Well, at least they’re wearing helmets….

#safetyfirst #holdmybeer

Happy #troopertuesday everyone!

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

I’m not exactly sure how I got this idea…. only that I wanted to create an oxymoronic Stormtrooper scene. So what is the opposite of highly trained, elite, and disciplined? I’d wager something like this:

Light

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.

I use a continuous light source, which in combination with my camera’s live view, allows me to see in real time the result of my light positioning and modifying.

This is a variation from my normal lighting setup:

  • Key light: Litrapro with softbox, positioned with a Platypod gooseneck arm and Ultra tripod base
  • Reflectors: DIY with folded recipe cards, to provide fill and to help soften the light

( I felt a single light with fill would give the look I was going for, and was confident that white Stormtrooper armour would separate from the black background without any help from a background light)

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.

Given my minimalist style, this is no doubt here. That said, I did emphasize the driver with positioning forward from the others, brighter lighting, and depth of field (by using his eyes as my focus point).

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 rule of thirds, with my focus point serving as my main anchor point. To show the level of detail I wanted, I kept shooting distance close (and without the full reflection that I often use) and adjusted it so that the motorcycle and sidecar just filled the middle third of the image. Finally, I left the perimeter as negative space that helps define the main focus area.

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 another crop:

What an iconic helmet!

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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