Fun with Frames

In search of a subject for photography, I often wind up using myself.  I don't mind doing self-portraits, but I have found that they can take some time and patience.  Getting the lighting down is a little more complicated than usual as you aren't constantly behind the camera evaluating every single shot.

If you're not having fun, you must be doing something wrong!

Setup is best done one light at a time.  in the case of the portrait above, I used two lights for a very clean, even fill.  Normally I'd love to do something more dramatic but the frame around my head posed several limitations on the light: It had to be soft to keep harsh shadows from the frame from covering up parts of my face.  It also had to look fairly even, as the repetitive nature of the image meant that I would need to emphasize each of the frames equally.

So, Big softbox then.

In fact, the Apollo Orb was the weapon of choice for this shot as it has a massive 45" diameter front which lets light kind of spill around everything in front of it.  Very little for harsh shadows.

I dialed in the light intensity with the baffle off as I can't adjust it easily after the baffle is on.  This shot, like many others with this big light, took almost full power to create.  I'm thinking a tri-flash bracket would be a cool investment for a light like this. Also, more flashes...

Anyway, I've got a huge advantage here in the form of a clean, white ceiling.  Instead of using another soft box, I opted to bounce a bare bulb flash off the ceiling for a nice even wash of light off camera left.

This simple setup shows the placement of the camera, lights and the action...uh...sorry, that sounded way better in my head.
You may notice the soft box tilted up toward the ceiling.  I originally hadn't intended to do this but bouncing some extra light off the ceiling evened it out even further and helped to focus the main beam of light on my face, and less on my white t-shirt.

The final addition to the equation was a reflector underneath me.  Bouncing off the ceiling like this usually has the drawback of giving someone "racoon eyes", a remarkable phenomenon where people sprout fur around their face and their corneas go completely black...sorry, I'm just kidding.   In all seriousness, the area under the eyebrows becomes very dark, and it's prudent to fill it in.  See below:

No Racoons here!  Got a piece of foam-core to bounce some more light around!
The hardest part after this was having the patience to set up the shot where the frame is straight, the expression works and everything is in focus.  Thankfully, I have a wireless remote for this!

I thought about 'shopping my body out of this, but I think I got the desired effect.
One more thing on the lighting:  The frames behind me are glass.  They'll reflect anything.  This was my other reason for choosing a big soft light, as the glass wouldn't show up as prominently.  The first couple placements of the softbox gave me a big white blotch on the right-most photo, as the reflected line of sight lined up between the camera, the frame and the softbox.

My big mistake: I didn't snap a vertical shot to print and use in this frame.  Not because I want a photo of myself on the wall, but to create the frame within a frame look!