Monday, May 16, 2011

Clone Self-Portraits

Being the egotist that I am, I always wondered what the world would be like if I could clone myself. I could get a lot more done. Have work, fun, family and fitness all happening simultaneously. Well, I am happy to announce, I have succeeded in cloning myself - at least in a photo. To date, I have done four such photos. The process is straight–forward, if somewhat tedious. The imagination is the biggest limiter.

In the first photo (below), I imagined myself at home doing the normal daily chores of life. Things like eating, sleeping, watching TV, etc. To get the shot, I set the camera with a 20mm lens on a tripod in the corner. I exposed for the ambient light at about 4 seconds on a f8 aperture. I used the camera’s 2-second exposure delay and a remote trigger to get in place. So this was actually several full exposures with me in the different places. After all the shots were taken, I opened the first one in Photoshop CS5. For each subsequent shot, I opened the new photo, selected all and copied to the clipboard. Then I went back into the main photo and pasted the image as a new layer. Next I filled the mask with black to hide the new photo. Then I painted the mask with white to reveal only the part that I wanted to add. I did this with each subsequent layer until the entire shot was composed. This one was easier than the bicycle shot at the top because there was no overlap between the layers.

For the bicycle shot, I used a similar technique, except for using a Canon TC80N3 intervalometer. I set this on 15 seconds and did a different loop on my bicycle, making sure to be in a different place each time. The camera was again on a tripod. I used my 580Xii on camera for fill because of the time of day. I changed shirts, glasses and water bottle every 10 shots or so, so I could have a variety of characters in the shot. I intentionally cropped some characters in half to show more motion and imply even more cyclists than were in the shot. The girl handing me the water bottle, just happened to walk by and agreed to help out.

The layering for this shot was much more complicated than the other. There were those pesky see-through wheels with spokes. Lots of images overlapped. So selection of images to mask and reveal was much more complicated. Also, several of the characters ended up being moved from their original position. Namely the tire-changer and the front bottom character in the yellow. It was tricky to position them so that they looked correct. The shadow on the tire-changer had to move as well. I lowered the contrast and lightened the tire-changer to make sure he looked farther away.Finally, I showed a shot of me editing photos in my home office. This would certainly make me more productive if I wasn't arguing with myself. Jerseys in this shot, except for the Livestrong Jersey are by 11-gear, my favorite cycling apparel. You can see more self-portraits on my website at

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