Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Self Portrait Walkthrough

Firstly, let me say thanks to all those who left comments yesterday, it was much appreciated.

Ok, say you want to take a picture of yourself in a mirror (without looking like you're there) and/or be in two places at once. Here's how I did it. After the camera, the most important thing to have is a tripod. Without a tripod this would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. I decided to shoot this in my kid's bathroom (as opposed to my bathroom like the last time) because I loved the idea of two mirrors. I put my old Canon Rebel XT on a tripod at placed it between the mirrors, standing in the tub. I used my Tokina 12-24 lens to get the widest view I could. Your camera definitely needs to be in Manual for this. Focus, shutter speed, aperture and white balance need to be set and stay consistent for all the images.

I knew I was going to use some flash on this, so as I've learned over at Strobist, the first thing I did was decided how much of the ambient light to use. I didn't want the window to be blown out (overexposed) so, with the flash turned off, I came up with an exposure that kept the detail in the window. The actual numbers don't matter, as long as it works. Now that I had my ambient exposure set, all I had to do was dial in the power from my flash until the room was lit the way I wanted. I had the external flash on my camera pointed up to bounce off the cieling and setting of 1/4 power got me where I wanted to be.

Ok, so I have my camera positioned where I want it, the light's looking good, now for the critical step. I take an base image (or plate) that's completely free of anything that's gonna move.

This is the image that I will build on when I bring everything together in Photoshop later. The white paper is a piece of poster board that I used as a reflector to bounce some light on my face when I was standing in front of the left mirror. I knew I would be cropping just below the mirrors later, so I wasn't worried about it being in the frame.

Time to take the fun pictures. I used the self timer set to 10 seconds to take all the images. With everything set up, it's really just a matter of experimenting. I took the image of me on the left first.

Oh, I didn't even have the 50D in my hand turned on, just trying to look cool. The critical thing about making this image work later is making sure my reflection and actual self don't overlap. If they overlapped I wouldn't be able to cleanly remove my actual self. That sounded strange. Anyway, moving on.

The image on the right was the result of a fair amount of experimentation. I tried standing in front of the mirror holding my camera, peeking up from below, having just my arm and camera in the mirror, but nothing seemed quite right. Finally I just poked my head out from behind the camera and took a shot. Bingo!

Now that I had what I needed (hopefully) I pulled the memory card out of the camera and left everything set up. This is important, because you might find you need something else later and it's crucial that the setup stays the same.

After importing all the images I picked the keepers and sent them to Photoshop. Starting with my base image I dragged the other images on top. If you hold down the Shift key while dragging one image on top of another, they will line up pixel for pixel. Since my setup stayed the same from shot to shot, they all line up perfectly. Next I add a black layer mask to the image of me on the left and my face on the right and reveal just the portions I want to see. Since I was careful about how I stood for each image, this is very easy.

After cropping I cloned out some of the shadows from the light fixture. The last step was to even the light out a bit. Since the flash was bouncing off the cieling, the light was a bit stronger on the top than the bottom. I evened this out by using a Graduated Neutral Density filter in the Nik Color Efex Pro plug in. Save For Web and add a touch of Smart Sharpen and I was done!

Edit: Hey, I just noticed that this is my 300th post! Yeah for me!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Self Portrait

Thought I'd join in on the I Heart Faces weekly contest this week. I'm not eligible to win anything, but it's fun just the same. I went for a self portrait angle on the Reflection idea.

If you want to see how this was done, check back tomorrow.

Zoo day

We decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather (and my lack of work) and visit the L.A. Zoo. We have a membership there, so it's no big deal if we stop by for a quick visit.

I often feel like this

Ethiopian Gerenuk

I think we have a connection

Oh yeah, right there

This is my best side

Seeing spots

Yep, zebra butts

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Heart Faces

Go check out the different takes on this weeks image at I Heart Faces. There's no voting, but if you could vote, you'd vote for me right? ;)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Orange blossoms

These things smell SO good!




Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Timelapse footage

Ok, not my normal deal, but I came across this timelapse footage (guess I got timelapse on the brain) and just had to share. If you've got the bandwidth, click on the HD button.

Timescapes Timelapse: Learning to Fly from Tom @ Timescapes on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hollywood Bowl Timelapse

My oldest and I went to the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday to help our church set up for Easter service. This is the fourth year that our church has been having Easter service at the Bowl and it's been fantastic. Anyway, I thought I'd have some fun and try a little timelapse photography. I strapped my G9 to a rail with a Gorillapod and let it go for about two hours. Thoughtfully, some guy came and sat down in front of the camera almost right away. For your amusement, the guy happens to be a frequent nail biter and back scratcher. Enjoy.

Music courtesy of Balkan Beat Box.

Happy Easter!

He is Risen!

He is Risen indeed.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

It is always darkest before the dawn.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Train full of sky

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Taking flight


Tuesday, April 7, 2009



Saturday, April 4, 2009

Look up

Friday, April 3, 2009

Check out the Fix-It Friday fun over at I Heart Faces!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Oh Spring

Oh Spring, how I've missed thee.