Digital Photography 1 on 1: Episode 29: Self Portrait: Adorama Photography TV

Uploaded by adoramaTV on 29.08.2010

[intro music]
Female announcer: Adorama TV presents Digital Photography One on One, where we answer your
questions. Here's your host, Mark Wallace.
Mark Wallace: Hey, everybody. Welcome to this week's episode of Digital Photography One
on One. I'm Mark Wallace.
Well, this week we have a great question from DH about shooting a self-portrait when you
don't have an assistant.
[music begins]
Mark: DH asks, "First, are there some tips I can frame myself easily? And secondly, how
can you make sure that the camera will focus at the right place?"
[music comes to an end]
Mark: Well, DH, those are great questions, and I have some techniques that I can show
you to help you take a self-portrait. And you can also use these techniques when you
need to shoot something like kids, where you need to be away from the camera so that you
can entertain them so they're all happy and stuff, and release the trigger, and make sure
that the focus is tack-sharp. It's a little bit of a trick that I learned from Jack Reznicki,
and I'm happy to pass it along to you.
So let's go into the studio and look at how to do this.
[transition sound effect]
Mark: Well, we're here in the studio, and DH was actually pretty specific about the
setup that we had, so I've tried to mimic that as closely as possible. I've got a 7D
with a few Speedlites set up, and so my 550 is controlling a 580EX II and another 550
on remote stands. The other thing that DH had that I don't have was a remote control
to fire the camera, so I'm going to show you how to do it without that to start with.
Now, what I've done is: I have a little focus target, and this focus target is just basically
something you can download. You can Google "focus target" and you can get a JPEG image
or something like that and print it out. I've just printed this one out on an eight and
a half by 11 piece of paper, and I've taped it to a stand that I have. This is a reflector
Now, the important thing is: I've tried to make sure that this is about as high as I
am, about the same height. And the most important thing is that this is right where my face
is, so I just stand right in front of this and adjust it, so it's right in front of my
face. And then the other thing is: I've measured ...put a piece of tape right here. And so
what I did was I stood in front and said, OK, I want this to cut off about right there.
Just put a little piece of tape on there.
And so now, I know where to frame my picture. So if I'm shooting blind, this will help me
out. Now, the second thing I've done is I've put a piece of tape right on the floor so
I know exactly where to stand, so I have my stand right above that mark, and when I move
this, I'll stand right on there when I'm taking my picture.
So now let me show you what I've done with the camera. Now, this camera I have set up,
it is in manual focus mode. Now, manual focus is going to allow me to do two things. First
of all, I can frame up my shot by using the little guides I have. And then I'll manually
focus on my focus target to make sure it's nice and locked in. Now, that means that I
can now go back and stand where I was, move that stand and stand right on that dot and
make sure that I'm still in focus.
Now, I'm shooting in manual mode. I'm at ISO 100, and then I also have my shutter at 100,
and my aperture, which is the most important thing. I'm shooting at f/10 because I want
a little leeway in my depth of field so if I'm off just by a little bit, I won't fall
out of focus.
Now, the other thing I've done, I've set my drive mode to a 10-second delay so I can make
it over, move my stand, stand in position, and shoot. Now, this is the simplest way to
do it. I'm going to show you a better way to do it here in a second. So let's go ahead
and try it.
[camera starts beeping]
Mark: So, my timer is going. I'm going to move this out of the way. I've got a few seconds.
I'll stand right here, compose myself.
[flash fires]
Mark: Bammo. I have a nice shot. Now, that is the simplest way to do this. There is a
much better way to do this, though, because that one is sort of: set up, hope that you're
in the good position.
Now, a better way to do this, if you really want to see how things are working, is you
can use just an inexpensive television. And this is something I picked up for a couple
hundred bucks, maybe, and I've hooked it up to the Video Out on my camera. Now, most modern
DSLRs have a Video Out that allow you to put this on. And the nice thing is, the 7D has
Live View, so I can turn that on.
Now, I'm keeping my focus; I haven't changed my focus. It's still on manual focus to where
I was, and so now, if I had a remote control, I could come back over here, and I can look
... actually, I have to turn the TV on. Once I turn this on, I can actually look in the
television and see if I'm in the frame or not. So this is going to pop up here in a
second. I've got my Live View set up, and so now I can actually see what's going on.
Now, I have to push this shutter release halfway so that it ... there it goes. And now I can
actually position myself, and if I had a remote control, I could click that and fire it and
I am all good. Or I could still do the delay and make sure I'm positioned correctly, taking
a look at myself.
OK, now, that's a little bit better way to do it. Now, there is a way that's even better
than that that we're going to do next. Now, this involves using some PocketWizards, so
what I'm doing is I'm hooking up a PocketWizard PLUS II Transceiver, and I'm just going to
hang this off my tripod like that. And then this cable is a pre-release cable, and so
what that means is I can put this on here, and if I don't have the television, so I'm
going to unhook the television.
And the reason I'm unhooking the television is I don't want Live View on, and there's
a very specific reason for that. I want my focus mode; and I'm going to change my drive
mode here really fast. OK. I want my focus mode to be on continuous focus, or with the
Canon it's called AI Servo mode.
And what I can do then is this pre-trigger cable has a little switch on it, and when
I turn that switch on, what its doing is it's mimicking me holding down the shutter release
halfway. And because my focus is on continuous focus, it's always focusing.
And so then what I can do is turn on a second PocketWizard, and then zip over here, and
then... I don't actually have to be exactly on the line. I can move a little bit forward.
[flash fires]
Mark: I can move a little bit back.
[flash fires]
Mark: I can move around and do all kinds of things. And the thing is, this is constantly
going to be focusing on me, and so I'm sure that my focus is absolutely stellar. What
I don't know, though, is if I'm in the frame.
So I could turn back on Live View, put it on manual focus, and then trigger with my
PocketWizard here. But the nice thing about this, and using auto-focus this way, is let's
say you had some children or dogs or something that were sort of hard to wrangle, and you
couldn't be next to your camera.
Well, doing this, having a PocketWizard with a pre-release cable, with your camera on continuous
focus, you could have a small child over here, and be entertaining them, have a little rattle
or something so they smile, and when they do...
[flash fires]
Mark: Boom. You can click, and make sure you capture that moment. You could be, maybe,
beside your camera over here, going, "Hey, look at over here, blah blah blah."
[flash fires]
Mark: Click. And so you don't have to be exactly at the camera, and you're going to get nice,
perfectly-sharp images every single time. So again, I'm going to stand right here, I'm
going to put my thumbs up, and you'll see that this image is exactly, perfectly in focus.
[flash fires]
Mark: Perfect. OK, take a look at that image and you'll see it looks good. Everything is
clear; everything is in focus. And that's how you do it. A lot of different options,
a lot of different ways you can do it, but all of them are very simple and affordable.
[transition sound effect]
Mark: Well, DH, I hope that helps you out. Remember, if you're like DH and you have a
question about photography, please send it to me at You can also
follow us on Twitter, or leave comments if you have something to ask. We read all of
Well, thanks for joining us this week, and I'll catch you next time.
[outro music begins]
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