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  1. #1
    Jared Pose's Avatar
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    Question How-To: Self Portraits?

    Any tips on how to take a self portrait? You have to prefocus on something, right? But what? Maybe the chair you're sitting in? Someone care to explain to me, how you can focus on yourself if you arent there?

    Another thing, any ideas of how I could do something like..illuminate only half of my face, leaving the other side dark/shadowed? I have no studio lighting or anything, so I would only have natural light at my disposal, maybe through a window in late afternoon? If I did get the proper lighting, how could I set the right exosure? I still rely on my cameras meter to guide me, I can't determine aperture and shutter by sight.

    -Thanks for any comments/suggestions.

  2. #2
    Hardcore...Nikon Speed's Avatar
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    Natalie Is Our Self Portrait Expert...

    Quote Originally Posted by Pose
    Any tips on how to take a self portrait? You have to prefocus on something, right? But what? Maybe the chair you're sitting in? Someone care to explain to me, how you can focus on yourself if you arent there?

    Another thing, any ideas of how I could do something like..illuminate only half of my face, leaving the other side dark/shadowed? I have no studio lighting or anything, so I would only have natural light at my disposal, maybe through a window in late afternoon? If I did get the proper lighting, how could I set the right exosure? I still rely on my cameras meter to guide me, I can't determine aperture and shutter by sight.

    -Thanks for any comments/suggestions.
    And she takes lovely self portraits. Of course, it helps that Natalie is a lovely lady!

    Before we can give you any meaningful advice, we need to know what kind of camera you're using. A digital with a timer may focus before taking the photo - then again, it may not. A manual camera would be a piece of cake to pre-focus. Do you have a cable release or an electronic release? If so, you may be able to focus on yourself before you take the shot. Too many variables with all the camera models out there.


    As for illuminating one side of your face, you can use window light, and expose for the sunlit side of your face. The other side will go dark. If you have the ability to mount your flash off camera (sync cord or wireless remote) you can set it up to one side to get the effect you want. There are LOTS of folks here more knowledgeable about lighting than I am. I would suggest you ask your lighting question in the Studio and Lighting Forum as well. It may get answered quicker there.

    Good luck, and welcome to PR!
    Nikon Samurai # 1


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  3. #3
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    I would just focus on the chair where my head would be and depending on the lens opening maybe focus the lens closer. An easier way would be to have someone else sit in the chair. You could do all of your focusing and light metering with the "model" In the photo below most of the light was from a small table lamp. The light on the dark side of my face was from reflected light bouncing off the wall. I just set the self timer ran to the chair and tried to look relaxed.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  4. #4
    has-been... another view's Avatar
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    Like Speed says, it depends on the camera. If you can manually focus the camera, take your best guess and then stop down to f8 or f11 or so to give you enough depth of field to cover any error. Sitting in a chair is a good idea because you know where your face will be - focus on the back of the chair then focus just a little closer (like 6"). My coolpix has a self timer which will focus after the timer is done, so that would be handy too (as would the flip-around LCD). Digital would be probably best here - you know right away if it worked.

    I did it once with my DSLR and it was a pain because I had to guess that I was in the right spot, then walk behind the camera to see if it worked. Then I'd have to guess where I was and try it again. Of course, being photogenic like Natalie helps too!

    I needed a portrait for a project and it had to be done by a certain day. Being a natural born procrastinator, I waited until the day I had to drop it off, so I couldn't use the coolpix because my wife had it!

  5. #5
    Jared Pose's Avatar
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    Hey, thanks for the advice on focusing, exposure, and lighting.

    I have a film SLR, has both auto and manual controls (Elan 7), and a 35-135mm lens. I don't have any accessories yet, so no cable or electronic release, but I'm sure I could pick one up sometime, if it'd help out.

    I feel like I'm forgetting to mention something in this post..hmm, ah..I'll post it if I remember.

    More comments welcome.

    -Jared

  6. #6
    ...just believe natatbeach's Avatar
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    Talking self timer

    on manual mode so you can try all kinds of different settings...window light from one side gives you that half lit half darkened face that you want ...like they said meter for (the window light or) the lit side of your face. You can also "borrow"some poor unsuspecting friend to play stand in while you figure out the settings...I prefer the elemenet of surprise

    Looking forward to seeing what you come up with...have fun...one of the few times you can come across as anyone you want to be...
    "I was not trying to be shocking, or to be a pioneer.
    I wasn't trying to change society, or to be ahead of my time.
    I didn't think of myself as liberated, and I don't believe that I did anything important.
    I was just myself. I didn't know any other way to be, or any other way to live."
    .
    Bettie Page

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