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September Self Portraits | Settings and Thoughts

September Self Portraits | Settings and Thoughts

While I was shooting my self portraits in September, I didn’t feel like they were incredibly inspired or creative. But now, as I look at them as a group I can see how I was experimenting with different techniques and I can appreciate the creativity that they do contain. This ability to see my work more clearly when I’ve taken a few weeks to stop back and away is one of the reasons that I advocate for light culling when you first go through your images in processing. Some images that import off of my cards are dumped immediately- exposure, focus or composition is just NOT going to cut it. Other images don’t capture the vision of what I was intending to communicate, and so I feel no immediate compulsion to process, polish and share them. Over time, I’ve learned that, sometimes, those “ehh” images can become my favorites if I leave them in the set and go back to them later with fresh eyes. Maybe they need a creative crop, or heavier processing than I’d normally do, or perhaps a B&W conversion would save the image even though it would cause it to be non-cohesive with the set as a whole… Give your work time; subtly special images sometimes need space from the physical act of shooting in order to tell you what they want to become.

If you haven’t already, feel free to check out the group project #portraitsofme on Instagram. You can find the weekly prompts on my IG feed, but please feel free to share any image that you have shot of you.

self portrait picture with settings and commentary by megan cieloha

3PM, East-facing window, 70mm, f/2.8, 1/200, ISO 800

self portrait picture with settings and commentary by megan cieloha

3PM, East-facing window, 70mm, f/2.8, 1/200, ISO 800

The prompt for the above two images was “hobby.” One of my most recently acquired hobbies is a 15-20 minute nap after lunch, when my youngest kiddo goes down for his nap. Power-napping is an awesome thing, y’all! In order to soften the mood and create a slightly ethereal feeling, I draped a pink chiffon nightgown over my lens. Playing with distance between lens and fabric allowed me to modify the strength of the effect and the subsequent effect upon the mood of the image.

self portrait picture with settings and commentary by megan cieloha

2:45 pm, North and West facing window, 24mm, f/4.0, 1/160, ISO 800

This image was meant to communicate the controlled chaos that was that day in my life. A deck project meant we’d been living with BBQs and patio furniture in our dining room for about a month (it’s all back on the deck, again. Woohoo!) and I was wrapping gifts for a birthday boy with less than an hour to go before he came home. While I did want to communicate chaos, I didn’t want the image to be too confusing for the viewer. Using the leading lines of the railings, and blocking part of the messy scene with the wall, allowed me to control the viewer’s experience of the frame.

self portrait picture with settings and commentary by megan cieloha

5:30pm, East facing window, 35mm, f/2.8, 1/125, ISO 800

self portrait picture with settings and commentary by megan cieloha

5:30pm, East facing window, 35mm, f/2.8, 1/125, ISO 800

For the above 2 images, I wanted to shoot the intimate connection between my youngest and I. Now that I have older kids, I’ve experienced the way that the baby/toddler dependency on Mama shifts and lessens to make way for the discussion and give/take of elementary-age kids. This little guy really wants to be big, and he’s getting there with incredible speed, but we still have plenty of little kid cuddle moments. I wanted to remember the way that it feels to be enough for him; all he needs much of the time is to be held. Eventually, I know that I will not be able to solve all of his problems by offering a hug and shooting tight, with a wide ap and slightly soft focus allowed me to capture the mood and feeling.

self portrait picture with settings and commentary by megan cieloha

5pm, North West and East facing windows, 24mm, f/3.5, 1/125, ISO 800

The prompt for this week was “leading lines.” One of my favorite ways to use leading lines is to find 2 or more diagonal lines in a scene that can pull my viewer’s eye right to my subject/s. In this case, the repetitive lines across the top of the chairs, the edge of the table and the lines of the planter on the table all pull the viewer from the bottom of the frame up towards the subjects in the upper right corner.

self portrait picture with settings and commentary by megan cieloha

9:30am, 24mm, f/2.8, 1/1600, ISO 200

I just couldn’t ignore the light and texture on the driveway after I dropped my kids off at school in the morning. The juxtaposition of leafy shadows from above with the fallen leaves on the ground spoke about fall. I also loved the tones of my shoes were echoed by the brown leaves. Shooting wide angle on my 24-70 allowed me to include a lot of the scene I was enjoying so much, in person.

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  1. Wendy

    14 October

    Beautiful!

    • MeganCieloha

      14 October

      Thank you, Wendy!

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