to: Sophia Smith #16970


    Glad you like it! Our most recent shoot with Sophia suffered a bunch of technical issues which meant we didn’t get as much shot as we’d like, so she’s top of my list to shoot in the next round of bookings.

    Cheers, Hywel.

    in reply to: The end of Restrained Elegance? #16971


    I sincerely hope not.

    A) The site is run under licence from me in the USA, for many reasons, some historical, some practical. But as a side effect of that, at least the site itself is in a country which has protected freedom of speech. Which means that

    B) Those in places with totalitarian censorship regimes, which looks like it might shortly include Britain, should be able to get around firewalls by using proxy servers and similar.

    C) If necessary, Ariel and I have already discussed that we may emigrate rather than see our pride and joy dismantled. At least as EU citizens we (and you) have the right so to do… at the moment.

    But actually I don’t think it will come to that. Cameron’s plan is clearly every bit as unworkable as earlier attempts to do the same- ask the citizens of Scunthorpe what chaos algorithmic blocking brings… or the NHS doctors whose access to breast cancer studies were blocked by the NHS “no porn at work” filters. Needless to say the filters got turned off again.

    The only way to actually ban porn is to shut down the internet, and even China can’t manage it.


    in reply to: Pigtails lighting #16921


    I’ll try to remember to shoot a couple of wider shots whilst we rig to show the lighting.

    Cheers, Hywel.

    in reply to: Spare chargers #16911

    In principle I don’t want to have a single point of failure for any shoot. So I have duplicates of most of my chargers, although not quite all. I probably ought to get a duplicate for the batteries for the Hasselblad, for example, although I do have a fall-back because I always take my 7D as backup, and that has different batteries (and spare chargers, in fact).

    But I have to admit that I don’t think I’ve ever really needed it.

    The main use for the duplication is to charge more batteries in parallel, because you can usually
    discharge them faster than you charge them on intensive shoots. So for stuff like the V-mount batteries which power the RED and the LED lights, I definitely want to have as many batteries recharging at once as I can.

    Cheers, Hywel.

    in reply to: Get Orf My Land! #16913


    Because we shot this on the spur of the moment in a local park in the South East of England, with people walking within 50 m of us walking their dogs, and if Ariel had been nude, we would have likely caused offence, and possibly been arrested.

    We cannot always afford to hire private land to shoot… and it isn’t always warm enough to ask models to endure it either.

    Besides, sometimes the idea doesn’t really seem to need nudity to us. I’m sorry if that’s a disappointment, but I don’t think it should be a requirement that EVERY set end in nudity- I know there are some members who really like the clothed ones, and sometimes we do too.

    Cheers, Hywel.

    in reply to: one happy, one not #16926

    Ah, that was sooooooo long ago that there WAS no cameraperson and probably not a second angle to cut to. It was all me, with a cheap consumer camcorder. Sometimes when you are trying to light and shoot and tie and act, you make mistakes likes blocking the camera. Which is why we try not to shoot like that so much any more.

    Although as coincidence would have it Ariel and I did just shoot a two-of-us one camera video this morning. Hopefully I remembered not to block the shot this time!

    Cheers, Hywel.

    .. should be there now.

    Cheers, Hywel.

    … no idea why but the video file is missing. I’m re-encoding from the master file now. Will upload this evening after the shoot.

    Apologies, Hywel.

    Apologies. We’re shooting today, I will look into what has gone wrong here this evening.


    in reply to: Why RE looks sublime for me #16936

    Hi Wald and welcome to the forum! I’m sorry it was so complex to actually sign up. I will try to move to a new forum system as soon as I can, the spam has got ridiculous and as a result the forum is too hard to join or post on.

    I’ve very glad you like our work. You’ve described what we aim to do with our photos and videos perfectly- I;m glad that they seem elegant and immaculate to you. I know some people won’t care that we pay attention to detail like dirt on the models’ feet… we do, both at shoot time, and if we’ve missed some, in post production too.

    And yes, the main thing is to find way of tying the girls in bondage to glorify the way the model looks. These are some of the most beautiful women in the world- we try to do justice to them!

    Cheers, Hywel.

    in reply to: it takes all kinds! #16892

    We do that where practical, and where it wouldn’t do violence to the story.

    The main trouble is that if the model is in lots of bondage, getting her naked part way through the set requires either clothes cut off, or undoing some of the bondage. Fine if that’s just wrists, not so fine if it took 45 minutes to rig and covers her head to toe 🙂

    But yes, our aim is to shoot a lot more sets with both clothed and nude elements where the bondage and story supports it.

    Cheers, Hywel.

    in reply to: it takes all kinds! #16888

    Speaking of the voting system, we just implemented an under-the-hood revision to the system which should greatly speed up a few pages (e.g. top ten list, advanced search). There shouldn’t be any effect on the user side except that things might feel a bit speedier. If you notice any oddities, let me know.

    For the curious, the issue was that we now have over 6 years of voting data. Compiling the statistics from individual votes had become impractical, so we’ve archived the older votes and pull the numbers from a summary table. Hence, a big speed-up.

    Cheers, Hywel.

    in reply to: it takes all kinds! #16886

    HI All,

    The whole rating/voting idea is something I’ve fretted about for years.

    On the plus side, it is about the best way we’ve found to get meaningful feedback on sets. It is simple to understand and easy to do, requiring just an extra click or two.

    On the minus side, as Andrew says, it is clear that only a small minority of members vote. Furthermore, that group is self-selecting, so one must take the results with a hefty pinch of salt.

    We have no way of knowing whether a majority of members like nude in metal bondage sets, or whether the people who like nude in metal bondage sets are just more likely to vote. Any attempt to get more data (e.g. by a more detailed voting schedule or inviting comments) is only going to make it harder to vote, which will further reduce the participation.

    There’s also the unfortunate side effect of it causing stress for the creators. Cast and crew can see the vote, which leads to worry. Why did a set we loved shooting go down so badly? Whose fault was it?

    For models in particular there’s a BIG risk of them taking it personally, when the real reason for a low rating may be because the small subset of members who vote prefer nude sets to historical outfits- the reason a set is low rated is hard to determine and may well be nothing to do with the girl in the photos!

    Greater detail in the voting/comments might help remove that ambiguity, and inviting comments for each set certainly would, but that only compounds the problem of people taking it personally. Just take a look at the bile spewed on public blogs everywhere to see that. It would take considerable policing to remove nasty personal attacks, and I don’t want any person who has worked hard to create a lovely set getting upset by stupid drongo comments from the interwebs.

    I did some more in depth statistical analysis a while ago, made possible because I have access to the whole database and can cross-reference all sets with a given model or keyword tag with the scores of sets with that tag or featuring that model. What I don’t have is any explanation for the observed trends, and given that not all members vote and not all voters even vote on every set, I think it is dangerous to read too much into them. There’s too many variables, and too many inherent biases in the data collection method to be worth losing any sleep over.

    There’s also the fact that people’s tastes are different. I’d much rather see a set get a stack of five star ratings and a stack of one star ratings than get a broad “I don’t really care” spread around a “meh. 3 stars” rating. I reckon if a set is just perfect for someone with a particular taste, people who don’t share that exact kink might well HATE it. I think the purpose of art is to generate an emotional response in the viewer, and love/hate is much better than indifference.

    Finally, I take the ratings with a pinch of salt because ultimately, it is me who has to create the NEXT shoot plan for RE, and RE will always be my personal art project.

    I’m happy to adjust the mix to suit what people like, we shoot enough ideas that that’s never going to be a problem. Shooting more things like what people liked in the past seems like a lovely way to say thank you to everyone for supporting us. You are paying us to create more RE, so of course we’ll try to factor in what people enjoy.

    But I’m also going to keep shooting what I the hell I like some of the time, too 🙂 🙂 🙂 I need to keep my enthusiasm for what we do or we’ll end up soulless and chasing the market. In my opinion there’s no faster way to generate all one star ratings than losing the passion for what we do.

    One cannot cater to every taste anyway, so at least let’s do the best job we can in the small niche in which we work.

    To tickle your interest, with all the above caveats, here are the major trends I’ve noted in the voting data, and a few of my thoughts about them.

    1) New sets do better than old sets. That’s fine, it would be depressing if it were the other way around. We’ve demonstrably got better technically so it might be as simple as pic resolution or people not really caring for sets they’ve seen before so much.

    2) With any given projection there’s a wide range of average rating for galleries fitting that description. No single factor (model, clothes, bondage, gag, etc.) guarantees a high rating or condemns the set to low rating purgatory.

    3) A model should not worry if one of her sets is low rated. She’ll very likely have very high rated ones as well. Any model who has worked with us over a longer period is guaranteed to have a few low rated sets. It isn’t her fault, it’s likely that some other factor is at work.

    4) That said, there are some models whose average rating over all sets are higher than others. This may be because she’s good, or because she’s new and exciting, or that we shot a lot of sets which happen to hit the spot on the first shoot, or that she’s brought a fan base with her to the site (whoo! we like that when it happens!)

    5) You can get some idea of who our favourite models are: count the number of updates. You really have to factor in how long ago we first worked with them and a few other things. There’s still many reasons why we might rebook one model and not another- some GREAT models retired soon after we worked with them, some good models we’ve just not got around to rescheduling, etc..

    6) Broadly speaking, the models whose sets are most highly rated on average are also the ones who we’ve worked with most often. Which is nice. At least our opinions and the voting members aren’t completely divergent.

    7) The spread in average rating from model to model isn’t huge, except for a few outliers (I’ll name no names). There’s a distorting effect from the “newer sets do better” factor which has to be accounted for, though.

    8 ) On the keywords, the variation is big from set to set (so there will be some very low rated sets even in a theme which broadly does very well, and vice versa).

    9) Nude in metal bondage sets go down well- average rating 3.92. Historical outfits tend to do less well (average 3.23), but again a huge spread, with some of the most popular sets ever being historical ones.

    10) Reverse prayer, hogtie, frogtie and handcuffs do well (around 3.8 ) with suspensions being less highly rated in general.

    11) Gags don’t seem to affect the ratings. I’m sure some people love a particular sort of gag, others prefer ungagged- they all end up with the same average rating. So for every ballgag voter there’s maybe a no-gag voter to balance it out?

    12) Foot torture and bastinado don’t do so well on average, but tend to be very polarised, so if you like them, you REALLY like them and will give them all 5 stars, or you’ll tend to give them all 1 stars. Reason enough to keep doing them even if it wasn’t my personal kink (which it is).

    13) Sets with uncommon themes do less well. Bit of a chicken and egg situation here, clearly, as if your interest was purely in a theme we don’t often do, you’ll not have joined the site in the first place.

    14) At the time I did the big analysis, stills sets were rated higher than videos. This is no longer the case, so maybe the 3-year loan to acquire the RED wasn’t such a bad idea.

    After all that, you might be getting a hint of the headache that rears up every time the voting/rating system is discussed 🙂 🙂 🙂

    So in the end I have come to regard it with interest, factor the voting results in to my thoughts at a background “be aware of it” level, but try not to get stressed or lose sleep over it. I try to make the models do the same- what do you think?

    Cheers, Hywel.

    in reply to: IR Trigger #16893

    I use an IR trigger as a backup, too. It is just a really cheap flashgun with a filter stuck to the front. I used to use it when even a 1/128th power pop from an unfiltered flashgun risks overpowering the light, but I find the radio triggers work well for me.

    I’ve never experienced any radio interference issues, but I’ve never shot at Fetishcon either. I can see there might be a lot of people with Pocket Wizards setups shooting there. So a backup would certainly be sensible.

    Cheers, Hywel.

Viewing 30 posts - 1 through 30 (of 1,333 total)