“To build… or not to build”

That is the question. And the answer is yes. #rebuildtheworld

Today’s mashup is courtesy of The LEGO Movie‘s character William Shakespeare and The LEGO Batman Movie‘s villain Eraser (aka Lenny Fiasco).

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 enjoy mashups, in fusing elements from different sources. With LEGO minifigures, there are endless possibilities. And the irony of the greatest writer in the English language with a pencil eraser for a head was too much to resist.

Light

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

This lighting setup is becoming quite standard for me:

  • Main light: Litrapro with softbox, positioned with a Platypod gooseneck arm and Ultra tripod base
  • Background light: Litrapro with grid, lying flat on the table top
  • Reflectors: DIY with folded recipe cards

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.

Given my minimalist style, there is no question as to who the subject is here.

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 his neck as an anchor point. For portraits, I often choose the eyes for this, but I find I have to pull further back than I like to keep the reflection in the frame, and so I’ve kept close so we can see more of the costume details.

I filled the frame beneath him with his reflection, both for aesthetic and balancing purposes, and left the remainder as largely empty negative space. For a change, I added a pair of columns in the background for subtle visual interest that doesn’t distract from the visual story.

Tech Stuff

Instead of sharing the 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:

So odd! 🤣

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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