There’s an added layer of respect when shooting someone’s shtick. Wanting to do them justice adds weight to the photography process. This added weight pushes beyond the normal process; it adds more, in a constructive way. It’s the burden of respect that adds another facet to the tribute that’s created; a homage to their shtick.
This invitation was the perfect opportunity to steal correctly and attempt someone’s shtick the right way.
After his invitiation, I was tempted to ask Vesa for some tips on creating snow. But you should never ask a magician how they perform their tricks! Or is it that you can ask, but a magician never reveals their secrets? Maybe it’s never look a gift magician in the mouth? It’s like looking for a magician’s secrets in a haystack?
I could talk about mixed metaphors until the cows turn blue in the face, but it did remind me of a quote by Dean Learner from Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace.
“An eagle-eyed viewer might be able to see the wires. A pedant might be able to see the wires. But I think if you’re looking at the wires you’re ignoring the story. If you go to a puppet show you can see the wires. But it’s about the puppets; it’s not about the string. If you go to a Punch & Judy show and you’re only watching the wires, you’re a freak.” ~ Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace
The Punch & Judy Show
So with Dean’s wise words in mind, I set out to ignore the wires and focus on the story. Well, I decided to discover my own wires and not ask the puppet master if he could lend me his.
In the past I’ve tried flour to replicate snow, but it always looked too dry and seemed to photograph with a yellowish tinge? Sure, that yellow could be corrected in post, but adding moisture? Nah!
In my search for wires I came across a few recipes for snow combining baking soda with shaving cream or hair conditioner. It’s hardly surprising that there wasn’t any shaving cream in my home, so I opted for hair conditioner.
That’s the trick, that’s the trick I can’t believe that you’re falling for it That’s the fear, feel it grow Shatters the ground as it comes from below Red Fang – Malverde
That’s The Trick
Starting with some baking soda in a bowl, I slowly added the conditioner (it MUST be white in colour!) mixing it until it became the consistency I was after. Amazingly, this Frankenstein snow was even cool to the touch!
After spooning the snow onto a plate, setting the Minifigures in position I gave the whole scene a light dusting of dry baking soda though a sieve, and voila!
The glowing jack-o-lantern required a little bit more work. I made a tube of silver cardboard, made a hole in an upturned plastic takeaway container, inserted the tube, and placed my phone with the flash/torch shining up the tube under the container. I then added the snow and placed the jack-o-lantern over the cardboard light tube.
Being invited to play in the snow by Vesa challenged me to not only create my own snow, but it also tested me in how I’d approach shooting an Avanaut-esque scene.
I decided not to set the wires just as he does. Actually, my puppet show was more finger-puppets than marionettes! I played in Avanaut’s wintry wonderland, my way.
But, isn’t that how a homage should be?
I’d like to credit Avanaut as the inspiration for these photos, and also thank him for inviting me to come and play in the snow with him. Thank you Vesa.
Have you ever shot someone’s shtick? What new tricks have you discovering whilst paying homage to someone?
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Toy photography yoga is a little know branch of the more common discipline of yoga. Toy photography yoga, like the other varieties of yoga, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, helps to promote physical and emotional well being.
noun | yo·ga |\ ˈyō-gə \
capitalized :a Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation
:a system of physical postures, breathing techniques, and sometimes meditation derived from Yoga but often practiced independently especially in Western cultures to promote physical and emotional well-being
We’ve talked about putting the fun back into toy photography, but did you know there’s also a health component to the practice of toy photography yoga? By practicing toy photography yoga on a regular basis you will exercise your body, practice breath control and achieve a sense of well being not found in traditional forms of yoga or photography.
To help you get your own toy photography yoga practice started, I’ve assembled a selection of basic positions. Please don’t feel intimidated by the following images; these are toy photography professionals and well versed in the art of toy photography yoga. With a little practice I’m sure you too will be able to achieve these feats of contortion.
First rule of toy photography yoga: it’s more fun when practiced with friends!
Seated Forward Bend
The Seated Forward Bend is a great position for the toy photographer who uses a mobile device for capturing images. With the legs in an outward position the photographer maintains a stable position while keeping the hands free. With the torso in an near upright position you’re able to maintain steady and controlled breathing. Th Seated Forward Bend is a great starting position for the beginning outdoor toy photographer. Even in a crowded situations, like this beach scene, you will be able to set up your photo without drawing attention to yourself. Thus avoiding unwanted conversations with strangers.
The Cobra Pose is a popular yoga pose amongst toy photographers. This requires the toy photographer to lay flat on the ground. This is a great position when you’re practicing on asphalt or concrete, but less comfortable in damp or uneven terrain. Notice the arms tight against the body for support and legs flared out for added stability. This is great position when you’re worried about precise focus and camera shake. With the upward bend of the back you’re able to stretch your abdomen and maintain maximum breath control. Maintaining a steady breathing pattern helps to reach a relaxed, zen like state; perfect when you want your photo to find you. While the Cobra Pose is a relatively comfortable position to maintain, its not an ideal position in crowed areas. The beginning outdoor toy photographer may feel self conscious in such a conspicuous position.
Reverse Corpse Pose
The Reverse Corpse Pose is perfect for the advanced toy photographer. As you can see this is a relatively easy pose to achieve once you decide you’re going to sacrifice all dignity and your clothes for the perfect photo. Simply lie on the ground, with your camera and face as near as possible, and start taking photos. The biggest drawback to this position is its lack of mobility. Make sure you’ve made all the necessary tweaks to your set up, because once you achieve the perfect pose, getting up can be difficult and awkward.
Much like the Reverse Corpse the Extended Sphinx is best practiced flat on the ground. The main difference between these two poses is the extended arms. By extending the camera full out in front of your body you can maximize the view on your camera’s screen. This is also a great position for the mobile phone photographer. By placing the camera directly on the ground, you can maintain maximum stability without using a tri-pod.
The full prone poses are great for getting the perfect photo. There is no substitute to getting low to the ground and capturing the world from your toys point of view. You can maintain stability by using your body as a tripod, exercise little used muscles and maintain a zen like calm with by breathing slowly and steadily. If you are going to practice any of these full contact positions, I would suggest you wear the appropriate clothing.
The Chair Pose is a classic position for the toy photographer. This position is easy to get into, relatively comfortable and most importantly, easy to get out of quickly. The Chair Pose, while a popular choice, requires you to place your toys on an elevated platform. Again, notice the legs are set apart to maintain stability. This is a great pose to exercise your gluteal muscles and practice that controlled breathing that is crucial to excellent toy photography results!
Partial Lunge PosE
The Partial Lunge Pose is a great pose to use when you need to get in and out quickly. With one knee on the ground and elbows stabilized on the raised knee, you maximize stability. These lightning fast situations need the extra stability to maintain focus. There is nothing more frustrating than having a quick photo and later looking at the results and finding you missed your focus!
Partial Lunge with a side Twist
The Partial Lunge with a Side Twist is a toy photography yoga position that can be useful in most outdoor situations. With only one knee on the ground you minimize your exposure to dirt, mud and water while maintaining a stable pose. By adding in a side twist you can contorted your body into the perfect position to capture either a horizontal or vertical image. The Partial Lunge with a Side Twist is considered an advanced pose. Please do not try this position until you’re comfortable with the basics of toy photography yoga.
The Cat Pose is another classic toy photography yoga pose. Unlike the Partial Lunge, the Cat Pose requires you to have both knees and elbows firmly planted on the ground. While this might seem like an easy and stable position, most toy photography practitioners can only stand a limited amount of time kneeling on hard and rough surfaces. If you enjoy the Cat Pose, you may want to invest in a set of knee pads or a gardening pad to save your knees and clothes. The Cat Pose is suitable for both DSLR and mobile photographers.
The Child’s Pose is a versatile position that can be practiced with one elbow or shoulder on the ground. Like the previously mentioned Cat Pose, you will want to have knee protection handy for this toy photography yoga pose. The Child’s Pose is relatively easy to get into and out of quickly. One advantage of this pose is that you free up one hand to hold a bounce card, tweak your figures or create practical effects.
Child’s Pose – twist Variation
The Child’s Pose is a classic toy photography yoga pose. It can be used in its most basic form, or you can add a simple twist for those hard to capture images. By adding the twist you can get your entire arm on the ground for greater stability. The more stable you can make your body, the more reliable your focus will be. I consider the Childs Pose with a Twist Variation to be an advanced move. Not only is this position hard on your body, it can be difficult to maintain slow, steady breathing.
Child’s Pose Rear View
Child’s Pose is great all around pose. Of course it does have its draw backs, the rear view is less than flattering. But what is a little public humiliation when you have a photograph to capture!
Child’s Pose is the most versatile toy photography yoga pose. It will work great when your toys are on the ground or on an elevated surface.
Side Angle Pose
The Side Angle Pose is an advanced position suitable for the toy photographer comfortable in any situation . Nothing says “I could care less what you think of me” than lying down in a public space, arms outstretched, taking a photo of toys. Not only is this a power position, you will achieve a much needed stretch after the contortions of the child’s pose.
Remember toy photography yoga is more fun with friends! You don’t have to practice similar poses; different situations will call for different solutions.
Extended Puppy Pose
Like the Side Angle Pose, the Extended Puppy Pose is not for the faint of heart. This advanced position is not particularly difficult but you will risk ridicule from both friends and strangers alike. While you might look ridiculous, the tripod nature of the position allows for great stability when attempting to capture a difficult photo.
The All In Pose
Like the Extended Puppy Pose, the All In Pose is a unusual position suitable for unique situations. You never know when you will need to climb into a cave, under a stump or down a hole. Going the extra mile can lead to extraordinary imagery or it will give your friends a good chuckle. Either way, a win in my book!
Toy photography yoga is great way to stay in shape, increase flexibility and help you capture the best toy photography you can. You will meld mind and spirit in your quest for the next great image. I hope you enjoyed this introduction to this fun and growing movement.
What’s your favorite position?
A special thank you to Dennis, Maëlick, Julien, Josh, Luigi and Leila for providing this wonderful images showcasing the variety of positions toy photography yoga experts can get themselves into.
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Things have been pretty heavy on the blog of late. There have been some meaty subjects to sink our teeth into, which is cool. But, as I vegetarian, I thought it time to step away from all this meaty content, and get back to my roots. Fun.
I started posting LEGO photos back in 2012, with simple photos accompanied by silly captions and puns. Scouring the interwebs for puns was the source of inspiration for my photos. If a pun made me giggle, I’d then create a LEGO version of it.
“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.” – Dr. Seuss
This was back in my early days on Instagram. It was before Instagram was flooded with users hell-bent on chasing numbers and fixated on follower counts. I think most of my early photos ended up in the feeds of 100 followers. But that was cool, I wasn’t doing it for numbers; I was doing it for fun.Continue reading Fundamentally Fun
When Shelly discussed her love of shooting in threes, I decided to take a look at my own catalog of images to see if there were similar patterns in my own work. Luckily, one quickly emerged: accessorizing.
Rather than bring together several elements to make a photo work, I sometimes like to add just a single accessory. These small but mighty pieces can carry the story all by themselves. Continue reading When in Doubt, Accessorize!
Three is a magic number… for me. Like the three legged stool, The Marx Brothers, The Three Musketeers, the three primary colors and the original Star Wars trilogy. I feel there is a special power to anything that come in threes. Not one, not two, not four and definitely not five – the magic number is three.
I believe in the power of three so much that I often photograph my mini figures in sets of three. I even collect major accessories in threes and I leave emoji comments on Instagram in threes. Continue reading Three is a Magic Number
“The world sure seems different from down here, doesn’t it, Scott?”
-Hank Pym, Ant-Man (2015)
I tend to spend a great bit of time and energy hunting new sources of inspiration for my photography. I do this by looking at other people’s photos, getting feedback from and interacting with my peers, or participating in challenges.
The easiest way to find inspiration is to simply add a new LEGO set, minifigure, or accessory to my collection. This usually leads to at least one new photo, or I get lucky and it opens up a whole new series for me to dive into. Continue reading A New Perspective
Attention to detail is what you do to avoid excessive amounts of post production and as much future image chasing as possible. While working on a macro scale, paying attention to the little details can make or break a photo. While I enjoy spend my photo adventures chasing “that” shot, occasionally, I do like to succeed. Usually I’m forced to ‘chase’ a photo not because I’m seeking the perfect light or location, but because I missed something important. I wasn’t paying attention to the details.
Sometimes I miss flotsam in the water or a bit of tack showing under a mini figures foot. At other times a leaf or blade of grass is a distraction in the frame. And that is just a few of the details that can escape the eye when photographing in the great outdoors. It is these little details that I need to be hyper aware of when setting up my scene. If I’m successful, I can save myself hours of post production work.
It’s now officially summer (at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere), and like Brett and Shelly before me, I’ve been inspired by the change of the season. However, the sunshine has taken me somewhere I wasn’t expecting it to…
Back into my studio.
That’s right. While the rain clouds that cover most of the Pacific Northwest have subsided and the world is in full bloom, I’ve actually opted to stay indoors to take my first summer photos, thanks to a new find on Amazon: fake grass! Continue reading The Great Indoors