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© Ute Reckhorn

© Ute Reckhorn

Self-Portrait Photography using Camera Obscura Technique

  • 5 min read
Lensbaby Sol 22

Lensbaby Sol 22 | ISO | 200 | 1/125 | Olympus OMD EM5 MARKII

Lensbaby's expert photographer Alma Gonzalez is diving into the world of pinhole photography with Lensbaby's new Obscura 16mm lens and she's sharing all of her best tips for self-portrait photography using the camera obscura technique. If you're feeling adventurous and want to embrace a new photography technique then read on to get your daily dose of inspiration. Just remember that the most important tip is to embrace the unknown, have fun with it, and remember that there are no rules.


Self-portrait in photography has become more than a discipline in the way of knowing ourselves. It has become a journey of introspection and experimentation, and for some, it has a way of expressing feelings or giving free rein to their creativity. For others, it is quite a challenge as getting in front of the camera requires courage and a lot of patience. This article will find some tips for taking self-portrait photos with Lensbaby's Obscura 16mm and some great self-portrait ideas to help you explore this photographic genre and overcome the shyness of standing in front of the camera if you have one.

Let's start by talking about the lens that we are going to use. In my case, it is the Osbura 16mm from Lensbaby. We refer to it as a lens, but it is not a lens. It is a lens without a lens, a camera obscura of the old ones. With it, you will get a very particular photograph, which evokes the past, which does not give brilliant results of sharpness but a very specific atmosphere.

To use a lens without a lens, like this one, you need a lot of light, so the exposure times to work with a pinhole are long, so you will need a tripod. If you don't have one, find a safe place to put your camera. As I have said, you will need a lot of light, so even if you have a tripod, you have to raise the ISO quite a bit, do not be afraid of the noise that it can generate. In this type of photography, noise is your ally; I have even added grain in the editing.

Shooting with Lensbaby's dark 16mm embraces the job with fewer options; you won't have to worry about focusing as everything appears slightly out of focus. But you can use a self-timer, the mobile application connected to your camera (if it has Wi-Fi), or activate the timer. Of course, each camera model is different, so better read your camera's manual and look for the option that best suits your needs.

When you take pinhole photography, any speck of dust or dirt will show up in your final photograph, so it is best to clean your camera's sensor. A little dust may look good, but grime can spoil your photo. There are many tutorials on YouTube. Dare to do it yourself or take your camera to your usual store. They will be happy to help you.

Clean camera, tripod, Obscura 16mm, and, in my case, mobile with an app to control the camera. Clever. Now it's time to get down to work.


Self Portrait Photography with camera obscura

Lensbaby Camera Obscura | ISO | 1600 | 1/50 | Olympus OMD EM5 MARKII

Self Portrait Photography

Lensbaby Camera Obscura  | ISO | 2500 | 2.0 | Olympus OMD EM5 MARKII


Although now I will give you a series of ideas that will help you launch into the world of pinhole photography with Lensbaby, first I want to tell you a secret: the truly unique thing about this type of photography is that there are no rules. More importantly, there is no right or wrong. So jump into playing, experimenting, and testing. Go back to the beginnings of photography and feel like an actual time traveler.


1. Use Props

Using accessories in your self-portraits that you feel comfortable with is undoubtedly the best option to lose the fear of standing in front of the camera. Look for those that best describe you or that talk about you. As you can see, you don't necessarily have to be looking at the camera.


2. Slow speeds and Ghost Portraits

Use a slow speed to register movement or take advantage of it to take, for example, ghost portraits. Move your head from one side to the other, your hands, turn on yourself with a dress that helps you show the movement, the possibilities are endless and the result surprising.


camera obscura photography

Lensbaby Camera Obscura | ISO | 2500 | 2.0 | Olympus OMD EM5 MARKII

Self portrait with camera obscura

Lensbaby Camera Obscura  | ISO | 2500 | 2.0 | Olympus OMD EM5 MARKII

3. Put objects in front of the camera

You will not blur a plane since everything is predominantly out of focus, but look for transparent objects and try to play and experiment to see what comes out. In this case, I used Lensbaby's Omni Creative Filter Seahorse Crystal. You can find it here(Link)


4. Ask someone to be your remote trigger

Have children? The 16mm Obscura from Lensbaby is straightforward to use, go out in full light, raise the ISO whatever you need, and ask your son or daughter to take the picture. He will love being a "Photographer for a Day," and you will indeed be surprised by his look. Just relax, if you can, and enjoy.


"This mid-meal image can help the viewer feel more connected."

Images taken with Lensbaby's Camera Obscura

5. Play with perspectives

The best results are achieved when you change your point of view. Try shooting from above, from behind, or the ground, as in this case.


black & white photography with camera obscura

Lensbaby Camera Obscura | ISO | 1600 | 1/60 | Olympus OMD EM5 MARKII

6. Capture the environment

I personally love the Obscura for landscape photography. So do not leave your location without having taken a photo that shows the environment. If they make it clear to you.


Camera Obscura

Lensbaby Camera Obscura | ISO | 1250 | 1/30 | Olympus OMD EM5 MARKII


7. Play with the edition

The creative process begins the moment it occurs to you to take a photo. You look for the location, the clothes you are going to use, the number of people that will appear, or the type of light. Still, this process doesn't end once you've taken the photo. Use editing to finish expressing or experimenting with new tools to enhance your creativity further. Look at the same photo with completely different edits.


Photography with camera obscura

Lensbaby Camera Obscura | ISO | 1250 | 1/30 | Olympus OMD EM5 MARKII

At first, you may find yourself a bit lost if you've never hated talking about this type of photography, so look for inspiration, start online. Some photographers only do pinhole photography. They will surprise you! And he remembers: The truly unique thing about Senopeian Photograph is there are no rules. Most importantly, there is still no good or bad, so just have fun!



Want your shots featured by Lensbaby?⁠⠀
Be bold and shoot extraordinary! Make sure to tag your photos on IG with #Lensbaby, #ShootExtraordinary, and let us know what gear you’re using. 📸 ⁠⠀


Alma Gonzalez

Alma is a creative product and book cover photographer living in Asturias, in northern Spain. Mother of a girl and human of a Swiss white shepherd and a Bengali cat. She purchased his first Lensbaby lens, the Trio 28mm, in 2018. Since then, She has been creating and growing thanks to Lensbaby lenses and the creative possibilities they offer.

Alma Gonzalez

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