Behind The Small Scenes From a Big Galaxy, Part 3

This is another post in the a ”Small Scenes from a Big Galaxy” series, where I take a closer look at a few of the photographs created exclusively for the book. This time it’s actually two photographs.

A few years ago I had my finger on the ”submit order” button on my web browser. Had I hit it I would have purchased the legendary Millennium Falcon UCS set from lego.com for 500€ on a free shipping weekend offer. I didn’t have the money and I didn’t dare to push my credit card any further. I thought I’d wait for better times. The UCS Falcon was discontinued shortly after that and the prices skyrocketed way out of my reach. I never bought one.

Typical.

A few months before I began photographing the extra material for my book I heard something unexpected from a guy I knew from our neighborhood: he said that he had the big Falcon among his collection of LEGO models. It was the most amazing thing! He was happy to show me his collection. Later, as I was well into the shoot, I rang his doorbell and asked whether he’d let me borrow the Falcon for some quick photos.

First, I was amazed by how ridiculously big this model is. Photographs don’t do it justice. At this stage of the project I really didn’t have a very big space to shoot it in, we were in the middle of house repairs (yet again) and there were cardboard boxes everywhere. Unfortunately, there would be no Tatooine or Hoth setups this time around. I decided to do something very simple instead; I put the model on black board and shot it in the dark with smoke blown on it from behind. I had an idea to show just a little bit of the model in an attempt to make it look even more massive than it is. Less is more. I borrowed the TED Treadwell droid from the Sandcrawler set and used the new Chewie mini figure to update the look. The story was as simple as the setup: it’s a photograph of a burnout, a potential malfunction during a quick startup, as mentioned by Han Solo in a scene where the Millennium Falcon escapes from the Echo Base in The Empire Strikes Back.

The Burnout

This image was also made as a sort of sister image to this one with Boba Fett.

After I completed this image I figured I’d have time for another photo, if I was real quick. I had an idea of a simple space dogfight with lasers, but as it turned out, I had a problem with the lasers. Fellow photographer Nilsøn Lewiński has made some really nice images with the same idea a little earlier and I struggled with that. I didn’t want to do the exact same image. In my head, Nilsøn owned the idea. So, I tried to deviate from that look by adding steeper lights and the reflections of the laser beams to the objects near its path

With this in mind, I placed the Falcon on a table, aimed a cool LED lamp on top of it, added a warm Maglite lamp to the quad guns simulating the laser reflections, and took a long exposure photo whilst ‘light painting’ the engine bay with another LED lamp. After I masked the table away and added a star field I had my base plate for the image. The three TIE fighters are separate exposures of the same model that were added in later. The TIE on the right has the laser reflection cast with the same Maglite lamp I used earlier. The next steps were to us Photoshop to add the laser beams, some motion blur and there you go!

The Millennium Falcon

Now, while I wanted to show more of the big Falcon, and this worked out nicely, I’m not entirely happy with this particular photo. The problem is that it’s the only photograph in the book that could be seen as something from the actual movies. This fits right in the sequence where the Millennium Falcon escapes the Death Star and gets a few TIE fighters to attack it on the way to freedom and subsequently Yavin. I don’t like that thought and I think that makes this photograph the least original in the book.

I may have to borrow the big Falcon again someday soon.

Of course LEGO, in its great wisdom, might decide to release another UCS Millennium Falcon (which I know, the collectors wouldn’t like because it would devalue their investment).  Maybe LEGO will release a TFA Falcon with the square antenna, or better yet, an Episode 8 Falcon, then there would be no problem with it overshadowing the original UCS set. Right?

I can only hope that on the day that such a set is released, I can find the money to buy it. With approximately 5000 bricks, I know it’s not going to be cheap.

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