Ariel’s Blues Reinstated and General News

Hi Everyone

Ariel’s Blues

Somehow I managed to create a duplicate of the “Ariel’s Blues” set in the RE archives last week when I added the link to the shopping cart page for the set. this resulted in a php error trying to access the set. Should now be fixed, apologies, many thanks to John for drawing it to my attention!

The first cake Ariel even ate in my presence. Far from the last, it turned out.

OnlyFans

In general news, you may be aware of an upheaval going on in the internet adult industry at the moment. Mastercard, under pressure from various less-than-honest “anti-trafficking” groups, have put in place restrictive new rules. Fortunately, this should not affect us here on Restrained Elegance and Silk Soles – as luck would have it our record-keeping and model release system is already largely compliant, and we don’t have the issue with third-party posted content that platforms like Clips4Sale and OnlyFans have.

(On a strict reading of the rules, they would have to employ human beings to check EVERY bit of content and in particular EVERY live stream to make sure it was not in violation of the rules – something that’s obviously impossible unless they are going to hire 10% of the population as full-time porn watchers. This is a standard not demanded of any other platform – YouTube or Facebook can’t manage it with some of the biggest businesses in the world, so sites like Clips4Sale and OnlyFans clearly cannot.)

Clips4Sale have behaved pretty well during this. PLENTY of information, lots of support, clear guidance for producers and performers and reassurance on things like privacy policies (because we don’t want to be uploading the full ID’s of every performer we’ve ever worked with without some assurances that their data security is up to it- in fact if producers in some countries do that they’ll probably be in violation of their local data protection laws). I’m spending this week uploading all the recent content to Clips4Sale before the deadline to file ID and model releases for each new clip, so that I will have a sensible workflow going forward without a huge overhead for legacy stuff.

OnlyFans on the other hand have catastrophically blown it in terms of their handling of the situation. Creators found out about it from OnlyFans announcing stuff to the press, not to them. They then issued some contradictory statements, finishing with an amazingly gas-lighting tweet about how they value sex workers – which is pretty hypocritical given that they have NEVER promoted any sex workers on their twitter feed, ever. Their new rules are also much more stringent when in comes to sexual content – masturbation will be out, for example. Needless to say, that nukes a hell of a lot of models’ OnlyFans content. So there’s a huge upheaval going on – Ariel is deciding which platforms to transition to whilst making sure she delivers everything she promised to her current OF subscribers. I know many of our other regular models are doing likewise.

Please support the models while they make these transitions- if you subscribe to their OnlyFans, please stay as a subscriber until they know what platforms they will be transferring to, then follow them there.

One thing that IS positive about this is that I think MasterCard, OnlyFans, and the dishonest evangelicals pushing the “trafficked women” narrative have been taken by surprise by the fact that 95% of the press coverage is supportive of the sex workers. That’s not what happened when they pulled the plug on PornHub’s billing and I don’t think they were expecting it. There are a few differences this time around. The first is that PornHub facilitated piracy on an industrial scale with notorously poor standards for getting it taken down, no requirement for verification for uploads (because they pretended we were all coolz uploading our own personal sex lives, rather than it mostly being pirated stuff). OnlyFans on the other hand has been requiring proper verification for all content uploaders since day one. Second, PornHub was rightly synonymous with the tackiest uploaded pirated porn, whereas OnlyFans is all about empowered sex workers sharing their own content – and everybody knows it. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the journalists writing about this stuff made contacts with sex workers during the PornHub push, and so have people to talk to to get our side of the story. The evangelicals are not getting it all their own way this time, because everyone can see that what they are doing is nuking the safe space that sex workers have built into a multi-BILLION dollar platform. OnlyFans is famous for girls getting their tits out and getting paid for it, frankly, which is VERY different from the cesspit of PornHub. Let’s hope we can fight back this time.

https://onlyfans.com/arielanderssen

Hasselblads plural

For the last decade or more, my Hasselblad has been the workhorse camera for the site. It perfected the “RE look” with very clean, crisp images, studio lighting, and bold colours. For the last five years or more I’ve been experimenting with adding other looks to my armoury, but the core aesthetic of the site is definitely the one that culminated in the Hasselblad (after 15 years of trying to perfect it with Canon dSLRs).

A couple of weeks ago I did a REALLY STUPID THING: I shouldered the Hasselblad’s rucksack without having done the zips up first. The camera landed nose-first on a concrete floor, and the 120 mm macro lens BOUNCED. Shudder. This kit originally cost me more than my car. Amazingly, it seems to have survived apart from a badly bent metal lens hood which took most of the impact.

But it made me realise that I no longer had a backup for the core RE look: I’ve sold all the old Canon dSLRs, and the Sonys excel at stuff like available light and shallow depth of field but just never quite achieve the crispness and purity of colour that the Hasselblad manages effortlessly. Realising this properly gave me the shakes – if that had happened on day one of a location trip, I might have really been in trouble.

Fortunately, there’s a happy ending. Hasselblad kit lasts forever (even if you drop it onto a concrete floor, seemingly) but its value does not. So I was able to acquire second-hand an H3Dii-50 (50 megapixels to complement Dave the Hasselblad’s 31 but with a faster sensor because of microlenses) and 80 mm and 120 mm lenses. It cost me £4000 which is a lot – the same as a new Sony mirrorless body- but which suddenly seems like an absolute BARGAIN compared with the original retail cost, which would have been ten times that! I must say, if you are a photographer and you like the crisp-clean-saturated look for studio work, go buy a second-hand Hasselblad kit. It won’t do what your modern mirrorless will do (eg Autofocus is really slow by comparison and you need to use focus-and-recompose – no fancy face recognition here) but for this one job, it still reigns supreme. I’m very much happier writing my kit list for our next location shoot knowing that this time I will have a proper spare.

First shots with the backup Hasselblad

Shoots!

Amidst all this upheaval, we’ve also tentatively resumed shoots with external models. We’ve just shot with Charlie Ten and Kitty Quinzell, and have more shoots coming up, COVID permitting.

Site revamp delayed

One thing I must apologise for is that all of this has delayed RE’s much-needed site revamp. I have a working version of the members’ home page in a new layout, but to be honest I’m not happy with it. It solves some of the current issues but to my mind introduces some new ones, and I stalled, not knowing how to solve those.

So plan B, once the current upheaval calms down a bit: I’m going update the current layout to remove some of the most egregious problems like the limited full-width display where content gets lost in the middle on a really big screen, and streamline and simplify some of the menu options. That will give me time to experiment with other layouts and see if I can come up with something that feels like an all-around improvement, rather than something which swaps current limitations for a bunch of new ones.

Right. Back to work uploading stuff to Clips4Sale before the deadline there.

Cheers, Hywel

Not restarting custom video commissions just yet

Hi Everyone

Just a quick message to explain why I’m not restarting custom video commissions just yet.

One thing I really hate is not delivering something I have promised. It stresses me out to have money in my account for a shoot that hasn’t happened, even worse if the shoot then has to be postponed.

Therefore I don’t want to take on even the most relaxed of custom video commissions until I’m more confident that I will
be able to deliver them. The COVID situation in the UK is still uncertain. England is due to open up completely
next week, but if the experience of the Netherlands is anything to go by, they might be forced to reconsider in short
order. Welsh regulations are remain more cautious.

Many models are in the partially-vaccinated age group, and even in double-vaccinated people if you get COVID you can be ill for a while. All of which means that I think it is wiser not to take on the additional stress of custom videos until we have the general production shoots running smoothly.

In the meantime, most of the models are taking on customs themselves – they may not be able to do full Restrained Elegance bondage videos, but you might be able to commission something fun directly with them.

I’d like to be able to welcome the new commissions with open arms and get back to shooting fabulous stuff for you. (It does feel daft to be turning down money!) But it is more sensible to concentrate on shooting regular RE and Silk Soles content while the situation remains so unpredictable and will save me stress if shoots do have to get rearranged.

We are of course happy to shoot customs with me and Ariel, as we have been doing throughout the pandemic. Please contact us via https://www.askarielstudio.com to commission something!

Cheers, Hywel

TV Crews and Location Shoots, Oh My!

Hi everyone!

Ariel and I have had a busy two weeks. Last week we had a TV documentary crew with us for two days filming us as we shot. We can’t tell you the details yet but it is for a new Channel 4 UK program hopefully coming soon. We will tell you more when we know more.

One of the things we shot while there were here was this rather stylish set in the dungeon, which the
TV presenter really liked- they said some of the shots looked like they were taken underwater. I agree – and we’ll try expanding on that idea for some more sets soon.

This week Ariel and I went away to shoot on location for a few days – the first time we’ve shot outside the house since the first COVID lockdown 18 months ago. When I booked it we still didn’t know how far we’d be able to travel so we thought it best to stay in Wales and I found a lovely place just an hour away.

Off we set with a car full of cameras, lenses, tripods, lights, clothes, ropes, handcuffs, gags and – for those who haven’t met him via Ariel’s OnlyFans or our behind-the-scenes postings on Twitter – a very excited Gareth the Orangutan glove puppet.

Here are a few samples straight off the camera – I’m offloading the cards and backing everything up now we’ve got home, and will process the sets and videos very soon! Can’t wait to get started on them, it’s a real thrill to see what we managed to create together.

We got to try out several new colours of hemp rope – more secure to tie with, and these days available in brighter colours. Still not as vibrant as nylon/polypropylene rope, but a big improvement over the murky and muddy colours that hemp used to come in.

We realised a project I’d been wanting to do for a couple of years but which felt like it needed something other than our house as the setting – a set shot using polaroid film (technically the modern equivalent – Fuji Instax Square film, but it is the same insta-develop photochemical process). I wanted the gritty “reality” feeling of it for a retro sex crime photoset. I’ll scan the pics for RE and we might auction off the physical prints once I’ve done so 🙂

I also had several new lenses I’d invested in over lockdown to try out. First up were the Sirui 1.33x anamorphics. If you’ve followed my tweets and posts you’ll know I have something of a fetish for the anamorphic look – I think it makes everything look grand and cinematic, and I’ve been on a quest to find lenses that really work for it but don’t cost what a genuine Arri or Cooke cine prime anamorphic costs. (Think house, not car). The Sirui’s have limited anamorphic character being only 1.33x, but they’re MUCH sharper than the SLR Magics I’ve been using, they cover a wider frame which means they are good for using on the Sony cameras, they have crisp manual focussing and a nice warm rendition. Very happy with the results – the shots of Ariel in the hot-tub were taken with those.

This was the first outing for my 100mm Sony STF lens, which is a clever bit of optics designed to give you smooth out-of-focus areas whilst retaining a very sharp centre and somewhat increased depth of field for your subject whilst pushing the background out of focus. The effect is quite subtle – the bokeh blur is way more pronounced on the 85mm and 135mm GM lenses, but the quality of the blur and the general look-and-feel are really interesting on the 100mm. Very much looking forward to more location trips to give it some more use, as I think it is in its element with deep background outside rather than in the confines of a room indoors.

I shot some stuff with a Helix Jr gimbal rig too – Gareth is being the camera operator for that in the shot above. It’s good but I need some fine tuning of the settings and I think it’ll work much better for two-model shoots, ideally with a second crew person because changing the camera settings on the fly is close to impossible for a single operator. It does great Sam Raimi “evil cam” footage so looking for more of that next time we get outdoors!

We have some more shoots tentatively booked in over the summer and a multi-model location shoot in September. I’ll be taking custom bookings for those in due course but with the caveat that it all depends on the COVID situation – Ariel and I are waiting for our second vaccination before we get models back to shoot with us in the house, etc..

Fingers crossed our server move goes smoothly in the next few days, since I’m raring to process all of this cool stuff and share it with you!

Cheers, Hywel

SilkSoles.com running “at risk” for next few days

Hi Everyone,

We are performing a load of updates to the system software on the SilkSoles.com server over the next few days which amongst other things will finally let us move to offering encrypted/https browsing of the whole site.

We’ve tested as best we can but there’s always the possibility for disruption when one goes live with a major update, so the server might be offline or pages might not work as expected for short periods over the next few days.

I’ll post again as soon as we think we have it all up and running, you shouldn’t notice any changes but will be able to browse the whole site securely once we’re done.

I’ve decided to make one change as part of this so far and removed the “rate this set” option from inside gallery pages. No-one ever uses it – even the oldest sets only have like six ratings- so rather than working to revise old scripts for the new system software I’ve just decided to remove the feature. Now that we sell sets individually on the eStore and post samples on twitter I get much better feedback as to who likes what that way anyway.

UPDATE 04/10/2020: Script changes are all done our side. Now we wait for tech support to move us to latest versions of the environment and see if anything breaks. It shouldn’t do – we tested everything under that version already- but you never know, there’s always the possibility of missing something on the live side. So site still running at risk for next few days.

Cheers, Hywel