Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Round 25 Deep Dive: Whistle and Xylophone

This series of posts is a deep dive into the images I created for the 25th round of the Photography Scavenger Hunt.

I must confess that both of these words gave me a lot of trouble.  I didn't have good ideas for either one of these words for the longest time.  I did manage to pull things together at the last minute, however, that I am decently happy with.

Word:  Whistle

The concept I finally came up with was an homage to a trope from old style cartoons where a very angry character would steam from the ears.

Since anger was involved, Hulk was the obvious choice as a model.

To get the steam effect I used a can of air, and turned it upside down, then shot it lit with some Lume Cubes against a black background, then comp'd them into the image.  Note: if you try this, the air from an upside down can of compressed air gets super cold.

As a final touch I added a bit of red colour to the sides of Hulks face to sell the flushed skin angry look.

Word: Xylophone

The idea that finally sprung to mind after several brainstorming sessions was the Michael Jackson Billy Jean video, where the sidewalk lights up where Michael steps on them.

I grabbed a xylophone image from Pixel Squid, and copied it a couple times to` create a sidewalk. Then I grabbed my Baby Groot figure, as he is famous for dancing, and has that happy expression on his face, and shot him in my lightbox.  Then I merged the two together, and tossed in some light effects, and some light leak textures.

The final result makes me smile.

So thats the end of my deep dive images.  I'll see you after the next round!

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Monday, June 24, 2019

Round 25 Deep Dive: Vase

This series of posts is a deep dive into the images I created for the 25th round of the Photography Scavenger Hunt

Todays word is vase.

I am not much of a flowery vasey sort of person, so initially I had no ideas for this that I liked.  Then the idea of using a bottle of poison as a vase, and making a scene that was based on the end of life sprung to mine.

A few years ago I purchased some old bottles with labels like strychnine, and sulphuric acid on them.    I bought them as props but I never found a use for them, but they were perfect for this.

So around a bottle of sulphuric acid I shall build this scene.

I put dead flowers (the same flowers as used in my Olive shot - so bonus!) in the bottle, added in a skull, and a candle.  To simulate the end of things I wanted the candle to be burnt out with left over drippy wax.  I didn't have an old candle, so I had to make my own.  It was actually quite fun.

I tossed in some fallen petals, and added some smoke to the candle to give it a sense that whatever bad thing happened had happened recently.

I found out this style of image is called momento mori.  For me it is just a unique take on a vase.

I was quite pleased with how it all turned out.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Round 25 Deep Dive: Pencil

This series of posts is a deep dive into the images I created for the 25th round of the Photography Scavenger Hunt.

Todays world is pencil.
During the promotions for the Deadpool 2, I saw an image of Cable sketching Deadpool.  I decided to recreate that, but since I didn't have a Cable figure, I decided to use Iron Man.

I made a scale pencil out of dowel, and set up the figures.

Then I took another shot of Deadpool from Tony's perspective, and made it look like a sketch.

Then the rest is basic composite work to add in stools and an easel.  I was pretty pleased with how this came out.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Round 25 Deep Dive: Remote and Sponge

This series of posts is a deep dive into the images I created for the 25th round of the Photography Scavenger Hunt.

Both my remote and sponge images used the same figures on the same set:  Jawa's and R2D2 on Tatooine.

The Set

In my lightbox I built a set out of rocks and sand from my back yard.  I was going for a recreation of a rocky canyon on Tatooine.

I tried to contain the sand by using cardboard, and a tile piece at the bottom, but as it turns out I had sand in there for months afterwards anyway.  Those figures are also 12" scale. which means those rocks are quite large - and took a lot of care to move into place without risking them falling over and crushing the figures, or damaging the lightbox.  However once it was made, it proved to be very effective.

Word: Remote

Remote is simply a reimagining of the scene in A New Hope where the Jawas capture R2.  The Jawas use a thing called a restraining bolt on the droids to immobilize them.  This shot was mostly getting the framing right in camera, and then adding the remote waves, and the bolt sparks in post.

Word: Sponge

The idea was to have the Jawas cleaning up R2D2 to shine him up for sale.  To get this shot I cut up some sponges to be Jawa sized.  I then used some foaming hand soap to suds up R2.

As a finishing move, and to add some humour, I had R2 projecting a rubber ducky.  It seemed charming to me.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Round 25 Deep Dive: Quarter, Tire, and Z

This series of posts is a deep dive into the images I created for the 25th round of the Photography Scavenger Hunt.

Word: Quarter

I must confess that when I worked on this concept I misremembered the word as "coin".  Oops.

However I decided to go with it.  The idea was to have Iron Man holding a Stan Lee memorial coin.  If you are not familiar, Stan Lee was one of the main creators of the Marvel universe, and he passed away last year.

I took the Iron Man image holding an actual quarter, to get the perspective right.  I also set a shallow depth of field to ensure the focus of the piece was on the coin, and not on Iron Man.

Then I created the coin using Photoshop 3D, and merged the two together.

Word: Tire

Tire was one of the last words I shot.  I had a lot of trouble coming up with an idea that piqued my interest.  I was going over my ideas list over lunch at work, and finally stumbled on the idea of a tire swing.  Using Baby Groot quickly came to mind.  I messaged my wife and asked her to pick up some rope and a small tire I could use for props.

When I got home I quickly assembled a tire swing, and went outside to put the swing on the tree in my front yard.  I also set up a speed light in a 2ft soft box to add some light.

I then focused my camera onto  a point on the backswing, and then set Groot into motion.  Then I shot like a mad man.

The final shot was basically straight out of camera, but with some of the background cleaned up, and some tone manipulation.  Pretty small amount of photoshopping compared to most of my composite based works this round.

Word: Z

The monent I saw this word on the list my mind went to what may very well be the biggest rift between America, where I live now, and Canada, where I was born and raised.  How to pronounce the letter Z.  Is it zee or zed?

Well, I have my opinions. Zed.  So I decided to make my point with this image.

I created the cardboard cutouts using 3D tools in Photoshop, using a tutorial I found online that explained how to do it.  Originally I was going to let the letters stand for themselves, however when I was done I realized it needed a little more.  So I decided to incorporate the Canadian super hero, Deadpool. 'Nuff said.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Round 25 Deep Dive: Olive

This series of posts is a deep dive into the images I created for the 25th round of the Photography Scavenger Hunt.

Let me be completely honest.  I was kind of super annoyed when I saw "olive" as a word on this list.

I really dislike olives.  I don't like how they taste, or how they smell. They don't even look good.  Even the colour olive is drab and boring.  It has no redeeming qualities for me whatsoever.


So it is a creative dead end for me.   To top it off olive was on the previous hunts list, so I already spent a lot of time fighting my dislike of olives to come up with an olive image (which was nominated for a Photoshop World Guru award, for what thats worth - #humblebrag).

So I wanted to get this out the door as quickly as possible.  I did get the idea of Popeye interactive with Olive Oyl.  I looked up Popeye action figures, and they were all super expensive.  Not to mention I'd also need an Olive Oyl figure, which were also expensive.  So I abandoned that idea.

Left with no other options I figured I'd try to shoot my arm holding a bouquet of roses.  I hoped I could make it look like Popeye by distorting my arm using the liquify tool in Photoshop to give it that Popeye forearm bulge, and comp in his anchor tattoo.

I had no idea if it would work.  But the only cost was a bouquet of flowers, that ultimately was given to my wife, so no harm in trying.

As it turns out the idea worked out pretty well.  Liquifying my arm turned out great.  The rest was simple toning.

At the last minute I decided to add in the background (which came from my library of images - it is a door in Savannah GA), and adding the nameplate, just to sell the point these are for Olive Oyl.

It is not my favourite image from this hunt, but I got some great comments when it was revealed, so who am I to argue?
As an aside, it turns out that a Popeye action figure was released during the hunt run, however all things considered I think I prefer this image over one created with a figure.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Round 25 Deep Dive: Newspaper

This series of posts is a deep dive into the images I created for the 25th round of the Photography Scavenger Hunt.

Todays word is newspaper.

This is another one of those words that I had a quick idea on, and wanted to get it out the door, as I had 26 words to do this round, and only 8 weeks to do them in.

The idea was simply have someone reading a newspaper, and reacting to it.  At first I didn't know what would be on the newspaper, or who would be reading it, so I spelunked thru my toybox, and soon came to the conclusion I should use Tony Stark.  Why?  Because he is the only figure I have with articulated fingers, which means I could pose his hand holding a newspaper pretty accurately.  Plus Tony's head is very well modeled.

The next question was what would be on the newspaper?   This was shot after Avengers: Infinity War came out, but before Avengers: Endgame. As a result I knew Tony had suffered a defeat, but didn't know the extent of it.  When he finally makes it back to earth he'd catch up on the news. That moment is what I wanted to capture.


The first thing I needed was a newspaper. Since my Tony Stark action figure is 12" high, I realized the scale newspaper would be big enough to see the little details, so I spent some time mocking up a detailed newspaper in Photoshop.

For the front page I actually wrote up a whole article for it.  By the time I got to the back page I got bored, so I left the text as Lorem Ipsum, but stayed creative with the headlines.

I then printed off 3 copies of this, cut them out, and then put them together like a newspaper.  I spent some time working the paper to give it creases and a "already read" look, then stuck it in Tony's hands.

The photography was pretty basic on this one.  However when I got it in Photoshop I changed Tony's expression to be sadder (using the liquify tool), and even added a little tear.  I figured Tony would be sad to see the results of his failure to defeat Thanos.  Endgame proved me right on this, which is nice.

The final image is here: