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By: Hoan K. Trinh

Contrary to popular belief, self portrait is actually not something new.  Painters have been doing this for centuries and photographers also practiced this art form back in the film day.  That said, the invention of digital cameras and facebook have really pushed this art form onto a whole new level as far as popularity goes.  For me, self portrait is an excellent way to practice new techniques when you don’t have a model available.  Here are some self portraits that I have taken over the year:

This is one of the first self portrait that I made back in 2007.  Using a mirror is one of the easier way to take a good self portrait.   The thing in the back is just the shower curtain.

I modified the light from the on camera flash with a piece of paper rolled into a tube to to create  this light effect.

Holding your camera out to take a self portrait is one of the harder ways but it will work in the right under the right conditions.  Sometimes, you just don’t have much of a choice.  Under these scenarios, you want to put your aperture to around f8 to ensure that you will get everything in focus.  Hence there phrase: “f8 and BE THERE!”

This is the first self portrait set up that I actually bother to use the tripod.  Most self portraits are not meant to be serious artwork especially in the facebook world, but it does allow your creativity all the time in the world.   Again, the concept of “f8 and BE THERE” also apply to this image as everything is in focus.  Also, if you’re quite a few ft away from the camera, I would put the camera on infinity focus and that will work quite well.

Sometime you don’t need to use a mirror as a reflective surface, a television screens work just fine, especially the old ones with curvy screens.

Another self portrait that does not involved holding a camera in front of the  mirror or in front of your face.  Interestingly enough, the camera was not on a tripod either.  It was on my bed.  I was sick of taking picture in front of mirror so I kind of stop for quite a while.  This particular shoot is pretty fun as I get to play with my new lighting set up.  Obviously, you have a lot more controls if you don’t have to stand in front of the mirror or any reflective surface.   Also, self portrait is excellent way to test out lighting set up and techniques since you have all the time you want and can adjust the light accordingly.  Again, “f8 and be there” ensure sharp focus.  I did not put the focus to infinity, but I did put the camera to manual focus and measures the distant between me and the camera to ensure accurate focusing.  *Please note that I do not know how to  fly and am not part of the Air Force, the flight suit is real but I am just going for  the “Call of Duty” look.  This flight suit was my Halloween costume back in 8th grade.  My dad use to have a similar flight suit when he was flying UH-1 chopper in Vietnam though.

Again, this is not an obvious self portrait shot, but once in a while, you don’t have a model to test out a new set up, you have no choice but to model for yourself.  Self portrait in such fashion have two benefits:  first, you are photographing at a much slower pace when you are doing this kind of portrait which allow you more time to actually study the new techniques that you are trying to implement.  Second, you are not wasting anyone time if your new techniques does not work so well.


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