Friday, December 31, 2021
Good by 2021
I managed to leave it financially sound due to a day job that allows working from home. My family is healthy, and aside from a brief stint with my daughter getting a mild COVID case, I can say we're officially doing OK. OK is pretty damn good during the middle of a pandemic thats killed millions.
I'll take it.
However, I'm still going to toss up a middle finger to the year that was. Here's to you 2021!
Saturday, November 27, 2021
Making the Gandalf Shot
Part 2: Making a Gandalf shot I scouted in the previous video.
Friday, November 26, 2021
Planning A Gandalf shot
If you ever wondered what my thought process is when planning a toy photo, this is the video for you.
Building a Gundam
My latest video is up. In this one I build a cool robot model because... cool robot!
Thursday, October 28, 2021
New Video: Blade Diorama
My latest video is up. This time I make a gothic style diorama to host a 3D printed Blade. I also learn something about my motivations along the way.
Monday, October 11, 2021
Video: Shooting Mandos
My latest video is up! Come behind the scenes of my recent shoot with the Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club. Along the way get some advice on how to make the most of things if you suddenly find yourself in a photoshoot with talented cosplayers.
Monday, October 04, 2021
On Saturday I drive to Winston-Salem to hang out with a camera club and shoot some Mandalorian cosplayers.
I've only managed to process one image so far, but it looks pretty dang epic!
I got more images to come, so stay tuned!
Friday, September 24, 2021
I took a mental health day from work. I ended up running a new electrical circuit in my basement to provide more lights, and put a power socket near the location where my new 3D printer is going to live (oh, I also bought a new 3D printer - more on that later).
I've helped others run circuits before, and I've swapped out a light socket or two, but this is the first time I have done an entire circuit by myself. It all went smooth (except apparently there are at least 3 types of breakers, made by different companies, that all look remarkably alike, but are not compatible - so a big screw you to the breaker panel people - take a memo: standards are good and you should try them... but anyways...).
I ordered new LED panel lights to go into the sockets, which are perfect for maker spaces. The arrive on Saturday.
Feels good to have made significant improvements to my studio. Almost adult like, but I am against adulting...adultering? Adultery? Defintely against adultery - but I do like moar power!
Monday, September 20, 2021
New Video: Fixing the Marvel Legends Hulkbuster
In my latest video I took one of the worst looking Marvel Legends figures and turned it into something extraordinary, with nothing more than a few craft paints and a little bit of experience with a paint brush.
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
New Video: Darkwing Duck Diorama
This covers the process of how I turn some liquid resin and some left over foam bits and turn it into a Darkwing Duck diorama.
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
New Video: An Interview With Ron Clifford
Ron has been my mentor and a huge part of my creative journey. I got to head back home to Canada this summer, and while there I recorded a short interview with him. We discussed my journey, as well as what being a mentor means to him.
So check it out. You won't regret it.
Wednesday, September 01, 2021
New Video: Using Fake Blood in Toy Photography
Go behind the scenes of how I used fake blood to recreate this epic scene from The Falcon and Winter Soldier.
A year without Soda (Pop, that is).
About a year ago my wife and I decided to go on a bit of a diet. That included, for me, stopping drinking soft drinks, soda, pop, of any kind. We decided to go struct on the diet for 30 days to build a healthier habit, then let back in some of our favorite foods - cause whats life without your favourite foods once and a while?
It was mostly successful, until summer hit, and it all went out the window when the kids no longer had a schedule and our discipline went with it.. However one thing I didn't bring back was soft drinks. I did it simply because I didn't want the calories. I don't mind drinking water most of the time, so I went with that.
All this happened during the pandemic lock down, so it was easy to avoid my greatest temptation to drink soft drinks: watching movies in theatre. My greatest joy in the cinema experience is sitting in a dark theatre watching some action flick with a large popcorn and portable ocean of coke. This is where I confess that I did have soda 3 times in the past year. Two of those were when we rented out the local theatre for a private showing (Bill & Teds Excellent Adventure, and Jurassic Park) in October 2020. The third was when my wife accidentally ordered me a coke when we got takeout, and since it was New Years Eve I figured what the heck.
So my fear was when I got back to going to movies I'd slip back into drinking soft drinks again. However I've been a couple times now (Free Guy, both times - awesome movie!) and I was surprised to find I was just as happy drinking a bottle of water than a giant coke - I didn't even think twice about it.
So it seems like I can be off the soda bandwagon for good, and that will help, literally, my bottom line.
Monday, August 02, 2021
New YouTube Video: Making Walking Stick Props
My latest video is up! This one is about making walking sticks for action figures. It involves boiling water, fake leather, Dremels, and ink washes!
Monday, July 19, 2021
New YouTube video! Matching environments for composites.
It is here. Watch it, or not. I am a content creator, and not a good one. I am not a cop, so do as you will, but I think you should check it out just the same.
Sunday, July 11, 2021
Beginning my adventures in YouTube
A while ago I realized that I had built up a collection of cameras and microphones that I purchased on various whims that I wasn't really using. It seemed that I had everything I needed to record some of the adventures and creative processes that go on in my studio.
So, long story short, this is my first YouTube video about my creative processes. This one is about printing a 3D Deadpool mask and giving it glowing eyes.
Saturday, May 15, 2021
Photography Scavenger Hunt Round 31: Self Portrait
The 31st round of the Photography Scavenger Hunt is upon us. This is my entry for the word "self portrait"
I do a fair amount of self portraiture work, so this category should not be much of a problem for me. However my creative core crinkles when given an obvious direction, so I decided to do something a little different. It's not that I didn't want to do a self portrait (I did one for another shot this round, after all), but I wanted to be a little unique and outside-the-box-thinky. So I decided to turn the concept on its side a bit and show Deadpool taking his own photo, showing the back of his camera in the process.
I have a scale camera I could use, so my original thought was to simply pose Deadpool holding that camera. Then take another of Deadpool to show in the back screen. Composite the two together and I'd be done. Should take all of 40 minutes to knock this sucker out. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
So I set up the shot and...
... uh... crap.
Turns out the back of the toy camera looks like a dogs breakfast when up close. This will not do. No amount of Photoshop is gonna make that look good. This is what Micheal Jackson's plastic surgeon on the 8th nose-lift must have felt like... The best one could do is make him look like a slightly less creepy dancing pedophile. That doesn't fit my vision at all for this shot!
Time to switch some gears and do this in a triple layer composite.
I started by taking an unplanned photo of the back of my camera with my cell phone, like this one (but not exactly this one as I used a different one, but you get the idea):
Then I took a shot of Deadpool to show in the rear screen:
Then some composite time in Photoshop and I had this knocked out. Took more like 2 hours than 40 minutes, but I am pleased with the results:
Photography Scavenger Hunt Round 31: Fluffy
The 31st round of the Photography Scavenger Hunt is upon us. This is my entry for the word "Fluffy"
I had troubles thinking of ideas for fluffy, and as such it was the last shot I did for this round. The only idea I had was Deadpool slicing a stuffed toy. However I had a similar shot, much better executed, in this round already, so it seemed like a cop-out to do a second half-assed one (I prefer to use my whole ass for my work).
However, sometimes a cop-out is required to get a shot for the hunt, especially when one runs out of creative steam after a long, but fun-filled, hunt round.
I got a sack of toys from Good Will which contained a stuffed doll, and decapitated it - ya know, as one does.
I then set up the scene so Deadpool was swinging his katana at the doll.The doll has a wire shoved through it, and another wire holding the head up.
Thursday, May 13, 2021
Photography Scavenger Hunt Round 31: Teal
Teal is a colour. There is often a colour word in each round of the hunt, so I expected there to be one in this round. Teal, however, isn't exactly in my normal creative colour palette, so I had trouble coming up with ideas for it.
Tea was also a hunt word this round, and my only thought was "Teal is just tea with an L". This would become important when I was actually shooting my tea shot.
As I was shooting it, I thought I should just do the tea+l thing. The idea that came to mind was making a Mrs Nesbitt Tea logo that was painted onto a brick wall - think of those old Coke signs painted on ye-olde shoppes - and having a character spray painting on an L.
So as I was shooting my tea shot, I also posed Buzz Lightyear to look like a spokes-spaceman for Mrs Nesbitts Tea.
I then took that image and processed it to look like a logo that was painted onto a brick wall. Then I projected the image onto a TV screen and posed Deadpool with a spray can.
After that it was some basic comp work, and adding in some paint splatters. The final result is here.
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Photography Scavenger Hunt Round 31: Tiny Creatures
I had actually considered taking some BTS photos of the setup, but neither myself nor my wife can locate them, so they are lost to the void of history. So let me describe how I got this shot:
This is the result.
Photography Scavenger Hunt Round 31: Window
The 31st round of the Photography Scavenger Hunt is upon us. This is my entry for the word "Window"
Window. Its like a thing you can see out of... almost like a window to the soul, but not. So I decided to make a self portrait with a window to my soul....
I tried mocking up something, and immediately hated it. I mean, can you blame me?
So in desperation I looked up to the My Little Pony on my shelf (fun fact: first Christmas I shared with my now-wife, then girlfriend, she asked me what I wanted, and I said "a pony" so she got me a My Little Pony doll. I had no choice but to marry her after that) ... and inspiration struck.
My Little Ponies have designs on their asses - they call em cutie marks, I call em ass-tattoos. Throughout my brainstorming for window I kept getting flashbacks to my PTSD inducing IT days brought on by that damnable Windows OS. So doing the math: pony ass + logo == good enough!
And by definition good enough is good enough, so I grabbed the pony, took it outside and tossed it on a small concrete block retaining wall in my back yard, positioned it for the then setting sun, and started shooting.
One of the straight-from-camera shots looks like this:
I tossed a Windows 2000 logo on its ass, and called it a day. This is what I submitted to the hunt:
Monday, May 10, 2021
Photography Scavenger Hunt Round 31: Tea
The 31st round of the Photography Scavenger Hunt is upon us. This is my entry for the word "Tea"
Tea: It is a nice drink. One I even enjoy on occasion. However it may be one of the least inspiring words I've seen in a long while. One might say it isn't my cup of tea (hey-ooo!)
However my wife had an idea for a shot a long time ago that we never got around to shooting. She wanted me to recreate the scene from Toy Story where Buzz Lightyear attended the nieghbours girls tea party as Mrs. Nesbitt.
So I decided to do that. Now, because I am a complete and total professional at this blogging thing, and a consumate story teller, I completely forgot to take any behind-the-scenes shots for this.
However its pretty standard fair for my work these days. My wife, the uber-quiltress, made an apron for me. She also let me use a tea set she has sitting around . I 3D printed a hat, made some scale furniture out of XPS foam and craft paint that I painted the pinkest pink I could, and set everything up.
The hardest part was removing Buzz's arm.
It's a pretty basic shot overall.
Sunday, May 09, 2021
Photography Scavenger Hunt Round 31: Sparkle
The 31st round of the Photography Scavenger Hunt is upon us. This is my entry for the word "Sparkle"
There are some words where ideas come fast and loose, and one is almost spoiled for choice. Others I have to fight tooth and nail to get even the faintest thread of an idea. Sparkle was the exact middle - no ideas at all until blind inspiration struck out of the blue.
So when I get a list of hunt words one of the first things I do is write them in a notebook, and then I write some first thoughts associated words beside them. This helps spark my creative flow. For example, this is my notebook for Ink:
So much to work with there, eh?
"Nerts!" I said to myself, and I grabbed my headphones and went for a walk.
I am not sure if it was the muses shining on me or the music of choice or a combination of the two, but I got about half way down the path - right where the path bends to follow the river... you know the place, when the following thought came to mind. "Tinkerbell has sparkles! I bet Tinkerbell could become a photo... but,I normally shoot Deadpool.... Tinkerbell... sparkles... shoot... Deadpool.... wouldn't it be great if Deadpool shot Tinkerbell and she exploded in a mass of sparkles?"
Then that became: "It *would* be *freakin' awesome* if Deadpool shot Tinkerbell and she exploded into a sparkle ball!" Then I started to laugh like a mad man. I literally LOL'd right there where the path bends to follow the river. When I laugh at an idea, I know it is a winner.
When I got back to my studio I hopped into Photoshop to play around to see if I could get a sparkle effect I was looking for.... turns out I could. So I took a shot of Deadpool to composite into the shot:
If that shot looks weird, its cause it is. I have been playing around with an idea I've had to shoot figures in front of a TV screen, with the background I plan on using projected behind them. This allows me to get scale, and more important, angles (light positioning, but also camera angles, and posing) correct for whatever I am going for. I then still comp out the character as normal, but this way I know the figure is correct for the background.
I comped it together, and I laughed again. I showed it to my wife, and she loved it. And the coup-de-grace - I showed it to my 7 year old daughter, expecting her to revolt and the idea of Tinkerbell exploding, but she literally doubled over laughing. Then she said something that makes me know she's my daughter - "Uh, Daddy... the wand is wrong."
I scoffed at that... then I did research, and dang it, she was right! So I changed the wand, polished things up, and came up with the final image that I submitted to the hunt.
BTW if you are wondering if Tinkerbell deserved it, I refer you to Peoples Exhibit A: https://peterpan.fandom.com/wiki/Tinker_Bell#Personality. In which you will find she attempted to murder Wendy, and as an adult fairy has dubious intentions towards the minor, Peter. She is one naughty pixie.
Saturday, May 08, 2021
Photography Scavenger Hunt Round 31: Float
The 31st round of the Photography Scavenger Hunt is upon us. This is my entry for the word "Float"
I knew pretty much right away that I wanted to have Deadpool floating in a pool of some sort. I just didn't know how to do it.
I googled doll sized pool floats and was pleasantly surprised to find that, not only do these things exist in the scale I needed (1/6 scale), but there were tons of options at reasonable prices. Turns out they are also used as floating drink holders. I picked a pack that looked the most like what Deadpool would want, and two-day shipped those suckers post haste!
There is a pond in a walking park near my house that I thought would be perfect for this sort of floaty scenery. I took this photo on a scouting mission:
Before I sent my $200 Deadpool figure floating across a pond, I wanted some assurance I'd get him back in once piece. So I tied some fishing line to the float so I could hold on to him from the shoreline.
I packed up, retreated, and bided my time.
[not pictured: me biding my time]
As Hamilton once sang "I'm not gonna miss my shot." (also "Holy shit, Burr shot me!"- Hamilton is one crazy mofo)
I was in the park taking my daily walk a week later and noticed the pond was much clearer, so I grabbed my wife again and rushed over. This time things were almost perfect.
I got my shot...
Friday, May 07, 2021
Photography Scavenger Hunt Round 31: Fairy Tale
The 31st round of the Photography Scavenger Hunt is upon us. This is my BTS for the word "Fairy Tale."
When I first saw this word I knew I was able to come up with something. There are so many fairy tales, and so many takes on them, both modern and ancient, that something had to stick. However the problem with things like this is that one gets spoiled with choice, and settling on a single concept is harder than it seems.
I was searching the Internet one evening looking for models to print with my 3D printer. I came across a rather detailed model of Pinocchio, that plucky puppet with a heart of gold and a nose for the lack of truth. I decided I'd grab the model and print him off as he seemed like a decent fit for the category of "fairy tale".
[not pictured: Pinocchio being printed on my 3D printer]
I still needed to put Pinocchio into a scene. I've never really watched the movie (just enough to know it gets *really* dark and an LSD trippy half way through). But the scene that comes to mind is Geppetto making the damnable psycho-puppet in his workshop.
I decided to use Deadpool as a Geppetto stand-in, cause, you know... Deadpool.
Of course Deadpool isn't going to paint up a puppet as a normal version so I decided to make a Deadpool painting a Deadpool puppet. The model has Pinocchio wearing a hat, but I decided to cut it off, and use some wood putty to recreate the top of his head (including that thing that sticks out the back of his mask)
I needed some props for the workshop, so I made a work bench (the one Pinocchio-pool is lying on above) out of XPS foam. I also printed some tools on the 3D printer, then painted them all up.
Then I set up the scene, using the same brick wall from "ink", and a Lume Cube panel for light. I decided to use the Wade Wilson head for Deadpool, as its hard to see out of those masks, and he is doing some detailed work.
Thursday, May 06, 2021
Photography Scavenger Hunt Round 31: Ink
When I started brainstorming words around ink I quickly settled on the idea of an old-timey writing... thing... of some kind. An old quill writing on a scroll, or something similar. I couldn't really nail down exactly what I had in mind. That is until the COVID gods smiled upon me.
Almost 2 years ago I ordered a Gandalf 12" figure. It was delayed at first by normal reasons (as top end figures often are), but then it was delayed again by COVID-19 and its horrible effects on global commerce, especially from China.
This figure is pretty dang detailed. Real hair, detailed props, real material on the robes, cloak, and hat... even the eyes moved. The eyes were posable! I mean, damn.
|Image from Asmus Toys|
A week into the hunt I was notified that this amazing Gandalf was finally shipping. When it arrived a few days later it did not disappoint. It was everything an action figure photography nerd ever wanted in a model of one of the most interesting characters from the fantasy realm.
The first thing I did was write out a scroll. I wanted it to be a mix of modern and ancient so I made two scrolls - one was a fake click-bait article on the best inks, and the other was an old-timey story - in fact it was just the first few sentences from The Hobbit, in a Lord Of The Rings font.
I cut up the printed paper into scroll sized bits. Then brewed a strong batch of tea (Earl Grey, if you must know). Then I soaked the paper in the tea, laid it out on a baking sheet, and dried it in the oven (240f, 5-10 minutes until golden brown).
If you are wondering what that click-bait article said, here is the full text:
10 Best Inks For Wizards That Will Surprise You
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
Combating the Pandemic with Homemade Hockey Boards
I have been locked down now for almost 11 months. This means that my normal exercise regime of biking to/from work vanished behind a double layer fabric COVID mask. So I have been looking for other ways to stay active - partly for physical health, partly for emotional health, and partly to stave off boredom.
For a lot of lockdown I've been less than 100% mobile. First was recovering from a mess of broken toes, then I wrenched my knee, and recently I wrenched my back. Basically a lot of things kept me from going for bike rides, and generally moving muscles, making seretonin, and burning calories.
In the past few months I have started walking around my property, logging a couple miles each day. I also got a punching bag, which I mounted under our new porch outside, to get some upper body workout.
I was looking for some other activity I could do outside, but not leave my property. Then I remembered I had some hockey equipment, and a brand new concrete patio. So I got out the stick and a road hockey ball, and started taking shots against the retaining wall and fence that runs along side the patio.
It was actually a good bit of fun, but there is a problem. I spent way to much time chasing the ball around my yard. Its hard to spot if you're the Vancouver Canucks defense, but for the rest of us, there is a glaring issue with this setup with respect to hockey. My fence is my goalie, and it has a five hole a mile wide.
(yes, I know the five hole is actually between the goalies pads, but its funnier this way, so work with me on this one).
Clearly this needed to be fixed. Putting up boards is the obvious solution, but I didn't want anything permanent, nor did I want to spend a lot of time setting up and tearing down.
I looked around my house for resources I already had, and noticed I had a 4x8 sheet of foam board, and some 1x3 and 1x4 bits of lumber.
I did a test and the hole is 4x7 feet. So, perfect size. Another test showed that the 1x4s slip perfectly between the gaps in the fence posts.
So the solution is clear. I screwed the wood onto the foam board, and left a bit of overhang for the wood to slide into the fence post gap.
I tested it out, and now my fence/goalie stops "pucks" like the best of them. It is rather ugly (I never claimed to be good at building stuff) but it only needs to be up when I am using it, so the ugly is temporary (which pleased my wife to no end).
Best part, I can set it up and tear it down in seconds, and it fits easily into a storage area under the patio.
Now whenever I have a few minutes, say between work meetings, I can go outside and take some practice shots, and burn off a few more calories.
Just another lifestyle adaptation thrust upon me by the good people at COVID Incorporated.
Sunday, February 07, 2021
Photography Scavenger Hunt Round 30: Pantone Color Of The Year 2021
This is a behind the scenes of my "Pantone Color Of The Year 2021" shot for the 30th round of the Photography Scavenger Hunt.
This is one of the most unique "words" for any hunt I've been in. First of all Pantone had not even announced the color yet when the list was published. Second, when they did release it, they had two colors - a grey and a yellow. The hunt has had a colour almost every round, but never two in one category.
This was the first word I shot this round. In fact I had it completed within 24 hours of the list being published. A bit funny that it was the last one released this round, but thats how the cookie crumbles.
My ideas started floating around posters, and Bob Ross style paintings. I couldn't really nail it down in my head. Eventually I used the whole experience of how this "word" was revealed to me and put it into a picture. I imagined a scene where Pantone put a poster of 2020s colour (a blue shade) up on a wall, which faded over the year, and a new poster was being put up over top of it to announce 2021s colours.
I decided to keep the idea of Bob Ross putting the poster up. I imagined the poster to be large size, more like a small billboard. In one of the seasons of Bob's show The Joy Of Painting, the intro montage is Bob with a paint roller painting in a scene. I figured that paint roller may be a good way for him to be attaching the poster to the wall.
All I needed was a wall, a poster, a paint roller on a stick, and a Bob Ross.
Luckily I had an 8" Bob Ross figure in a box (doesn't everyone?) so I grabbed him from the shelf. I made two posters in Photoshop and printed them out at 8x10 on my printer. I then fashioned a Bob Ross sized paint roller out of wire, string, white felt, and a chop stick. Finally I made a wall out of a 16x20 piece of foam core, and some craft paint.
I glued the 2020 poster to the wall, and aged it up. I love aging things, and I enjoyed it much. I then glued the 2021 poster on top of it, leaving one corner unattached and curled.
After that it was a matter of setting it all up and shooting it. I used a Lume Cube mounted on a gooseneck attached to a Platypod to light the scene.
Post processing was a few simple textures to add a bit more character, and the result is what you see here.
Saturday, February 06, 2021
Photography Scavenger Hunt Round 30: Upside Down
This is a behind the scenes of my "upside down" shot for the 30th round of the Photography Scavenger Hunt.
Almost immediately I got stuck on the idea of Australia. I wanted to get a Crocodile Dundee figure standing on a globe, upside down. I lacked a Croc Dundee figure, and the ones that existed were way too expensive.
I went with my backup idea of dressing Deadpool up as someone from the outback. So I got him a hat, and a machete. Originally I carved a machete out of a piece of wood with a Dremel, but I didn't like how it turned out, so I 3D printed one instead.
Somewhere along the line I remembered that I've always wanted to recreate the Hamilton poster, but with Deadpool instead of Hamilton. Ya know, this poster:
To match this I posed Deadpool in a similar poste to Alexander Hamilton:
After that it was a decent amount of Photoshopping to merge the image with a star and textures to create the Hamilton look. Once I got it looking right proper side up, I flipped the whole thing... upside down.
One thing I couldn't decide on was whether to flip the text upside down or leave it upright. I finally asked an impartial person (my son) and. he thought the text should be right side up, so thats how I left it.
The final image is here: