… a little thought for others, makes all the difference.”
– Eeyore (by A.A. Milne)
Today’s scene features Eeyore and the big oak tree from the LEGO Disney set 21326 Winnie the Pooh.
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
Once again, I’m not exactly sure where the idea came from. I was scanning our LEGO collection and Eeyore caught my eye. Poor gloomy, depressed Eeyore. I imagined that a beautiful setting might improve his mood as he pondered the imponderable, perhaps 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 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 shaping.
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 chose not to use a background light as the tree gave me the look that 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.
I separated Eeyore from the background with selective depth of field (by shooting wide open at f/4 and knowing that at this working distance the background would blur), lighting, and colour.
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 his eye as both the anchor and my focusing point. I filled the space beneath him with his reflection, for both aesthetic and balancing purposing. I left the remainder as negative space to help define the focus area.
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
- Note: as mentioned above, today’s shot was made at f/4 to minimize depth of field in order to improve subject separation from the background
- 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:
For a change, I also shot the macro images wide open at f/4 – look how quickly the focus falls off!
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.