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Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Good The Bad And The Weird? Um.. No! (A Self Portrait)

OK this is going to be tough for me to write in this blog. As the blog title suggests, you might wondered what this is all about.  Nothing's bad nor weird at all  and mind you I'm not self obssessed. Just sharing on what and how I did my own self portrait shoot. .OK I'm going one step at a time so load your gun and make that leap forward if you dare.


First off, I did a self portrait shoot on one Sunday afternoon. It was  impromptu. Yes it just popped in my mind and I got myself setting up 2 basic lights and a light reflector, applying Nikon's CLS (Creative Lighting System). Here's the image I made.

Self Portrait*
© 2010 Martin Liew Photography
*Please take note. The pistol that I was holding in this picture is a plastic toy gun!


The 2 basic lights are Nikon SB800 and SB900 respectively, with the latter as the main key light, mounted on a straight bracket, along side with a China-made adjustable LED video light (similar to Litepanels Micro Pro) with 160 LED bulbs and a rotating knob for power output level control. A bounce umbrella was used for more softer light source. By turning full light power on the LED light, bouncing light on the umbrella, it serves just like a monobloc with modelling light. I'll write about this LED light in my next blog.

Picture speaks louder than words and therefore I posted a lighting diagram to illustrate on my lighting set up.

Side track. I came across this online lighting diagram editor software called Sylights as in Share Your Lights. It provides you with a unique tool to design and annotate your lighting diagrams online, to show your work, discuss it and improve it. You can explore others' work and see how creative they are in their lighting set ups. You might get some inspirations from there. Registration is free. So go ahead and give it a try!

OK back on track. Based on my lighting diagram, I placed the umbrella at 45 degree towards the spot where I would be standing/posing and adjusted the height to 45 degree pointing downward. Here I was trying to apply Rembrandt's lighting style.

Using Nikon's CLS, I set my DSLR camera in Commander mode using TTL shooting mode. Likewise, the 2 strobes are set in Remote mode with which I set Channel 1 Group A on SB900 and Channel 1 Group B on SB800. I increased the EV on SB800 by +2 as I wanted to brighten up the wall behind me, to create distinct edgy lines on my fingers and body. I placed SB800 just behind me pointing 45 degree to the wall, enough to create a subtle backlight. Lastly I placed the large size light reflector on its silver side opposite the main light. Again it is to bounce the main light back on my fingers and boby, enough for shadow details.

Now on the posing part, I use Tamron 17-35mm lens to create a wider angle perspective, enough to frame everything in. A few trial exposures before I got the right image I wanted. The image is converted to monochrome in Photoshop and cropped to square format for tighter composition.

Next round, I'll try some different poses with another plastic toy gun i.e. a laser gun. A preview of the laser toy gun.

© 2010 Martin Liew Photography