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I thought this week it would be fun to take a look at doing something more on the creative side, versus the educational side. I thought it could be liberating to try creating a self-portrait, but to throw all limitations out the window. This may include going so far as to make an abstract self-portrait, or at the very least, an unconventional one.

Now why would you want to create a self-portrait? The most obvious answer is to satisfy one (or more) of the many social media avatars we’re keeping up with these days. But deeper than that, sometimes it’s healthy to explore another avenue of self-expression. You have the power to reveal yourself to the world on your own terms. And self-expression can turn into self-reflection, if you allow it to. What are you passionate about? How can you display that in a photo? Maybe a literal representation is not your style, which is where the abstraction comes in.

Some thoughts on taking a self-portrait, whether abstract or otherwise, and what to try:

You could try purposefully and artfully blurring your selfie at shooting time. Without a focus point, the shapes, tones, and colors of your composition will become more important, and more fun to play with. Or, you can take a normally focused photo and use blurring tools in Edit or Develop mode.

Lens Blur Gaussian Blur Smart Blur

Ok. What else?

Try experimenting with:

  • perspective
  • angle and light intensity
  • creating a mood
  • creating mystery
  • using your silhouette or shadow
  • using your surroundings and environment
  • highlighting certain parts of your face or body
  • incorporating your passions
  • blending multiple images together using layers, such as yourself and another object or background

Ok. We’ve got some ideas now. Where do we go from here? Figure out the logistics.

Gear You Might Need:

  • Tripod
  • Remote
  • Lighting
  • Props
  • ACDSee/ACDSee Pro/ACDSee Ultimate

If you don’t have the setup to take proper ones, such as was my issue, you can use ACDSee Ultimate, ACDSee Pro, or ACDSee to create a look, an effect, even an abstraction. As the old cliché goes, think outside the box.

In ACDSee Ultimate: Perhaps a number of images aren’t much to look at on their own, but were you to combine them in the Layered Editor, not only can you lend more interest to an overall image, you can attribute different effects to each layer.

So I start with an image in Edit mode, and then I add a second one by going to Layer | Import from File... With this second image acting as Layer 2, I select the Hand tool. Then I choose Layer | Mask | Add White Mask. By adding a white mask, I can now use a black brush to reveal the layer below. I choose the Brush tool and black in the color box. I brush until I expose the parts of the lower image that I want to show.

Brush through to layer below

I can use adjustment layers in the Layered Editor to add effects specifically to one layer and not the other. I can apply an adjustment layer only to the closest image layer below it by enabling the Clipping button.

photo Effect Adjustment Layer Instant Adjustment Layer Process Adjustment Layer

Or, if there are effects that you want to try out that don’t exist as an adjustment layer, you can still do things the old fashioned way. Just make sure that you have the (right) image selected in the Layered Editor.

Childhood Dramatic Process

In ACDSee Ultimate, ACDSee Pro, or ACDSee: You can get pretty whimsical by including a Tilt-Shift effect in combination with special effects.

Tilt Shift Oil Paint Oil Paint Tilt Shift Exposure Oil Paint Tilt Shift

Try combining effects to get the look you want. Using the Mirror effect can lead to a lot of interesting opportunities.

Contoured Mirror

Why stick to conventional colors? Seriously, why?

Paint Negative

And then you can get deeper into full blown abstraction.

Sheet Metal Scattered Tiles

Try a vignette in combination with some color-altering effects to create a sense of mystery.

Vignette Vignette Stained Glass

Who says a self-portrait has to include your face? (ACDSee Ultimate were used for these layered effects.)

Not the Face Coloured Contours Coloured Edges

In ACDSee Ultimate and ACDSee Pro: And don’t forget you can utilize Pixel Targeting to target specific tones or colors and apply the effect to those alone.

Pixel Targeting Stained Glass

There you go. More ideas than you can shake a stick at. Hopefully you’ve found something to get inspired about here. Maybe this exercise helps you in your relationship with your likeness. Maybe it helps you in your relationship with your camera. And maybe you learn something along the way.

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