#teamwork

This is my second entry in Brickcentral’s monthly themed activity: #bc_teamwork

Our goal was to craft a scene where several minifigures/characters join forces, doing something epic, or cute, or crazy, or something very simple. Totally up to us.

Our guidelines:

  • use LEGO minifigures/characters (more than 4 different minifigures/characters please!)
  • only new pictures
  • use the hashtags #brickcentral and #bc_teamwork ( (but don’t tag Brickcentral in the pic, please).
  • have fun!

Winners will be announced May 30th – only a couple of days left! Join me?

Today’s scene features minifigures from The LEGO Movie 2:

  • Benny – Big Smile/Cheerful
  • Lenny – Classic Space – Pink with Airtanks and Updated Helmet
  • Jenny – Classic Space – White with Airtanks and Updated Helmet (Third Reissue)
  • Kenny – Classic Space – Yellow with Airtanks and Updated Helmet (Second Reissue)

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 the Brickcentral monthly activity theme ‘teamwork’.

So I formed my classic space minifigures into a moon landing party. To add a twist, I modelled the flag planting after Joe Rosenthal’s iconic photo of U.S. Marines raising their flag atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima:

Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, by Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press

This was my setup, shown here from the reverse angle:

You can see that I reversed Benny’s legs to get him into a low position, and used sticky putty beneath Jenny’s left foot to hold her upright.

Light

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

Wanting to create soft light on the group, I needed larger modifiers that I use for single minifigures and came up with DIY solutions:

  • Main light: Litrapro with softbox, positioned with a Platypod gooseneck arm and Ultra tripod base, and shot through a DIY diffusion panel to increase the effective size of the light source
  • Background light: Litrapro with grid, propped on the table top with a Platypod gooseneck arm, and aimed to shine parallel with the flag pole
  • Reflector: DIY with a folded sheet of white letter size paper, held upright with a pair of alligator clips
  • Diffusion panel: DIY with a sheet of parchment paper, positioned with a Wimberley Plamp clamped to the subfloor panel

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 the team to be the subject, and gave them equal emphasis in terms of lighting, depth of field, and prominence in the frame. I purposely avoided showing facial features to avoid any hint of individuality.

As the flag is a key supporting element of the visual story, I emphasized it with 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 composed using rule of thirds, using the top of Lenny’s head as the anchor point and placing the apex of the flag along a vertical third lines. I positioned the minifigures moving from left to right, and leaning forward, to create a dynamic feel.

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 on Benny:

Crazy thin depth of field even at f/8; my focus points his right eye (the left as we see it).

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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