I thought I’d make a post about the kind of camera equipment I use to take my self portraits, since the topic came up in the comments section on one of my recent Flickr pics.
Tag Archives: Photography
I’ve been interested in photography for a very long time. In fact, back in the days before we all used digital cameras, I even had a darkroom and used to process my own Black & White 35mm film and make my own prints.
Lately I’ve been becoming very dissatisfied with the self portraits I post on Flickr, mainly in the area of lighting. So I decided it was time to do something about it. Some research online brought me to the conclusion that continuous lighting softboxes were a cost-effective entry. For sure, studio strobe flash would be better, but the cost is around three times more, like-for-like.
I found a nice studio starter kit on Amazon, which includes two softboxes with tripods and bulbs, a backdrop frame, three different backdrops (black, white, and Chroma key green), some mini clamps for attaching a backdrop to the frame, and a bag to put it all in. The Amazon price was £92 but I was lucky enough that they also had one through their Amazon Warehouse outlet for £70. Ostensibly second hand, it turned out to be brand new with all components still sealed in their original packing and unopened. The outer packaging was a little beat up, which maybe was why it was made available through the Warehouse. So a bit of a bargain there!
I was fairly pleased how my “In the Storeroom” shoot had turned out (especially all the views, faves and nice comments that I’ve had), but I really wanted to revisit it and do it better. In particular, some of the poses were a success but the photos themselves unusable. I also wanted to try a nicer blouse and better lighting.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I found a seller on Amazon Marketplace called Yasong who were selling what looked like the ideal blouse. They’re based in China so I knew I was in for a long wait, and sure enough it did take several weeks to arrive. Fortunately, when it did finally arrive the sizing was just right and so was the fit. Yay!
On the day of the shoot, I arranged the items on the shelving in a better way and paid a lot of attention to how it looked, and then set up the lighting.
Before I started on my make-up, I decided that the blouse could do with a quick iron before wear, so set my iron to a medium heat and when it was up to temperature started to iron. Within a split second I knew something was wrong as the iron didn’t glide, so immediately pulled it back to see, with horror, that the blouse had instantly melted. To say I was upset was an understatement.
I must confess that I almost aborted the whole shoot at this point, but instead took a few moments to calm down, posted my woes on my Facebook page, and had a cup of tea. Talking it through with people on that Facebook post made me realise that the blouse might still be usable as the damage was just on one area over my left breast and if I shot the photos with my right side towards camera, the damage would be partially hidden and could be corrected post-process in Photoshop (well, GIMP actually). So the shoot was back on.
I took quite a few pics in the storeroom, and was really pleased with how they turned out. I also gained good experience with the lighting, working out what worked and what didn’t. It turns out that it is quite easy to over-light the subject – perhaps I need to add dimmers to the two lights (that’s assuming that the bulbs are dimmable; I will have to check).
I’ve only posted one pic from the shoot so far. More may follow, so be sure to keep an eye on my Flickr page!
Next, I set up the backdrop frame in my lounge and moved the lighting and camera down there too, then got changed into a PVC corset dress I recently bought, plus my trusty Doc Marten stiletto boots. Unfortunately this shoot was a bit of a disaster and none of the photos were usable. However, it was a good opportunity to play with backdrops.
For my next shoot I’d like to play around with the Chroma green backdrop and have some fun pasting myself into different scenes, as I already have some experience in doing this in GIMP from other projects. Maybe a picture of me on a beach? Who knows.
In my previous post, I mentioned that I had bought an office style / school style blouse for a photo shoot, and also if you follow my Flickr, or my Facebook page or Twitter, you’ll know that I also bought some fake glasses for the shoot.
Last Saturday I actually did the shoot, and it’s meant to be either a secretary or school girl in a store room. I left it ambiguous as to which it is, although I think most people are assuming secretary.
In order to make the background, I had to tidy the actual store room that I have in one of my two spare bedrooms. I have it set up with free standing metal shelving and an old office desk which I use for product photography. It was quite a lot of work to get it tidy like that, and I’m annoyed that I didn’t pay enough attention to what was on the shelves. The EVO magazine folders are fine, but the clutter on the top shelf of the units could have done with more tidying.
I spent ages on this shoot. Initially I tried with the glasses on, the blouse tucked in, my hair in bunches, and my larger breast forms. I also tried a variety of different poses, including sitting on, and reclining on, the desk.
It was a monumental disaster. Having my hair in bunches does not suit my face shape at all. Also, the larger breast forms made me look overly busty and top-heavy with this outfit.
I tried a few without the glasses as well. And with my hair down. And all combinations thereof. Pretty much all of them looked awful, although the poses worked on a few and I might revisit those.
I realised that my smaller breast forms would work better, so changed for those, and took even more photos. I took about 200 photos in the end. The pic shown above is pretty much the final picture I took and I think it is the best of them.
For this final part of the shoot, I un-tucked my blouse and wore it over the skirt. That’s why it’s so creased. Maybe I should have fired up the iron and ironed it, but to be absolutely honest I was very tired by this point and had pretty much had enough of the shoot so I had no enthusiasm for that.
I’m already thinking about what I would have done differently, and I may revisit this look. I’d like to get a different blouse – there is one on Amazon that I really like and might get, although the reviews suggest that it is a very slim fit. This would push the shoot firmly to ‘secretary’, of course, but that would be fine.
I’d also like to give a lot more attention to the lighting. For this shoot all I had was the light in the room itself, which is quite harsh. The light is a large circular fluorescent tube that fits into a normal bayonet pendant and gives off a really bright daylight tone light. It’s ideal for a store room but somewhat harsh for photography. I really should invest in some photographic lights.
Finally, I would pay a lot more attention to what is on the shelves and arrange things better and more tidily.
Still, as a first attempt at a photo shoot like this, I don’t think it was too bad and it was certainly fun to do.
I’ve had a bit of a roller coaster this weekend. On Friday I got home from work early, and I decided to get dressed and reshoot the Biker Girl look that I did a few years ago. A friend suggested that since I’d lost quite a bit of weight, it would be worth revisiting. Plus he loved my Doc Martens boots and wanted to see more of them. So of course I had to oblige.
I decided to do the shoot outdoors. The lighting proved to be quite difficult and when I came to look at the results of the shoot on my computer, I realised that things were rather washed out and, despite having quite a lot of eyeliner on, it looked like I was wearing no makeup. A professional photographer friend subsequently told me that this is very common on outdoor shoots and you really have to overdo the makeup to compensate. Or else correct things post-production, which is what I did. I mainly used the Dodge & Burn tool of GIMP to darken my brows, eyeliner, lips and pupils, and also adjusted the contrast quite a lot. I have to confess that I also rather cheekily gave myself a digital tummy tuck too. Sorry!
After that I cracked open a bottle of wine and then, as the night wore on, another, and in the end got really rather wrecked and spent time online with a friend in America and went to bed really rather late. Or maybe I should say early, for as Shakespeare’s Sir Toby Belch said: “To be up after midnight and to go to bed then, is early: so that to go to bed after midnight is to go to bed betimes.” [Twelfth Night, Act 2, Scene 3]
I think I crawled into bed just after 6am as the sun was coming up.
The less said about Saturday the better. I got up late, felt rather unwell for a lot of the day, watched a lot of telly, and went to bed early.
On Sunday (ie. today) I decided I would go for a drive and eat out for lunch. I ended up having a nice burger in an American diner, then stopped off at Basingstoke to visit Festival Place. I was in guy mode and I really need some new guy clothes, so I told myself NO GIRL CLOTHES and to concentrate on guy clothes. So I bought a gorgeous floral skater dress at Select Fashion in the sale for £8. ha ha. I’ll post up a pic another time.
I also completely failed to buy any guy clothes. *sighs*
I noticed that there is now a small Urban Decay outlet in Debenhams, which was exciting for me as I like their stuff. But since I was in guy mode and it was a very small concession and the staff were busy with a customer, I thought I wouldn’t browse. I’ll come back another time in girl mode.
And finally, I bought 3 Bluray Discs for £20 in HMV. I got “Ender’s Game” (with a groovy lenticular sleeve – I’m such a sucker for those), “A Clockwork Orange”, and “Kick Ass 2”. Should be a giggle. I will watch one tonight.
So that was my Sunday. I’m back to the grind of my long-distance commute tomorrow, which is really starting to wear me down so I have booked into a Spa hotel on Wednesday to break the week up and to see if that makes things a little more tolerable. We shall see.