“All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le Petit Prince

Guilty. But as I’ve written before, my pandemic silver lining was discovering LEGO photography. It’s become a simple daily pleasure that doesn’t depend on being able to leave the house. And it lets me indulge in the serious business of play.

Today’s minifigure is a custom that I frankensteined together from official LEGO parts that I sourced on Bricklink. It took some time to put together, but was worth the wait!

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 inspired by Le Petit Prince, a 1943 novella written and illustrated by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, a French aristocrat, pilot, and author. Its a timeless story that has been described as ‘a children’s fable for adults’, and explores themes of imagination, love, and other aspects of human nature.

I wanted to show the little prince and his rose sharing a quiet moment together.

So I placed them on my ever-useful piece of black ceramic tile, with a black painted wall as a background.

Light

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

Following up on a new technique that I tried yesterday, today’s lighting setup aimed for very soft light:

  • Main light: Litrapro with softbox, positioned with a Platypod gooseneck arm and Ultra tripod base
  • Background light: Litrapro with grid, lying flat on a tabletop
  • Reflectors: DIY with folded recipe cards, to to provide fill on the subjects and soften the light
  • Diffusion panel: DIY with a sheet of white letter paper balanced on the recipe cards, to create even softer light, reduce glare, and capture finer details.

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.

I considered to pair to be the subject, and gave them equal emphasis with depth of field, prominence in the frame, and 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 composed using the rule of thirds, with the prince’s head as an anchor point. I filled the frame beneath them with their reflections, both for creating balance and for aesthetic purposes, and left the remainder of the frame as empty 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.

This is as close as I can get with my system – the only crop is to make the image square. Now let’s get in a little tighter with a crop:

Love how the tousled hair is catching the light here.

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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