( I need to get in a dad joke every now and then….)
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
It’s #spacecowboysaturday once again. So with a tauntaun as a trusty steed, Luke throws on a Stetson and hits the trail:
My preferred style is low key photography: predominantly dark and dramatic scenes, with light emphasizing only specific areas of the frame and with smooth transitions between light and shadow.
I deviated only slight from my typical lighting setup :
- Main light: Litrapro with softbox, positioned with a Platypod gooseneck arm and Ultra tripod base
- Background light: Litrapros with grid, positioned with a Platypod gooseneck arm
- Reflectors: DIY with folded recipe card and letter size paper, to provide fill and to help soften the light
- Since the tauntaun is larger than the usual minifigures I work with, I went with a bigger paper reflector to get the fill I wanted
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 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 the tauntaun’s eye as an anchor point. To keep enough detail visible, I chose not to back up so far as to get a full reflection. As usual, I’ve left ample empty negative space around the perimeter for balance.
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:
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.