Most of my portraiture work is known for two things, lots of color and using strobes. I love self portraits to try out new techniques; it's actually how I got myself started in photography, so for this self portrait I wanted to go in a totally different direction and take a shot with natural light and push it as far as I could.
In my home studio there is a period of about two hours where I get nice beautiful hard light at this time of year. I decided to use this to my advantage and set up my backdrop and just waited. I took a few tests shots and noticed that the light was coming in really low and in order to save time I soon found myself sitting on the floor, instead of on a chair like planned.
Production and Framing
I shot this portrait on the Fujifilm X-T3 with the 56mm f/1.2 wide open. My backdrop was just a white muslin that I wanted to leave somewhat messy and textured, but I ended up farther away from the backdrop than planned so it was just a solid blur. Whoops.
In order to enhance the depth of the shot and the difference between the in and out of focus areas, I raised the camera up and pointed down, I wanted just a sliver of the shot to be in focus. I used the Fujifilm Camera Remote to trigger the camera when I wanted to which is much better than my old technique of just using a timer on vintage lenses and hoping for the best.
When it came to posing, I chose me looking down and to the right for a few reasons. For one, I have a prominent brow so it's hard to get an eye light especially with the sun so high up. Secondly, I was looking at my phone, and the third and most important reason is that having someone with their eyes shut looking down and to the left or right is a really cheap and easy way to make a photo look mysterious.
Lastly, in order to get a small strip of light, I used two strips of Cinefoil on either side of me to create a strip of light in the middle. I made a whole article on Cinefoil here so I don't want to reiterate too much but basically by having the strips near me, I could create harsh, sharp, shadows at the sun. One challenge I has is that the earth rotates so the sun moves, and as soon as I got everything where I needed to... I'd have to adjust my framing and the Cinefoil.
Post production on this image was pretty simple. I darkened the image, opened up the shadows and made sure none of my highlights were clipping. It was pretty simple dodging and burning except except for one spot. There was a highlight on my nose that I hated with a passion and had to remove which I did quite simply with just some very precise dodging and burning. As with most of my black and white images, I also added a very slight blue tint to it so I could add a slight metallic-y shine to the image.
As you can see, with just a few small tweaks, and with the dodging and burning you can really make this shot go from nice to engaging. Lastly I did a little bit of frequency separation and the shot is done!
Have you ever done a self portrait or taken shots that were specifically planned to be the opposite of what you usually do?