SELFIES: I WIN THE NARCISSIST WARS

Selfie with spiffy new glove(s) - black leather, with pink, green and orange insets.

Giallo-style selfie with spiffy new glove(s).

Last month, Oxford English Dictionaries named “selfie” Official Word of the Year. The official definition:

A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.

Regular readers of this blog will already be aware that I am an old hand at selfies, having started taking photographic self-portraits at art college in the early 1970s – not so much from narcissism (though there was that) as because I was always available to myself as a model for lighting tests, mucking around with skulls, and fun with dressing-up, and moreover didn’t need to sign a model release form. You can find some of the results via these links:

mugshots02

MUGSHOTS PART 1: MISSION STATEMENT

MUGSHOTS PART 2: THE OUT-OF-FOCUS YEARS

MUGSHOTS PART 2: THE OUT-OF-FOCUS YEARS (the 1970s)

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MUGSHOTS PART 3: THE OUT-OF-WORK YEARS (the 1980s)

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MUGSHOTS PART 4: THE GO-GO YEARS (the 1990s)

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MUGSHOTS PART 5: THE MENOPAUSAL YEARS (Paris in the noughties)

MUGSHOTS PART 6: THE BELGIUM YEARS (2011-now)

The other day I bought some spiffy new gloves – they’re black leather, with pink, green and orange insets between the fingers – and decided to post a selfie of me wearing one of them on Facebook and Twitter. You can see the result at the top of this page. Friends said it reminded them of an image from a giallo film, which of course pleased me no end.

Then I decided to do a selfie with that selfie.

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And then I took a selfie with a selfie with a selfie with a selfie with a selfie with a selfie. Because why not.

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If I ever did this again, I would take more care over the lighting, and either light all the photographs in exactly the same way, or each of them very differently. It might also be fun to insert one selfie midway through of me looking incredibly evil, or covered in blood, or holding a severed head. Then I could say to people, “Oh wow, I have no idea how that got there!”

And here, just for the hell of it (and because I can’t get enough of looking at pictures of myself) is a break-down of this image into individual selfies, with a surprise at the end of it:

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Yes, the surprise is that the first selfie is also a shelfie.

So basically I win the Narcissist Wars of 2013.

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20 thoughts on “SELFIES: I WIN THE NARCISSIST WARS

    • The iPad camera makes it really easy! Before that, I had to use a cable release or timer, and you’re never quite sure of the framing, or of what kind of face you’re making. But with the iPad’s reversible camera you can see EXACTLY what you’re getting. Whoever designed that is a genius. I wish you many happy selfies, brideofthebookgod!

  1. Yes, like so many things the ‘selfie’ is nothing new, merely a reinvention. My own profile pic is one from ’76, done with a Rolleiflex twin lens reflex and cable release. Good old old technology!

  2. I don’t think I have ever used a Twin Lens Reflex. I miss SLRs, and I miss printing black and white in a dark room, but I don’t miss having to wait to develop the film or get it developed. I haven’t yet worked out how to get black and white the same quality as the black and white from 35mm film.

  3. I love your “selfies”. Long may they continue!

    Though I think you’re leagues apart from the narcissistic, pouty, lacking imagination, selfies of today’s generation of young things.

    Sadly I’ve always been too full of self-loathing to ever do them. There cheers for your creative and interesting self portraits.

    • Thank you! Yeah, Generation Selfie is all about pouting, isn’t it (I must take that and run with it…). They don’t even pose with skulls or cats or cigarettes.

      I am sure if you did them they would be every bit as winning as your lovely photographs of Pushkin. (This is assuming that you are not, as I have often suspected, an alias and front for Pushkin himself, who realises that if he were to take credit for his photos he would never hear the end of it from the lower forms of media.)

  4. I must do a “come and get it” selfie! This could be fun. I shall study the masters: Kardashian, Lohan, Rihanna. Does Miley Cyrus do them? I guess that would just be sticking out your tongue.

  5. I’ve been doing selfies for years. My first was in a field with my brand new secondhand Pentax camera perched on one of those round bales of hay while I loomed into the lens and waited for the self timer. I wish I knew where that photo was now.

  6. I wouldn’t normally DARE to tell you ANYTHING about photography! EVER!

    But going from colour to monochrome is just data manipulation and therefore is not Art but SCIENCE!, so I’ll risk sticking both my neck out and nose in.

    Apologies for covering ground you will know, but it sets out the problems involved, [and might help anyone else reading to get a grip on the ideas.]

    Mono film was never an exact translation of colour images, could be OK in the middle but roll off at the upper and lower wavelengths*. Or good at each end but drop off in the middle, or anywhere in between. [sensitivity varies with wavelength, it’s a chemistry thing]

    The lighting used would shift the colours entering the lens towards either the red or blue ends.

    And the lens would add a bit of variable chromatic attenuation on top.

    Even the film base could have a faint hue itself.

    [Projection and printing adds more, but I’m going to skip those.]

    So that is what we would need to replicate.

    [The quick and dirty way is to fiddle about with the RGB channel mix, but that is the equiv of adjusting a violin with a sledgehammer. Another way is to use Luminosity and Brightness also crude and they look a bit flat.]

    [If you can, shoot in RAW mode, you probably do anyway, but not everybody does].

    In software, set original colour image as background.
    Overlay a layer with a very, very slight, (so slight as to be invisible to the eye) red, orange or blue tint to simulate the lighting.

    [Assuming *]
    New layer, high pass filter to knock out the darker violet end.
    New layer, lowpass to knock out the darker red end.
    [Hard to describe without a napkin, but it creates a bandpass filter. The exact shapes needed depend on the film you want to emulate.]

    That will give a composite image and it may look a bit odd, even washed out, but no matter, because it’s an intermediate and we are not finished yet.

    Now try running a LaB layer on the top of that composite, you should be able to tune it by varying the intermediate layers slightly [increase/decrease tint, slide the filters up/down i.e. change the cutoff point, or change the filter slope] and tweak the contrast just a touch. Perhaps a very slight blur layer, counterintuitive but the human eye isn’t a machine and the brain does a lot of post processing.

    [Once you are happy with your settings save them and the next time you want to use it just swap out the background and all the layers will still be there.]

    Having suffered readng through that lot the very least you deserve is a snowman. ☃

    [EDIT] Depending on the software used there may be a plug-in available to do all that faff for you. [EDIT]

  7. I’m stealing your ‘infinite’ selfie idea immediately.

    I’ve always enjoyed looking at people’s self-portraits. I love seeing how faces change and age. When I was working at Zwemmer’s on Charing Road in the 1980s I used to sit in the Rembrandt room in the National Gallery at lunch time and look at that dashing portrait of him at thirty-three and the other as an old man and think about life, the universe and everything.

    Narcissistic? Maybe, who cares? There is also something very dignified, honest and playful in your self portraits. They made me smile, anyway. I should go and take a picture of it immediately.

  8. Pingback: EVIL SELFIES | MULTIGLOM

  9. Thank you for your nice words, Geoff. Zwemmer’s, eh? At one point or other in the 1970s I worked at Claude Gill (round the corner in Oxford Street, no longer exists due to cross-London thingy), the Booksmith, which used to be right next to Centre Point (there was another one in St Martin’s Lane where I worked more often) and Words & Music, which later turned into Borders but which I think is now a cheap clothes shop.

  10. Pingback: DESCENTS AND MAELSTROMS | MULTIGLOM

  11. Pingback: MUGSHOTS PART 6: THE BELGIUM YEARS | MULTIGLOM

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