Let Me Introduce... Jan. 25, 2015 - Attanasio Imagery


Yes, this is my first attempt at a self-portrait, and if you've ever tried this you know it's not as easy as it looks. If you've never done one of these shots I'll explain what I experienced during this 1/2 hour session and some of the solutions I incorporated along the way.

Besides over-coming the mental aspect of photographing yourself, you as the photographer, must set up your work station for optimal performance during the session. I decided to do this by myself to learn as much as possible about every aspect of portrait photography. Here's what I did....

I set up my off camera flash and umbrella directly in front (4 feet) of a stool that I'll be sitting on. It's raised up to approximately 8 feet. and pointed approx. 45 degrees downward. I then mounted my camera on a tripod and pointed it at a spot that I anticipated my head to be. I also had a silver reflector in my hands during the shot to soften the shadows under my chin and the shadows created by the bill of my cap. This can be seen in the two catch lights in each eye.

I utilized a Younguno flash with transceivers to facilitate communication between the camera and off camera flash. I also set my 5d's self timer to 10 seconds to give me time to sit on the stool.

After the initial set up I then focused (pardon the pun) on the in-camera settings to attain correct exposure, focus and composition. After several attempts at correct exposure here's what I settled on.

iso: 250     f/5.6     1/50 sec. 122 mm

Based on the histogram, almost perfectly exposed.

Also note that my flash was set at 1/8th power @ 24mm

Problems encountered at this point included:

1. Proper aiming of the lens.

2. Properly aiming the flash head.

3. Inability to properly focus on my eyes.

4. How to pose for the shot. (I found this quite difficult)

Taking a shot and manually adjusting the first 2 items cleared up these problems but manually focusing the lens I was unable to attain perfect focus on my eyes. After much head shaking at what a disaster the posing was I decided on the straightest face possible with no smile. You can see this in the photo below.

After snapping 2 dozen or so shots I decided to import the photos into Lightroom  and examine each shot for proper exposure. This was difficult at first because I sat there examining every feature and problem with my own face. We are our own worst critic right?

I was then determined to put myself aside (if that's possible) and critique the technical aspects of the shots. 

Problems encountered at this point:

1. White balance is terrible. I set my camera to the flash WB and I still rendered quite yellow to orange. I really need a grey card or better yet, need to learn how to set a custom WB in the camera.

2. My right eye is smaller than my left (you can't see it here because I used the liquify tool in Photoshop to fix it.

3. My skin is quite blotchy and uneven. I took the shot into Perfect Portrait in OnOne's Perfect Photo Suite and worked a few miracles, although not perfect. What's the saying? You can't make chicken salad out of chicken S&*t.

At this point I've learned quite a few things about this self portrait stuff and although I can't do much to improve the subject (myself) I'm inspired enough to move forward creating self portraits.

I'm positive this will help me not only understand the technical aspect of taking the shot but also understand what's going on inside the mind of the client. Many say this is the most important part of portrait photography.

I hope you continue to join me on this journey of people photography. Thank for visiting and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

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