Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Simple Photographer

Apparently, I don’t look as good as my About Me photo, or so several friends (yah, friends. Right!) have insinuated. You see, these people know the real me, bare-naked except for a swimming suit, my white hair in pig tails.

(If someone had told me when I was younger that I’d be wearing a swim suit to work everyday when I was 62-years old, I would have laughed my you-know-what-off. But back to the photograph...)

Admittedly, the picture is a couple years old, but also, there are tricks to be learned here.

As I said (and you can see) my hair is white. My face is pale. I usually don’t wear makeup. It’s washed off my face after being in the pool a couple of hours anyway so why bother? Even IT Guy doesn’t see me in makeup often. So when I needed a more formal photo, I piled on the makeup, took a self-portrait (read on for more about that), then turned that photo into a black and white picture. The resulting contrast gave my pasty face the appearance of more color. A simple trick, really.

But the good stuff is this: when I turned my body slightly away from the camera, giving myself a thinner profile, I also lowered my shoulder closest to the lens and leaned into it. This movement stretched out my neck skin and any double chins hanging around. Try it in a mirror and see for yourself. It works wonders. You'll want to walk around like that all day!

Notice my face was straight-on towards the camera, though. This did two things for me. It hid any crow’s feet I have (well, almost), denying the flash an opportunity to highlight them with cast shadows. But also, (and here’s a biggy, folks) it hid the fact that I had elevated over my ears the arms of my glasses! This trick gave a slightly downward tip to the lens which resulted in less of a reflection from the flash. Any reflection that might appear, could be gently cloned away later with GIMP, the free photo manipulating software I told you about in an earlier post.

A big grin on my face hid any smile wrinkles in my cheeks and under my eyes. A hat framed my face, something my white hair doesn’t do. It also would hide thinning or messy hair.

So how did I take a picture of myself? Digital cameras make that so easy. First, read up on the self-timer built into your camera. Then pile books onto a tall dresser or bookcase, placing the camera on top of them. Set the self-timer, and quickly get into your shot. You probably have much more time than you really need. Running back to the camera, you can immediately see your sample portrait and estimate where you should stand for the next shot, how good the focus was, and if the top of your head or the bottom of your chin was cut off. Now take several more shots, experimenting with posing as you go.

The shot I'm using for the About Me was my fifth exposure that day, but I took many more, trash canning the hideous ones so IT Guy would never see them. He did notice I was in my pj’s, though.

I guess eight years of owning and running a photo studio finally paid off with this photo. But let’s face it...wet and bare-naked in a swimming suit, I look a lot different.


  1. Ahhh, the sharing of your secrets. I find it endearing that you give the pointers to a nice self-portrait! The love of my life happens to be an amateur photographer, and somehow, just looking into his lens makes me glow. Or perhaps it looking into his eyes?

    By the way, amazing story, the fight of your sister. I pray that she defeats the cancer.


  2. I don't like having my picture taken, but I've learned not to fight the camera. If you try to dodge you end up with your mouth open eyes crossed and a great shot of your rear. I have my standard pose and you see it on my last post. BTW-what great "friends". Maybe you should publish their photos. Payback time. Deb


Your opinion doesn't count, but I'd like to know what it is anyway! Please leave a comment!