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The best of Walt, as taken by Walt Ross (wross)

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brettania View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote brettania Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: The best of Walt, as taken by Walt Ross (wross)
    Posted: 01 February 2012 at 07:39
There's one of our members who has amazed us with the versatility and creativity
he has consistently displayed in the "Self Portrait Thursday" threads,
and he posts under the name wross.

I asked Walt to make a selection of these shots and to put a few words together
about the staging and processing of these gems of the photographers art.
Here is what he wrote...

Self-Portrait Thursday was started by Maffe on January 8, 2009, with the explanation that:

Originally posted by Maffe Maffe wrote:

Mr Eddyizm got me into this on Flickr, so why not have one thread running here on Dyxum?

Simple rules your only allowed to post on Thursdays, and you guessed right, one self portrait and one only a week

We encourage you to share any advanced settings and technique!

All welcome to join!

It soon developed that those were the ONLY two rules. One pic only, and only on Thursday. After that, you can do pretty much anything you want with the image. I like rules like that, and I like experimenting.

Following, in chronological order, are some of my Self-Portrait Thursday images that I've enjoyed the most, along with the steps that went into them.

1.Opening Day: Jan 8, 2009

α700 + Tam 17-50 @ 35mm, 1/30s @ f4, ISO 200
Single light source (a window) above and in front of face.
"Extra" PP: Dodge (lighten) bright areas and burn (darken) shadow areas to exaggerate the depth of the skin folds. Some of this can be done with contrast adjustment, but using that tool you quickly lose control of darkest and lightest details. Dodge the whites of the eyes to make them stand out (more sinister). Add dot of reflection to the pupils of each eye to anchor the viewer's attention.

2. It Makes My Head Spin

α700 + Tam 17-50 @ 17mm, 1/2s @ f9.5
Center of a square room with light coming from north and east windows, + onboard flash. I'm sitting on a desk chair, spinning around in the center of the room, with the camera hand-held at arm's length. Exposure set to manual. The long exposure provides for the blurred background as the walls and windows spin past. The onboard flash provides the sharp image of the sour-faced subject. I kept making the aperture smaller until the flash wasn't powerful enough to light up the background, although in a few places you can still make out faint ghosts of curtains and furniture (upper right and lower left).

3. Six Heads Are Better Than One

α700 + Tam 17-50 @ 24mm, 1/45s @ f4
Lighting is indirect natural from all sides.
This is a combination of combining multiple exposures and taking advantage of existing elements (the windows in the door) to frame the subject. Camera is on a tripod so that all the images will align correctly. I took several pictures with the head in each window pane. Then, select the best one from each pane, stack the six, merge them into one image. There are several techniques for doing this. In most cases, I prefer erasing the areas of image that I don't want to keep. Sort of like cutting a hole in each layer until you reveal the layer you want to show.

4. Squish.

I guess I was feeling stepped on this day. The camera is laying on the ground, facing up, using onboard flash and fired by remote. Exposure was for the sole, but the background and face came out equally bright and flattened the image. Filter-Distort-LensCorrection-Vignetting darkened the background and face, putting depth back into the image. Posterization gives it the semi-cartoony look.

5. Eye-yi-yi

α700 + Min 50/1.7
This is (obviously) two images. The background is a simple image of a desktop. The eye is from a close up image of the face. Selected with the Elliptical Marque tool and then cut and paste into position over the desk. Filter-Distort-Spherize to give the fish-eye effect. Add Layer Style - Stroke to give the black circle outline. Burn to produce dark areas inside the left edge of the circle and outside the right edge of the circle to produce "shadows" and give a 3D effect.

6. Background Foreground

This was an unplanned handheld shot that I was inspired to shoot when FuzzyButt parked himself on my shoulder uninvited. This shot reminds me of two things. One, the importance of always having the camera near by. Two, out-of-focus picture elements can still be very effective parts of an image.

7. Morning Joe

Another two shot image. The coffee cup is straight-forward. The reflection of the face started out as a normal face shot. Then Saturation - Colorize to move it into the same brown family as the coffee. Invert the face image, since a reflection from this scenario would be upside down. Reduce the height of the face image, since the reflection on the coffee is at an angle, producing a somewhat flattened image. Select, cut and paste the face into the coffee. Play with the Opacity of the face layer until it feels right. Feather in the edges of the face so that they disappear, either using Refine Edge or by selectively erasing, so that the reflection is below the bubbles, not above.

8. The Sun Is Good For Your Skin

One nice feature about High Key images (or images just plain over-exposed), is that they work wonders on those awful skin wrinkles and age spots. A couple of stops of over-exposure and I looked 25 years younger! Wrinkles gone! Spots gone! Nose...uh...gone?

9. Mornings...

I start thinking about Self-Portrait Thursday first thing in the morning, so a lot of my ideas revolve around morning activities. For instance, shaving. This was done by processing one image normally. Then making a new top layer of the same image, and apply very heavy Filter-Blur-Gaussian Blur, to simulate looking at myself in a fogged bathroom mirror. Using a rough edged eraser brush, I erased some of that foggy layer, exposing the lower layer and giving the appearance that I'd wiped the mirror so that I could see to shave. At least, that was the idea.

10. I'm losing my marbles...

Two images blended. One, the image of the marbles, is pretty straightforward. Two, a goofy face shot posed to look like it's pressed up against glass. Copy just that face into one of the marbles. Lower the opacity so that it becomes transparent and the surface of the marble appears above the face. Use Filter, Distort, Spherize to shape the face to suit the marble. Losing my marbles is always a favorite subject...

11. Holmes! Yo! Holmes!

No matter how I tried, I couldn't pull this off in one shot. Being your own model does make some things more difficult. It's two shots. The background shot is the hand, the magnifying glass, and the blurred face in the background. Vignetting is added to reduce the focus of the image to just the fingers and the magnifying glass. The eye itself is lifted from a shot specifically of the eye, and dropped into the magnifying glass. The inside edge of the magnifying glass is burned to produce a shadow giving the eye-thru-the-lens some depth.

12. 40 Days and 40 Nights

My inspiration goes right down the drain when the weather is dark and damp. Tried to capture that here. The light is natural, from dull clouds outside the window. PP included bringing the temperature and saturation down to give a colder pallet, burning the wrinkles to exaggerate the crappy feeling, and hitting the droplets with the Clarity slider to keep them looking as wet as possible.

13. Goin' 'Round the Bend.

I loved the long shadows cast by the setting sun, but I wasn't finding anything interesting to do with them. Some how I came to this idea. Sort of an "alternate reality" kinda things. Processed the image normally and then made a copy. Processed the copy with heavy Solarization and Vibrance. Blended the two to look like they one fading into the other.

14. Leading Lines.

This isn't one of my top 5 Self Portraits, but it IS one of the top 5 lessons I've learned at Dyxum. Very often we take pretty pictures that are really settings in search of a subject. Without a subject, the pretty picture isn't worth a thing. I loved how this fence line divided the grass from the trees and led into the distance to....nothing. It needed a subject. Self-Portrait Thursday to the rescue. With the subject, there's a mood and an emotion. Without the subject, there's just a fence.

15. Running Out of Time. (Thursday is almost over!)

Another multiple exposure, this time, riding down the road near sunset in a Jeep with the doors off. All shots were done with ambient lighting, so I needed three very different shutter speeds to freeze the subject, provide some definition for the background (left), and give plenty of blur to the lights alongside. Thank goodness for digital. Use your best guess as starting points, and then bracket like crazy. From the resulting exposures, pick the three elements that work best, layer them and blend.

16. Whiteout

I hate cluttered images. One way I like to unclutter an image is is to take advantage of backlighting to blow out all the distracting background. Sometimes the best light in which to pose a subject, is in the darkest shadow next to the best light. This image was shot coming out of a tunnel under a roadway. Grass, bushes and parked cars are all in frame behind me here, but they are in direct sunlight and are completely washed away by the exposure.

17.Lights in motion

Who doesn't like long exposures of lights in motion? I think they're more interesting when some clear object of interest is included, whether illuminated by flash or by just being stationery during the exposure. It was important in this one to position the silhouette's head in the gap in the trees, or it would have disappeared.

18. Mickey & Co.

I think the inspiration for this one is obvious. Most of the image, except for the mouse, is as shot. The mouse was dragged in from clip-art, edges feathered and then shadow created by making a mirror image flattened mouse to give some illusion of reality by giving the appearance of being out of focus and casting a shadow.

19. Still haven't caught that mouse...

Taking advantage of "bad" lighting to create a stark image. I metered off of my hand before going into the attic, set the exposure accordingly.

20. Squeaky Clean

Another multiple exposure. This time, a washing machine and a head. The key PP steps were: Adding enough radial blur to the head to show rotation, but not so much as to make the face unrecognizable. Blend the edges and opacity of the face so it feels like its behind the glass. (Reflections on the glass must appear in front of the face.)

21. Uneasy Rider.

Motorcycle. Mini-tripod. Duct tape. Manual focus. Two sec self timer. Press the big black button lots of times and cross your fingers. For processing I selected the best image and created a single shot HDR in order to reduce noise, recapture dark details, and pull down blown highlights. Also to add some grit to the texture.

22. Buzz cut.

The hardest part of this was just finding the right angle at which to set the camera. The tractor is not actually moving; the motion blur of the tires was added in PP, with care taken not to blur the blades of grass as well. Processing was again single shot HDR, to account for the wide range from the darkest to lightest areas.

23. Happy Halloween

Two pictures blended. The first is a normal face shot. In the second, pull down on the cheeks; this pulls down the eyes, but keeps the fingers away from the eyes. Now blend the eyes from #2 with the face from #1. Play with coloring until it's really disgusting. Once you're happy with the colors, make a new layer of the same. Hit this top layer with Filter - Texture - Craquelure and adjust until you like the skin growths. The important part is that the skin growths won't appear everywhere, so erase this layer over the eyes and hair to let the un-Craquelured layer below show through.

24. A-HA!

I'm told that this image reminded one person of this A-HA Video. This is another exercise in layers. First, process the image normally. Then process a new top layer to be low contrast, few details, no color, almost only outlines. This was done by desaturating and then lowering contrast in some areas. In others, using Filter-Blur-Average, in others, using the Clone tool or the Paint brush to replace distracting details with more sameness. Then switch to the Erase tool, and select a brush with a bit of a ragged edge to it, like a paintbrush might leave. Use that to selectively erase the monochrome outline layer to expose an area of normal image below.

I appreciate being asked to put this together, I appreciate you taking the time to read this far, and I'll appreciate any comments or questions.

Edited by brettania - 01 February 2012 at 07:44

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Swede66 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Swede66 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 February 2012 at 07:49
Walt, this set is just fantastic. I haven't followed SPT so these are new to me and I must say I envy your creativity, imagination and processing skills. Just amazing, thanks for putting this together for us to enjoy!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote jamesmd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 February 2012 at 08:14
Stunning Walt , thanks so much for this great set and explanations
what ever you do, have fun. thats what it's all about
and move , move you body move your mind , move your point of view, suddenly everything changes ...
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Post Options Post Options   Quote badlydrawnroy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 February 2012 at 08:46
I knew you were good Walt but not this good

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Stormvogel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 February 2012 at 08:50
Fantastic Walt, I have never see such stunning foto's before, off one subject.
And there all so different.

Brettannia also thank you for asking Walt.

Greetings Willem.

Edited by Stormvogel - 22 March 2012 at 21:23
All ways in a good mood here.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Tricky01 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 February 2012 at 09:34
A great collection with every image so incredibly unqiue and creatively shot. Some great concepts. I wasn't aware of self portrait Thursdays, may need to give it a go
A9, A7Riii, A7R (full spectrum) 12f2.8, 15f2, 16-35f4, tam28-200, 35f1.8, 50 1.8, 85f1.8, 90f2.8, 135GM, 200-600G, 1.4xTC // A: Sig 90f2.8

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Bob J Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 February 2012 at 09:42
A fantastic demonstration of technique allied with imagination. Truly inspirational!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Aj700 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 February 2012 at 09:42
Originally posted by Swede66 Swede66 wrote:

I must say I envy your creativity, imagination and processing skills.

yes, absolutely brilliant.
thanks for sharing.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote vinayn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 February 2012 at 11:23
Amazing series. Loved each of them
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Post Options Post Options   Quote maxxumator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 February 2012 at 11:58
Thank you so much for the fascinating, highly enlightening and inspiring lesson, worth a stack of books!

@brettania: thanks for rooting this up!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote darosa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 February 2012 at 13:42
One of the best posts on Dyxum for some time.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Rusty Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 February 2012 at 14:04
Very nice post, thanks for sharing your methodology. Very informative
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Post Options Post Options   Quote maewpa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 February 2012 at 16:56
Funny, informative and just inspiring.
Paul aka maewpa
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Post Options Post Options   Quote DaveK Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 February 2012 at 17:12
Excellent work Walt! Awesome pictures! Very inspiring indeed! Keep up the good work!
Best regards, Dave
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