Week 1 - Dogwood 52 Week Photography Challenge

Portrait: Self Portrait. Start things off right with a "selfie"! Explore the self timer setting on your camera. I'm not too comfortable with the self portrait so I...

3 years ago

Latest Post Doc/Fest 19 - Reflection by Paul Massey

Portrait: Self Portrait.

Start things off right with a "selfie"! Explore the self timer setting on your camera.

I'm not too comfortable with the self portrait so I thought I'd do something a little different using the "The Invisible Black Background" technique.

Although really quite different; my inspiration for this was the Richard D James Album cover.

I've only done this type of image once before and not using a timer to photograph myself. In fact; I think this is my first ever DSLR self portrait.

How was it shot?

As noted above; the image was shot using the "The Invisible Black Background" technique which allows you to shoot an image with a pure black background, anywhere and even in daylight.

The image was shot in my living room one evening with table lamp in the corner of the room providing enough light to see what I was doing - the table lamp remained on throughout the shoot.

There was no black screen or any sort of background positioned behind me - shooting a standard image would just show me sitting in a regular room with furniture etc.

I positioned my Nikon D7100 with Nikon AFS 35mm 1:1.8G lens and Yongnuo YN-622C-TX on my tripod (3-legged thing Brian) facing a chair from my dining room.

To the side of the chair I positioned by Nikon SB-800 with Yongnuo YN-622-RX on a light stand, facing away and pointing into a gold lighting umbrella that was open only just enough to allow the flash to fit inside the opening.

The opening of the brolly pointing to the side of the chair and ultimately my face.

The SB-800 was set to a suitably low output.

Before shooting the image I disabled the flash and setup my focus on the chair and then switched to manual focus on the lens so it wouldn't try to autofocus when I took my shot.

Aperture was set at f1.8 as I wanted a nice, shallow depth of field.

I gradually increased the shutter speed as I fired off some test images until it resulted in a completely black image.

I then enabled the flash, set the camera to 5 second timer, took my seat, pressed the shutter and positioned myself ready for the timer to fire the shutter and flash.

Editing

I performed a minor edit to the image in Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.

I duplicated the photograph into a new layer, set the layer mode to "overlay" and reduced the opacity until I was happy with the increased visible detail.

I then used the eraser tool on the new layer to erase around my eye in order to lighten that section and allow it to stand out a little.

Notes

I wanted to shoot this image with one of our silver umbrellas but at the time I could only find a gold one.

After looking at the results; I do rather like the warmth that it gives to the final image and I'm glad I couldn't place the umbrella I'd started out to use.

If you're not overly happy with the added warmth of a gold umbrella you can always edit a B&W version as below.

The B&W version was created using [Silver Efex Pro](https://www.google.com/intl/en-GB/nikcollection/products/silver-efex-pro/" target="_blank).

The other time that I tried "The Invisible Black Background" technique; I shot a few pictures of our little Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera rig whilst using a silver umbrella.

As you can see; the silver umbrella gives a nice, clean, neutral light and shows off the details of the camera setup and the vivid red coloured elements really well and is much better in this situation.

When I shoot some more of these images I will take some "behind the scenes" images to show the setup better than I can describe it.

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Paul Massey

Published 3 years ago

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