… are the things that make me ME.’
– Piglet (by A.A. Milne)
Continuing still with a look at our friends from the Hundred Acre Wood, today we see Piglet 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
Piglet is generally timid, but tries to be brave to conquer his fears, so I staged him breaking the fourth wall and addressing the viewer:
“The things that make me different are the things that make me ME.”
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.
I’ve once again used a simple one light 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
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. Piglet is separated from the background by colour, light, and selective depth of field (I shot wide open at f/4, knowing that at this working distance the background would blur into smooth bokeh).
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:
Instead of composing with the rules of thirds, I centred Piglet in the frame to draw and hold the viewer’s attention on him. I filled the space beneath him with his reflection, but avoiding the balloon to avoid a visual distraction low in frame, 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, this shot was at f/4 to minimize depth of field
- 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:
Love that smile!
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.