Daddy Daughter Day

If the Grim Reaper is death personified, surely that comes with aspects of the human condition. Like, say, a family. And does the Reaper really have to be grim all the time ? As Randal argues with Dante in Kevin Smith’s film Clerks: “Title does not dictate behaviour.” And so why not a cheerful Death and his sweet little girl?

Today’s scene features a couple of MOCd minifigures: Daddy Death is based on Kylo Ren (without cape) and Daughter Death from a miscellaneuous monochrome figure.

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 comes from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld comic fantasy series. Among its motley cast of characters is the personification of Death, and his adoptive granddaughter Susan. I thought it would be fun to explore the idea of a father and daughter Death; it might look something like this:


My preferred style is low key photography with soft lighting: predominantly dark and dramatic scenes, with light emphasizing only specific areas of the frame, and a smooth transition between light and shadow.

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, lying flat on the tabletop
  • 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 considered the pair as the subject and gave them equal emphasis in terms of prominence, lighting, and depth of field.


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, with his brow as an anchor point and the top of her hood as another.

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:

So cute!

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: