The Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover photo is iconic. Taken by Iain Macmillan in August 1969, millions of people have since made the pilgrimage to the zebra crossing to have their pictures taken, and the scene has been often imitated by bands and parodied in pop culture.
This is my third 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.
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
I simply wanted to pay homage in LEGO form to this image:
Using parts on hand, I “frankensteined” these fab four:
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 with smooth transitions between light and shadow.
Given that I normally shooting single minifigures, I had to adjust my lighting to cover the group:
- Main lights: Two Litrapro with softbox, positioned with a Platypod gooseneck arms and Ultra tripod bases
- Reflectors: DIY with folded recipe card and letter size paper, to provide fill and to help soften the light
I feathered the light forward, both to soften the light on the figures, and to create a glow in the image by allowing light to fall directly onto my lens.
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.
I treated the group as the subject, giving each individual equal emphasis in terms of lighting, depth of field, and prominence in the frame, just as in the original photograph.
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:
My composition was heavily inspired by the original image:
There are a few differences in perpective and spacing, but I’m happy enough with the result.
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.
While my LEGO version of John Lennon works well from profile view, it’s not so convincing from the front.
Nice texture in that hair though!
A slightly different version of my before and after shots, this time showing the reference image and then how I realized it through deliberate lighting, subject isolation, and composition choices.
P.S. And bonus points to those who got the SNL reference in the article title! 🤣