🎶 Viva Mos Eisley 🎶

This is my second entry to the #bc_makingmusic photo contest on Brickcentral, showing our minifigures is a music scene: singing their hearts out in a duet, playing a concert in a theatre, gigging in a nightclub, or even posing for album covers.

Today’s mashup includes the King of Rock and Roll, a modified Disco Alfred Pennyworth from The LEGO Batman Movie, and the Cantina Band (aka Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes) 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, 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

With the theme of music in mind, the catalyst for this shot was a movie line:

“No, Elvis is not dead. He just went home.”

Agent K ( aka “Kay”), Men in Black

I thought it’d be fun imaging where that might be… and it’s no secret that I enjoy quirky mashups and crossovers. Oh, and Star Wars. So it just had to be Mos Eisley. And wouldn’t it be a little wild to see Elvis front the Cantina Band ?

It might look a little something like this:

Light

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 to get that look:

  • Main light: Litrapro with softbox, positioned with a Platypod gooseneck arm and Ultra tripod base
  • Background lights: Two Litrapros 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.

So I place Elvis prominently in front and emphasized with him depth of field, colour, and ‘motion’. The band, while a key supporting element of the story, are clearly in the background.

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 rules of thirds, using his brow as the primary anchor point. I used the band leader’s mouth as the second one, with a bandmate spaced evenly on each side.

I’ve filled the frame beneath them with their reflection, both for balance and for aesthetic purposes, I’ve left the perimeter as empty negative space.

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 on the head:

Love that smile!

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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