Dogwood 52: Assignment #1 "Selfie"

Some friends and I are doing the Dogwood 52 Week photography challenge. We submit a photo each week on a given "assignment" along with commentary and discussion. This week's assignment was:

[Portrait] Self Portrait: Start things off right with a "selfie"! Explore the self timer setting on your camera.

The submissions follow in order submitted along with the photographer's commentary. We'll add other commentary and critique from the group as it comes in.


I've focused on mainly three things for the past few months: surfing, music, and fixing my motorcycle. The bike was as clean as it's been in a long time, so I figured it could be in a photo. I painted the background darker since it's not interesting, and there's enough going on in details on the bike itself. It turns out metal and plastic surfaces can be super reflective, so I took the shot in the garage without any direct light sources to keep the details on the bike.
Joseph: "It's sort of a funny selfie when the supposed subject is just in the corner in a mirror, but I think the idea is really cool. I imagine that when you're out on the road then that "mirror selfie" is something you actually see a lot. With a helmet anyway. Technically, I think there are some things that distract my eye in this shot. First, I feel the mirror is cramped in the corner—having it more in a rule of thirds or golden triangle compositional position would un-cramp it and add more dynamicism to the shot. Also, I feel pretty distracted by the burn since it reads as a glow instead and actually draws my eye. A flash could have naturally depressed the background, but it might also have just been worth the extra 30 minutes of fiddling with brushes to get that sharp burn edge needed to defeat the glow.


Eric's self portrait. Best viewed at night, full screened, on your laptop, after an hour of flipping through instagram photos. If the internet could see us, this might be what we look like.
Megan: "This photo is very intimate but so isolating.  The subject looks to be slowly coming into the light from the deep abyss behind him.  Leaning forward as if to be engaging but with his hand on his face as if to stop for just a moment and contemplate the consequences of moving forward.  My eyes are drawn quickly to the hand as it has a bit more focus than the eyes but I love the focus difference between the face and hairline.  I feel it further emphasizes that hesitation for a brief second."


To be honest, this was probably the hardest assignment for me to start with. I've made it a point to stay on one side of the camera.
I live across the street from an abandoned train yard. Taking this picture required illegal trespassing but that was easier for me to tackle than getting in front of the lens and admitting to my feelings.
My intention was to 'rip the bandaid off' and produce pictures. I've been avoiding photography for too long. I'm embarrassed.


I was mostly here interested in practicing lighting techniques in portraiture. I experimented with one- and two-light setups as well as with hard and soft light (see the contact sheets below) and found myself most drawn to this one. There's nothing terribly original about it, but I like the way the shadows fell. I wasn't really expecting to be too proud of any self portrait I made, but I really like this one.
Kento: "Really cool shot with the screen brightness a bit lower. At full brightness, the slight bits of wall trim (handrail? sticking out of your cheek) bother me. Faster shutterspeed if the flash sync allows might isolate your face better? I'd be curious to see a shot of you messing with your light setup for this."
Joseph: "I'll give you a hint: it inolves a 43" umbrella about 2" inches away from my face. Half the challenge is keeping that stuff out of the frame!"


This is a view from my room in Little Rock, Arkansas of the Old State House. I was experimenting with reflections for self portraits.


I decided to go chase some natural light for my portraiture--arrived at Rocks State Park around 4pm when the sun was on its way down with some clouds to diffuse the direct sunlight. Self portraits are always a challenge for me. I can't seem to relax my face when staring directly into a camera. To get this shot, I had to a do a combination of self-timer with multiple shots where I started looking away from the camera and turned my face at the last moment.