My son Paul is seven years old and is at that stage where he loves working with Lego. So I got to thinking: could I make an image that he would love based on one of his Lego projects? Here is the result:
Fun with Lego
Here is how it was done:
- First, the star fighter was placed on black velvet on a still life shooting table,
- Two strobes were set up, one with a a standard reflector and barn doors as a key light to camera right, and an umbrella that was barely open to camera right to act as fill.
- The image was captured using an Arca Swiss M-Monolith view camera utilizing lens tilt to ensure that the plane of sharp focus extended across both wings of the star fighter. The lens was a Schneider Kreuznach APO digitar 120 macro lens particularly designed for up close capture.
- The stars were created using a simple technique in photoshop: add monochromatic gaussian noise with the noise filter, and then push the black point up dramatically and lower the white point marginally with a levels adjustment layer, and then mask out the stars so that they were only around the starfigher.
- Duplicate only the star fighter (not the black velvet surrounding it) and add motion blur to this layer in the direction of travel.
- Offset the blur layer so that it falls primarily behind the star figher, and then mask this blur with a gradient so that the intensity of the blur is zero at the front of the figher, and higher behind.
- Mask out the blur around the cockpit.
- Select the engine turbines (I guess that is what they are called) and add rotational blur to give a sense of them spinning as they project this killer craft through space.
There you have it. Fun with Lego. Paul was duly impressed.
One of my favourite images from last year is the “Geyer Studio Still Life”. Shot purely for self promotion and my portfolio, this is one of my favourite images from 2010. Here is how it was done:
I placed the camera (a Phase One DF with P65+ digital back) on a gamma studio stand, set up the lights and shot the two sculptures shown placed on a table with a removable glass top. Then the sculptures and the glass top were removed, and my model April was covered in clay and posed in the same scene. Because the camera and lights did not move, it is relatively simple to layer the two images and mask out the rest of her body. To create a realistic chiselled edge, dodging and burning and a little clone stamp around the edges, and voila: A still life.
Here are the two images that were composited and the final product.
The final step was to bring the colours together, so I sampled the colour of the sculpture and applied a hue overlay to make the clay on her body more closely resemble the clay of the sculptures. This also turned the green edge of the glass a clayish brown, and so it all hangs together.
Over the holidays I had some time to spend working with my new Arca Swiss M-monoloth. For those that are not camera equipment geeks (I love technology), the Arca monolith is a view camera that focuses by moving the lens along a rail with a bellows. What is special about a view camera is the ability to:
- shift the lens and/or “film plane” up, down, left or right to correct (or distort) perspective, and
- tilt the lens and/or “film plane” forward, backward, left, right to place the plane of focus exactly where you want it to be.
Of course, I am not using film, but rather a P65+ medium format digital back.
Here is one of those shots.
The subject here is a closeup of a bottle (on the right) and a reflection of the other side of the bottle in a mirror. The lighting is tungsten which is warm, while the background is the reflection of outdoor light (which is blueish) coming through my sunroom and french doors. The lens tilt allows me to get the focus right where I want it to be: on the yellowish spot of light on the left and the reddish spot of light on the right. Without lens tilt I would have had to decide which spot of light I wanted to be in focus, (or take two images and blend them together in photoshop, or really stop down dramatically so that everything is in focus, which is not what I was after).
I rather like the colours. The blue background compliments the yellow, and the generally green glass complements the red. I like the shapes, the lines, the colours. I like this one.