Saturday, September 14, 2019

Father Son Model Building: AT-ST

This is Zeke and his finished AT-ST model.

Since my last foray into model building went so well I figured my 9 year old, Zeke, may enjoy building his own model.

So I let him pick out a model from Amazon, bought two, and over the past week or so we've been building them together.

It wasn't until we were 5 steps away from being completed that I realized the model was labelled as "15 years or older."   Didn't seem to matter tho as he managed to get everything together nicely.

This afternoon we finished the build.  Happiness ensued.

Monday, September 02, 2019

Foray into Model Building: Star Wars AT-AT

For a project over Labour Day I decided to try my hand at model building.  I haven't build a model since my childhood. It dovetails with my toy photography hobby, so it seemed like a thing to do.

I picked up a Bandai 1/144 scale Star Wars AT-AT kit. It looks like this:
When I was but a wee lad and engaged in model building, I always got stuck up on the glue(no pun intended) and I could never get it all attached correctly.  So I was happy to see this model didn't require any - win!  Also it doesn't have any decals, which is also a bonus.

So I spent a few hours putting together the model.  It ended up looking like this:

It turned out pretty good, but of course it has that flat grey plastic look to it.  I have become accustomed to a better looking model (standards increase when one gets into toy photography), so I knew I needed to do some painting.

Now an AT-AT is naturally grey, so what I really needed to do was to grunge it up a bit - something called "weathering".   Before I started I needed to decide the history of this machine.  Most of the time AT-ATs are thought of as being on the ice planet Hoth, and are shown in snowy weather.  However they went other places as well - there was an AT-AT guarding the force field generator on Endor for example.  I decided to make an AT-AT that has spent its lifetime trudging in a forrest environment.

So I spent a few hours putting on various washes of acrylic paint, and wiping off the excess.

After a few layers of build up, the finished product looks like this:

I tried to get the feet to look worn from mud and forrest detritus.

And I tried to make the vents look rusted from the moist forrest air.

I am pleased with how this turned out, for a first attempt at model making and aging.  In fact I liked it so much I have an X-Wing on order for next weekend.

I may have found a new dimension to my toy photography. I can't wait to get this in front of my lens.  Exciting!

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Blast From The Past: Geoacaching Travel Bug Comes Home

Here is a little blast from the past!

On June 5, 2012 I started a global travel bug race. I sent out 8 alien drone travel bugs to 4 countries on 3 continents, and the race was to see which bug would get back to my hometown of Lenoir NC first.

Now, since then I had burnt out on geocaching.  Really I burned out on everything (Depression will do that to you), and geocaching was an innocent bystander.  I had forgotten about this race, until a week or so ago when I got notified that the bug was in a cache near Lenoir.

Today I went to retrieve it.  Here it is:

This bug, drone #5,  was the first to get released, in the south-eastern part of England.  Since then it has travelled around the UK, hopped the pond to Oregon, then made its way to Texas, Ohio, Tennesee, and finally North Carolina.  It has travelled almost 8500 miles, and been in the hands of 115 people.  Here is a map:

Now its back, and will live out its life in my big box of treasures.  A rather nice way to mark Labour Day weekend.

Cache on!

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!

If you are interested in joining the Hunt, sign up to the mailing list at to stay in the loop and find out when the next sign ups will be.

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.