At the end of the tunnel of gold


I discovered a Photo Challenge Community called which looked to be interesting and  very well run so I signed up to take part. The first challenge that came up for me was "Leading Lines" with a bonus credit for incorporating more than 4 lines.

Due to the pandemic I am mostly staying at home these days and since my county does not allow mixing with people from other households at all,  my portraiture  photography is limited to at-home self portraits. After so many months in lockdown this limitation can become tiring - pictures of the same old me in the same old space... So I find that externally driven challenges are an invaluable tool to help me stay fresh, to  mix things up and to encourage me to perhaps think differently and experiment creatively. 

Thinking about leading lines made me remember an old fish-eye lens that I hadn't used for several years. It's an 8mm Ultra Wide Angle from Rokinon  designed for an APS-C cropped sensor camera which, because I've been using a full sensor camera for more than eight years now, I hadn't really thought about  much recently.  However, the lens is still compatible with my current camera and although I don't get the full fish eye effect using it this way and the images are vignetted, it still has the potential for some interesting results.  I decided it would be a great lens for the Leading Lines Challenge. 

Behind the Scenes 2 lined tunnel effect

Something Stripy

I envisioned some kind of ring of stripes I could mount around the lens that would point inwards to a portrait of me in the center of screen. 

At first I was delving around in the kitchen to try and find a suitable gadget (to no avail), when I suddenly remembered I had a beautiful piece of handmade paper, with stripes on it, that I had purchased more than 5 years ago as a potential backdrop element when I was toying with the idea of doing more product photography. 

This paper worked well for my purposes. It was sturdy enough to hold it's shape, whilst being flexible enough to mold to the size of the lens. I didn't want to cut it, so I was limited by the length of the roll. This made the actual portrait very teeny, but I was good with that, a portrait doesn't always need to fill the screen. 

Behind the Scenes 1 lined tunnel effect


I was creating the portrait after dark so I didn't have the presence of any natural ambient light to assist me in exposing my portrait. So I set the camera up right in front of a strobe with a softbox. I found that if I physically poked my nose into the wrapping-paper tunnel, then weird shadowing would result on my face, so instead I stood back a little from the end of the tunnel so that the light from the strobe would expose my features and make them visible at the end of the tunnel. Even so, I did end up cleaning up some shadowing on my face using Photoshop. 

 I took advantage of the electrical lights in the room in conjunction with white balance settings and color grading in Lightroom to warm up the scene and give it a rich, golden-light feel. 

I ended uploving  the vignetting that occurred due to the lens incompatibility, because it softened out the edges of the frame and gave it a nostalgic filmic feel. Somehow it  reminded me of an old circus poster. 

Ring Tunnel

From Stripes to Circles

I was curious about turning the stripes by 90 degrees. This made the the paper roll shorter allowing for a slightly larger portrait at the center of screen. I love the way the circles get closer and closer together, the further they are from the lens. However, this rotation of the wrapping paper provides no leading lines,  I am squirreling away this thought for another time...

What are YOU doing to foster creativity during  pandemic restrictions?

For any  fans of taking photographs, I highly recommend these three photography communities and their respective challenges. These communities are open to everyone of all skill levels. They are each positive spaces that provide encouragement  to their members. Check them out...

1. The Photography Scavenger Hunt

2. The Art of Self Portraiture

3. 52Frames

If you have any other ideas or suggestions for at-home creative pursuits, please share them in the comments below!

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