Travels, temperatures, tones and toys

Over the holidays I loaded the car with the kids, clothes and toys and embarked on the 5 hour drive up north to visit my Mum. We left behind a morning of 20°C and drove north braced for temperatures over 40°C. I wasn’t ready for the tones that accompanied the heat.


The window to take photos of toys before the temperature passed the 30°C and beers by/in the pool beckoned was quite narrow. And by narrow, I mean barely ajar. The mornings were spent waking up, swimming in the pool to cool down, photographing toys in the gorgeous morning light, swimming, breakfast, swimming, swimming and swimming.

Travels, temperatures, tones and toys


One thing that struck me about taking photos of toys in such a hot environment was the tones of the photos. It was as if the extreme heat somehow made it through the lens and embedded itself within the photos. Even before the day’s temperatures had peaked and the morning still held on to the previous night’s pleasantness, the photos seems to echo the previous day’s tones.

Travels, temperatures, tones and toys
Golden Geisha

I rarely photograph toys against dry tones. I usually gravitate towards greens when taking photos of toys. Their tones are soothing and I find them complimentary to the toys. I did this in my Mum’s much loved and much watered garden. However, the greens also seemed to reflect the heat.


I’ve nearly really be drawn to photographing toys against warm tones, but I like the way the heat had an impact on what was captured by the camera. I only wish I’d packed more appropriate toys. The handful of Star Wars Scout Troopers that go everywhere with me never braved the heat. Nor did the majority of the toys I packed.

Travels, temperatures, tones and toys
Mulwala Mauling

Beer o’clock

Luckily there was a box of LEGO the boys had accumulated over the years of visiting my Mum that I could rummage through indoors, in the air-conditioned solace with a beer. And a black LEGO classic spaceman seemed a fitting charred homage to the heat and the associated tones.

Travels, temperatures, tones and toys
“We always had a ball on Mars…”

Having been back home for a week or so now, I’m still find myself chasing searing tones. Although, I’ll happily abandon that search for days below 40°C!

Have you ever traveled to a different climate and taken toy photos away from your usual temperatures and tones?

– Brett

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    • brett_wilson

      Thanks Doug. I don’t want to shatter my “rough and tough Aussie” persona, but 46°C was a little too hot!
      The boys still get a kick out of seeing toy photographs, but with one well into his teens and the other on the cusp, their interests have shifted and their monosyllabic responses to toy photos shown to them seem somewhat less enthusiastic! They’re not drinking beer yet, that I know of, but we did clink many cans of beer and sodas during our visit.

  1. Janan

    Interesting article Brett. I never thought before about how the climate can affect the tones in camera but will certainly take note now the next time I travel.

    Really nice photos and I like the “Mulwala Mauling” one in particular with the realism and the late morning feel.

    • brett_wilson

      Thanks mate. I’d never really thought about the temperature having an influence on toy photography before either, until I was scrolling though the photos I took up there in 40°C plus temperatures.
      Oh, and the Mulwala Mauling photo might have a late morning feel, but believe me, it was taken early morning, before the day got too hot and the pool and beer beckoned me!

    • brett_wilson

      Warmer tones up north? But isn’t everything topsy turvy there? I thought traveling north was heading towards cooler climates. I traveled south and Texas was damn hot when I was there!!
      Anyway, I never really liked photographing with warmer tones, but I do now. Plus it’s more bearable chasing warm tones when the day isn’t scorching.

  2. Lizzi

    Yikes, that’s some crazy weather! But the photos are gorgeous and the heat really comes through in them. Weather really does influence tones. It’s so grey in the UK at the moment that I might just spend a little more time staring at those warm photos!

    • brett_wilson

      I’d happily send you at least 10°C. We’ve got plenty to spare! At least some warm lighting can add some warmth to your photos on grey days. It didn’t matter how many times I cooled off in the pool or how many beers I had to quench my thirst, I couldn’t escape the warmth in the photos I took!

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