Edward, Fetch the Carriage!


I try not to do too many selfies, but sometimes I'm the only willing model. I really wanted to try to cop a Dan Winters style portrait, so while the kids were playing with all their new Christmas toys, I went at it. Here's the result, which turned out pretty well IMO.

Compared to my usual approach, this one had pretty elaborate lighting.  The key light is a little LumiQuest Softbox III beside my head just out of the frame on camera-right.  I placed it for classic Rembrandt lighting (see the tell-tale triangle of light below the eye on the left).  I've got a bare fill light bouncing off the wall to camera-left.  And I'm using my Ezybox as a background light shooting up the backdrop behind me for a gradient.  The fill light is flagged so that it doesn't interfere with the background light.  One of the challenges of shooting selfies with really staged lighting like this is being consistent in your position, posture, and pose when you're adjusting lights between shots.  Even a little movement can mess up the effect.  I realized that I needed to make a mental note of my posture, hand placement, head angle, and exactly how I was seated, as well as pick a consistent spot to look at when I snapped each photo. 

The backdrop is just a dumb white sheet.  I added the texture in post and there's a shit-ton of processing on the photo for retouching, lighting, and to get the colors right.  I imagine that Mr. Winters gets it a lot closer to the final product straight out of the camera, but I have to tweak the heck out of it.

One thing that was interesting.  Since I was tweaking the color of the background I could pretty much turn it any color I wanted.  So after I accomplished the original goal of getting as close to possible to the Winters look, I thought I could experiment with the background.  I thought a burgundy would look nice.  It didn't.  Turns out that this treatment works best with a cold color in the background.  Warm colors like red don't look as good in my opinion.

In any case, what a great learning experience!