That moment before you realize…

…itโ€™s ๐‘›๐‘œ๐‘ก the droid you were looking for.


Today’s scene features the Tin Man from The Lego Movie 2 and an enlisted Sandtrooper from the LEGO Star Wars set 75290 Mos Eisley Cantina.

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, itโ€™s easier than ever to take a technically competent photograph. And yet, some images still clearly โ€˜workโ€™ 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 is not new to me – I shot a very similar scene in mid-January, and wanted to revisit it with new techniques.

The idea is a twist on the popular Star Wars meme:

I imagine a young trooper strutting in with his prisoner, only to discover that it wasn’t the droid he was looking before.

And so I set this scene:

For those curious, here is my previous version, taken just before Iaunched this blog:


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, positioned with a Platypod gooseneck arm
  • Reflectors: DIY with folded recipe cards, to provide fill and to help soften the light further

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.

In this case, I emphasized the Tin Man with background lighting and with the Sandtrooper’s attention focused on him. While the latter is a key supporting element of the visual story, our eyes are drawn to the Tin Man.


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 cameraโ€™s rear display, using a crop mask and grid overlay. It looked almost exactly like this:

I composed using the rule for thirds, using the top centre of the Tin Man’s torso as an anchor point and the Sandtrooper’s shoulder as another. ( I often use the eyes as the anchor points for single characters, but for two I find that I have to pull further back than I like for showing detail).

They are moving diagonally across the frame to create a dynamic feel, and I’ve filled the frame beneath them with their reflection, both for balance and for aesthetic purposes. Finally, I’ve left the perimeter as empty negative space.

Tech Stuff

Instead of sharing the technical settings for this one photo, Iโ€™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 the head:

I am once again impressed with the level of detail!

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.



Published by Scott Murphy

Photography for the love of it.

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