Photographing a modular building

I love LEGO’s modular building series. But while they’re among my favorite sets, I had never photographed any. They’re great sets to build and look great in Beastburg, my own LEGO city. As an outdoor photographer though, they’re not what usually inspires me to photograph.

However, I didn’t buy the two previous modulars, the Diner, and the Garage. I initially wanted to as they look beautiful, but I ended up making the decision of skipping them. The main reason being that the style is quite different than the previous buildings I own, and thus they wouldn’t fit that well together. (And then there was the other problem that my city would eventually be full…)

But when I saw the first images of this year’s modular, 10270 Bookshop, I knew I’d have to get it. And then it happened that we’d get one for review from LEGO. The idea of challenging myself with photographing yet another type of large LEGO set was planted in my head.

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Winter Holidays at the Elven School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Over a week ago, I noticed it was already February and that the Winter Holidays (and 2019) were already far behind us now… Yet I still haven’t written about the photo project, centered around the 2019 LEGO Harry Potter Advent Calendar, that kept me busy in December.

Without any doubts, this calendar was for me the best LEGO ever made. Not a single gift felt unnecessary, uninteresting, too simplistic or lacking details. Maybe this was because of the novelty and maybe the next one (assuming we will get another HP calendar) will feel repetitive like the other Star Wars or City calendars. Yet, I loved it so much that I don’t care if Christmas is long gone and I can’t wait until next year to write about my little HP/Elves cross-over project.

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Collectible Minifigures Series 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 37 – Nicole Kidman

This week’s human being of SiPgoes53 is Nicole Kidman.

This week I realized how much time has passed since we came up with our list of human beings. To be honest, I couldn’t really remember for which reason we chose her.

Without a doubt, Nicole Kidman is an iconic Hollywood actress… But trying to think about photo ideas, my memory failed me. I had a hard time remembering in which movie she played in, despite a rather long list of movie appearance on Wikipedia. I could remember her in Betwitched (in my opinion, a quite forgettable movie) and as the bad gal in Paddington (that one I can warmly recommend). And of course Moulin Rouge.

So my idea for this week was to have my little Elves open a cabaret in the forest and start dancing cancan… But somehow, no matter how much they tried, it seems no minidoll could figure out how to do it.

No cancan for Aria but at least she found the proper clothes for dancing. Now she needs to figure out how to move her legs…

The Elves’ Treehouse

Last month, I got the chance to take part in a photo collaboration with LEGO on the new LEGO Ideas Treehouse. Thus, I got the opportunity to build and photograph this beauty before it was publicly unveiled. And it ended up being quite a surprise. (That said, it wasn’t the total surprise I was excepting. Like most people, I saw the leaked images that were circulating online while the set was on its way to Finland.)

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Photographing large toys – part 1

I’ve always felt quite uncomfortable when I have to photograph relatively large toys. I’m used to photographing minifig-size toys and when I need to move to a larger scale, I usually struggle. It’s completely out of my comfort zone. Bokeh is an important element of my photography and with a larger scale, it gets more difficult to rely on it. As an outdoor toy photographer, another challenge with large LEGO sets is transport.

For over a year now, I’ve been forcing myself to photograph larger toys, mostly complete LEGO sets and builds. My main goal has been to have photos of the entire build, not some close-up shot of details. (I consider close-ups as cheating as it would amount to going back inside the comfort zone.)

In this two-part blog post series, I want to look back at how I practiced photographing larger toys, in particular, large LEGO builds. Today, I will talk about how I rehearsed and trained myself. This will lead to talking next week about the story of how I ended up photographing the Disney Castle as the Ultimate Challenge. and what I learned along the way.

(And maybe there will be a third part later after receiving the new LEGO Dino…)

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Toy Photography Rembrandt Lighting

On Monday I mentioned Rembrandt lighting as one of the characteristics of Annie Leibovitz photographic style. Following that, I felt the need to play with toys and lights… at home. Something unusual for me who mostly plays outside.

Just out of curiosity, I wanted to see how easy (or difficult) it was to get something close to Rembrandt lighting with toys, and in particular with LEGO Minifigs.

Rembrandt lighting

A Rembrandt lighting is a technique used in portrait photography that imitates the lighting style of Dutch painter Rembrandt. One characteristic of many of Rembrandt’s paintings is the specific use of low-key light creating a shadow shaped like a triangle below one of the eyes of the subject. The goal is to create interesting shadows and lights driving the eyes of the viewer through the frame.

Self-Portrait of Rembrandt (1658)

In photography, this is usually achieved by placing the main source of light above the subject at a 45° angle.

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Week 3 – Charles Darwin

This week, our human being is the father of biological evolution, Charles Darwin. Originally a naturalist and geologist, his famous voyage around the world in the 1830s led him to make observations. As a result, he noticed differences between species and varieties of living organisms and fossils. These observations led him to conceptualize natural selection as the mechanism responsible for biological evolution. Moreover, it led him to believe that all living organisms descend from a common ancestor.

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The Elves are going 53

At the end of 2018, while I was about to complete #SiPgoes52, I was already looking to what was coming next. As soon as we started to discuss #SiPgoes53, I was excited. But at the same time, after putting so much effort in #SiPgoes52 during 2018, I didn’t know whether I could do it again for a whole year.

Like last year, I wouldn’t be home during the holiday season, and defining a project revolving around a rather specific idea (like Julien did) wasn’t really an option as I wouldn’t have time, energy, motivation and/or inspiration for taking new photos.

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Week 2 – Cleopatra

For this second week of #SiPgoes53, our human being is the oldest woman of our list.

Cleopatra

Descendant of Ptolemy I, a general of Alexander the Great,
Cleopatr
a was the last Greek ruler of Egypt. She is also the first member of the Ptolemy dynasty to have learned the Egyptian language. She is famous for having had an affair first with Julius Caesar, and then Marcus Antonius. In addition, Caesarion, the son she had with Caesar, was the last pharaoh of Egypt. Following her suicide (with a snake), Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire.

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