The Decline Of The Self Portrait Number Two

on March 15, 2016

Remember the problem of the selfie shooter we mentioned in a previous post? The ten seconds to eternity that the self-timing circuit takes before it fires the camera - when you try to look like Roger Moore when he was 007 and end up looking like Roger Moore now...*

Well the problem compounds when you consider the support you need for a good self portrait - and we don't just mean the family not laughing at you - we mean the mechanical support for the camera.

The artist who painted themselves saw themselves in a mirror, and either had to make the difficult mental switch from left to right that a mirror image depiction involves - or arrange two mirrors to bounce the image back and then run with that. The camera shooter might also pose themselves in front of a mirror but unless they capture the image by shooting in that mirror, they get to see the real them when the file is displayed on a screen. If that sounds confusing go into the bathroom and try it yourself.

The artist set up a mirror that reflected themselves in whatever light they chose and then had to set their canvas in a light that would reflect wherever they chose to show on it. Not as simple a deal as you might think. But they had the advantage that we mentioned before of being able to edit the backdrop as they painted. The average selfie shooter who shoots a mirror shot in the toilets at a nightclub gets what they deserve. A more careful worker might take a bigger file into a computer and then Photoshop the backdrop, but that is a complex task.

Back to the support - most selfies are taken from unflattering angles - or at least angles that are bound to distort the faces and bodies they depict. Up looking down and down looking up with wide-angle lenses plays hell with verticals and makes pinheads or monsters of the subject. If the poser would consider themselves in the light of an architectural shot and attend to the verticals they would be so much happier. This doesn't mean a bellows camera or a tilt/shift lens...though Camera Electronic would be delighted to sell these items to everyone - but it does mean some form of tripod.

Doesn't have to be a big tripod, and for a lot of cameras it does not even have to be a sturdy tripod, but it does have to get the center of the lens looking at the center of the main subject with the camera back vertical. You can do it with a Gitzo 6" naval gun mounting, or Manfrotto 190, or little Cullmann 622 - or even with a Cullmann Copter tabletop tripod if you have a handy tabletop.

Do that, get your mouth and eyebrows under control, stand fairly upright and try not to show the wrinkles at the knees of your trousers ( or the wrinkles at the knees of your legs...) and do it all in ten seconds and you too can be an artist. Or at least an objet d'art...

* Don't google it. It'll just ruin your memories...