I can’t sit for a long time. Well, I can, but I choose not to. So during these covid times I have set myself some projects or challenges to keep myself busy and to teach myself some new skills. Of course I have been using some film cameras throughout this time, but there is a lot of time. So I decided to use my digital or phone camera for some of the challenges, it is cheaper.
One of the first ones I tried was suggested by a friend, to recreate a painting. I decided to get my father involved in this one as it would also give him something to do for a little while.
I had to be careful to choose a photo that would not make him feel silly or self-conscious otherwise he would have said no. As he loves guns I search for a painting that had a rifle in it as he has a couple of replicas. In the end I went for a portrait of John James Audubon.
Then it was a matter of using Portrait Pro software to remove and replace the background. I have found this software is easy to use and blends the backgrounds effectively while being able to post process the actual portrait. It was a little expensive, but I have used it so many times that it has been worth it in the end. You could also change the background with other, free apps which you will see later in the post.
The next project was one using some of the many toys I have. I am a little childish in that respect, but they do come in handy at times like this.
You can just put the toys in different positions or environments if they are available to you. Luckily I have a nice garden and a nature reserve within a very short walking distance from me. Then if you want to, you can add different backgrounds or elements to enhance the image…or just to waste a little more time.
The more bendy or articulate the toy the greater the posing possibilities. For me, Antman is the only truly articulate toy I have. For some of the photos, I decided to get to know the free software Gimp in order create layers, masks, and backgrounds. This takes a little more knowledge but there are lots of videos and help sites out there.
I have also watched a few photographic based TV Shows and movies during the lockdown. One was Master of Photography on Sky Arts. It is like bake-off for photographers, setting tasks each week. One task was a self portrait. So as I was watching it, I decided to take one then and there.
That project led me to the next one, a seven day selfie challenge. I do put myself in photos sometimes, but mostly I try and get others to pose for me. My friends and family usually show more compliance than I deserve 🙂
For this project I wanted to try some different ideas, again to teach myself some new techniques. I also only wanted to use my phone and only have photos actually taken my myself or with a timer. No reliance on anyone else.
Before I started I did some research looking at other selfies on Instagram or videos on youtube.
One of the best ones I watched was this one.
You can see its influence on the first two images I posted.
I also used the app Snapseed to alter the exposure and colour balance, the tinfoil photo needed to be bluer to make it feel colder.
The next video I watched was this one.
I played with this idea for the next selfie, putting in an old photo of birds inside my head to show what I am thinking about.
This was the first time I had used the masking technique on my phone and I would return to it for other selfie days. It is an interesting tool.
There are so many videos about selfies on youtube, it is sometimes hard to choose just one idea. This video has many ideas, but I chose the one that seemed easy to complete, but gave the most dramatic results.
This was the one I created.
Unfortunately, one of my friends hurt himself trying to recreate this idea, so make sure you watch the video as it really should not be dangerous. 🙂
For the next selfie I decided to do something a little less “dangerous” and didn’t really do anything physical. I took a photo of myself on my ipad and then put the ipad in my food cupboard.
Finally I replaced the white with a photo of more cans, using Portrait Pro again, but Gimp could have been used. Out of 7 this is the only idea I created myself without research. I am ok with that as I learnt new skills in the process.
My research took me a little deeper into the artistic side for the next idea. I completely stole it or took inspiration from Sebastian Del Grosso. I took two photos for this selfie, trying to keep my head completely still.
I then turned one into a pencil drawing using the app Mix. Finally using the techniques learnt previously, I combined them to create the final photo with Snapseed again.
I used this technique for the final day too, but changed my own position. I would have liked to expand on the final shot by having my full body in view, but it was impossible to do by myself, in my lockdown environment and with my lack of equipment. I needed a selfie stick, which I didn’t have.
I wanted to recreate the type of shot that is taken in landscape mode and then rotated to portrait to make it seem like you are climbing up something. Unfortunately the lockdown meant I was restricted to my house and garden. So I used our stone fireplace and then added a cliff view to the areas where the carpet was visible.
I looked at this website and this one for inspiration. I would have liked to create a photo taking advantage of perspective, but again this was tricky without help from a friend and that was outside my challenge remit. So here is my effort for the last day.
I am glad the challenge is over. It was fun and I will take more selfies in the future, but not everyday. I would also like to create some with the help of friends. Now back to film photography for a while.