Thursday, September 2, 2010

01/52 Jay Schroeder

Hey! I know that guy.... he looks pretty familiar...

Ok, enough BS. I'm starting with a self portrait. This is the first of my 52 portraits project. I chose to shoot myself first, and as much "in my element" as I could. Welcome to what I've been doing for the majority of the past year:

Sitting on the internet
drinking coffee
being slothful
sleeping way too late
researching and learning stuff about lighting without actually practicing it

It ends (more or less) here. Albeit there's ostensible irony in the fact that this project will force me to spend a lot of time in front of the exact same computer in front of which I am pictured, but at least that will be time spend working on things I want to work on, and taking steps towards what I want to be doing in the future.
A relatively simple shot, the logistics ended up being far more complicated than I expected. The point of this project is to challenge myself with technique, and that certainly happened in the process of creating this relatively ambient-lighting looking frame. More details, lighting info, and procedure on my blog:

The original setup I had planned involved a softbox at high camera right, a barebulb with CTB to replicate the glowing computer monitor in front of which i spend too much time, and another bare bulb to set the exposure for the room. I wanted to keep it simple, yet make it more flattering than the available light in my room.
I knew I would be dealing with space constraints, and in the end this led me to do some pretty crazy things. First off, upon setting up, I immediately realized both lamps in my room would be visible in the frame, something I hadn't thought about. Scratch the softbox, the lamp has to read as emitting light, so that's my new main. Problem number two: i didn't have enough space to put a soft light source. I had to take a hacksaw to a cheap ebay umbrella to keep it fully out of the frame. It ended up working as a pretty standard broad-lighting main. Here it is in all its glory:

the bonsai umbrella

The light replicating the computer monitor proved problematic in a few ways. It both created an unpleasant specular on my glasses, as well as killing all the shadows and making the photo look very flat. I shot pictures both ways, but I ended up going with one not using the "monitor" flash. I tried it both as a bare bulb, and bouncing the flash off of a sheet of white paper placed in front of me, or directly below the camera. When used, the flash was gelled 1/4 CTB. Here's a pic with the "monitor" in full effect:

The last element was my base exposure.I did this by replicating the overhead light in my room via a boom and a diffuser-capped strobe.

Also worthy of note, because the camera was shoved up against a wall (on a stack of books, classy) I shot tethered with nikon's camera control pro. It's clunky software but I put up with it and made it work.

Strobist Info:
SB800 with CTO 1/2 at camera left bounced from an umbrella
SB600 with diffuser dome suspended via a boom above the subject

Camera Info:
1/200 f/2.8 at ISO 200
Tamron 17-55 f/2.8


  1. This is sooooo exciting!

    I'm so glad you're doing this. It makes me very proud of you. <3

  2. I may not understand all this lighting and photography mumbo-jumbo, but I do like the portrait, and the newly undertaken project. Glad to see I'm not the only lazy ass lump sitting in front of the computer all day, studying my craft rather than practicing it. Hope you keep this up.