Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Winging It: The Adventures Of Indiana Frog: Hollywood Magic?

This post is the finale of a series of posts that feature me winging the creation of a "round rock chasing Indy through the ancient temple access tunnel"diorama with which to make an image with my Kermit The Frog/Indiana Jones hybrid action figure. If you missed the action, you can start back on the first post.

I have no idea what I am doing, and no plan (just a finished shot in my head), but that didn't slow me down.

Whence last we spoke, I had put the finishing touches on the diorama. It looks like this:
To do the photography part of this I tossed it into my lightbox.  I do 90% of my toy photos in that lightbox, so I just assumed I'd be using it for the final image.  However as I was placing the diorama into the lightbox I had a panic moment.  I never actually measured the full length of the dioraama, and I wasn't sure it would fit.

Turns out it did - with several inches to spare. Tighter than I like, but its all I need - almost like I planned it that way (which at this point you should realize I absolutely didn't).  The rest is all basic toy photography - pose the figure, frame up the shot, and press the shutter.

After a few test shots I decided to add a light shining down on Kermit to get some highlights, and separation from the background.  I used a Lume Cube with barn doors attached, mounted on a pair of adjustable arms secured by a Platypod to provide this extra light.

To get a basic shot took maybe 10 minutes.  However I decided to add some motion to the shot by tossing in some dirt at Kermits feet at the last minute, giving (hopefully) the effect of him kicking up dirt as he ran from the Big Ball of Death.  

So I put my camera on high shutter mode, grabbed a remote shutter release, and tried to get my left hand (on the shutter release) and my right hand (throwing dirt), to coordinate enough to get the right about of flying dirt to be believable.  This took an extra 30 minutes and a couple hundred frames. (My left hand really doesn't know what my right hand is doing. I have proof).

These are a couple of the frames I grabbed.  Together they made the basis of the final shot:

Now to Photoshop! This is where the  Hollywood Magic really comes into play.  I didn't really do much I don't normally do when I process photos - crop in, remove the joints from the figure, colour correct etc. so I'll keep the remaining commentary to what I needed to adjust to make the diorama work in the shot.

Fortunately it wasn't a lot.  Aside from cropping and a slight straighten, I filled in some places near the top where the light leaked in (you can see one obvious one to the left of the ball at the very top of the frame).  I also removed a vine near his right knee, and one of the hanging vines on the right of the frame.  This is mainly due to them being a bit distracting in the final image.  

The final shot in all its glory, looks like this:

Personally I think the shot is a massive success.  I am super pleased with how it turned out.

Thinking back on the process, I am not entirely sure I would have done much differently.  I mean, there are a dozen and a half things I would change if this was going to be a display piece.  I would have adjusted the vines I removed in Photoshop on the actual diorama, to give one obvious example.  However this isn't meant to be a display piece (which is good, as I don't have a place to display it anyway).  It was intended for the sole purpose of giving me the tools to create an image - to scratch a creative itch, as they say.  In that it worked out well.

Now, what should I make next?