Eye of the Tiger

Hailing from the Outer Rim Territories, standing 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing 165 pounds, meet the politest pound for pound fighter this side of the galaxy…

C3PO needs no introduction. This minifigure version with colourful wires and printed legs was introduced in 2016 and appears in no less than 11 LEGO sets. I’m honestly not sure which one this came from.

Behind the Scenes

I enjoy sharing a look at the process behind my work and my creative journey.

Photography has long been my passion. With the level of technology available to us today, it’s easier than ever to take a technically competent photograph. And yet, some images still clearly ‘work’ more than others.

With LEGO photography, where we can often control almost every aspect of the scene, I believe that investing time and mental energy in the creative process can help make that difference. So I consider four fundamental things in making an image:

  • The Idea
  • Light
  • Subject Isolation
  • Composition

The Idea

I wanted to revisit the idea of C3PO as a ring fighter – it’s just so ridiculous. I experimented with a few variations, and settled on him posing stiffly while staring down an unseen opponent.

Once again, I’m using a piece of black ceramic tile as a floordrop. The background is new, though, as I’ve taken over a small basement nook and painted the rear wall black.


My preferred style is low key photography: predominantly dark and dramatic scenes, with light emphasizing only specific areas of the frame.

As shown above, I used a two light setup with a pair of DIY modifiers:

  • Main: Litrapro with softbox, positioned with a Platypod gooseneck arm and Ultra tripod base
  • Background: Litrapro lying flat on a table top
  • Bounce cards: two 10×15 cm white folded recipe cards

I chose this setup to provide soft lighting on Threepio, with the bounce cards filling in the shadows. The background light adds some overall brightness and provides subtle visual interest.

Subject Isolation

Indeed, the subject is ultimately what the photo is about and there should be no doubt in the viewer’s mind as to what it is.

In this minimalist scene, there is no question that C3P0 is our main subject. But we do wonder about the unseen adversary…


I try hard to get as close to the final image as possible in camera. To help with this I compose in live view with my mirrorless camera’s rear display, using a crop mask and grid overlay. It looked almost exactly like this:

I composed using the rules of thirds, using the his right eye as an anchor point. I usually work to create a dynamic look, but this is a purposefully static scene influenced by the stereotypical fighter stare down at the pre-bout weigh-in.

To create a balance imaged, I filled the bottom left side with his reflection while leaving the right half as negative space.

Tech Stuff

Instead of sharing the exact technical settings for this one photo, I’d rather share my standard operating procedure for, which can be applied to all of my LEGO photography with but few exceptions:

  • Tripod mounted mirrorless camera set to ISO 100 and triggered with 2 second delayed shutter
  • 120mm macro lens shot at f/8 and manually focused using magnified live view
  • Aperture priority centre-weighted metering with exposure compensation to taste
  • Post processing the RAW files with custom white balance, luma curve, saturation, contrast, sharpness, vignette, levels, and dust removal

Up Close and Personal

Macro photography allows us to see small objects in spectacular detail. For me, LEGO minifigures are perfect subject material.

Let’s check out a crop:

Wrap Up

Time once again to close out with the before and after shots, showing how I realized my idea through deliberate lighting, subject isolation, and composition choices.



Published by Scott Murphy

Photography for the love of it.

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