Adventures with the Land Rover

When I found out I had the chance to shoot this iconic vehicle, I couldn’t wait to get out in the local streams and woods where I thought this set would be right at home, but first I faced a bigger challenge, building the Set. With it being a Technic set I knew I had a big job on my hands but I took my time and built it over 4 evenings so not to lose what is ultimately the point with any set, the enjoyment of the build.

What stood out from a lot of other technic sets was the realistic look of the vehicle. It seemed very photogenic and rugged just like the real thing. The amazing innards of the vehicle are probably lost on a lot of people but the suspension and gears are a wonder of modern Lego design.

When I came to shooting I was faced with my usual dilemma how to transport the set and keep clean and in one piece. I had to get the set to my selected location without losing half the pieces so I opted for the bulky but secure enormous plastic box. Having to walk to the secluded location took it out on my arms and back but there’s alway a few awkward steps when doing something you love.

The early Monday morning clouds had given way to a clear sky but my preferred favourite spot in a shallow stream had become a raging torrent due to the usual seasonal weather conditions in the North West of England. But I had my heart set on this location so had too improvise. Luckily I had worn my Wellington boots so I trawled the steam for pebbles and rocks and built a platform for the Land Rover to sit on set just below the surface of the water. I had to take extra care not too lose any pieces of they’d be lost forever. Somewhere downstream.

The bright sun was presenting some harsh shadows but also some interesting shafts of light through the overhanging tree branches. These were enhanced with the help of some Atmosphere Aerosol smoke and I managed to capture some satisfactory shots before the clouds rolled back in for what was to be another wet day.

All that was left to do was to take the set and trudge back to safety (before I ended up with a soaking wet Land Rover) and spend the afternoon editing my images down to a handful of ‘keepers’.

Week 42 – Alfred Hitchcock

Many consider Alfred Hitchcock among the best and most influential filmmakers in history. If you’d ask me, I’d say he was the best. And it all boils down to one movie: The Birds.

The Scariest Movie of all Time

I haven’t seen a lot of Hitchcock’s films. Only the most famous ones: Vertigo, Psycho, Read Window, The Birds, and potentially North by Northwest. (I’m not really sure about the last one). I saw The Birds for the first time around 10 years ago. Since then, I’ve considered it as the scariest movie of all time.

As a kid, I’ve been used to watch horror movies from a quite young age, thanks to a father who has always been obsessed with horror. Contrarily to my brother, I never caught that same horror movie obsession. Maybe this is because I’ve been exposed from a young age to the horror genre and been explained I shouldn’t be afraid because it’s not real. Thus, I find most well-known horror movies to be frankly quite boring, very cliché, predictable and mostly… NOT scary. There are a few exceptions, but they are rare.

Why I think that Hitchcock and The Birds are the Best

The Birds is one of those exceptions. Watching the movie itself is not really scary. In many ways, the movie hasn’t aged well. One could easily argue that it’s a relatively slow and boring movie, with outdated visual effects, uninteresting characters and a scenario filled with plot holes. But there’s one thing that “The Birds” does better than any other movie I’ve ever seen: it builds tension to a point where it leaves you with a fear of birds.

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Collectible Minifigures Seris 19 and Minidolls

It’s been already a month that the new CMF series has been officially out (and more unofficially)… Yet it seems like yesterday to me.

Because Boris received the box of minifigs late, we decided to not proceed with our usual crowd review of the series. Still, Boris asked if one of us wanted a full series to review.

My first reaction was “no”. From the images available online, I wasn’t particularly excited about this series. There were a couple of cool minifigs I wanted, but I wasn’t feeling like photographing the 16 minifigures. To me, the series was too focused on new accessories and some of the minifigures were rather “meh” once the accessories removed.

But then I thought… What about focusing on these new accessories and see how many of them I can reuse for my LEGO Elves photography? So I ended up saying yes. But somehow it still took a full month. First the Swedish or Finnish (or both?) has been slow. Then I got on the same day the Gingerbread House which got prioritized. And then it took longer than I expected to gather all the photos I wanted and come up with a (rather lengthy) blog post.

In this (rather late) review of series 19, I will focus on the accessories that inspired me for my LEGO Elves photography, and more generally to use with Minidolls. There are however quite many accessories I didn’t use. These include generic accessories that didn’t spark a flame, new ones I didn’t care about, new ones I like but don’t fit my Elves, and most animals as they actually don’t need to be used alongside another figure.

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Week 41 – Jane Goodall

For this week of SiPgoes53, our human being is Jane Goodall. She’s probably the most famous primatologist.

She is most well-known for observing the social and family life of chimpanzees and noticing that like human beings, they are able to have individual personalities and emotions. As SiPgoes53 is about humanity, Jane Goodall is an important reminder that what we consider as human behavior can also be found among other animals. In particular with chimpanzees, she also found out that they were able to make tools. This was revolutionary as at that time, the ability to produce tools was used as a separation between humans and animals.

For this week, my little Elves are playing dragonologists. Or is it the dragon playing Elvologist?

SiP Card Exchange 2019

Summer is reaching an end in the Northern Hemisphere. Here in the North, temperatures are dropping and the days are getting shorter fast. Last week, the first snow fell in Northern Lapland, and with a bit of luck, the first snowfall could happen in less than a month here in Oulu…

I’m thrilled and excited at the idea of winter coming. It’s for me the start of the toy photography season. I recently ordered a pair of photography gloves for winter and now I’m left waiting for winter to come so I can try them.

I’m also excited about winter because it’s going to be time for our now traditional card exchange. It’s a precious experience to spend time making a photo, printing it and sending it. And then receiving cards from all around the world.

So to occupy myself while waiting for the snow, I decided to already start with the preparation for this year’s card exchange. While there is still plenty of time, I decided to make this post so those who are as excited as I am can already register and start thinking about the photo for their card.

Gingermamma and Gingerpappa are waiting for this year’s card exchange while enjoying a subset of the cards we received last year from Natasja, Stacy, Caro and Mathieu, Elena, Bennett, and Sacha.
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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.
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The Gingerbread House

A few weeks ago, Boris told me about the opportunity to review a LEGO Creator Expert set part of the Amusement Park series. I was a bit surprised as these used to be released in spring, and after the Roller Coaster, I wasn’t expecting something else in that series.

Nevertheless, I decided to accept the challenge. I had no idea what the set was, and was afraid it would be another set too big to easily transport outside. But I thought that if that was the case, then it would force me to take some indoor studio photos for a change.

Fast forward one or two weeks later, I get a shipping notification from our friends at LEGO. Two hours later, once back from work, I see on multiple LEGO news websites the official announcement for the new Creator gingerbread house. So it meant the set that had just been shipped from Billund was actually the gingerbread house.

I was partly disappointed (no new amusement ride for my city) and partly relieved (no struggle finding a place a place for it in the city). I was also partly excited (winter is coming!) and partly scared… It will take a few weeks before the first snow comes here in the North. This meant I had no choice and would have to put my (rusty) indoor photography skills to the test.

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Disney train station review

This summer I received the new Disney train station set to photograph from our friends at LEGO.

It took me more than 6 hours to build it and it was such a pleasure! As you may know, I’m not an AFOL (I’m more into skeleton toys) but I must admit that building a big LEGO set is something. One brick with another brick, with another brick and suddenly there is a wall, and then a complete floor! Yes, that was a nice building experience.

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Willhelm Röntgen

Willhelm Röntgen, also known as Conrad to his friends, is the german inventor and Nobel Prize winner of my wife’s camera of choice. She (my wife, not Conrad) is a professional studio photographer working with kids, and so when we were looking at great scientists and inventors to include in our SiPgoes53 series, Willhelm went straight to the shortlist. Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, the inventor of the X-Ray camera and inspiration to the 111th element, roentgenium.

There are many other interesting pieces in Willhelm’s life that can inspire you in this week’s episode of SiPgoes53. From being falsely accused and expelled from high school in Utrecht without a diploma, over a marriage of true love to being a big believer of free and open source research without patents.
My inspiration in Wilhelm story is my wife the unknown.
The hidden message.
The image that is hidden from one’s eye.
The limitations overcome.

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Photomarathon in Brno

It was the 15th of June, around 32°C in the shade in Brno. I was walking in the city center and searching for ideas and photos during a photomarathon.

What is a photomarathon?

This one was organized by Zoner Press, which is a publishing house. In the morning, they drew 5 words, which the participants should photograph in 5 hours in the order they were drawn. The words were emotion, game/play, color contrast, zebra and drought/dryness. (It’s a bit complicated to translate because of the possible wordplay in Czech.)

Before the time ran out, the participants were supposed to bring their SD card that contained only the correct photos in the correct order, a photo of their registration card in JPEG format and nothing else. The photos could be edited only in camera.

The idea is to make the process as simple as possible, photography in its “purest form”. The photos then were rated based on the correspondence to the word, imaginativeness/resourcefulness, originality, technical quality. They are rated by a jury. I have no idea how many people were part of the jury or who they were. It was at least the two organizers that I met on the site, but also some that rated remotely, from what the present organizers said.

My registration card which was supposed to be the first photo of the day

Photo Ideas

I was thinking about doing the photos one at a time and only start thinking about the next one after I finish the current one. But I feared that I wouldn’t have enough ideas and will get stuck on a word. So first I sat down on a bench to think about it and take some notes.

Emotion

For the first word, emotion, I was thinking about maybe happy? Or sad? Is love an emotion? Maybe a minifig with some emotional face? And I thought then – wedding!

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