Self Portrait – Selfie.
We are living in times where technology allow us quick and easy access to all sorts of different gadgets allowing us to capture images and sharing them instantaneously. What most people do with it is to capture portraits of themselves, or as it is trendy to say now days – we are capturing selfies.
Despite the long history since portrait photography was invented, the essentiality of portrait photography remain the same – portraiture in photography seems to be following constant direction where the final result is photographing a portrait of someone, regardless the quality or the hardware we use. However, the main tensor for any changes and improvements, of the genre of portrait photography, is the strive for better result through creativity and applying new ides and techniques.
But what, seemingly, is lacking in today’s quick selfie captures is the creative content of the self portraits people capture. Perhaps all the speed and technological ease of use is making most snappers too eager to capture, fast and easy, their selfies, on a special location or showing new facial expression, without any spark of creativity.
This is where I want to step in and share with you my experience, as a professional portrait photographer, on how to get a better selfie – keeping in mind that there is more to photography than just using mobile phones.
Developing new and creative ideas for Self Portrait.
As a professional portrait photographer I don’t get to be photographed a lot, not to say not at all, even when alone, barley I think of taking pictures of myself (the so called selfie) – just never got in the habit.
However, almost everything in our daily lifestyle and habits eventually makes an exception. One such exception was the day in which I was waiting for a model to show for a photo-shoot, for one of my Creative Portrait Sessions – but he didn’t. I had all of my photographic gear already set (mind this is very time consuming process), so I felt sort of bad to take everything down without using it – it would of been waste of time.
Walking up and down the room wondering what to do, suddenly a thought crossed my mind.
“Shall I take a self portrait? – The last image I have of myself was taken some years ago”
So I sat on a stool and set my camera’s timer, some strobe lights and here it goes – the shutter made its profound sound. The only thing I saw, looking at my camera’s screen, was how ordinary my personality was – a dull selfie of myself, which I certainly didn’t like it.
This was the moment when I decided to think out of the box, get creative and roll my sleeves up – ready for a real challenge.
And this is the result, as can be seeing on the image bellow:
The Technical Part of photographing a self portrait.
Of course capturing the image above wasn’t as simple as it may look at first, but this the whole point – exploring creativity and dealing with new challenges.
So here is how and what I used for my Creative selfie.
On top of all my usual photography equipment and strobes, this particular day for some reason I have decided to pull out of the shelf a set of continuous lights – one I haven’t used in a long time.
I looked at the continuous lights for a moment, and I thought – why shouldn’t I make some use of them finally.
The lighting setup:
As I mentioned, I have already make up my mind about using the set of continuous lights – my initial idea was to use it as a filler – to illuminated, float the room behind me with low density light. Then I also decided to use in combination with my camera’s second flash curtain function – to help me achieve the creative result I was after.
I placed my continuous lights behind a 1x1m photographic skylite diffuser, set on my right side – as I was facing the camera. My other light was a Canon Speedlite set on a medium sized beauty dish slightly on the left and above my head and gelled with CTO.
As you can see, this is a relatively simple lighting setup, but the crucial part here was that I was controlling my remote strobe, set as slave, with another on camera Canon speedlite which was set as a master – then I started to play with my Camera setting .
The Camera settings:
My Canon EOS 5D Mark II settings were:
- Shutter speed – 0.8 second.
- Aperture – F/10
- ISO – 100
- Mode – Manual White Balance – set to Tungsten.
- Flash Mode set to second curtain.
And on the image bellow, i have attempted to draw a lighting diagram of the complete lighting setup:
I setup the WB to tungsten in order my continuous lights to be casting blueish cast over the room behind me and the part of my face and body, where it’ll be acting as a feel light.
Next – a slow shutter speed was required in order for me to be able and capture my upper body in motion and blurred – this is perhaps the only effective way in still photography to express a realistic movement/motion.
ISO was low to help me with the slow shutter speed, the same applies for the aperture of F/10.
I guess the most interesting part amongst all of my camera setting here is the second curtain mode, I used to fire my remote flash, which was acting as a main light in this case.
What exactly second or rear curtain function do, simply put, is to fire my strobe a moment before the camera second curtain close and capture the image (for more info please check the video on the link).
This is pretty much all, the rest was a story of many errors and trials until I captured the image I was happy with. Keep in mind shooting with such settings, you won’t be able to capture the perfect image instantly – there isn’t exact formula that will give you the correct ratio between motion blur and sharpness, experiment until you get it right is the way to go.
And this is how I managed to capture my creative self portrait, off course the image was enhanced in Photoshop but only minor adjustment of the colours.
I hope with sharing some of my own experience, somehow I helped you learn something new about the world of photography and thank you very much for reading my blog.
And if you have something in mind to share, please feel welcome to post your comments or thoughts – in the comment section below.