Two More ‘Distant Figure’ & ‘Close-Up’ Self-Portraits

black and white photography, landscape, self-portrait

I thought I’d share a couple more of the pairings I posted last week.

To quickly recap: for the left-hand image above I set up my camera, triggered its ten-second self-timer, ran like crazy for nine seconds, stopped and posed as the shutter was released. The left-hand image shows the full, uncropped image; the right-hand image is what you get when you crop right down to my face (plus a little work on gamma and contrast).

Two images for the price of one!

I find the results quite unsettling, which is good, since I don’t see the point in taking a self-portrait in order to flatter oneself. The unsettling effect may be partly because nobody looks at their best photographed blurred and in extreme telephoto perspective, and partly down to genetics, bad living and the fact that past the age of fifty, one has the face one deserves…

No negative has, so far, given both a good full-frame image and a good  close-up. This is not due to any necessary incompatibility between the two interpretations – but simply reflects how rare successful images are in the normal running of things.

If, say, roughly one in a hundred photographs is successful or worth sharing – then the chances of a negative working both as a full-frame and as close-up is about ten thousand to one! Even if I lower my standards and aspire to one good photograph per roll of film – that still leaves me with less than one in a thousand chance.

However, I have not yet viewed all the ‘close-ups’ of the good ‘full-frames’, so I live in hope of eventually finding a negative that works really well as both.

Self-Portraits in a Jar

3D, experiment, recent work, self-portrait
Self-Portrait, Bédarieux, Hérault, France, October 2018

Self-Portrait, Bédarieux, Hérault, France, October 2018

It’s been a while since I made my last post on this blog and I thought I’d come back with something unusual.

I’ve been messing about with printing portraits on flimsy tracing paper, then placing them in water-filled jars, letting them go soggy, and photographing them as they tear, fold and collapse, also making use of distortions created by the curvature of the water. However, whilst the results were interesting, they didn’t particularly excite me.

Then I bought a rather odd lens: Loreo’s 3D macro lens in a cap.


This lens is designed for half-frame digital cameras, but fits my Canon EOS 50e – a 35 mm film camera. The image does not quite fill the usual 35mm frame area, but that doesn’t bother me, and I like the resulting soft edges.

Normal 3D cameras have their lenses 6cm apart – the usual separation of human eyes. But 3D vision gets harder for human eyes and brain as the object of interest comes close. Human eyes struggle to resolve objects closer than about 15cm – the eyes have to cross uncomfortably, and what the right eye sees and what the left eye sees is too different for the brain to integrate into 3D vision.

This means that close-up photographs can’t be made with a normal 3D lens. The problem is resolved by reducing the separation between the two lenses and, ideally, having the lenses slightly converging, to reproduce the ‘crossed eyes’ effect. With the Loreo 3D macro lens the separation between the two lenses is only 2cm, but unfortunately the lenses don’t converge.

The effect of this lens is to miniaturises the viewer and make the thing being viewed seem monumentaly large –  an effect I am keen to explore in my self-portraiture.

I originally converted these into anaglyphtic images – which require red/cyan glasses to view. But I much prefer them ‘unconverted’ – as they appear on the negative: two slightly overlapping, subtly different images side-by-side.


When I receive my next wage packet I’m going to get a wide-angle attachment and fit it to the front of this lens – it’s long been my intention to make macro 3D versions of what I call my ‘strobe shakey-head self-portraits‘ – giving them a monumental feel.

Three Early Self-Portraits

black and white photography, self-portrait

These are three of what I consider as my ‘early’ self-portraits.

Having checked their dates for this blog post, I see that they are not quite as ‘early’ as I had assumed: I started photographing seriously in 1994 and these were taken during 1997 and 1998.

However, I see in them the curiosity, optimism, innocence and fearlessness of someone freshly in love with an art-form, and I see in them the exhilaration of someone discovering that maybe they have some talent for it. 

Recent Work: Strobe-Head Self-Portraits

black and white photography, experiment, self-portrait

These self-portraits were taken last week, using a technique I have been experimenting with for quite a few years now. Essentially I make long exposures of myself moving, in a room that is dark other than for a flickering disco strobe.

I started investigating this technique after having made the photographs of stuffed animals, featured here.

The stuffed animal photographs were made in a much more controlled way than these self-portraits, but both are attempts to

In Search Of The Distant Figure

analysis, landscape, other people, self-portrait

Difficult and unspectacular, the ‘Distant Figure’ is a motif that, by its very nature, demands neglect.

We expect our depictions of people to be information-rich. Distant figures withhold more than they offer. They oblige us to ask the questions that are left over when we can’t satisfy our curiosity about the depicted person’s individuality.

Distant figures occur in art, and are especially common in photography: the wider and further away the camera probes the more space it records which some stray figure might 

Recent Prints: Self-Portrait, Batley, Sète, Valras-plage

landscape, recent work, road photographs, self-portrait
Sète, Hérault, France, April 2014

Sète, Hérault, France, April 2014

Here are four more recent prints, all from quite old negatives, one from almost seventeen years ago!

I think I should apologise for (or at least explain) the self-portrait. It’s not the kind of photograph that wins many points in camera-club competitions. It is a precursor to the Distant-Figure self-portraits. At the time I was experimenting with an infrared remote-release. It turned out that it had a much shorter carrying distance than my feet, and it seduced me into a controlled, tripod-based, approach which made the results too predictable.

I like this photograph, or rather it interests me, because

Garden Party with Children & a Self-Portrait

other people, self-portrait

My self-portraits explore the differences between how the camera sees the human and how eyes see the human.

One of many differences is that the camera can make exposures as brief as 1/20,000th of a second (if using a flash), or which can last for hour or days. The eye’s exposure time is much narrower, generally between 1/20th and 1/60th of a second. This is why movies are projected at a rate of 24 frames per second.

For the garden-party photo I used a simple point-and-press automatic film-camera. It was taken at