2014 – Project 52 – Week Two
The point of the ‘2014 photo a week photography challenge’ is for me to truly make myself take pictures I wouldn’t normally take. Last year, it was about developing my skills in certain areas and ensure that the things that caught my eyes were photographed and shown as I saw them in my head. It was about getting better compositions, making sure my images were sharp, and so forth. I haven’t abandoned these simple techniques this year, however, I find that I’m setting up my shots more and actually doing some conceptual thinking behind it.
For week two I did two challenges in one which can be described as ‘taking a ‘selfie’/self-portrait’.
The first challenge any photographer would face is to actually take a self-portrait; ensuring that the camera is set properly, you are adjusted in a good way to make the best of the light, etc., since you won’t be the eyes behind the camera looking at the model – you are the mode. I don’t have a camera with an adjustable LCD so that I can rotate it and see where the focus is in live view mode. Therefore, it wasn’t easy at all. I remember taking multiple shots and running back and forth to ensure that the focus was where I wanted, etc. In addition, I had a hard time ensuring that the light was how I wanted it to be – I didn’t use studio light but natural lighting. Furthermore, I realised that the background needed to be perfect also. Therefore, taking a ‘selfie’ is more than just holding a camera towards myself and pressing the button to take the picture.
The second challenge was making sure I took a picture that showed myself and not just me giving my perfected fake smile. It’s not easy for me to pose for a picture as I’m never sure what I want to do. Sometimes I think the best time to take a picture of me is when I’m unaware of it as I don’t ‘freeze’. In addition, it was really hard for me to take an image that truly represents who I think I am. However, as you can see, I finally got something that I think best captures the idea of myself.
I received several comments from photographer friends along the lines of: the focus should be on the eyes, the arm placement isn’t pleasing and the arm appears too strong, the vignette is too much… They weren’t made to make me feel bad but to help me better my skills as a photographer and I welcomed the critique. However, there were reasons for certain elements – not all were purposely done and there are some technical mistakes (I am learning). I didn’t want to focus to be on my eyes as you can see they are down cast and in shadow. The reason for this is because even though I’m a rather amiable person, I don’t trust people easily and I tend to keep a lot of my thoughts to myself. The focus is on my lips because I have a lot to say but don’t necessarily utter the words but they are plain to see. The arm is there to form that barrier and make the picture feel a bit disturbing because I’m not easy to understand and I’m not always open and free. Also, I used the strong vignette because I wanted the appearance of the darkness closing in on me yet I’m somehow able to not blend with it totally, even though I’m a bit pale from the effort.
Breaking it down, step by step:
Step One – I got two chairs to form the frame for my background and placed a black sari (Indian wear) to get my black background.
Step Two – I sat down and made the pose I wanted and stuck some bobby pins in the sari as close to the point I wanted to be sharp.
Step Three – I set my camera up on another chair about four feet in front of me and put it on live view. I then moved the focus box around so that the bobby pins would be in the box and set the camera on remote mode.
Step Four – I have two sets of windows in the room I took the picture. One set was facing the background and another was to my back (when I sat down). I used the front window as my main lighting source. I lifted the left curtains up a lot and the right set a little to get the effects of the key light and fill light. The curtains on the windows to the back of me were just shifted a little to give a bit of back light.
Step Five – I sat down and tried a variation of poses and positions while using the remote to ensure I captured the frames. It took some going back and forth but finally I got the picture I wanted.