Saturday, June 30, 2018

A Sudden But Happy Realization...

Chatting with my wife while solo shopping at Walmart, when I had a sudden but happy realization...

Yep! Toys equal art supplies in my world, baby!  Truth!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Building The Millennium Falcon: The Main Frame

Historical photos of the Millennium Falcon, original designation YT-1300 492727ZED has been unearthed from the Corellian Ship Yard archives.

This photo shows the back frame being attached to the main spine of the ship.  Notice the large crane elevating and moving the large structure into place.  Also notice Bossk in the bottom left, during his early years he supplemented his bounty hunter income by working as a delivery boy in the shipyards.

Once the frame was maneuvered into place, workers welded large bolts to firmly attach it to the giant spine of the craft.

After a hard days work, the crew enjoys a well deserved lunch break.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Scavengers In Asheville: The High Places Of The Blue Ridge Parkway

This weekend I spent in my happy place.  That happy place is hanging out with my tribe of crazy photographers known as the Scavengers.

About 25 of us gathered from all over the US in Asheville North Carolina for a long weekend of trouble and mayhem, photographer style.

On Friday we took a trip up the Blue Ridge Parkway to some of the highest peaks this side of the Mississippi, Mount Mitchell.

I have been up Mount Mitchell many times, but this is the first time it was not socked in with fog.  Being the highest place in a mountain range known for producing a lot of mist and fog, it is often obscured by clouds.  Luckily not this time.

So we spent a bunch of time looking around, and showing the kids which direction our house was... hint - it's over there: --^
 One can drive almost to the very top of Mount Mitchell, so it is an easy place to access.  Our next stop in the Craggy Gardens was more of a hike - 0.7 miles of an uphill climb over rough rocky terrain.
However the view from the top was incredible.
I was surprised the kids made it up well before I did.  I arrived at the summit to find Zeke already waiting for me, at the top of the world.
As is my nature, I grabbed some toys from my pack and started taking photos.   Some strangers started commenting on how cool it was (personal affirmation:  I am cool) and asked to take photos as well.  Spreading the art of Toy Photography one hike at a time!

After we got back to the car we drove back to town for some lunch, and some more urban-based hi-jinx.  That evening I processed one of the photos I took from the hike, and it ended up looking like this.
Not bad for the start of a long weekend, eh?

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Building The Millennium Falcon: The Beginning

I have always liked the historical photos of large ships being built.  Perhaps you know the ones I mean, of ships like the Titanic under construction in Northern Ireland. (If not, click here)

So as some of find regular readers of this very fine blog may recall, I have recently come into possession of the largest LEGO kit ever put up for retail sale. A full minifig scale model of the Millennium Falcon.

Building that will be a project in itself, and it will lead to more photographic projects.  However I wanted to capture the building of the Falcon itself - not in time-lapse or anything mundane like that, but rather in the style of those old timey photos of the gigantic ships of old.

This new series is what this project is about.  As I build the Falcon I am going to be taking said photos, and posting them here.

To kick it off, like all building projects, we'll start by studying the blueprints.
I am going to be taking my time to build the model, and will release photos as I go.  There are 17 bags of parts, and I am on bag 3, so I suspect this will be a summer long project.  Stay tuned to this blog for updates!

Entries in this series

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Workstation improvements

I have spent some time over the past couple days getting my studio back in order.  I've done a lot of projects lately and the clutter is building up.  It is not perfect yet (likely never will be), but the biggest improvements are to my workstation area.  This is the place I do a lot of my photo editing. 

My wifey didn't want her monitor anymore, so I added it to my setup - its the tall one on the right.  I also decluttered everything.  I am pretty sure this is the cleanest and most useful my workstation has been in years.

I suspect this will last until Tuesday.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

PhotoshopWorld 2018

PhotoshopWorld is a photography conference put on by the awesome people at KelbyOne.  I went last year, and I loved it.  So this year when the  Toy Safari and PhotoshopWorld were on back to back weekends, my adventure was clear.

I did the Oregon Toy Photography Safari the weekend before.  So when that ended on the Monday night, I took the red eye over to Orlando so I was positioned for the start of the conference.

The conference is 3 days of learning sessions on dozens of different topics, for dozens of different genres of photography, design, business, and inspiration.  I ended up taking a lot of sessions on composite and other Photoshop tips and tricks - hopefully some of those lessons will appear in my art work over the next few weeks and months.  

This means I got to spend some time learning about Photoshop and composites from some amazingly talented people.  One of which is Glyn Dewis, from the UK.  An amazing artist, decent human being, and co-host of the He Shoots He Draws podcast.
One of the other instructors I was anxious to spend more time learning from is Tim Wallace.  Another UK photographer who shoots luxury cars and other "expensive shiny things."  I highly recommend checking out his website at to see his amazing work.

Tim was the one that clued me in that shooting toys is a lot like shooting cars - both are shiny curved objects - the only difference is scale.  A hugely useful lesson.

Tim doesn't teach a lot of classes, so I was glad to be able to learn some things from him again.  I took his pre-conference workshop on shooting cars in studio (great class), and took in a couple business related sessions during PhotoshopWorld.   He is amazing at teaching the business of photography, and I highly recommend checking out his classes at KelbyOne on the subject.

When the sessions were not on, there are a lot of other things to do. For one, there is getting your photo taken at the sign.
I have been so blessed to have fallen into a group of amazing photographers that we self-describe as Scavengers.  A couple of those Scavengers had the good fortune of setting up photo booths at the conference.  These are intended to be practice locations for attendees.

One was built by the amazingly talented Gilmar Smith, who recreated an old fashioned gas station, right there on the exhibition floor.  

On Thursday night is the After Party, which is a chance to socialize, get some food, and drink, and listen to some awesome live music.  I didn't attend last years party, but I did this year, and was treated to a great rock show by a band called Big Electric Cat, with frontman Scott Kelby.  Scott is also the CEO of KelbyOne, the company that produces PhotoshopWorld.  So this is basically like having the dean of Harvard rock out on guitar at homecoming, but for photographers.
Many of the KelbyOne instructors took the stage to jam together, including dutch photographer extraordinaire, Frank Dorhoff.
It is kind of surprising how few photos one takes at a photography conference, so I am out of them. So I'll end with one taken by Gilmar Smith at Mark Rodriguez's booth.
So that was my adventure.  After the conference I hung out for a bit, then flew home.  Next year they are having two PhotoshopWorlds, one in Orlando, and one in Vegas - I've signed up for both.

See ya next time.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

LEGO Space Logo and the Stranger in the Checkout Line

The logo on the left is likely famous if you were a kid in the 70s or 80s.  It is the logo for the LEGO space sets from that era.

Since I am a child of the 70s and 80s, I have a t-shirt with that logo on it - ya know, cause of nostalgia, and to prove, beyond all shadow of a doubt, that I am a fan of the brick.

A couple weeks ago I was on my way to the Oregon Toy Photography Safari, and stopped by a grocery store in Seaside Oregon for some supplies.  I was, of course, sporting that LEGO space logo'd t-shirt.

I got my supplies and was standing patiently in the check-out line to, ya know, check out.  The fellow in front of me turned around, saw my shirt, and mentioned he liked it.

I said thanks.  Then he pulled out his cell phone, and showed me he had the same logo on the back.

Cool.  Nice coincidence.  Turns out the fellow made the sticker. Before I knew it, he called someone (I remember it being his wife, but I can't be sure of my memory on that point) on his phone.  They were waiting for him in his car in the parking lot. 

By the time he got to the front of the line his wife/friend had come into the store and gave me a sticker.

Since it is a black sticker, and my phone is black, I needed some place else to put it.  My laptop is already stickered, so I put it on my portable CD-ROM.  Here is it.

I didn't get the fellows name, but I did give him my business card so he could find me. If that person happens to come across this blog, thanks!  Your sticker is going to decorate my office space for a long time to come.

Also thanks for an awesome encounter after a stressful travel day - thats the sort of thing good travel memories are based on.


Wordless Wednesday

Monday, June 04, 2018

Oregon Toy Photography Safari

During the last 12 days or so I was on a grand adventure, criss-crossing across the continent, and getting my creative photog on.  The second half was attending PhotoshopWorld in Orlando, which I'll cover in a different post.

This post is all about the first half:  The Oregon Toy Photography Safari.

What does that mean exactly?  In short, I spent 4 days over Memorial Day weekend hanging out on the coast of Oregon, which looks like this:

with people who look like this:
Photo taken by Leila Chieko (brickandmordor)

taking photos that look like this:
This is a collaboration with myself and Brett Wilson.  I shot, he threw sand, and together we created art.  Not a bad way to spend a morning, eh?

All of those folk are members of the toy photography community, and hang out in various forums, communities and instagram accounts on The Internet.  For the past few years they have been meeting up in various places to hang out in the real world for a few days, share tips, toys, and stories, and take pictures in pretty places.

The weekend started with a meet-up at an early morning showing of Solo: A Star Wars Story on Friday.  Then we all headed towards the coast for the rest of the weekend.

I have been to Oregon on many occasions for work, but I never made it to the coast. So I was thrilled to see it is an absolute gorgeous place to visit. 

We spent many hours on the beaches (Oswald West, Arch Cape, Hug Point, Arcadia Beach), and a bit of time in the woods.  So I spent a lot of time taking photos of others taking photos of toys.

Looked a lot like this:

The great thing about the Toy Safari is that everyone can borrow from everyone elses toyboxes.  This allows one to get shots they wouldn't normally be able to get.  Some of these toys are quite rare and expensive.

Some are just fun.

We also spent some days shooting in the woods.  The Oregon coast has some amazing woods to shoot in - giant red woods, nice green foliage on the ground level - not a lot of thorns or poison ivy - gorgeous.

I took a lot of photos in those woods, and collaborated with a photogapher named Dennis T, who, together, took a pic that won first place in a photo competition held over the weekend.  He also made the custom minifig for the event, shown here:
At nights we hung out at a rented house, waxed photographic, geeked out, socialized, and had a lot of fun.  I made a lot of new friends, and cracked a lot of jokes, and impressed an Aussie with my ability to consume Tim Tams.

You know, the usual.

When the weekend was over, I said goodbye to my new found tribe of toy photographers, and headed off to the airport for my next grand adventure.

What will that lead to?  Who knows.  You'll have to wait and see what happens next!

Happy trails!

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Returning From My Adventure

I am currently sitting in an airport about to get on a plane to head home after a 12 day adventure.  It is a long story that will take several days and posts to tell.  But the highlights are that it started on the Pacific coast while attending the Oregon Toy Photography Safari:

It ended at PhotoshopWorld 2018 in Orlando Florida:

Needless to say I learned a lot, had a great deal of fun, made some awesome friends, and now I am tired and facing the wonders of modern air travel.

I'll see you when I land, at which time I will begin to spin the tale of my past dozen days.