‘Hello. I don’t believe we’ve been introduced…

… I am C-3PO, Human-Cyborg Relations’

In the real world, C-3PO needs no introduction. This particular minifigure version was released in 2016, and has appeared in 11 LEGO sets to date.

The silver protocol droid, however, is unique: U-3PO was only available in the Star Wars Advent Calendar 2016 (Day 16). Apart from colour, the only difference I see between the two is the torso wiring pattern. I like this fig – it was a nice find on Bricklink.

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

The idea was simple enough. Having recently acquired U-3PO, I wanted to put it in a scene with C-3PO. In trying to imagine what the protocol would be for two protocol droids meeting, I thought of C-3PO’s own introduction to R2-D2 in The Phantom Menace:

“Hello. I don’t believe we have been introduced. R2-D2? A pleasure to meet you. I am C-3PO, Human-Cyborg Relations.”

With this phrase in mind I staged the pair walking side by side, appearing to be engaged in conversation.

Light

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

Today lighting was slightly more complex than usual for me:

  • Main light: Litrapro with softbox, positioned with a Platypod gooseneck arm and Ultra tripod base
  • Background lights: two Litraprod with grid, lying flat on a tabletop surface
  • Reflectors: two DIY bounce cards, to provide fill on the subjects

Subject Isolation

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.

For this image, I considered the pair as the subject and was very careful to give each droid equal emphasis:

  • Same posing, except for the head turning towards each other
  • Equal sizing and mirrored positioning within the frame
  • Same background lighting

Composition

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 must admit it was a little fiddly getting these two exactly into place. I composed using the rule of thirds, with their central top torso as anchor points. I filled the bottom of the frame with their reflections, and left the perimeter as empty negative space for balance.

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.

Nice pair! A tight 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.

Best,

Scott.

Published by Scott Murphy

Photography for the love of it.

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