You knew the day was coming, that fateful day, always lurking just over the horizon. Today is that day. It’s time to talk about myself, or rather, about my self portraits. Whenever possible, I prefer to shoot my wife (that really doesn’t sound right). Even more so, I definitely prefer to show off pictures of my wife to other people – it’s easier to get people to appreciate your work when they’re not running away in terror, screaming like little girls. Alas, most of the time I have to settle for shooting myself or some poor inanimate object which happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I have a feeling I’m going to end up with a rather large gallery of self portraits and today we’re going to have a closer look at some of my first attempts.
The lead photo for this post is from my most resent session where, thankfully, the theme was silhouettes, so you couldn’t actually see my face (don’t worry, we’ll up the scare factor in a bit). Since I was going for a silhouette I only lit the background and the result was pretty cool, especially since I got lucky with the reflection in my glasses, definitely adds to the image. My original intention was to put a gridded light on the eye as well, as in this second image, but I think the first one actually came out better. The setup for these shots was extremely simple and I think the whole session took 10-15 minutes. For the amount of time spent I think the results has a pretty good impact. Now brace yourself, the next image isn’t for the faint of heart.
My wife is very pretty with kind of a soft look. Hard light doesn’t work very well on her. That’s one of the reasons I need to experiment on myself if I want to try throwing some hard light around. I borrowed the idea for this shot from someone but I can’t remember where I found it right now. It’s mixed light, one warm and one cold source. If we disregard the deer-in-headlights look from our model, this is a pretty neat effect that carries a nice mood. The left source is through a grid and the right one is just goboed to keep it off the right (left in the picture) side of the face. I think this is something I’ll experiment more with in the future, if done right it has an almost cinematic look to it. Speaking of cinema: I find myself looking a lot at the light when I’m watching movies now. The big budget Hollywood flicks are often less than good but their lightning people certainly knows what they’re doing. Just the other day I watched The Eagle – decent movie but nothing memorable – in which there was a scene with similar light to this shot. It made me want to try something like this again and tweak the effect a bit.
Speaking of hard light: this scary looking shot is about as hard as it gets. This was also a fairly quick shot and more of a test really. Unless you’re shooting for a horror magazine or something, I think this light works better as a base for the key light and depending on what you’re going for you can tone it down a bit as well. You could add a soft light as key and tone down the rim lights for a nice 3D effect or you could add another hard light and you would have some kind of wrap around effect going on. I’ll see if I can try that sometime soon but it’s a bit tricky with my current setup since I only have two stands and 3 lights, one of which has to be connected to the camera, for which I don’t have a proper tripod. When I have some more time to set things up I’ll give it a shot.
Despite the logistic inconvenience of shooting yourself (set it up, stand in front of the camera, walk back to check the result, change some stuff, back in front of the camera, rinse and repeat) it does provide me with an opportunity to practice and try out new techniques. When everything works out I even get some pictures of myself that I can show people without having them run away screaming incoherently. I’m horrible at posing though, so even if I nail the light and composition, I still won’t end up with any high class photos. One thing that can be said in favour of using ourself as the model though, is the fact that you know your model will take directions really well – something that sadly isn’t always the case. Next time on Rifqi’s photo we meet the model of your nightmares.