Today’s minifigure is the Collectible Minifigures Series 16 Cyborg, which I have long admired. She’s wielding an axe from The Lord of the Ring‘s Gimli, along with the “Never Stop” shield from The Lego Movie‘s Warrior Lucy.
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
- Subject Isolation
Another mashup here, blending the sci-fi cyborg with a fantasy/medieval weapon and post-apocalyptic shield. I imagined her striding with purpose and confidence through a dark wasteland in a dystopian world.
I’ve set her up on a piece of charred cedar plank that’s on a table top, with a black painted wall in the background. Just enough texture to provide some context, but with only a little detail, allowing the viewer’s imagination to fill it in.
My preferred style is low key photography: predominantly dark and dramatic scenes, with light emphasizing only specific areas of the frame.
This is a fairly typical lighting setup 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
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.
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, using her eye as an anchor point. I’ve put her in motion diagonally into the frame to create a dynamic feel. Her steely gaze, along with the implied leading line from her axe, suggests an unseen threat to the viewers left.
There is a lot of empty negative space here: most of the top third, and almost all of the left third and bottom thirds, hinting at a sense of isolation.
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:
Love the shape of her hair, and how is plays off the robotic side of her face.
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.