Glen Goffin Photography

Monday, June 28, 2010

Improving Your Self-Portraits

Ok, maybe it's cheating.  But one sure fire way to make yourself look better ... Press a pretty girl against your face.  See how it did wonders for me!

MJ was on her way out to meet some friends and, since she was dressed up anyway, I grabbed her for some quick portrait practice.  We have some pretty good sized windows in our bedroom that happen to face north-ish.  So I quickly setup the tripod, grabbed a gold reflector panel and my wife and squeezed.  The shutter.  I squeezed the shutter button.  Ok, maybe I squeezed MJ, too.  Hey, whatever it takes to get a smile!

I heard it said somewhere recently (I think it was from Chuck Arlund) that it is easier to warm up a portrait than it is to remove a yellow cast.  So he doesn't shoot with gold reflectors but with silver ones.  Since silver ones are actually neutral color, what is really happening is that the color cast of the natural light is being carried as-is.  No additional warming.

I agree with him about yellow cast removal.  For some reason skin tones get all finicky when you remove yellow.  I haven't figured out exactly why that is yet.   Of course, skin tones contain a lot of yellow, but even keeping that in mind, it seems to be difficult to do.  This shot was an example.  I used a gold reflector panel and it added a goldish hue.  Not entirely unattractive but not entirely natural looking either.  Every attempt to neutralize it made it look worse.

BTW - Speaking of Chuck Arlund and Niel van Niekirk.  If you haven't read their blogs, it is very good reading.  Both of them share quite liberally their lessons and techniques especially related to flash / strobe work.  Check them out here:

Neil Van Niekirk

Chuck Arlund



YC said...

Glenn, Did you find this lens trickier to focus? Focus shift, maybe?

Glen Goffin said...

YC - no, I didn't. Why do you ask, do you not like the focus on this? I focused on MJ's eyes but my aperture was wide open. With a 1.2 lens, you definitely have to be really careful.