How I fell in the toilet

Self Portrait Challenge –  What Happened?

... or rather how I made it look like I fell in the toilet!

I created this image for a Self Portrait Sunday challenge by "The Art of Self Portraiture" on the theme of "What Happened?". Turns out it was an interesting theme because brainstorming it triggered multiple and quite varied ideas. Often I think of these challenges as an artist sketch – an opportunity to experiment and practice a proof of concept. This past Sunday I was inspired to see what it might look like were I to fall victim to the overzealous flushing mechanism of murderous lavatory.

How I fell in the toilet composite pieces


One of the most important factors to getting a composite feel right is to get the lighting as close to the original background plate as possible. One way to achieve that is to shoot your composite elements in the background environment and with the same lighting setup which is what I did here. I set up one strobe inside the bathtub for some soft backlighting for this shot.         

How I fell in the toilet composite pieces


I wasn't able to get into the toilet, so instead I got as close as I possible could to the position for each limb. I only had a small space to work with, so this involved contorting my body in uncomfortable and unflattering positions.  I could only just squeeze my head into the space between the bathtub and the toilet with barely a quarter on an inch to spare. 

How I fell in the toilet composite pieces

Remote Triggering

 I wanted to get my shots right as quickly as possible. To save my creaky joints I used a handheld infrared remote trigger. I also had a camranger set up so I could review the results on a nearby ipad without having to repeatedly get up off the floor to check the display on the back of the camera.

How I fell in the toilet composite pieces

Cheating the Tights

I wanted it to look like I had a pair of tights drawn down around my ankles but it was impossible to shoot both legs together. So I bunched the spare second leg of the tights into a ball and scooped it back into itself, hiding the bulge on the far side of the leg where the camera wouldn't see it. Later during the compositing stage I painted a joining piece of fabric back in, to provide the illusion of a pair of tights.

Untitled photo

The gif above  shows the build up of layers towards the final shot. 

Raving about Photoshop's  "Object Selection Tool"

The object selection tool is a newer tool by Adobe which I find to be particularly effective at selection objects  or parts of an object in a scene for making quick masks. I used it to select the limbs for the composite which required  only minor tweaks to the resulting masks. Final color tweaks were completed in Lightroom.

If you are in lockdown or stuck at home and are missing shooting with other people or are looking for ways to engage creatively with photography, I highly recommend The Art of Self Portraiture.  You can engage with the community and learn more about taking part via this Facebook Group

What's your favorite tool in Photoshop?

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