Experiment: Ghost Self Portraits

It all started with the latest eveready ultima advertisement. Long exposures, Animations through lighting streaks etc. etc. I also had good discussion on it, on one of my orkut community. So I was inspired to perspire (literally!) to try my hand on some long exposure photography.

While returning home from my gym, stopped by a stationary store, bought those china-made torchlight pens and a couple of black card-paper. I thought of rolling that black paper in cone like formation to further sharpen the light source. Also rolled a white paper inside black paper so the intensity doesn’t reduce! Now was a time for some petty but headache giving problems. To make  lighting streaks either the camera or the light source should move. Yesterday, I had created some very much acceptable lighting streaks with my CPU’s green and red light, by moving my camera. (I didn’t find the process worthy enough to write a blogpost!)

So flatly was not interested in again doing that. I better go to sleep than randomly moving my camera with it’s shutter open every night. I will get bored soon and why to be up all night, doing boring stuff! And it is already past midnight. So the remaining option is of moving the light source.

If I move the light source, who will click?

If I use timer, how it is going to focus in all darkness?

If I prefocus it at the light source somehow, how can I move it randomly?Yeah, prefocusing at around desired distance was an option but my small little kit lens does not have a distance scale…

Hello, I know that I have written nothing yet in relation with the name of this post. But this was the process of how did I do, what did I do. (?) Here, Minimum focusing distance of 0.25m/0.8ft came to rescue me. If I have not told earlier, I have Canon 400D and EFS 18-55 F3.5-5.6 IS lens. From here a simple procedure followed. I paid some attention to details 😉 but you need not if you follow my procedure!

  1. Put your camera on tripod or any other firm place, where it has no chance for moving unnecessarily. (I put mine on a stool! and kept soft cotton cloth under the lens for support. )
  2. Stand around 1 feet away from camera, properly posing yourself/your face. Press the shutter half way down. (My hand could easily reach there, with those torchlight pens acting as extensions!) Or better use a remote control!
  3. Once you have your camera focused, switch it MF and hit the lights off.
  4. I should have told this before. As I am posing in front of camera, I cant really use the bulb mode. So the standard setting used was 30 seconds exposure at F 11.
  5. Now before stretching your hand to click the shutter, see if your posing just where you focused. Adjust those lights as you want. Look for some catchlight in eyes. (Special tip: You can actually see your face illuminated in the lens!)
  6. Once done all this, take a deep breath, press the shutter (finally!). Breathe out, be still and switch on torchlights, as per determined before.

I have used two torchlight pens and was around a feet away in total darkness. Actual exposure around 15-20 seconds served the purpose. Then I switched off torchlights. And I think, even in total darkness, being steady in front of camera is necessary and so I did. No matter how much precautions you take, how much you try to be steady, the motion blur does get introduced in the image. May be thats why I called them ghost self portraits after I saw the first result! After four photos, total timing of that scorching torchlight into my eyes was around 1.5-2 minutes and so an eyesore. You should have seen me then; I was crying with only one eye!

Enough! I uploaded those photos on my PC. Did basic editing of some curves and contrast. And yeah to save my lazy soul from white balancing difficulties, turned them to B&W! Except the last one, which I did a bit pop art style… with too much colours and saturation not to worry about white balancing again!!

And sat down write up this blogpost immediately…

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