Project 1 – Self Portrait

Self portrait ideas

  • Me walking away along beach with swag & camera, late afternoon shadows??
  • Photo of me in back viewfinder of camera with underwater scene being photographed.
  • Me with housed camera & dive gear near water, in water.
  • Underwater selfies
  • Composite like the web site banner May be square???

Self portrait Inspiration

This is one section where I am going to fail.

I found nothing online that inspired me for this assignment 1. By inspired, I mean finding an image which made me want to change from the contemporary views/ideas which I had already thought through, to something else. To my way of thinking there is a lot of material published on the internet in the name of photography/art that is not.

I found trying to use social media as a source of inspiration was more a source of frustration & a waste of time. Time which I could have used taking the style of images which I really enjoy…………….self inspiration, being original.

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My first attempts were in a local bay near were I live. Unfortunately the visibility of the water was quite poor so I used a 16mm full frame fisheye lens to cut down the dirty water between the camera & my face. This lens also gave a greater DOF so I was able to frame one leg of an old admiralty anchor silhouetted into the sun behind me to add some interest.

I guess this is what I look like underwater but it is a fairly ugly image. Analyzing the image, it doesn’t conform to the rules we have been talking about. The two strong points are the mask with my eyes & the chrome circle of the regulator, these are both on the third line, the anchor is a distraction but the image looks worse without it. I think what I dislike most about the image is the bubbles in the mask & the strong line where the diopters have been fitted in my mask.


At the end of the previous dive I had given another camera to a friend with some directions about the type of image I wanted. Initially I left my mask on my face, as this is a more commonly seen vision of a diver.

I like the image although it does not show enough of the camera (which is too heavy to lift out of the water & pose “naturally”)

In theory my head, mask, eyes & the dome port are on the thirds line, the strobe arms form a diagonal lead line to my face.

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After taking some photos with the mask on, I decided to take some with the mask off to “better” show my face. I was also able to lift the camera further out of the water which is more descriptive.

In post production I kept the image as a landscape but when writing this review decided to try to move my head closer to the third point by re shaping it to a square image. I think this looks better.

The combination of the circles of the dome port, the strobe & my head & eyes & the strobe arms leads the viewers eyes around the image.

This image is a variant on the typical photographer holding a camera image so from that point it also ticks the boxes.


My second attempt took place further along the coast on a boat dive with some friends. The water visibility was better & these were real selfies where I held the camera housing & two strobes at arms length & composed the image by looking at the reflection in the dome port.

This image was shot as a portrait but I have rotated it to a landscape as it was not a good look with my head poking in from the side.

I don’t like the image, the coral is too dominant & it is not readily recognizable to a non diver. I am just a small face to the side.

The leading lines of the coral draw the views eye to the base of the coral. The circles of my mask make a strong catch point but the viewer is conflicted with the base of the coral.

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On the same dive I found a Sea Star which I modelled behind.

Unfortunately the whole Sea Star cannot be seen. It was not possible to arrange me & the whole Sea Star all in the one image.

Theoretically it is probably a good image with my face on the third line & the diagonal leading line of the Sea Stars arms but it does not work for me as am image to portray what I do.

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I was actually on holidays in Tasmania when I heard about the course & enrolled. This photo was taken after I had enrolled so I think it qualifies. :>))

I am not comfortable in front of a camera & rarely smile naturally or achieve an image with which I am happy.

This is one of those rare images. My wife took it of the two of us but cut most of herself out so I have cropped it to show just me. It had been a great day of walking on the South Coast Track, I had forgotten my hat & had been wearing a tee shirt on my head & we never take selfies, so that in it’s self made the mood very relaxed.

The image has good colour, The viewers eyes are drawn to mine on the third point, the diagonal sign doesn’t do anything but I really like the image. Is it wrong to pick an image because of an emotive feeling?

Neil Vincent selfie web 1

I want to portray the image of an underwater photographer.

I once saw an image of a photographer in both the image being taken & the viewfinder of the camera. The idea occurred to superimpose an image of me in the view finder of a camera but instead of having me as the subject to show a recognizable underwater subject.

The shark is from my own library, I photographed the back of a camera & then took 300 plus images of myself trying to get one that was half useable. (half useable is as good as it got). I then combined the images in Photoshop.

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Interestingly when creating the shark image I blended using Photoshop, Blend Difference, the image of myself & the scratched acrylic cover of the viewfinder on the back of the camera. The result was a “not so clean” as the original image of my self which I think looks better.

This new image follows the rules with my right eye on the third point & the circle of the camera lens on the lower third line. As I am looking in the same direction as the lens, the viewers eye is drawn between the two. The two distractions are the name on the camera & the wedding ring both of which tend to draw the viewers eye.

Project 1 – Response to the Peer Comments

Anthony’s comment that the underwater image with the air bubbles on the mask would look better if they were not there & were removed in post production are comments that I agree with whole heartedly. Unfortunately the work involved to remove all those bubbles is huge & it will be better to try to re-shoot it when the water clears after the flooding we have had. That has been my plan.


Amanda’s comment about changing the portrait to B&W works & I like the look but I would not use it in this submission as I would prefer to have all the images either colour or all B&W.


The orange cast in the same image noted by Julien was not intentional & I am not sure where it came from, so I did a colour white balance which made the image look more natural.

I have decided not submit my project on the date it is due & to wait until the final date & submit it with my second project. I have done this as I an going to a location for a few days where I believe I have a good chance of having very clear water & will be able to improve the underwater selfies.

Project 1 – More Attempts

I was diving with a friend, Mal Yeo, who shoots images to create underwater QTVR. As this is all he shoots, he uses ISO 3200, available light, no strobes, with a full fish-eye lens, so the question of taking a portrait of me on this dive was never raised before the dive. I was shooting macro & during the dive an Octopus took a liking to me (they are really curious & fun to interact with) sensing the opportunity, I put Mal on the spot & communicated what I wanted. He shot a number of images. He gave me a copy of all the RAW images, I selected an image to processed (lower) & then Mal forwarded me one which he had processed (top).

I used Lightroom & Photoshop for post production reducing grain, adjusting exposure & colour temp & removing scatter. Mal used Dxo to do similar. He takes his back to true white balance while I tend to leave my images with the colour cast that I see underwater which lacks to red end of the spectrum.

I love the images but they do not suit the criteria of a good representation of me, the viewer has to study the image to work out what is happening.

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Subsequently, on a dive with some friends, we came upon a Weedy Sea Dragon. I had pre-warned my friend Robb Westerdyk that if we did come across something of interest I may ask him to take a photo of me with the critter. I asked & then modelled with the Dragon, Robb took a number of good images but I chose this one as it cropped down to square, positioning my eyes close to thirds, I have eye contact with the subject, my eyes are well lit, the viewers’ eye-flow from my eyes to the Dragon is good, sometimes going through the large circular dome port, the Dragon stands out due to it’s bright & contrasting colours, juxtaposed to the background & it’s diagonal positioning divides the image into two triangles.

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I really wanted to show I was a diver & photographer, so looking through all the images I now had to choose from I decided on three that were diving related. One of those was the original image I had taken with the anchor. Technically it was unsuitable as it was due to the scatter & the bubbles on my mask. In the peer review Anthony suggested that I may be able to improve it with some post production.

I was always going to be a big task but following quite a few hours of work in Photoshop & Lightroom I now have an image that I am happy to use. Of the three images I will submit, this image is the only one which is “almost” a true Selfie as I took the image myself, hand holding a camera, unfortunately not a phone.



Project 1 – The Final Selection

Image #1


A simple portrait of me with an underwater camera. I am on the surface but in the water, wearing dive gear. Showing that I am a diver & an underwater photographer.

Composition & Technique:-

It is a harshly lighted portrait taken in the midday sun without fill flash or reflectors, this is not flattering an already lined face but shows me how I want to be seen. Even though my face is on the 1/3 line, I am facing against what would be the normal western orientation (left to right). My eyes are looking at the camera which softens the conflict of facing to the left. The viewers’ eyes are led around the image by strong shapes, my eyes, the dome port, the circular strobe & the triangle formed by the strobe arms. The image was taken by my wife standing on the shore using a Nikon D700 with a 70-210mm lens set on Aperture Priority & f4 the give a shallow DOF.


The image was taken specifically to use as an avatar for a social media site. The image was taken with no meaning, what is shown is what is portrayed, it is my head & shoulders portrait holding underwater camera housing. The only meaning I hope to draw is that I am a diver/photographer.


Image #2


The image is simple, me, underwater looking into the camera lens, in the background is the fluke of an old admiralty anchor, a recognizable underwater symbol. As I am underwater & wearing diving gear the image says “I am a diver”.

Composition & Technique:-

The image does not conform to all the rules we have discussed but I feel it does work. My eyes & the face mask are the first items to draw the viewers’ eye, they are bright & warm as opposed to the background which is cold & subdued, next the viewers’ eye moves to the anchor, a triangle shape on the 1/3 line of the image. I left the two small bubbles as they are a nice distraction & they say…..underwater. The image was taken using a Nikon D700 fitted with a Sigma 15mm full fish-eye lens in an underwater housing fitted with two strobes. This was held at arms length & the image composed by looking at the reflection in the dome port, exposure was all manual. A lots of post production work was completed in Photoshop & Lightroom to correct the scatter & bubbles which initially spoiled the image.


The image was taken specifically to use as an avatar for a social media site. The image was taken with no meaning, what is shown is what is portrayed, it is my face with an anchor in the background. The only meaning I hope to draw is that I am a diver.



Image #3


A simple portrait of me, holding an underwater camera, looking at a Weedy Sea Dragon.

Composition & Technique:-

I feel that the image worked as I have eye contact with the subject & my eyes are well lit. The Dragon stands out due to it’s bright & contrasting colours juxtaposed to the background which is cool in the colour palette. Of lesser importance but still adding to the whole effect, the viewers’ eye-flow from my eyes to the Dragon, sometimes going through the large circular dome port & the bright Dragon divides the image roughly into two triangles. The image is a little confused by the strobe arms but this is the reality of an underwater camera housing.

The image was taken by a friend using a Nikon D300 fitted with a Sigma 10mm full fish-eye lens in an underwater housing fitted with two strobes. The shot was opportunistic on a dive where I found the Sea Dragon & decided that it could be a good prop for my avatar.


The image was taken specifically to use as an avatar for a social media site. The image was taken with no meaning, what is shown is what is portrayed, it is my head & shoulders portrait holding un underwater camera housing. The only meaning I hope to draw is that I am a diver/photographer.

Robbert Westedyk - DSC_0944-2a


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