Brian's Photo Blog — Article 561
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Creating My McMenamins Passport Photo
Saturday 28 May 2016   —   Category: Processing
Almost exactly a year ago I shared a couple of excellent parody vid­eos about the silliness of the selfie craze — see my article Two Funny Video Parodies About Photography. I had also ranted:
I really detest the selfie craze. If I had nothing better to photograph than myself, I would gladly give up photography, personally take a sledge hammer to all of my camera equipment, and go raise goats on a mountain with no electricity!

Really! What’s the big deal about selfies? It is a sure sign of social deterioration, decadence and decay. My intolerant opinion is that they are a lot of stupid photos made by a lot of stupid people! It’s just like giving a camera to a chimp! Get a life, people!
Out of the nearly 7,000 photos I have shared on this Web site, only a handful of shots could be considered selfies. But sometimes you just have to take a picture of yourself, like for a passport photo.

Selfies aside, I hardly ever take pictures of people, particularly por­traits. The primary two instances I can think of were the time I prac­ticed photographing a model in a park, and shooting and retouching my daughter’s senior picture. While the results were fairly good and I learned a lot, neither experience is going to get me a job as a portrait photographer!

I’m sure it helps to have a good subject. Taking a self-portrait isn’t my idea of fun, but as I shared at the end of my previous article, in order to avoid having to dig out my driver’s license each time I get a stamp in my McMenamins Passport, I needed to add a photo of myself to the first page. No sweat, I thought, I’m an accomplished photographer!

If only I were an accomplished (and photogenic) model as well! But I didn’t want to put a lot of time and effort into this project. After all, the photo was not for a government passport, but merely a pub pass­port! It didn’t have to be great, it just had to get the job done.

In the end, the final photo required more image editing than I had planned. I guess I’m not as accomplished a photographer as I im­ag­ine! I for sure didn’t take this shoot seriously enough. I was too lazy to light myself properly, which created problems in the image and more work trying to fix those problems in the computer.
Here is the self-portrait I took with my Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera and Panasonic 35-​100​mm lens at f/2.8. It was shot on my tripod in my backyard with an overcast sky around 6:00 PM. This is the unedited RAW image straight out of the camera.

Previous to this, I had taken dozens of test shots, both in my home office and in the backyard, in order to figure out the prop­er position of my body relative to the camera, and the proper position of the big glass of one of my favorite beers relative to my head. Fortunately the digital photography revolution has taken us beyond the days of film cameras!

The most obvious problem with this picture is the deep shadows around my eyes. During editing, there were a couple of other issues I wanted to correct as well.

No beer was spilt in the taking of this photo.
This second image is the result after editing the photo in Adobe Lightroom.

You will notice that I reduced the shadows around the eyes quite a bit, as well as the shadows on both sides of my nose, between my cheeks and mustache.

I also reduced the reddish tint of my skin — I never enjoy look­ing like a ripe tomato!

Unfortunately, these improvements revealed additional issues which I had not noticed at first.

In my attempt to produce even a half-hearted smile, my eyes started to squint and the skin under my eyes started to bunch up, creating more shadows.

I had accomplished as much as I could in Lightroom, so it was time to continue the editing with its big sister, Photoshop.
In Photoshop, when I was working on smoothing out many of the crow’s-feet, I noticed that the eye on the left seemed strangely higher and more slanted than the other eye.

I realize that my head what tilted somewhat, but it doesn’t seem enough of a tilt to account for the strange eye position.

And even though that was what I actually looked like, still, it kind of bothered me. Since I’m not aiming for integrity in pho­to­journalism, I decided to go ahead and fix up my face a bit more.

As you can see in the final image to the right, I was able to get rid of the squint in the eye on the right, lower and rotate the eye on the left, and remove the shadows from the crow’s-feet.
To aid with the comparison, I’ve created a sequence of all three photos, so you can easily see the editing changes I made.

Call me vain if you want — if the shoe fits I’ll be happy to wear it! I want to look my best for my passport!

If you were me, which photo would you want on your passport?
To wrap things up, here is my Mc­Men­a­mins Passport with my photo, fresh off the inkjet printer, glued to the first page.

Mission accomplished!

Time to go forth and use my beautiful passport at as many of their 116 venues as I can.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 561
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