SiPGoesVirtual 2020 – An Editorial Review

We were supposed to be in Tallinn. But this is 2020, and things just haven’t gone according to plan for anyone. And so a new plan was formulated. We were going online. 15 intrepid photographers forging on this strange world.

ShtacyP has participated in seven SiP Toy Safaris: Hamburg, London, Edinburgh, Paris, Billund, Cambridge, and now Digital!

The similarities between a physical and virtual safari

It was always going to be different from our regular toy safaris. No holding of reflectors or lights for other people. No print exchange. And no walking kilometre after kilometre to get to that next spot just 10 minutes away. But that doesn’t mean that there weren’t similarities.

We still had (relatively) early morning coffee-fuelled starts (just no scrabbling to find the nearest open Starbucks). We still had safari bingo cards (#WhereIsBoris). And we still got to hang out with old friends and connect with new ones. And amazingly, we were still able to share toys with each other.

The #RainbowPatrol, passing on their favourite things to friends across 3 different time zones.

The differences between a physical and virtual safari

For this online adventure to work we needed structure. In real life safaris, we will plan to go to different locations, but largely we’ll meander across town playing it by ear, and the photos we take will just kind of, happen. This time though we had been set a series of wonderful challenges by our fearless leaders.

We had photo prompts, narratives to create, and we worked all together, in breakout groups, and individually. Shooting against the clock, so that the newspapers (Planet and Prophet) could hit their print deadlines! To make our deliverables it meant thinking fast, communicating effectively, collaborating (all those good corporate words, right Ian?) It was at times a little frantic, sometimes stressful, but hey, we were playing with our toys, how stressed out could we really get?!

ShtacyP, known for her ability to spin a yarn and tell a story about the most inanimate of rocks, became Editor-in-Chief, wrangling the outputs of her wonderful team of photographers and reporters into coherent (if laughable) stories, worthy of being printed in one of the many publications ran by Green Lantern.

Taking photos

One of my favourite things about safaris is watching how people create their photos, and then seeing them post the photos weeks later and understanding the story of how that photo came to be, where the light was coming from, why the photographer was in that weird position on the floor.

But this time around, the structure meant that photos were produced, edited, and shared almost instantaneously. We could see each other’s photos as quickly as they could be uploaded onto Google Drive (not that any of us snooped in the other teams’ folders of course…).

This process wasn’t any worse, just different. It still worked as a learning experience. Webcams were often left on whilst artists snapped away just out of shot. Tricks and tips were still shared. As were screens: “Do you like this edit better, or this one?” Every day is a school day.

The goody bag

In preparation for the weekend’s activities we all (well, depending on your country’s postal service) received very special packages in the days before the safari. Cruelly though we had to wait to open them. Those packages sat in our offices, on our desks, hidden away in cupboards, just asking to be played with.

Temptations were successfully resisted and as soon as we were allowed to rip them open and reveal the secret contents of the bags, we were off into the first of our challenges! The goodies found inside gave us some common threads that would help us tell our stories. Plus, we had been given hints about what sorts of pieces would be appropriate to pack for the safari, things that would help draw our creative outputs together.

Assessment

By the time Sunday afternoon came around, we had completed all our challenges. We had written our stories, the personal ones, and the collective ones. We had created incredible things, photos, and memories. Things that will be immortalised in hardback, should we want a memento of this one-off event. Friendships begun and firmly cemented, we logged off of the meeting, so that we could rest in preparation for our next viral marketing campaign.

Taking it easy like a Sunday afternoon after a toy safari.

As far as I am concerned the #SiPGoesVirtual2020 weekend was a resounding success. Whilst we couldn’t explore the cobbled streets in the medieval Old Town of Tallinn I think we achieved all the things I’ve come to expect as a toy safari veteran. We took photos of toys, we hung out with friends, and we had fun. Isn’t that what it’s all about?!

The Mt Clutchmore Winter Classic

I’m sure like me you were all glued to your TV sets this weekend watching the sporting event of the year, right?

What do you mean you’ve never heard of the Mt Clutchmore Winter Classic?! It’s the most incredible show of athleticism in LEGO City! I was lucky enough to be there this year and I even paid for my own ticket this time (last time I got one for free!).

Continue reading “The Mt Clutchmore Winter Classic”

Getting ready for Xmas

Christmas is a magical time, even at Hogwarts. As soon as December comes around, The Great Hall transforms into a Winter Wonderland. But did you know that the annual display isn’t forged by magic?

Xtra to the rescue

Despite Hogwarts being the home of some of the world’s most skillful witches and wizards, they just can’t quite do Christmas like Muggles can. And that’s why the job of bringing the festive spirit to the castle is sub-contracted to Xtra, the Muggle-based decoration company (you may have seen their signage, botanical installments, or catering business before?)

Dumbledore and Hagrid welcome the Xtra team to Hogwarts. Two boats were just enough to transport all of their kits. But boy was it cold out on the Great Lake, beanie hats were a must!
Continue reading “Getting ready for Xmas”

LEGO for Science Communication

For this week’s SiP goes 53 we’re celebrating activist and Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. Her work promoting the education of girls in her native Pakistan got the SiP crew thinking, and though there are no claims of grandeur here, they very kindly thought of me.

Science communication

See, I too am an advocate for education for all, though working on a very different scale to the incredible Malala! I am a Geologist, currently studying for my Ph.D. and trying to understand how mountain ranges are built. One of the best bits about my work is being able to share my science with others, no matter who they are or how much they know about geology. Ask anyone who has been on a Toy Safari with me where there have been rocks! So in a bid to share the wonders of rocks, minerals and the natural world, I’ve combined three of my greatest passions together in a potent combination.

Science + LEGO + Photography = SCIENCE COMMUNICATION!

Me doing science communication, stood on a box in the middle of Milton Keynes shopping centre trying to tell as many people as I can why mountains are the coolest things on earth.
Continue reading “LEGO for Science Communication”

The test

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. After a pause, she opened her eyes and nervously took hold of the controls. She’d never driven until 6 days ago. What on earth was she doing in the cockpit of an RC Car taking her driver’s test?!

Trepidation.

Lego ShtacyP had never cared too much for cars. But sometimes in life you have to take opportunities when they arise. So when the chance to take a Fast-Track RC Driving Course came up, ShtacyP didn’t want to let it pass her by.

Continue reading “The test”

A trip to the market

You know how LEGO ShtacyP loves going for a photo walk down to the shops? (It’s funny, because actual Stacy P HATES going shopping…) Well, she was away on holiday recently, to a far and distant land, and she thought it would be interesting to go and have a look down at the local market. To experience the smells, the noise, the hustle, and bustle. It was a daunting sight, sure, but it wasn’t her first time in the marketplace

Continue reading “A trip to the market”

A walk down the high street

This blog post is part of a series about the new LEGO Movie 2 Collectible Minifigures Series. Thanks to the folks from LEGO for providing us a box of Minifigures that we sent to 9 creative toy photographers to review for the blog.

It was a typical Saturday. The sun was shining and LEGO ShtacyP had things to do. She hurried into town with a long list of errands to run. But she knew better than to head outside on a beautiful day without her camera. Afterall, you never know what sights you’re going to see in LEGO City…

There’s always a chance to practice your street photography when you’re down in LEGO City.

LEGO City was bustling as usual, but ShtacyP was able to get all of her jobs done pretty quickly. She got money out from the ATM, posted a letter, and grabbed a newspaper. That meant she had plenty of time to snap some candid shots of regular city residents going about their business.

Continue reading “A walk down the high street”

The mountains are calling and I must go

I see your number, 2786, Julien, and I raise you. 4200.

Ask any geologist and they will tell you the best bit about the job is the fieldwork. Being able to travel to far-flung places, ones that are often beautiful and extremely photogenic, in the pursuit of science and a deeper understanding of the earth we live on, that’s the reason I became a geologist. My PhD project involves looking at rocks in the mountains of the Himalaya, and last month I had the privilege of working in the majestic kingdom of Bhutan.

Don’t worry, there are lots of people who don’t know where Bhutan is!

Bhutan is a small country, about the size of Switzerland, at the eastern edge of the Himalayan mountain range. It is seen as many as an exclusive country to visit due to its expensive daily tourist tariff, which is hard to argue with. But once you are there you are treated to a country filled with culture, warm-hearted people, and stunning scenery. And my first thought when I found out I would be going there was of course, “What Lego Minifigures am I going to take?!” Continue reading “The mountains are calling and I must go”