Self Portraits 1st try -- C&C

Started Dec 10, 2009 | Discussions
jboschan Contributing Member • Posts: 546
Self Portraits 1st try -- C&C

Hey All,

Below are 3 photos I took today in my first-ever attempt to do a self portrait. D40, 18-55(non-vr). 1st one is in a mirror, and the other two were on a tripod and I used a piece of paper to diffuse the pop-up flash because I don't have an external and I always blink. This was also the first time I shot RAW, for what it's worth. I would love any thoughts on how they could be improved. Thanks!

-- hide signature --

Jamie

D40, 18-55mm, 55-200mm VR, D40, 18-55mm, 55-200mm VR, Sunpak premium plus 5800d tripod, vivitar 2000 flash.
http://s74.photobucket.com/albums/i257/Jboschan/

winparkman Veteran Member • Posts: 4,637
Re: Self Portraits 1st try -- C&C

Poses, background, white balance...

-- hide signature --

OK, not so purely a hobby.

 winparkman's gear list:winparkman's gear list
Fujifilm X100T
zirtico Contributing Member • Posts: 729
Re: Self Portraits 1st try -- C&C

The last two weren't too bad. I think the white balance is the biggest thing. Also, for lighting, I'm not sure if you used it, but the flash would have been nice to brighten things up and I'm sure the diffuser would have been useful.

321snap Regular Member • Posts: 279
Re: Self Portraits 1st try -- C&C

Hi- I guess my preference is for portraits that are a little more informal than those you posted, especially the last two. A face shot against a plain background is kinda like a passport photo. I'd suggest including more "surroundings" in your portraits. i realize that doing that by yourself is rather tricky, because you have to watch the background, the position of hands, arms, etc. But I think that would make for more interesting photos. Have you tried any portraits with available light? Outdoor portraits are also fun. Of the three photos you posted, I like the last one the best. Keep at it, and have fun with your D40.

OP jboschan Contributing Member • Posts: 546
Re: winparkman

winparkman wrote:

Poses, background, white balance...

-- hide signature --

OK, not so purely a hobby.

Could you possibly elaborate on how these could be improved, please? I don't doubt that you are correct that these areas could be improved, but just listing them does not help me visualize how I might go about it. Poses, I am starting to have more ideas about as I've been chewing on it, but I am not sure what I should think about for the other two. Preset WB maybe? Thanks for any further clarification!
--
Jamie

D40, 18-55mm, 55-200mm VR, D40, 18-55mm, 55-200mm VR, Sunpak premium plus 5800d tripod, vivitar 2000 flash.
http://s74.photobucket.com/albums/i257/Jboschan/

OP jboschan Contributing Member • Posts: 546
Re: Zirtico

zirtico wrote:

The last two weren't too bad. I think the white balance is the biggest thing. Also, for lighting, I'm not sure if you used it, but the flash would have been nice to brighten things up and I'm sure the diffuser would have been useful.

Zirtico, Thank you for looking! The wall and the lighting were actually orange-toned, so the WB looked fairly accurate to me, and I shot RAW, so I can always change it, but what would you recommend I do to fix it. Do a PRE setting on a white sheet of paper maybe?

And I did use the flash, with a piece of paper as diffuser, because I just could not keep my eyes open without diffusing the flash. Could barely keep my eyes open for a lot of them, even with the flash diffused... External flash is on my Hannukah list, but I will have to wait at least a week to find out if I get one.

I would appreciate any further advice you might have. Thanks again!
--
Jamie

D40, 18-55mm, 55-200mm VR, D40, 18-55mm, 55-200mm VR, Sunpak premium plus 5800d tripod, vivitar 2000 flash.
http://s74.photobucket.com/albums/i257/Jboschan/

OP jboschan Contributing Member • Posts: 546
Re: 321snap

321snap wrote:

Hi- I guess my preference is for portraits that are a little more informal than those you posted, especially the last two. A face shot against a plain background is kinda like a passport photo. I'd suggest including more "surroundings" in your portraits. i realize that doing that by yourself is rather tricky, because you have to watch the background, the position of hands, arms, etc. But I think that would make for more interesting photos. Have you tried any portraits with available light? Outdoor portraits are also fun. Of the three photos you posted, I like the last one the best. Keep at it, and have fun with your D40.

Hi 321snap,

Thank you for looking! I am thinking about trying some more tomorrow with poses. Yesterday I just couldn't think of much. I was also extremely focused on keeping my eyes open when the flash went off yesterday, so that kind of clouded thoughts about posing or not posing.

I thought that the faux texture in the wall would be interesting, but it didn't really show up. I was really trying to avoid cluttered backgrounds, like rooms with bookshelves, but wasn't sure how to get an uncluttered background that was interesting. Outside does sound like something interesting to try.

I did try some with available light, but there just wasn't enough of it. All of the ones I took in available light were too dark, and had motion blur to boot because I couldn't get the shutter speed up high enough. Any suggestions? (Other than fast lens/external flash, because I am not buying anything until after I see what I get for Hanukkah.)

Again, thanks for looking, and let me know if you have any further suggestions!

-- hide signature --

Jamie

D40, 18-55mm, 55-200mm VR, D40, 18-55mm, 55-200mm VR, Sunpak premium plus 5800d tripod, vivitar 2000 flash.
http://s74.photobucket.com/albums/i257/Jboschan/

winparkman Veteran Member • Posts: 4,637
Re: winparkman

Please excuse my bluntness, I don't mean to come across as rude but simply to give you as directly as possible my experience.

The poses are flat, rather like a nice driver's license photo. They are unimaginative which makes them uninteresting. Look for a good book on portraits and how to pose subjects. Keep in mind that cameras tend to add weight to a subject so you want to minimize that effect.

The background offers little contrast to your skin. It does not allow the subject to pop, rather you tend to blend into the wall.

White balance can be set during a shoot but I prefer to shoot in RAW and adjust the white balance in post processing. I am careful to evaluate the kind of light falling on my subject, so I will make in-camera WB changes if I am shooting under fluorescents or incandescents or some other non-natural strong lighting source.

The key to portraits (not self-portraits) is rapport with your subject. It is up to you to discover what is right/wrong with their face, what to de-emphasize (large nose, weak chin, etc), develop a rapport so the subject responds positively to you and to make sure the light is doing what you want it to. It helps to have a sort of script of what you want to try so that you are not staring at a person wondering how to get started.

I hope you did not take any offense to my thoughts. I think you are off to a good start and by asking, you will learn.

jboschan wrote:

winparkman wrote:

Poses, background, white balance...

-- hide signature --

OK, not so purely a hobby.

Could you possibly elaborate on how these could be improved, please? I don't doubt that you are correct that these areas could be improved, but just listing them does not help me visualize how I might go about it. Poses, I am starting to have more ideas about as I've been chewing on it, but I am not sure what I should think about for the other two. Preset WB maybe? Thanks for any further clarification!
--
Jamie

D40, 18-55mm, 55-200mm VR, D40, 18-55mm, 55-200mm VR, Sunpak premium plus 5800d tripod, vivitar 2000 flash.
http://s74.photobucket.com/albums/i257/Jboschan/

-- hide signature --

OK, not so purely a hobby.

 winparkman's gear list:winparkman's gear list
Fujifilm X100T
jkjond
jkjond Veteran Member • Posts: 8,409
Re: 321snap

It all comes down to purpose. There are millions of styles of portrait, so what are you trying to achieve? Some people will like what you have already, though I suspect most will want something which says more about you.

You could do with researching a few portrait photographers to see what that leads you. My personal fave is Jane Bown who works exclusively with available light (other than when she doesn't) and so sniffs out a location to see where the light is best. This usually tends to be by a window. If the light is not good, then as a backup she takes a table lamp along to a shoot with a 150W bulb in it - note that she did use fast lenses, and typically shot at f2.8. Her work is outstanding, well worth researching. Oh, she's also black and white only. Note the spelling of her name or google will take you nowhere, not Brown, but Bown.

There are lots of other greats out there, Karsch, Newton, Arnold Newman - and Bill Brandt also took great portraits, though will be too extreme for some people. But many many others worth looking at.

See what you like, then decide what you like about it - then start working out how to get there or ask questions of people who may be able to lead the way.

321snap Regular Member • Posts: 279
Here's a freebie

It's a link to a Kodak web site that gives some tips about people pictures:

http://www.kodak.com/eknec/PageQuerier.jhtml?pq-path=93&pq-locale=en_US&_requestid=8071

I noticed that it mentioned remote controls in the article. There is a nice little remote that Nikon puts out that would be handy for self portraits. Don't remember the model number, but if you search for "Nikon, remote", it should get it for you. When using the remote, you can set the D40 for a 2-second delay after you push the remote button so that you have time to drop/hide the remote before the shutter goes off. Works pretty slick.

I realize there are lots of people on this forum that recommend the SB-600/800 flashes, but I have the SB-400 on my D40, and like it a lot.

OP jboschan Contributing Member • Posts: 546
Re: Remote

I do have the remote, which I used w/ 2-second delay, like you said, for all of the shots I took with the tripod. I also figured out how to do tethered shooting last night, which I saw mentioned in some self-portrait article I found, and I am eager to see if that will help too. The rest of the tips on the kodak list look interesting as well. I will try a bunch more tonight and/or tomorrow, and will definitely post some new ones if I think they are more interesting.
--
Jamie

D40, 18-55mm, 55-200mm VR, D40, 18-55mm, 55-200mm VR, Sunpak premium plus 5800d tripod, vivitar 2000 flash.
http://s74.photobucket.com/albums/i257/Jboschan/

Hansa Yindee
Hansa Yindee Veteran Member • Posts: 4,061
Re: Remote

.. I like to shoot outside on the North side of a building in the shade..

Center spot focus, iso 200, white balance set on shade with NO flash.

When inside I use the natural light from a window and maybe a small light to help out if possible.
Bryan Peterson has some books out that might help you in this area.

I try to keep the shot uncluttered but with small spots of color in the back ground unless lots
of color is desired. In that case fill it up with color.

Look as natural as possible not stiff like a card board poster and shoot for the eyes.
--
Jon in Thailand

http://www.flickr.com/photos/af2899/
.

 Hansa Yindee's gear list:Hansa Yindee's gear list
Nikon D50 Nikon D1X Nikon D300 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF +9 more
gwales
gwales Regular Member • Posts: 122
Some studio shots to compare (D90)...

You're welcome to have a look at my attempts. I don't claim any skills or experience, but you may get some ideas about trying different things.

http://picasaweb.google.com/geoffreywales/Studio#
--
Geoff Wales
Sydney
Australia

OP jboschan Contributing Member • Posts: 546
Re: Remote

Hansa Yindee wrote:

.. I like to shoot outside on the North side of a building in the shade..

Center spot focus, iso 200, white balance set on shade with NO flash.

When inside I use the natural light from a window and maybe a small light to help out if possible.
Bryan Peterson has some books out that might help you in this area.

I try to keep the shot uncluttered but with small spots of color in the back ground unless lots
of color is desired. In that case fill it up with color.

Look as natural as possible not stiff like a card board poster and shoot for the eyes.
--
Jon in Thailand

http://www.flickr.com/photos/af2899/
.

Thanks, I will see if I can implement some of your suggestions tomorrow and see how it goes. I've got nothing to do for most of the day tomorrow, so my plan is just to try lots of self-portraits and see what I can do. I will also look into the Brian Peterson books as you suggested, although probably not before I try some things tomorrow.
--
Jamie

D40, 18-55mm, 55-200mm VR, D40, 18-55mm, 55-200mm VR, Sunpak premium plus 5800d tripod, vivitar 2000 flash.
http://s74.photobucket.com/albums/i257/Jboschan/

WilsonEPhillips Senior Member • Posts: 1,317
Re: Go outside

Go outside and get some scenery behind you. Get some distance between you and the background so that you get some bokeh.

Drop the tripod down a bit and sit in a chair or something, so that you don't look like you are standing there getting a mug shot.

TOR8472 Senior Member • Posts: 1,616
my favorite self-portraiture artist

Here is my favorite self-portraiture artist. I liked her older stuff a lot more than her newer stuff. It's got to be hard to keep coming up with ideas on how to photograph yourself and I see she is branching out into photographing others now.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ndybisz/

 TOR8472's gear list:TOR8472's gear list
Panasonic FZ1000 Nikon D810 Nikon AF DX Fisheye-Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED +3 more
OP jboschan Contributing Member • Posts: 546
Re: Some studio shots to compare (D90)...

Very cool, thanks for sharing them! I definitely feel like I've got some things in my head that I can try now, so hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to do some cool things.
--
Jamie

D40, 18-55mm, 55-200mm VR, D40, 18-55mm, 55-200mm VR, Sunpak premium plus 5800d tripod, vivitar 2000 flash.
http://s74.photobucket.com/albums/i257/Jboschan/

Bullwhip Regular Member • Posts: 265
Re: Self Portraits 1st try -- C&C

Don't be afraid to try something a little different..

WilsonEPhillips Senior Member • Posts: 1,317
Re: my favorite self-portraiture artist

OMG! I sat there looking at those photos in awe. Amazing work.

TOR8472 wrote:

Here is my favorite self-portraiture artist. I liked her older stuff a lot more than her newer stuff. It's got to be hard to keep coming up with ideas on how to photograph yourself and I see she is branching out into photographing others now.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ndybisz/

Michael Edward Rudge Veteran Member • Posts: 7,068
Re: Self Portraits 1st try -- C&C

Got to remember not to chop off the top of your head, (it hurts ).
I also took the liberty of tweaking the levels in Photoshop hope you approve

 Michael Edward Rudge's gear list:Michael Edward Rudge's gear list
Canon EOS 60D Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Canon Pixma MG5350 Samsung Galaxy S4
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