as part of the 365/366/52 projects I’m currently doing on flickr I’m understanding the benefits of having a huge mirror in the hall. I mean, I’ve got a tripod and a wireless remote shutter release for my sony alpha so I don’t have to do the 10 second dash anymore which I used to do all the time when I just had my little sony but even with the remote there’s times when you really want to see what you’re doing when you’re doing it and you’re part of it when you’re in it. the A300 has live view which is great for composition, especially for self portraits, but even though it flips up and down all the way it doesn’t actually flip around corners so you can never actually see yourself when you’re composing unless you can see the live view screen in a mirror, or you’re in a mirror and you’re looking at the live view or your eyes go round corners.
which is how this picture came about. I was originally inspired to do a photo that included as much live image capture technology as possible by another flickr user who I sadly can’t find anymore but they had managed 2 cameras and an iphone all showing the subject and I thought it was a rather nice idea and lord knows you’re always looking for inspiration doing self portraits and as I’d recently done a spiffy self portrait in the large hall mirror that turned out pretty well I knew I could make something like it work. I’ve got an ercol sideboard full of cameras that I inherited from my dad last year and various bits of polaroid, cine, super 8 and brownie stuff so there was plenty of hardware but I really needed to have live view video-type monitors going on to have everything showing everything else in a cleverly ironic post-modern self-referential self-deprecating smug blank art student trend-follower meme-victim kind of way. the only things that would enable that were the sony alpha, my little sony, and my nokia n80 which I didn’t need to give the make and model number of I could have just said mobile phone so I took them all down to the hall mirror, got the alpha on the tripod, stood back, stopped for a minute and then decided this was all rather stupid and I should really get back to writing a user interaction specification for a download widget. and get a coffee. and a bourbon. or three.
when I got back to it I knew straight away that I only have 2 hands and so I would need somehow to arrange everything in a way that it appeared in the photo without me having to hold everything or it crashing to death by laminate floor. as it happens I have a gorillapod for my little sony so I used that to strap it to the sony on the tripod. so that was working ok – look! there’s me in the screen on my little camera in the mirror on the screen of my big camera! excellent! etc. next thing to do was also get my phone into the composition but I didn’t have anyway of strapping it to anything without disturbing the already precarious 2-camera tripod gorillapod art installation thing, so I tried a few test shots just holding the phone and using the secondary camera yes my phone has 2 cameras that must be useful for somebody but the results weren’t that great because taking photos of bright lcd screens is always a bit rubbish and the screen on my phone is pretty brash. mobile phone is out. boo. I’ve only got 2 cameras in the photo. I demand more cameras!
did I say polaroid? a polaroid has live view, right? I mean, you press the button and you can instantly view the results after shaking it like a polaroid picture of course. go get that from the ercol. tried the composition you see here and I thought it looked pretty good and I tried a few more tests with desk lamps strewn around the place to get some highlight going on the shiny hardware (I like how the lens turned out) and I was ready to take the final shot. I just needed to decide whether it was worth taking a couple of polaroids as part of the final shot to get the full-on live view action going. of course it was. I mean, it’s an expensive throwaway, but I don’t use the polaroid enough – its a 636 – and so you might as well just take photos for the hell of it, sorry, the art of it.
I did have a few shots where the photo is popping out of the polaroid on the small screen in the mirror on the large screen but there was a bit of blur going on and they weren’t quite right. I also left the photo hanging out of the polaroid for a while so it developed and you could see the polaroid photo in my little sony on the sony alpha, but it didn’t look quite as good as I would have liked. eventually I got the shot you see here. of course, eventually I got about 327 shots and didn’t know this was the one I would actually use until I’d gone through the whole upload and review process and even then there were about 5 I could have used.
so I’m done then. well, apart from post-processing the life out of it, natually. spending the time on the composition and capture is only really half the story. like boristheblade says, taking the photo is part of the creative process but certainly not all of it, its more ‘a stepping stone to some final product that appeals to me’. I’m not going into all the post-processing details, as it’s very similar to what I did here but if you really want to see exactly what I did in photoshop, its in the saved history in the EXIF data on the photo on flickr, which I notice they don’t strip out like they used to. You’d have to be insane, but you could. NOTE: they did strip it out again.