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Archive 2013 · Self Portrait

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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Self Portrait

I'm currently unsure of accuracy of exposure after processing and whatnot, I expect I might have blown some highlights here or there as I was processing this first rendition on a not-completely-accurately calibrated monitor. But here goes...


I desire and desired a conflicted feel to the image, a bit of hope, a bit of comfort, a bit of sorrow. Currently I don't see hope, whatsoever coming through.

The blurring of many details was created not in post but in capture with use of a long shutter (4s shutter at 50mm f/3.5, with two flashes triggered. One directly behind me, bouncing off my body to the wall behind it at 1/32 power, 70mm range (on a equivalent of a 56m guide range flash), as well as a cloth-covered flash in front of me triggered up that bounced off the ceiling at -3.0 EV, oh and a laptop screen below me (I have to use what I can, haha) providing fill light from below.

The ghosting in particular was from movement after the initial flashes. The only details that really remain lie in my right eyebrow (which bothers me a little), right eyelashes (some of them), and a little in the tip of my nose. Not much else remains in most other places, though there are other spots.

So far, I think the ghost-blurring adds to the image for me, but for you, does the ghost-blurring effect add or detract? One thing I wasn't expecting but I found out later that I somewhat like is the way in which my face seems almost distorted in an inhuman fashion if you look at the shape of my nose down to my lips. And... Yeah. Any thoughts, comments, critiques, anything would be appreciated. Sorry for the long post.

A full size version can be found here

Feb 04, 2013 at 01:17 AM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Self Portrait

It shows a sort of light mottling I'd have expected if some light was reflected by foreground water.

Feb 04, 2013 at 01:36 AM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Self Portrait


The effect seems random, by which I mean it seems as if it were generally applied to the center of the face, where as maybe it should have been used to highlight the eyes, perhaps, to further suggest the emotions you sought to capture.

Also, the buttery-soft texture is unnatural and a distraction.

Why not just use light and shadow at time of capture to establish the mood and tone of the photo?

Feb 04, 2013 at 02:03 AM

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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Self Portrait

I'm rather confused by what you were striving to achieving with your cloth-covered flash in front of me triggered up that bounced off the ceiling at -3.0 EV

You say that were using the laptop for fill, but it looks to me like the laptop is your key lighting and the contribution of your strobe bounced off the ceiling is nearly negligible. The highlights on the shirt sleeves are coming from the bottom, not the top, same goes for eye socket. There's also a slight shadow being cast on your face from what looks like your nose blocking the laptop light.

I'm wondering if you had turned off your laptop, if you wouldn't have had a near silhouette, with the edge light coming from the background spill (walls, other ambient, etc.). The lighting here just doesn't make sense to me ... pp changes add to the confusion.

As to the image itself ... I think you're in "no man's land".

By that, I mean it strikes a person initially as a poorly lit, poorly focused image. Yet, the "artistic intent" isn't strong enough to tell the viewer this was intentional, and of "good control" such that they want to try and study the image for the message being sent by the artist. As the creator of our images, we always know the message better than our viewer and often times our viewer needs more help than we might otherwise think.

The almost vertical shadow (camera right) that cuts through the face/eye doesn't strike me as being there by intent/control, nor does the upward nose shadow on the face under the (camera left) eye, nor the highlights at the outer corners of the eyes.

Things like this suggest not good control, which then corroborates the initial perception of poorly lit, poorly focused, and steals from the viewer wanting to study the image for the artist's/creator's message. Instead, it looks like a hodge-podge of lighting thrown together. For a reshoot, I'd suggest going all manual (i.e. skip the -3.0 EC and just dial it in). I'd also suggest shooting one light (try all three individually to see their contribution), then adding the next one, then finally the last ... if that makes any sense. Then you can better garner control of how to merge/manage them.

I applaud the artistic effort to communicate the message, but I think you've got a few issues @ "near miss" that are conflicting your viewer too much for the message to be effectively communicated. Although, since it does come across as "confused", I could see someone making the case for that being the intent ... just that the viewer may/may not be confident of that.


Feb 04, 2013 at 03:54 PM

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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Self Portrait

All fair enough. It'd probably make more sense in its place, as the last in a series of ten images. But definitely understood. Thanks for the feedback

Feb 05, 2013 at 04:51 AM
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Self Portrait

Eyes say hope with direct eye contact and fact they are lightest area in the photo makes them also the perceptual focal point where overall contrast gradient pulls and holds attention. That worked because hand are darker and not distracting.

The body language of the expression and crossed arms hugging self is insecurity. The "deer in headlights" quality of the low frontal light angle is perfect for the context of expression and action with arms here. Decision to crop off top of head puts more attention on eyes which works for the context of the message also.

The eyes say "I know where I want to go." The crop, expression, arms and lighting say "But I don't know how I will get there and am apprehensive, but hopeful."

It is body language I'd expect to see if for example if you were on a high diving board for the first time and about to jump in the deep end. I remember that's how life seemed when I was your age so it resonates with me and think it well done as is. It is unconventional but in a way that strengthens the message which is very creative.

Similar pose with smile, crossed arms in front and and more downward normal lighting would read " I know where I want to go and have a plan to get there and no doubt I will."

Feb 07, 2013 at 08:02 AM

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