Saturday, December 4, 2010

Self Portraits

I have never really done a whole lot of self-portrait work. I had an assignment where I needed 8 shots. I did not want to do 8 variations on the same shots, so I came up with several ideas. I tried to show different parts of my personality and some of the different roles I play in life. It made me realize how many more I could do. The other big upside about being the model, is that you don't have to worry about the model's time or them wearing out before you do.

The biggest challenge is probably getting the image framed and the focus correct. For focus, I would auto focus on something that I knew was the same distance from the camera as my eyes, then lock it into manual. For framing it was a bit of shoot and chimp (looking at the screen on the camera). It gave me a good appreciation for those doing this on a film camera.

The image above was the first I shot. Pretty conservative, I juiced it up by replacing the blue sky with a cloudy one from another shot and then running a high pass filter and reducing the opaqueness in photoshop. The second shot was on the same day. I decided instead of getting on top of the picnic table, I would get under it. Something unexpected. (Baby steps of daring.) I added the color green to the concrete table and complimentary magenta to the background to create a little tension.

I have always admired the work of Chuck Close, so I decided to do a closeup head shot. (Below) I used a very narrow depth of field, using my 85mm 1.8 lens. I focused on my eyes and wanted as much of the rest out of focus as possible. Light was provided by an alien bees ring flash, the light is so small in my eyes because of the distance from the camera. I ran this through the high pass filter in photoshop to make my imperfections stand out, not too difficult.

The shot below was at the same session as the Chuck Close. I put my glasses back on and put a red filter on the flash, an Alien Bees Ring Flash. Notice how the red filter gets rid of the imperfections. The downward gaze makes this more contemplative.

As I was setting up for a shot I would call the consumer, I was playing around with long exposure and multiple poses. This one was all done in camera. A 4 second exposure. I held for half the shot looking at the camera with my legs crossed. Then, for the second half, I looked out the window and put both feet on the floor. This used a AB800 flash with a softbox, mostly for fill. The key light was camera right from the window.

Below is the one I call The Consumer. It is my favorite. I almost did not submit it. Probably because I was a little embarrassed how much money I have spent on stuff over the years. That pain is probably why it is the most effective shot. For lighting, I used a AB800 with softbox on the camera right. Another AB800 is bounced off the white ceiling to fill the shadows and light the shelf behind. I darkened the lamp in photoshop. (You can see this image bigger by clicking on it, if you really need to see the prices.) The shot after it is the same shot, without the words and with a blue filter on the fill light off the ceiling. It has a totally different feel.
The last two are studio shots with a little more concept. The guitar has always been something I liked but never really mastered. At least I knew enough to make an acceptable chord with my left hand. I had a AB800 with softbox for the main light, camera right. An AB800 above and behind with a red filter. A white poster board behind subject and to camera left to put a little rimlight on my right sleeve.
Last, I did a studio shot with identical lighting to above, except a blue filter on the back light. I call it Cut with The Past. It is meant to symbolize how I am changing my life by switching careers at age 50. I sat on the floor to take the shot of the severed head, using a green filter. I am not totally happy with the result, but it is my first try at doing something like this.

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