Anatomy of a self portrait

Sometimes it’s good to push yourself.

I had an assignment from a game of Survivor we are playing in the Arcanum (a place of growing your photography skills at your own pace with a group of like minded folks. Click the link for a peek under the Arcanum’s hood)

The assignment was to shoot a self portrait to help share a bit of who you are. So I decided to make it a learning experience. Here’s the thought process I went though.

First I wanted to give people an idea of how busy it can be in my head. So the title became ‘Under the Hood’.

bob coates self portrait

Let’s see what’s under the hood in Bob’s Brain…

Set up the photo

Start with a solid head and shoulders studio self portrait. Main light forward and bounced off the wall to get a large source with medium contrast. Two strip light soft boxes with egg-crate grids attached were set to camera left and right slightly behind pointing to skim and add separation and spice to the look. Lumix GH4 camera with the 42.5mm 1.2 Nocticron lens mounted on a tripod with the Wifi activated allowing camera control from my IPhone. I use Paul C Buff lights and modifiers because of the good value, selection and great service when needed.

On to the Photo Art

Original concept was to have a zipper peeling back from my forehead to allow the reveal. After some experimentation that didn’t feel like it was going in the direction I wanted. Next thought was to cut off the top of the head and tilt it back but that made it difficult to show what was coming out of the head. Finally, on the third try I took the top of the head and tilted it to the left and got the base image for which I was looking.

Adding Photo Elements to Tell the Story

Then the search was on to search for and create elements that were to tell the story. Inverse square law. Brain. Smoke brushes. Neon signage. “Wait I’ve got an idea, a light bulb went on in my head.” Textures for blending element together. All images were layered in Adobe Photoshop using various blend modes. You can see the Layers and their Masks used to put this together. Got a question? Give me a shout…

layer stack in self portrait

Photoshop Layer stack showing Layers and masks…

Hope this inspires you to take a project and push yourself to a new limit.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob