Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Self-Portrait Tips

Since a few of you asked for my self-portrait "secrets" here you go:

Warning: I'm about to "show my geek."

The most important factor in composing a good photograph is: LIGHT. Natural diffused light is my preferred lighting for portraits.
This is the window in the master bedroom where I take most of my self-portraits .I stood directly in front of the window. The catchlights (great article on catchlights *HERE*) in my eyes indicate I was right in front of the light source.
"Front lighting does little to reveal form or texture since the shadows are mostly hidden from view, as a result it can make things look flat. However soft diffused frontal lighting can also be quite flattering to some subjects for this very reason - it can help conceal wrinkles and blemishes and so is quite often used in portrait and product photography." (quote from *HERE*)

I hand-held my camera.
I had my Canon 20D fixed with my Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 lens. Those two together weigh approximately 3.2 lbs. Holding that out away from your body with one hand while trying to fire the shutter is a little tricky and tiring.
I might drag out my tripod next time...Heck, I have a pretty nice one with an awesome head. I was just being lazy.
You can see in the below image the reflection of my arm out in front holding the camera.
I set my focal length to what I thought was close to 50mm. (Turned out to be 48mm)
On my 20D with the crop factor it would be equal to about an 80mm lens on a full frame sensor camera. Your focal length is important when taking portraits. A 50mm is considered a "normal" lens. Go below 50mm and you have your wide-angle lenses. Wide-angle lenses create distortion like big noses and wide foreheads. Most point-and-shoot cameras have wide angle lenses.
Focal lengths above 50mm are considered telephoto lenses. Ideal for portraits.
Something to keep in mind when you are taking portraits. Get your focal length up to 50mm or above!

My settings in camera were as follows:
ISO: 800
Shutter: 1/100
f stop:2.8

And lest you all REALLY believe I am "gorgeous" (your very kind descriptive word, not mine!) without any "help" here is a little dose of reality:

My basic Photoshop processing tips will be coming to the blog very soon...

I am finishing up this post at 10:30PM after being up for 16hrs with only a 30 min. nap. So if some of this does not make sense, ask questions! I will check back in the morning ...which is afternoon for most of you, to make sure I was clear!


  1. Cooooooool ! I love you little tutorial !! Now I just need to get a decent camera !! ha ha.

    Can't wait to read your basic PS processing tips. I'll have to try and translate them into GIMP.

  2. Your'e still gorgeous! When I hold my camera out in front of me, I usually get my head cut off.. ha! SLRS are harder I think to do self portriats, but dragging out the tripod is such a pain!

  3. Thank you thank you! I know you have told me a hundred times before how to do this....I just always forget the catch light, and where to stand to get it!
    Wish I had read this BEFORE I took pics today!
    and if you REALLY believ that your before picture is not even a "little" gorgious, I think you need some therapy.....you are beautiful in BOTH of them!

  4. ooooooh can't wait for the tips in photo shop.....I still don't get IT!

  5. Oh by the way I LOVE your bed set up!

  6. Thanks for the tips... I will have to try some self-portraits soon. I hate pictures of myself. :)


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