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Self Portrait

Journey at Home Day 21

Today we effortlessly snap photos of friends and take selfies. Early portrait photography wasn't as easy. Portraits required long exposures and very bright lights. Back then, the easiest portrait to take was that of a dead person. And that was popular back in the day. Living portrait sitters had to be absolutely immobile for a very long time—up to several minutes. It was typical for people to close their eyes and maintain a neutral expression. Otherwise the image would be blurred. Even then, the image was often blurred.

One of my assignments for my History of Photography class is to create a portrait with conditions that take 30 seconds or longer. With no one available to sit for a portrait, it was up to me to take my own photo. This turned out to be quite challenging.

Today's digital cameras are so sensitive, that to take a 30 second exposure during the day requires having virtually no lights and stopping done the shutter so it is as small as possible (or owning an expensive neutral density filter). Then there is the challenge of getting the sitter to sit still for the portrait. This I found impossible to do. I thought I wasn't moving, but all those micro movements added up to a blur. What to do? Embrace the blur.

The background turned out to be razor sharp because it is inanimate and shouldn't move unless there is an earthquake. I had to blur the background to make the image look more intentional. Then I brought the image into Topaz Studio to apply an effect that is supposed to make the image looks as if this painterly effect is what I had intended all along.

I am still working on it and think I'll get better results tomorrow. Try keeping your head still and eyes open for 30 second or more.

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