Back Modifications (4)
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Self portrait.

By bighorse
Experimenting, one speedlight, one silver reflector. Sorry about the subject!

Tags: Portraits and people Flash and lighting

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


pablophotographer 6 952 335
27 Feb 2013 7:07PM
Good job Smile

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chase 12 1.1k 246 England
27 Feb 2013 7:50PM
Hi Graeme,
Well you look pretty fed up Hun,rather melancholy.
Love your facial hair,great for portrait work with all that wonderful texture.
Not sure about the colour though,looks very red to me,perhaps you need to check your white balance settings,'flash' would be good as you have used a speedlight.
Do you have a black scarf or headband on ? Whatever it is you have lost it against the bg which perhaps indicates your speedlight was in the wrong place,I don't know as you haven't told us if you have used the light on or off camera...from the position of the catchlights I would take a guess it was on camera.
If you can use it off camera with a reflector I would think that would be a better way to go in order to get a little more sculpturing on your face.Try positioning it just to one side of the camera with the reflector opposite at the level ( or just above) your eyeline,that way perhaps there would be a wee bit more separation between your head wear & the bg.
Always a difficult thing to judge as I wasn't there & didn't see your set up.

The moment I saw this I thought it would look so much better as a gritty mono,so I have had a bash at a mod for you.Bit of a crop from the top & bottom which I think helps to emphasis your face.
A difficult one to critique,I hope my input has helped somehow.
bighorse 7 7 United Kingdom
27 Feb 2013 8:22PM
Thanks Chase, the miserable chops are because I don't like being on that side of the camera! It was my first attempt at off camera flash, but it was only a couple of feet above, and directly behind the camera, hence your on/off dilemma. I was using a small reflector on my knees, but after your comments maybe it wasn't doing much good. I deliberately wore my every day black beret against a black b/g, but I preferred to lose it rather than have the b/g in view, by darkening the pic slightly.

I'll bear in mind what you've said and have another go soon. Oh, and I did like the mono, but I find it hard to be objective whilst I'm looking at my mug! Ta much again, Tully.
banehawi Plus
14 1.8k 3893 Canada
27 Feb 2013 8:34PM
False advertising, your not a horse at all!

Camera settings: F2.8 didnt give a lot of depth, so your eyes are not the main attraction, but your beard is! But always very hard to do a self portrait A little underexposed, but not a whole lot.

the format works, but I would also think about a portrait format.

Theres shadow under your nose, indicating one light high, - so better as Janet says to have it at about 45 degrees and not right in front, IF you can mount it away from the camera.

I have addressed the eye sharpness in the mods, and also provided a portrait crop. My mods have your skin just a little less red, - and only you know how much red is right!


chase 12 1.1k 246 England
27 Feb 2013 8:42PM
Two really good mods there Willie...good job !!!!
banehawi Plus
14 1.8k 3893 Canada
27 Feb 2013 9:45PM
Thanks. Never modified a horse into a man before.

NEWMANP 10 1.6k 574 United Kingdom
27 Feb 2013 10:14PM
i like the expression, great and moody, smiley faces are just happy snaps, this says more. especially with that super beard.

wish you had had worn a red or deep blue bandana or similar to hold the top down. the negative space out right side is good and also gives you the option of adding textures or even compositing a background in another version. ask Chase about this she is the business with this type of faffing. i like her mono conversion too but it would be nice to a have a smokey, or chalky texture to add another element. im keen to keep the shape of the shirt and shoulder though

if we are keeping things coloured id suggest going into "hue and saturation", select reds and reduce the saturation a little in the face, it is a bit over red as said above. also, exposure wise, if you are going to use flash and not low light, and there is no apparant reason to have limited depth of field from a creative pov (its a direct on portrait that needs eyes and beard to be sharp and the background is not one that needs throwing out of focus) , id suggest about f8 to f11 and put distance between you and the backdrop so as to get maximum detail in the face anbd beard and as little as poss in the bg.

just a minor minor touch, crop up the right so the sleeve springs direct from the corner. little detail but it all adds.

best regards
bighorse 7 7 United Kingdom
27 Feb 2013 10:44PM
Thanks for the comments Willie, shame I didn't have other horsey attributes. In my defence, the focus was done by putting the reflector where I guessed my snout would be, as after I'd put the light and camera in place, I found that my remote's battery was flat, and of course no spare.

I've just come back from a long weekend in London so at this precise moment the red is severely under done, but your red reduction was probably bang on in the image, and as with 'Chase', I'll bear in mind what you've said. Thanks mate.

PS my screen name comes from a Breton guy who christened me Marc'h Bras (Marruk Braz), almost 40 years ago, as he had difficulty pronouncing Graeme (ツWink/
paulbroad 10 123 1250 United Kingdom
28 Feb 2013 8:45AM
Good strong composition and great potential. Self portraits are difficult and your very limited depth of field has not put the sharpest plane on the eyes. Close, but not exact. Mono is also a real possibility here because of the subject and I might ramp up the ISO a bit for some grain, go down a couple of stops and have a fairly high contrast mono.

Placing the single flash more to the right would give a more dramatic lighting with stronger shadows. Often not a good idea but here, i think it would work.

bighorse 7 7 United Kingdom
28 Feb 2013 9:13AM
Thanks Phil, I'm encouraged by the critiques, lots of small things could be better but no one said you'd be better off learning crochet. I bought PS Elements 10 a while back, but as I'm not very adept with it yet, I prefer to try and get most things right in the camera. Thanks for the observations, I'll try to remember some of them! Graeme.
bighorse 7 7 United Kingdom
28 Feb 2013 9:42AM
Hi Paul, I think the first thing I'm going to do is go to 5,6/8,0, light to the side, and more distance between me and the b/g. I'll try the mono thing too. As a novice to 'serious' photography, I sometimes find deliberately adding grain a bit counter-intuitive, I suppose it's because when you're snapping away with a point 'n' shoot a clear image is a bonus! I've found the constructive criticism really quite motivating, cheers, Graeme.
pablophotographer 6 952 335
28 Feb 2013 11:29AM
Good advice above, I was sort of short in my comment before, because I can understand self-portraits require careful practice and preparation.
it is pity that after the time spent to prepare the picture and reprocess it we still have a frame which trims the beard, or it doesn't allow just a bit more space to allow it to be presented as it should. That, while we have at the top enough space, which could afford losing. just that bit of millimetric value and we could have exchanged it.
I think preparation can work to the advantage of the photographer who wants to shoot a self portrait (and I am not talking about plastic surgery here). Simple household objects needed: mirror, measuring tape, pencil, paper, sellotape or white tac. Stand against the mirror and measure distance from the area of the chest (from the 3rd button of your shirt from the top, or 2 palm widths from the bottom of your neck downwars) till about one palm above your head for height. Measure the distance from arm to arm with a measuring tape. Transfer the measurements on paper and mark the edges with the pencil. Sit on the spot you have chosen to use for the picture. Lean your head back find the palm width height above your head and stick the drawing paper to the wall behind you. Bring the camera on the tripod and adjust position and lights. Wear glasses, moustache, wig turn on the self timer, take off the paper, sit down and laugh.
Provided space from the edges allows you to crop.
The beard is fully shown now.

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