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 http://scavengerhunt.photography 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.

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.

None.

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.
Concept

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.

Execution

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:

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Round 25 Deep Dive: Leaf and Moon

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

Word: Leaf

After giving this a lot of thought I decided that my concept for leaf would be a marble statue with a strategically placed leaf.

I have a generic male figure that I figured could be used as a base, then I could add a marble texture over it in Photoshop.   So I grabbed the figure and started playing with it, trying to come up with a pose.

As I was playing with the figure I got a different concept in mind. The idea was a line of these generic figures, like at a model competition or something, holding leaves in strategic places.  And to add some humour I had one with an extra large leaf (size does matter), and his neighbour sneaking a peak.

I only had one figure, so I reposed the same figure in 3 different ways, and put them together into the same shot.

This is the result.

Word: Moon

Whenever I see an image or a scene in real life that piques my interest on an inspiration level, I squirrel it away into a folder on my computer called 'ideas'.  When I need some inspiration I scroll through the ideas folder and see if any ideas are sparked.

When I got the list of words for Round 25, one of the first things I did was scroll through my ideas folder, and found a movie poster for The Martian.  That sparked the idea of recreating that poster, but with the moon instead of mars.

I used LEGO since I had a moon lander and an astronaut.  I set up a moonscape in my lightbox made out of baking powder, placed my figures, then shot my image.  I then flipped it upside down, and added some space footage from NASA (Note:  NASA footage is in the public domain, so as a US taxpayer, those images are my tax dollars at work).

The result is what you see here:


Monday, June 17, 2019

Round 25 Deep Dive: Knife and Underwear

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

Word: Knife

Knife throwing quickly came to mind.  I think I could have come up with a more creative concept, but with 26 words to shoot in 8 weeks, I needed to make some quick wins. So I shot my original idea of Deadpool throwing a knife at the viewer.

So I put Deadpool in the most dramatic pose I could, and composited a knife into the shot, using motion blur to give it motion.

The only real tricky part was getting a knife that looked right from that angle.  I tried several knives before settling on this bowie knife.

Word: Underwear

The idea of having Deadpool wearing some sort of underwear over his uniform also came to mind almost immediately.  It is awesome when ideas just spring to mind.  Takes a lot of the stress way.

So the question was, what underwear?  Since there is a large market of miniatures and doll clothes, I had assumed there would be pre-existing doll sized boxer shorts available.  So I Googled it....

Word of advice.  Don't Google that!  I got results, but I am still trying to drink the memory away of what came up.  I'm 44 years old and still not mature enough for what I saw.

So I took a picture of underwear, and used the Liquify tool to mold it to Deadpools ass.  I decided to make it pink, and add the Hello Kitty, cause humour. Also, it fits Deadpools style.

Also important in this shot is Deadpools pose. It really sells the surreal and ironic "I'm feeling cute" vibe I was going for with this shot.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Round 25 Deep Dive: Jellybean

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

Today's word: Jellybean

This is the image I am most proud of from this round of the hunt.  It is a food word, which doesn't tickle my creative side, but I managed to pull from a lot of influences and references to create something truly unique.  At least unique for work I've done previously.
So for weeks I had no ideas for jellybean.  None.  Total bank slate.  Then I thought of breaking up the compound word into its components, jelly and bean.  Bean is, basically, a seed.  This made me think that I could make a jellybean into a seed.

To give it context I decided to have Iron Man discovering this seed, and examining it.  Why Iron Man?  Its simple - he's the only action figure I have that has articulating fingers, so he could hold a jellybean easily.  Sometimes my artistic choices are wide and vast, sometimes they are thrust upon me by scarcity.

So I set up a shot with Iron Man holding a jelly bean, and made it look like he was examining it.  I then decided that I needed some context... where was Iron man, and where did the bean come from?

Then the movie The Matrix popped into my head.  Remember the scene where the machines grow humans in metallic pods and harvest them for energy?  Well, I did.  It seemed like a good source of these seeds.

However I didn't like the robot overlord aspect.  Then I remembered some Star Wars cartoons that showed a planet full of super tall glowing plants.  Like this:
source: starwars.com
So I decided to use plants for my scene.  I headed to the Walmart garden center and looked for suitable plants.  Turns out daffodils were the answer.  I bought a half dozen, then arranged them around Iron Man.

Then I took photos of more jellybeans and composited them into the flowers so it looked like the flowers grew them.  I made them glow for that ethereal sci-fi effect.

Almost as an afterthought I added the fetus to the bean, just to sell the idea that those were seeds - using a human fetus to make it surreal, and maybe a bit shocking.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Round 25 Deep Dive: Ice

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

Today's word:  Ice

This was the first image I created for this round of the hunt, being made within days of the list first hitting my eyeballs.

For a geek like myself, ice immediately brought to mind Captain America being frozen in ice for 50 or so years starting back in World War II.  So the concept was simple:  show Captain America frozen in ice.

My first question was should I use an action figure, or LEGO.  I had both in my collection already, so either one was readily available.  The action figure version does offer more detail.  However I decided to go with the LEGO version as I was not sure how plastic would hold up to being frozen.  I knew the LEGO plastic was pretty cold friendly, and if I was wrong was cheaper to replace.

So LEGO it was.

I put Cap face down in a 9x14" baking pan, weight it down (LEGO floats), then filled it with water.  I also filled a cookie sheet with water, and stuck both in my deep freezer.  A few hours later I had the base for my ice scene.

I then broke up some of the ice from Caps half, and made a wall of ice, and attached it to the cookie sheet using more water.  Back in the freezer for an hour, and I had a completed set.

I sprinkled on some baking powder onto the ice to give an arctic mix of ice and snow effect.  Then I set up a couple Lume Cubes to light the scene.

I had to work in 5 minute spurts to keep the ice from melting too much.  Pull out ice, add baking powder, refreeze.  Pull out, set up lights, refreeze. Pull out, take some shots, refreeze.   etc.  It actually only took a small handful of iterations to get a base image I liked.

Then I grabbed a couple polar bears from PixelSquid, comp'd them in, did some textures and other basic adjustments, and I had a completed piece.

If you are curious, the LEGO survived the freezing process just fine.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Round 25 Deep Dive: Hamburger

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

Word: Hamburger

As mentioned previously, food words don't spark much creativity in me.  I'd rather eat food than create art with it.  So as you can imagine it took some time to generate any ideas.

I finally stumbled on the idea of a monster type eating a burger. This led to thinking about the scene in Return of The Jedi where the Rancor ate a Gamorrean Guard - you know, those pig looking things.

So I had the idea of Rancor eating a hamburger with a Gamorrean Guard in the middle of a bun.  So I ordered one one each.  When they arrived I decided that the Gamorrean Guard in a bun idea was more of a hotdog thing.  So I decided to switch gears and have Rancor putting ketchup onto a real burger.

I built a set in my light box with sand for Rancor to live in, bought a Wendy's Junior cheeseburger, and set up the scene.  The ketchup on the burger is real, but the ketchup bottle is a composite, because of a scaling issue.

I wanted to add some drool to Rancor, cause he seems like the drooling type.  I recalled watching a documentary on Hollywood special effects several years ago.  In that documentary it mentioned that the slime on the Xenomorphs from Aliens was KY Jelly.  So I grabbed some KY, and applied it liberally (as one does) to the teeth of Rancor.   I waited for the jelly to start dripping, and when it looked right, I took my shot.

I regret not taking off the pickles.  Pickles are horrid.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Round 25 Deep Dive: Green and Yellow

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

Todays words are colours, green and yellow.

These are not the strongest images I created for the hunt, but they share the same concept, and that is the interesting part.

So for someone like me who shoots a lot of super hero action figures, the exact moment I saw "green" in the word list you can imagine my thoughts went immediately to the Incredible Hulk.  However I needed an idea of what Hulk could be doing.  Basically I had a noun, I needed a verb.

I spent some time (read: weeks) thinking about this using my various mind mapping techniques. While things were percolating in the dark recesses of my brain, I happened to watch Thor: Ragnarok.  In that movie Hulk fights Thor.  This sparked the idea that I could recreate an image where Hulk from Ragnarok could fight something.  I didn't want to use Thor, cause that has been done.

Then the idea of using Hulk Hogan sprung to mind.  I loved the idea of Hulk vs Hulk.  The pun is great.

Hogan also traditionally wears yellow, so I decided to use the same concept for both yellow and green.  Green would be Hulk v Hulk from the perspective of the Incredible Hulk.  Yellow would be Hulk v Hulk from the perspective of Hulk Hogan. (as a bonus, this maximizes the investment required to get my hands on a Hulk Hogan action figure).

For a setting I decided to set it in the same arena from the film.  Literally.  I used screen grabs from the relevant scenes from the movie, cloned out Thor and Hulk, then added in pics I took of the Hulks.



I also bought a folding chair, as pro wrestlers use them as their weapons of choice, and composited into Hogans hands.

I think these were marginally successful images, but if I was going to shoot them again, I would open up the depth of field so its more obvious that the "other" figure is also a Hulk.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Round 25 Deep Dive: Fire

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 fire. This is the shot:

Concept

The idea for this one came pretty easily:  a self portrait of Yours Truly (which, if you think about it, who else would be in a self portrait I created?) as a wizard type conjuring fire in my hand.

The idea is the easy part.  Actually doing it is something else.  That took a lot more time to figure out.

Making Fire

Since I wanted a fire ball in my hand, it logically follows that I needed a picture of a ball of fire.  It is a pretty easy recipe. 1) make a ball. 2) set it on fire. 3) take a picture.

This is the point where, if I had forethought, I'd show you a picture of the setup I used to capture a photo of a ball of flame.  However I lack forethought, so I'm going to force you to use your imagination.

I took a ball of cotton fabric, about 3-4" in diameter, mounted it on a 2ft wire, and set it up in the backyard.  I then waited for dark (which is the hardest part).  I had my camera on a tripod, with a fast shutter speed (1/1000), and a remote trigger.  Then I doused the ball in isopropyl alcohol, set it on fire, and clicked the shutter like a mad man.

My lovely wife helped,  especially by holding up a reflector to act as a wind break.

Eventually I ran out of alcohol, and switched to Zippo lighter fluid. The flames from the lighter fluid worked much better for my purposes.

After about 30 minutes of shooting, and many cycles of adding flammable liquids to a fabric ball and lighting it on fire, I got hundreds of shots, some of which showed promise for being useable. So I decided to call it an evening.

Also, I ran out of flammable liquids.

The cool thing is that after all that fire, the ball of fabric was barely singed.
So I went inside, ordered some more flammable liquids from Amazon, then looked thru the images I captured.  Indeed some looked promising. Mission accomplished.

The Selfie

The selfie was taken in my basement. I used black felt as a back drop, put on a leather top hat, steam punk goggles, and a lab coat (for which to make myself look more sciency-wizardy-quirky-dude-like), and posed myself dramatically.  To simulate the light from the flame I put a Lume Cube in my hand.

It only took a few tries to get something I could use.
Putting It All Together

All that remained is to take a select few fire shots and put them on my self image.  This was done with basic composite techniques, with special emphasis on bringing out the highlights, as fire is a harsh yellow light.

Now I can conjure fire in my bare hands.  I have proof.

In the real world I'm just a dude.  In Photoshop I am a wizard.  Wizards are cooler.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Round 25 Deep Dive: Button, Chocolate, Donut, Earring

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

Some are more complex than others, so today we'll cover several words at once.

Interestingly all of these words have something in common.  That thing being I had a lot of trouble coming up with an idea for every single one of them.  In some ways I still think I lack an idea for earring.

However I managed to overcome the lack of ideas using a couple different methods.

Word:  Button

Imitating previous art sometimes works to generate ideas.  I happened to own a life sized baby Groot, so I decided to take a page from a scene from Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2.   The scene where Groot presses the button on the bomb... you know the one.

Once I had the concept, it was a quick setup and shoot to come up with this image:

Word: Chocolate

Food items tend not to excite me creatively.  I'm more of a food eater than a food shooter.  As a result this was one of the last images I shot.

I have a trunk full of 6" action figures.  In search of ideas I was digging thru my collection, playing around with figures and accessories.  Sometimes just playing with figures, trying poses, and seeing how accessories look is a good way to generate ideas.

In this case I picked up Thors hammer,  and thought to myself that it could look like a chocolate bar. Then I thought I could show the hammer with a bite taken out of it, or something.  Playing around in Photoshop I eventually came across the idea that a lightning bolt would be the best effect.  Of course, lightning is powerful, and hot, so the chocolate would melt and splash. 

Word: Donut

More food.  Nerts!  This was one of those few times where my first concept was finished before ultimately being abandoned.  I started with the idea of using donuts as elements in a landscape, and adding in a subject.  I sacrificed a dozen donuts and came up with this:


I never did like this image.  It used donuts, but it doesn't really have a point beyond that.  It just never ended up tickling my fancy.  So I kept it as a backup, and kept looking.

Before this round of the hunt began I bought a 12" Iron Man figure, in his Mark 4 suit.  This is the suit from Iron Man 2.  In the movie Iron Man is shown eating donuts, while sitting in a giant donut.  The figure came with a donut and a box.

I decided that maybe I should try to recreate that shot.  However then I remembered that a Dunkin Donuts had opened up in town, and I could take a shot of Iron Man eating a donut in front of an actual donut shop, using forced perspective to make it look realistic.

So that is what I did. I grabbed my son and my wife and headed to the donut shop. My wife helped hold a Lume Cube to add in some fill light, and my son help clear some grass from my shot, and hold a reflector.

I set up Iron Man on a concrete parking stop, about 100ft away from the building.

The final shot required just minimal touch ups, adding the Dunkin logo to the box, and adding a texture overlay to match my preferred style.  Pretty easy, overall.

Word: Earring

Another word I had no attachment to, so ideas were hard to come by.  The only idea I could think of was taking a shot of an earring in an ear, but that seemed predictable and boring.  However as the deadline approached I had no other ideas so I went with a shot of an earring in an ear.  However, to keep the theme, I used toys, so I grabbed the only action figure I had with a well defined ear, Iron Man (same one as used for donut). 

I then used actual creative thought to determine what sort of earring Tony Stark would wear, and decided it should be an Avengers earring.  Lacking one, I created it using the 3D editor in Photoshop.

This is the final image.  It is my weakest one this round from a creativity perspective. It is, however, not the only time I would craft props using the 3D editor in Photoshop.

Next time I delve into a pair of images that share a concept, based on the colour words, so stay tuned.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Round 25 Deep Dive: Acorn

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 "Acorn"
The Concept

Ideas for some images come easy, some take a while.  This one sprung to mind almost immediately.

The idea is a riff on the Smurfs where magical creatures lived in large mushrooms.  My idea was to create a world where a druid type character would live in a house made out of an acorn.  I had in my head a vision of an acorn house on the left side of the screen, a druid character walking down a path from the house, and sunlight streaming thru overhead foliage.

The Location

The biggest issue I had with this concept is finding a background.  I didn't really have a good idea of where to get one.  This was my biggest obstacle for bringing this image to life, and the one I was most worried about locating during the hunt timeframe.

Shortly after the hunt began I went for a drive up to Mount Mitchell NC.  I went for a walk down the path and found some candidates for useful backgrounds.
Neither of these were perfect, but I was armed with Photoshop, so I could create my old world by combining these two images, like this:

The Subjects

I lacked an acorn, which seems pretty important for an image based on the word "acorn", but I am armed with stock photography, so getting an acorn was easy.   The acorn is actually a very small part of the image, and I am confident I could take an image of one if I had one, so this was a short cut I am happy to take.

The druid character was also tricky.  Since druids wear cloaks, I decided to use an Obi Wan Kenobi character and hope it didn't look too Star Wars, and more generic druid.  I shot him in my lightbox:
I knew I was going to add bright sun light from behind, so I was sure to add more back light using a Lume Cube to get that "glowing in the sun" effect.

Crafting The Image

Now that I had the main elements, I started putting it together, first by placing the acorn into the scene.
 I added a wood texture to the acorn to give it a constructed look.
 Then I added in the druid character.
As an afterthought I tossed in a couple deer into the background. These deer I happened to come across while on my way to Mount Mitchell, and had no intent of using them for the hunt, so calling them a happy coincidence.  I think it adds a little more to the image tho. 

Then I added in some bright sunlight in the background to give that "morning glow" feel.
 The missing piece was that I needed a door for the acorn house.  I plumbed the depths of my archive (thanks photos.google.com and your AI backed search engine!) and came across a fairy door image from Minneapolis I took back in 2012, so I added that to the acorn.
Then I added in the shadows to put everything into its proper place in the image, and the result is the final image: