Over on Twitter I had a little chat with Decorators Notebook and after a rather random discussion we decided to do a little spring celebration. Asking people on 20 March to share a photo of themselves on their blog or instagram wearing a flower crown with the hashtag #primaveracrowns. There are some more details over on Bethan’s blog.
My face doesn’t appear often on my blog so my mind moved to self-portraits and I thought I would share some tips for others who want to share their flower crowns but might not have someone to take the photo for them. There are first some initial things you need to do and consider:
>>> If you are taking part in #primavera crown make your flower crown. We have a pinterest board going for some inspiration and Lotts and Lots did a how to post last year.
>>> Decide where you will take the photo. You could take the photo in your garden or house. Each will have their own problems and benefits. I am going to focus on taking the shot in your home as it is easier to control conditions. A good spot inside is a wall that is perpendicular to a window with lots of natural light.
>>> Decide on background and outfit. Using your flowers as inspiration perhaps hang up some fabric or decorative paper to create a background for your image. You can also use the clear wall if you want a simpler look. Wear clothes and accessories that compliment the overall look and feel you want.
Setting up your camera
Okay so you have your space, you’ve hung up any decorations and you are ready to go. Here is what you do:
- Set your camera on a tripod or if you don’t have a tripod set it up on a stool with extra books if it isn’t high enough. You might have to sit on the floor but that is okay.
- Using manual put your settings to something like: ISO 100; aperture: to give yourself some leeway I would set this at between 5 and 8 but if you want to blur out the background you’ll need to go to a wider aperture (2.8 or 1.4 if your lens allows). If you do that you will need to be further away from the background and will have to play around a lot more to get the focus right on your eyes. Your shutter will need to be set to the light but if it is still or on a tripod this can go as low as necessary – as long as you stay still. For the pictures below I had the shutter speed on 3 seconds.
- Place an object where you plan to position yourself – something tall like a broom is a good. Autofocus on the broom and then switch it to manual focus so it doesn’t change when you get in front of the camera.
- Set the timer and position yourself in the same spot as the broom in front of the camera.
Tips on posing and lighting
Here is where you can have a little fun. Hang around on pinterest a bit and think of the kind of mood you want. Bright and happy, moody and dark etc. My portraiture board on pinterest is a good place to start.
If you want a light/bright photo keep the background light and get a big white piece of cardboard to reflect on the side opposite the window. You can attach this to a chair or a box that is the same height as your face. If you want something a bit moodier you can remove the reflector or even add a black piece of card. This is a great option if you don’t want to show too much of your face.
Then play around with positioning – face the light, turn away from the light, look up, look down. Raise the camera higher if possible and have it looking down on you slightly. Find your best angle! Also Sue Bryce’s magic posture trick is ‘chin forward and down’. It feels weird and might even look weird in real life but I promise it makes a difference in pictures. Basically have a bit of fun with this bit. The biggest challenge in taking a portrait shot is probably not judging your face!
Using your phone
The tips on lighting and to some extent the posing above apply to phone portraits too. If you have a phone tripod or can get it to balance on a stool and pile of books the above applies. If you are taking a ‘selfie’ holding the phone in your arms here is my trick: position your shoulders perpendicular to the wall. Lift your arm (with the camera) out to the side just a little higher than your face. Move your arm just a little forward and then tilt the phone ever so slightly. I find this is a flattering angle.
Also, I used a wall that was facing a window for these shots.
Also you will probably have to take a few shots to get the angle and focus right.
Every photo can do with a bit of post production love.
On your phone I might tweak the contrast, up the brightness, play with the temperature a bit and throw on a filter. I love VSCO or ProCamera for doing this.
On my computer I use Photoshop. Each picture is different but generally I would sharpen the image (shoothing in RAW means this is necessary), create contrast using the curves tool, perhaps do some skin retouching (although I was too lazy to do it this time) and maybe throw a filter on to show up skin tone and/or add to the mood.
Check back next week to see me get my flower crown on! Literally. Plus I promise to put more effort into my hair.