When Bathroom Selfies Are Actually Kind of Cool

Occasionally I'll travel for work and the hotel room bathroom will have a nice vanity lighting set up for people to apply makeup. The mirror will be lit all along the perimeter, providing a ring light effect, which is nice for portraits as well as for applying make-up. If you look at my eyes, you can see the square catch-light, which is kind of neat. When the bathroom has this kind of lighting, I almost always snap some selfies just for fun. The light is nice because it de-emphasizes blemishes, although my skin is definitely a stress test of that capability. The usual drawback is the selfies are generally throw-away because the background is so obviously a bathroom, which I normally think looks kind of tacky. And I'm usually fooling around with the selfies at the end of the day when I'm not necessarily looking my best. But in this case, the bathroom had a very nice wooden door that acted as a nice backdrop and it was in the morning after showering and shaving. So I managed to get a fairly decent photo.

So look at me, I'm practically a walking cliché with my bathroom selfie!

As nice as the vanity lights were, they did have an odd color cast because they were some kind of fluorescent job. (I can't imagine that's good for apply makeup!) I ended up creating a custom preset white balance by using a piece of white paper taped to the bathroom door. And even then I still had to tweak it a little in Lightroom.

By the way, focusing when taking selfies with a DSLR can be tricky. You're not looking through the viewfinder, so you can't use your usual focusing technique. The best way I've found is to use (in Nikon-speak) Live View; AF-S; and Face-Priority mode. You'll see on the LCD display when the camera locks on to your face. Then you just position the camera as you like, with your finger on the button you're using to focus, pose yourself, focus, then snap the shutter. The camera should have tracked your face through all of that and the focus should be nice and sharp.