Monday, April 13, 2015

elaborate selfies

Photography, for me, has so far mostly been a thrilling struggle to do the most with what I've got. A pretty basic DSLR, with a stock 18-55mm lens. It restricts you in a lot of ways, but it's not that bad. I've always found the creative problem-solving to be just as interesting as photography by itself. I mean, if I had a bunch of expensive equipment, then it would be just photography. Probably better, but a lot less interesting.

I don't have a the space of a studio, I don't have umbrella lights, and I don't have huge photography backdrops. With those things, it's pretty easy to take decent portraits. Without them, you either have to be lucky and find the perfect spot with the perfect lighting, or get creative.

I guess nothing would qualify these as good or great portraits, but I really like them. And it's a pretty simple setup that anyone can do.

 I especially like this last one. The rest weren't super serious.

They were all taken in my kitchen, by my window. I made reflective panels out of cardboard, glue, and sheets of tinfoil. I realize, like a remote shutter, reflectors aren't super expensive, but it's just a lot more interesting to make things yourself.

Anyway, without the reflectors, my face would just be dark. They softly throw back the natural light coming in from the window. While rudimentary, they're absolutely necessary. I also used a box light. Well, technically, it's a plastic box, with a lamp. I had it shining onto the ceiling, not onto my face. The ceiling is white, so it's basically just another reflective surface. Yes, it made a difference. Photos did look alright without it, though.

A schematic depiction of loneliness. Red: Camera. Pink: Reflectors. White box: Box light.

Here's a sort of schematic view of the situation. While I'm not sure it needed to be explained like this, drawing this was sorta nice.

Taking the photos wasn't all that special in itself, but constructing the box light, the reflectors, making sure they don't turn out flimsy and bad, also making the DIY shutter, and figuring out how to work with the limited space in my kitchen made it fun. All that work made it really satisfying to see how the photos turned out in the end. It was a really elaborate way to take some pretty basic selfies! Good project!

I feel like it would be somehow very pretentious of me to pass this off as a tutorial of some sort, even though I guess it could be interpreted as one. If you want to take photos with the exact same lighting setup as I have then go for it, everyone has windows and tinfoil at home, right? But this isn't such a complex thing that it really needs a tutorial.

Anecdotally, I'm very opposed to tutorials like "How to draw x"-videos. They give off this very alienating elitist attitude. If I had the power, I would rename every How to draw x-video to One way to draw x, because that's all it is. If you want to develop as an artist by watching videos, I suggest you watch speedpaintings (Timelapses.) and carefully make observations on different digital drawing techniques (Layers, brushes, how someone might use the lasso tool in a way you never thought of. Things like that) or things like what colours artists use, instead of watching tedious videos that tell you to "Start by drawing a circle. This will be the head". You don't have to do that at all, and it's definitely not the right way for everyone.

For anyone who's not crazy and doesn't have lots of free time to waste, I'd just recommend a selfie stick.

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