Saturday, January 20, 2018

Toy Photography Blogging

If you are a fan of  toy photographer, you may be interested in this kick-ass blog called toyphotographers.com.

I know it is kick-ass because some amazing toy photographers contribute to the blog.  I know you'll like it because I am also now contributing to the blog on a regular basis - I'll leave the kick-ass designation for Yours Truly as an exercise for you, the reader.

Today they published a review of a LEGO set I wrote with help from my son, Zeke.  It is a review of the LEGO Star Wars set based on Luke Skywalker's island called Ahch-To.  You can check out the post here: Review: Ahch-To Island Training.

I am also working on a series of posts called The Foundation Series. It centers on insights I've gained during my artistic journey so far, both philosophical and practical.  Hopefully others can benefit from them and help them along their own personal journeys.  The first post in that series can be found here: The Foundation Series: A Journey Begins.   New posts will drop approximately once a month.

I'll link to any posts I write for toyphotographers.com from this blog so if all you are interested in is the stuff I contribute, stay tuned here and you won't miss a thing.  However there really is some great stuff over there from everyone, so I suggest you follow them directly.

Friday, January 19, 2018

No Figure Challenge: Accepted

Sometimes challenges are a great way to step out of your comfort zone and try something new.  A case in point.

Over at the Toy Photographers blog yesterday, Lizzi issued the challenge to take a toy photo without a figure.  The idea being to create a story without any characters in it.  Intriguing idea.

I don't accept any old challenge that comes my way, and at first I was going to ignore this one too.  I love a good challenge that stretches me creatively, but I had taken several photos without figures in it.  I have a couple AT-AT photos that had no figures in it.  Then I remembered that those AT-AT photos were inspired by pictures of elephants, so really I thought of them as characters, so they didn't really count.  Nerts!  Perhaps I never have really taken a LEGO photograph without figures in it. So based on that insight:

Challenge Accepted.

There wasn't a lot of time to complete the challenge, so I got started right away.  At the time I was watching a Foo Fighters concert on YouTube, so my mind immediately went to a guitar. Perhaps a lonely guitar on a stage, waiting to be picked up and played.

So I hopped over to my studio and grabbed the most photogenic guitar I had in my collection.  An electric guitar needs an amp, so grabbed one of those as well.  I set up a couple lights to act as spotlights, and set up the scene. 

As almost an afterthought I grabbed the smoke machine to add some atmosphere.  It was then that what I really wanted was not a guitar waiting to be played, but a guitar that was just put down after having been played.  Someone had just rocked his heart out on that guitar, and has just left the stage, leaving his guitar on the stage, still smoking from the rock show's special effects.

This is the resulting image:

As it turns out, this ended up not reminding me so much of the Foo Fighters, but rather how I imagine Kurt Cobain's guitar looked after filming the Smells Like Teen Spirit video (yeah, I know, the guitar isn't the right shape, but beggars can't be choosers.  It is the colour of the smoke that sparks the mental connection in my brain).

So that is the story of how I created a LEGO photograph without any minifigs.

Challenge Completed.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Lucky There's A Family Guy

So a site exists where one can make their own avatar in the style of the TV cartoon Family Guy, so naturally I did my own:
Their palette of colours was limited, so I Photoshopped in my standard orange t-shirt (and some, ahem, grey beard hairs). Otherwise, straight from the site.

You can do your own at www.familyguyyourself.com

Saturday, January 13, 2018

I Am A Shithole Immigrant, Too.

There is a fear among certain Americans of immigration from the "shithole" countries - you know, the poor ones that produce criminals who want to come to America and practice their criminal-ing. I mean, fair enough. I don't want criminals coming to my country either.

I am a Canadian white male, moved to the US about 10 years ago (-ish).  That makes me an immigrant in America.  I have to ask myself the question: why don't those Americans fear me, too?

One may argue it is because Canada has a reputation for being polite folk who don't cause much trouble. I like to believe that is true generally, however I know it is not for some of us.  There are white male Canadian drug dealers. White male Canadian poor and uneducated slumming off the welfare system. White male Canadian rapists and murders. White make Canadian sex traders and sex offenders. White male Canadians who went off to fight with (not against, with) ISIS. So on spec Canada is really no better than any other country that has people with those characteristics (which is, likely, all countries).

So, why does no one question whether I, an immigrant white Canadian male most Americans don't know well, or at all, am the same danger to American values and safety as the Trump narrative would indicate comes from the "shithole" countries?

I happen to be none of those questionable things, and tend to be a law abiding trustworthy person all around, but most of America doesn't know that. Clearly people in my country that fit my profile can be those things... so why not me?

So, if you are a "fearful of immigrants" American, I have a thought for you. If you are going to fear them on spec, then you should also fear me on spec, because we both have the potential to be assholes. If you don't fear me on spec, you have no business fearing them on spec either.

Is it cause I am Canadian? Well, if you read this far clearly you're argument has holes.

Is it cause I am white and they are not? Then you're a racist. Racists are bad. Why you gotta be bad?

This is why I posted #IAmAShitholeImmigrant on my Facebook profile this morning. Cause if you are going to fear them, you should fear me. At least until you get to know me.

After you get to know me, and I give you reasons as an individual to dislike me, then that's fair. There is nothing wrong with judging an individual based on their own character, and I never promised I was universally like-able.  Until then tho, you're just letting ignorance and prejudice affect you, and that has never worked out for anyone. Makes you weak and cowardly, and the rest of us sad for you.

I am not saying American shouldn't screen the people who want to immigrate to this fine nation.  America has the absolute right, authority, and duty to its existing citizens to do all the screening it wants, and to turn away undesirable folks. America even has the authority to not allow any immigration at all, and that is perfectly fine with me (pass the law, and I'll quietly go back to my home country)  But, if you do allow immigration, and if the criteria for denial is the nation, ethnicity, or religion a person comes from, and not the character of the individual, then that policy is not going to do what you think its going to do and not prevent stop the wrong people from coming in.   It just makes you paranoid and weak of character, and that is no way to make America great again.

Headshots Of Awesomeness

If you ever need a headshot or a portrait done, and you are anywhere near Red Deer Alberta, go see Paul Howard.  Heck even if you don't need a portrait or headshot, and are no where near Red Deer, go see Paul Howard in his studio.  It is worth it just for the experience alone.

Paul is one of the most authentic and talented people photographers I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. When he is shooting people he is in his element. This is Paul:

You should know that I don't endorse products or services on this blog unless I really believe in them.  I certainly don't accept money for them, so this comes from the heart (in fact Paul doesn't even know I am posting this, and so I need to apologize in advance for stealing the above photo - sorry, buddy)

Have you ever been in front of someones camera and you just know they are in it for the money, and are watching the clock the whole time?  Thats not Paul.  When you work with Paul you are not paying for his time. You are paying for his passion, energy, and talent, and you can be assured he will give you all he has, for as long as it is required, to make you look good.

I mean, he took this headshot of me, and made me look spectacular:

That was only after a few moments during a rather busy workshop.  Imagine how good I'd look if he had the time to spend actual minutes with me?

Don't take me and my ugly mug's word for it.  You can see more of his work on his website: paulhowardphoto.com.  You won't regret it.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Accolades For Altered States

As you may recall, last weekend I dropped off some of my images for a photo competition called Altered States at Full Circle Arts in Hickory NC.

Tonight I went to a reception at the gallery, and found out two of my photos placed!  I was awarded a second place nod for my photo of Luke facing down an AT-AT:
I also got an honorable mention for this photo:

This is the first time I've put my LEGO photos up for competition outside of my supportive online communities.  It was really nice to see a niche set of images get some recognition.

 In celebration I ordered a new LEGO set, ya know, to keep this ball rolling.


Update:  Because some folks have asked to see em, these are the original photos:


Subtle Improvements In Organization

For those that don't know, my studio is in a dark corner of a semi-unfinished busted-ass basement, and consists primarily of 4 desks, some of which contain my computers, and a place to set up minifigs.  Another is a workbench of sorts.  The last one is where I have been storing my LEGO models.  It looks like this:

This is, of course, a mess.  I am not the neatest person in the world, and actually enjoy a little clutter. However there is a huge difference between that and a debilitating mess that gets in my way.  Also, not pictured, is the many LEGO models on my workbench and shooting desk that don't have room on my storage desk.

A quick trip to Ikea resulted in finding some small shelves (really shoe racks), which turned this space from the above into this:


Now I have space for all my models, and some more side... even better, my other desks are freed up from being storage to being useful for creating more art.

Now that is sorted... where is my camera? I got some creating to do...