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Archive 2013 · Self Portrait
  
 
U-taker
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Self Portrait


Hi all. A little about me. I'm a big time lurker on FM with very few posts on here. Photography had been a hobby for quite a few years (no formal schooling, only internet reading/video watching and trial and error and a little bit of mentoring after my employment). In March of 2011, I was offered a job at a wedding studio (someone on here commented in a former post of mine that I most likely work for a wedding mill, which I pretty much agree on, emphasis on cookie cutter/basic) here in CT and for the first year, I shadowed/2nd shot to learn the ropes of what to capture. I came a long way in that first year. After my first year, I was let loose all last year and I loved it! Some of my work is on my FaceBook page if any are interested. Sorry, no personal website since most of my work is for the studio. I also want to mention that working for the studio is my second job. My primary occupation is funeral directing and I've been a licensed full time director for 13 years now.

With that said, I recently purchased an inexpensive 3 strobe light set ([2]400w/s and [1] 300w/s Square Perfect, hey, it fit my budget lol) in hopes of teaching myself studio lighting. There are no in-studio shoots at the place I work so I can't get any instruction regarding studio lighting. Since I purchased these strobes, I have only used them for a few, very basic, even lit headshots and family portraits (all on location cuz I don't have my own studio space). Yesterday, I watched a video about lighting at Adorama Learning. The photographer used 4 lights, I have only three but I thought I'd give it a try nonetheless because I really liked the image/mood he produced. So last night, I tore apart my dining room and set up my "studio". I used a white paper backdrop and a gridded (don't know the degree) and snooted strobe to light it, at full power. Next to and underneath the snooted strobe, I set up a kicker(?). I used barn doors with a grid (don't know the degree) to light MY left side and further separate it from the background. The kicker was the 300w/s strobe at full power. My key (bare strobe, no diffusion) was positioned camera left, high and pointing down at approx. 45 degrees and was probably about 70-80 degrees to me, definitely not 90 nor 45. This was also full power. I also want to mention that I made two flags(?) out of heavy duty tin foil (I don't have black foil). I clipped one to the kicker barn door closest to the backdrop to prevent light spilling onto the backdrop and the other I attached to the key, again to prevent spill on the backdrop. I hope I explained my set-up reasonably well. I will include a pic of the set-up to give vision to the above description.

After I got a shot I really liked, I brought it into LR 4 for processing. I was hoping for a more "film noir" look but after playing around in LR, I think the hard light and shadows (and my attire) was suited more for an edgy look rather than "film noir" so I just ran with it. I am happy with my results. I see separation from the background and I believe the image has depth and doesn't look flat.

Without further adieux, I present my self portrait along with a cell phone pic of the set-up. I'd love to hear some feedback, good or bad, as to if I created mood with this experimenting. Again, I'm a novice at studio lighting and I like to run before I can walk, hence the 3 light set-up instead of a one light set-up.

Oh! Btw, this was shot with my 5Diii, 70-200 2.8 mkii with a 3 stop ND filter. Exif should be included.

Thanks for looking and commenting! I will be in and out today but will check back when I can.

Ryan





  Canon EOS 5D Mark III    EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens    120mm    f/11.0    1/200s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  









Jan 26, 2013 at 04:42 PM
Steady Hand
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Self Portrait


Howdy,

First...my standard intro to anyone "new" to me on this forum...
My comments or suggestions below are not a criticism of you, your model, your talent or skill. I offer them in a friendly tone of voice and with the sole intent to help you with a second POV and set of eyes. If you read sincere questions and simple suggestions as "criticism" of you, then you will miss how I am trying to help you.

Of course this may be your own "style" or your own "vision" and I suppose we can assume that the images look just like they do because that is exactly how you like them. That is OK too. It just shows that there are differences of "opinion" on what looks good. IF these are exactly what you want and like, then by all means continue making your images look like that and have fun doing it. I can only speak for myself and what I do or do not find appealing in the posted photos. As I always say: "Follow your own muse."
_______________________

What would I change or do differently? Or is there anything I don't like?

1. Good intro by you.

I like BW portraits.

I like Self-Portraits (as a genre)...and realize they are not easy. AND they are a very personal choice of "look" for someone.

I like "film noir" and that look.

2. I would prefer to see more light or shadow detail in the face shadows (shadowed eye). As shown it looks like a "cyclops" photo (with only one eye showing clearly).

Tip: You can hold a piece of white card (or foamcor) that will bounce enough light to provide more light in that dark eye socket area.

I hope these comments help you.




Jan 26, 2013 at 05:53 PM
friscoron
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Self Portrait



Hey Ryan, glad you've decided to start sharing your work, and I hope we get to start seeing your wedding work as well.

I really like what you've done here, but I did the kicker light for your left cheek do what you wanted it to do? It lit only part of your cheek, and at a 45 degree angle. The reason for this was because you had it so low, pointing up 45 degrees. I think if you had at the same height as your head, it would have covered more of your face. The hat, being black, is absorbing the light and so is a bit lost here, but I think that's the look you were going for. Also, the kicker light, shooting from behind, is going to create different types of facial shadows than your key light, so you may want to consider moving it to your side or slightly in front of you at the side.

I really like what you've done here, tho, and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next.

Ron



Jan 26, 2013 at 06:33 PM
U-taker
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Self Portrait


@ Steady. Thank you for your comments. I was hoping you'd stop by and give me your input because I like how you critique, honest and straight forward and you're knowledge knows no bounds. Yes, I see the "cyclops" effect. In the sooc image, my eye is slightly visible but it really darkened down when I processed it to give it the edgy look. I will most likely mess around again tonight and I know I have some foam core around here somewhere so I will definitely give that a try. I just worry about having the hard light hitting me then having the softer light from the fill hit me. Will that cut down on some of the "edge"? Granted, as I said, I was going for a "noir" look but with the hard light, "edgy" just seemed to work. Thank you again for your comments

@ Ron. Thank you also for your comments. You wedding and engagement photos are superb I will be posting some of my wedding stuff since I did have a couple all on my own this past year. Just gotta build the courage because the work in the wedding forum is just spectacular. But, it is my work and as most everyone, I look at it differently than others would. As far as the kicker, my intent was to just use it to help further separate me from the background and possibly give a little rim lighting. Yes, black is absorbent and I wasn't thinking that clearly. My hair was messy so I just grabbed my hat to hide it and never even thought of my sweater. The spill on my face from the kicker was not intended but because the black of my hat and sweater absorbed the light and didn't "rim" me, I liked the effect on my cheek and stuck with it. Like I said to Steady, I may mess around tonight again and I don't think I'll wear black I'll also try your suggestion about raising the kicker and I might even move it from camera right to camera left considering the light fall off from the snooted backdrop light. Doing that in conjunction with Steady's suggestion of adding a foam core fill, may separate me more from the background. Again, the intent of the kicker really wasn't to light my left side but to rim light me. The slight oversight was wearing black.

Gentlemen, thank you very much for your comments and I look forward to posting some more of my images

Ron, look for some in the wedding forum in the near future, I'd appreciate your comments on those



Jan 26, 2013 at 09:39 PM
friscoron
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Self Portrait


Ryan, I thought you were intending to use the kicker for a rim light, but if that's the case, the position of the light is wrong. You don't want it to cross like that, exposing your face to it. Instead you want it behind you. The height will determine whether the top of your head/hat is rimmed as well. If the light is lower, it won't reach the top of your hat that is seen by the camera. Also, your rim light needs to be hotter than your main light, so punch it up. I think if you do this, your picture will really become interesting. You can then use a reflector to give the dark side of your face some fill. Once you do this again, post it again here so we can see your progress.

As for your wedding shots, I don't comment a whole lot over there. The People forum is my home, and pictures of brides are always welcome here.



Jan 27, 2013 at 02:42 AM
fgransee
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Self Portrait


I like the outfit and composition for this portrait. My first thought was too that you could use a little bit more light on your "dark side" ... you got a good face for that and your portrait will be stronger for it.


Jan 27, 2013 at 02:43 AM
U-taker
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Self Portrait


@Ron Yes, that was my intention and I did go about it the wrong way. I played again tonight and moved the kicker from the stand in the corner to a boom overhead and behind. I ditched my hat and black sweater too. I got rid of the grid on the snoot and added a foam core reflector to camera right with a slight upward angle. I also got rid of the ND filter in favor of a greater d.o.f. to reach the back of my head. Again, I'll post the resulting image (processed in LR4) and a picture of the set up.

@fgransee Thank you for your comment. As I said to Ron, I made some changes and got a little more light on my dark side

Excuse the crevasses on my forehead, I get them from my father hahaha

Ryan




  Canon EOS 5D Mark III    EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens    115mm    f/29.0    1/200s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  









Jan 27, 2013 at 04:47 AM
DavidWEGS
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Self Portrait


Nicely shot stuff considering your relatively short time with the "studio".

I play with anything from 1 to 10 lights depending on how I want an image to look. Most times, its a 3 or 4 light setup. Sometimes, I do single with reflectors others I string some lights above for a sunshine look, then use reflectors below and fillers to the sides. So, play a lot. Move them in and out from your subject, lower/higher, try theatrical (up lighting) and snooted spots. If you get some matt black foil you can create shaped gobo's and shoots.

Love the immediate sense I got of your creativity here though. Keep it up and share more.



Jan 27, 2013 at 05:49 AM
U-taker
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Self Portrait


Just saw a slight mistake this morning with my second attemp. I should have repositioned the foam core. I can see a slight dark line running down the middle of my face. I believe this is from having the foam core greater than 45 and not on a 45.

@David Thank you for your comments. Wow! That's a lot of light you use sometimes. Think I'm going to stick to my 3 for now while I'm learning lol Yes, I'm trying to experiment with creative lighting and when I've worked out all the bugs in this 3 light set-up, I will be moving stuff around trying different lighting angles and different amounts of light (2 lights, 1 light, with/without reflector, etc). I'd like to maybe next try some high key. Again, thank you for your comments

I'll be working a bridal show today but I'll check back when I can. Thank you all for the helpful information and tips. I hope I followed everyone's suggestion and ended up getting the results that were expected.

Ryan



Jan 27, 2013 at 02:05 PM
camboman
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Self Portrait


I prefer the first image. The harder contrast and deep shadows make it more mysterious and intriguing.


Jan 27, 2013 at 05:33 PM
 



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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Self Portrait




Edited on Jan 27, 2013 at 08:10 PM · View previous versions



Jan 27, 2013 at 08:06 PM
U-taker
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Self Portrait


@Camboman Thanks for commenting


Jan 27, 2013 at 08:08 PM
friscoron
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Self Portrait



The light on your left shoulder is why you don't want a rim light to come from above. That light makes your shoulder compete for attention with the right side of your face, and I don't think that's what you want to happen. Shoot the rim light from below, but you've to crank up the power on it, it should be a couple stops hotter than your main light. Then you'll get the rim effect.

I really like the improvements on both sides of the face now. To me, all that's left is to get the rim light right. Nice job!



Jan 28, 2013 at 02:57 AM
U-taker
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Self Portrait


Hey Ron, today in CT we're supposed to get some real crappy weather starting around noon so I may have the afternoon to puttz around again. Changes that I'll make will be to lower that kicker and reposition the foam core. I think I'll keep the kicker on the boom and just lower it so that my body will hopefully block it. I can't place it on a stand behind me because of space constraints. The way I'm composing the image with the right side of my body off camera, I think keeping it on the boom will work since the arm won't be visible coming from that side. I'll set the power to the key and background to 1/2 power and kicker to full power and see where that gets me. I don't have a meter so it'll be trial and error getting the power ratios correct. That's ok, I've always done stuff the hard way and a lot of learning comes from that Thank you for your continued advice and comments, it is very appreciated!!!

Ryan



Jan 28, 2013 at 03:18 PM
knox
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Self Portrait


Take my comment with the importance it deserves . . . (very little) *smile* as obviously if you are happy with your shots, that is all that matters . . AND we all have different likes and dislikes. I have said it before here, but the 'serious tough guy / heavy drama' male self portrait has been done to death. Just 'possible' food for thought for future shot ideas. btw . . every guy has done it, so I mean nothing bad. *smile*


Jan 28, 2013 at 03:42 PM
Steve Wylie
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Self Portrait


You've had a bunch of good comments about light placement and so forth, so I won't dwell on those. And your images look good, especially for a novice at lighting, and doing a self-portrait to boot. I have one question/comment for you, though. You used your three lights at full power, and then slapped a 3-stop neutral density filter on your lens to kill the light and still shoot at f/11. Why? You have 1100 combined watt-seconds of power, when about 150 or less would get you to the same result.

I suggest that you now leave your lights where they are (for this exercise), take off the ND, and play with power settings to see how lighting ratios change (and improve) your results. If you can get your hands on a light meter, that will also be instructive, to see how the different light sources at different power settings affect your exposure on different surfaces of your face and backdrop.



Jan 28, 2013 at 04:56 PM
U-taker
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Self Portrait


@Knox Thanks! I appreciate your comment I agree with you that it has been done to death pretty much everywhere. And, that's probably why it was the first thing I thought of when I wanted to seriously start working on studio lighting. No worries tho! I'll be working on more/different moods as soon as I get a handle on this one

@Steve Thank you for the great feedback! I just thought that if I started real basic, I'd have less variables to confuse me. Something like: Ok, this is what happens when everything is full power with the lights where they are, now if I move the light this way or that, this is what I end up with. Now, let's add a reflector and see the results of that, etc. Yes, it's a slow process, especially when you have no one to shoot and you're doing this on your own.

You'll be happy to know tho, that last night I did play with the lighting ratios. I kept the kicker at full power and brought down the other two lights to 1/2 power and started there. A little tweaking to the power and I started to get the results I was looking for, in a way.... I've come to the conclusion that I just don't have the space I need to effectively have a good rim light. As per Ron, I moved the kicker directly behind me and with his and your suggestion, played with the power settings and made the kicker have the most power. I was getting my rim lighting but not as I had hoped. Reason? It's toooooo close to me, probably close to less than a foot. Problems that arose? One, it's too close to rim my whole head and shoulders. Two, because of the proximity (just an educated guess) my ears are lit up light the 4th of July. Three, again because of the proximity, the light reflects off my back and onto the backdrop lighting the backdrop up so I lose the effect I'm going for.. My remedy for number 3 was to just change out the white backdrop for my black one and it worked. one and two are still an issue though but I think if I had more room, they wouldn't be. Just for haha's, the room I'm using is 13'x10' I believe. Minus the space required for the tripod and backdrop effectively making it 8~9 ft from lens to backdrop with me(subject) 5' from the lens, 3' from backdrop. Hoped this helped, a long the the above pictures of the ::cough cough:: studio, to understand why I think I'm not getting the rim lighting like I want.

As far as the ND filter, I really only used it to see the effect on d.o.f. (and to see if it was a decent quality filter).

Maybe I'll post a shot I took last night when I get home from work to illustrate the rim/lack of rim and flaming ears.

Ryan



Jan 29, 2013 at 04:49 PM
U-taker
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Self Portrait


Here is the shot that goes along with the above description. This is an SOOC jpeg. I have an eye-fi card in my camera that I record small jpegs to and it gets sent to my ipad. This way, I don't have to keep getting up to check the back of the camera

Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture of the set-up but the only thing that changed was the power output on the strobes and I lowered the kicker to be behind me.








Jan 31, 2013 at 06:57 PM
friscoron
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Self Portrait



Look at the difference from where you started on this shot to where you are now. Nice!



Jan 31, 2013 at 08:52 PM
U-taker
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Self Portrait


Thank you Ron!

And thank you everyone for your help and suggestions



Feb 02, 2013 at 04:48 PM





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