Another Selfies

Nope – that is not a grammatical error. It is simply taking liberties with grammar. It’s a selfies in the sense that, if you look carefully, it combines two into one:

Me looking at me!

And I thought that today I would explain the thinking behind this portrait and its execution.

First, my choice of model. I used “me”, because I am extremely patient with me; I do not get drunk; I do not stand me up; I do not fall asleep; I do not say “are you done yet”; I do not mind retrying a shot many times if need be. Not that all models are difficult: a true pro model would never make any of these mistakes – but not everyone is a true pro.

So, seeing as it’s me, I wanted an environmental (a.k.a. “situational”) portrait. And what better than my work environment? So that is settled.

Next, then, the choice of lens. I chose a 50mm lens (full-frame: if you had a crop camera you would use a 35mm lens). A little longer than usual: for an environmental portrait I would normally use a 35mm lens, but I wanted to go a little tight to get rid of other “stuff”, like the flash on our left and the printer on our right: both now out of the picture.

Then the light. I wanted to light me with a flash, with a small softbox; but in this case, the ambient light is very important. I wanted the screen to be visible, and I wanted the tungsten and LED lightbulbs to be visible.

But I needed a small aperture. Why? Focus had to be set manually, and I would probably not be entirely accurate in positioning myself. That meant I needed f/11 for depth of field. So given that f/11 and the need to see ambient light, this meant I needed 400 ISO and 1/20th second.

And at the distance I needed, with the Honl Traveller 8 softbox, that “f/11 at 400 ISO” setting needed full power from a 430EX flash, in order for that flash to be the right power. The flash is just upside the picture on our left, on a light stand.

So the first shot:

And finally, the final flash direction. I tried it fairly straight on for the test shot, but for the final shot, wanted more short lighting (making my face thinner). See top.

Then all I needed to do is load that into Lightroom, and take the second shot; and apply the same lens corrections/cropping to both shots. Done!


Want to learn? I have just scheduled a special all-evening Flash course on 3 Oct; as well as a five-evening basic photography course, starting Oct 2, aimed at novice to intermediate users who want to learn to use their DSLR properly once and for all.

These courses are very special in that they are like private coaching: I will only take up to 5 students for each course. The Flash course includes the Pro Flash Manual, and the five-evening course includes course materials and homework. Both are now available for signing up on – see the flash course details on this page.

Do you have the flash manual e-book yet? Click on “Pro Flash Manual” above and learn how to do this!


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