Have you heard the news? Brickcentral has a permanent moderator team led by @fourbrickstall! This is great news and assures this important feature site has a long and healthy future. Now that the ‘new’ site has been officially launched they’re getting down to the business of inspiring toy photographers to create awe inspiring photographs. The first challenge in this goal is #bc-reboot.


The idea of the theme is to take a photo that maybe you weren’t happy with first time around, was taken early in your photo career, didn’t benefit from your sparkly new camera, or you think just needs updating – and reboot it! – Keith Lowry

Normally I don’t participate in monthly challenges, due to my own time constraints, but this one came when I was chasing an image. I’ve been messing around with the Ice Queen flanked by two Wargs since 2016. It’s a pairing that appeals to me. If I was an ice queen I know my pets of choice would be Wargs not reindeer. But that’s just me.

This is not the first time I’ve chased a photo. In fact I have a bad habit of taking the same toys out and taking photos of them in new situations. Each time I hope to get a better version of the same set up. The Ice Queen and her Wargs are one of those set-ups.

In fact I think its a great exercise to re photograph your toys and favorite set-ups. Maybe you caught the perfect image the first time, but in my experience my favorite photos have almost always benefited from being revisited. With each passing year my understanding of lighting, my equipment and editing gets better and this knowledge shows in the final photograph.

An evolution of a photo

My first attempt with this set up shows the possibilities of this trio. (Did you know that three is a magic number?) I like the juxtaposition of the angry Warg faces and the stoic grace of the Ice Queen. The background in this first image is properly uninspired and the image is a tad over exposed. While the image  shows promise I know I will want to revisit the concept.

December 2016.

About this time I discovered photographing on a sheet of ice into the morning sun. I set up a little outdoor studio in the evening and would wake up to a fresh sheet of ice to place my figures on. I still use this trick today because I like how the light reflects up from below. The lighting is both bright and etherial.

Needless to say the Ice Queen and her Wargs came out and play!

I very much like the final results with this set-up. The bokeh in the background is lovely and there is nice fall off with the Wargs. The Wargs are facing in and help to keep the focus on the ice queen. In my earlier version I had them facing away and the image feels chaotic. This new version feels like a tighter composition to me.

January 2017

Fast forward to 2019

Winter has struck in the Pacific Northwest and its time to play in the snow. I’ve been spending many of my weekends snow shoeing or more recently enjoying the snow fall closer to home. This has given me plenty of chances to revisit this classic trio of figures. So out came the Ice Queen and her white Wargs. This time I upgraded the cloak of the Ice Queen with a fur cape and added the collar from the Shark Army General from the LEGO Ninjago Movie.

I will confess that I’ve been using the Lensbaby composer with a Sweet 50 and macro attachment as my primary lens. While I agree, in theory, with Tony that a little Lensbaby goes a long way (see his review of the Sol22), I’ve been enjoying my Composer too much to put it down.

January 2019

For the time being I think this is my ultimate version of this set up. I like how active the Wargs feel; one with his head up and the other with head down. I feel that they also act as leading lines to help focus on the main subject. I also like how the Lensbaby falls out of focus on the edges leaving the hind quarters of the Wargs in a blur. There is also a little bit of tree line in the background to give the image depth and background interest.

My biggest disappointment with this image is the lighting. While I had a portable light in front and to the left of the image on high, it was barely enough to compensate for pointing my lens directly at the sun. (I wonder if I will go blind doing this?) I had to do quite a bit of adjustments in post to brighten the queen and bring her to the warm tones I wanted in the final image.

Does this warrant a re-boot? Probably, but not for another year. I think I can let this trio rest until I get the itch to take them out again. Maybe I need to build a sleigh for the wargs to pull?

Re-boot. Is it right for you?

I realize that not everyone enjoys chasing down the perfect photo; much less looking back at older images and wondering how they would look now with new skills and / or new equipment. But if you’re interested in seeing how your skills have changed, I highly recommend giving the #bc_reboot challenge a try. It’s so much more constructive to compare your photography with your own work, than other photographers on social media. Because honestly our own opinions are the ones that really matter.

In the fast paced world of social media it’s so easy to get caught up in chasing the new.  New figure, new trend, new trick, new diorama…etc. But for me, I find it more artistically satisfying to bring out a few old friends and see what I can capture this time around. Every time I do this, I surprise myself. I never think I’ve improved, or that my work is changing. Yet, when I see my new work next to the old work, I can see the shift.

And that is very satisfying.

~ Shelly



  1. Thank you, Shelly, for your support of the new Brickcentral. I know its success was due in great part to your leadership.

    I hope I don’t fumble.

    I love this reboot! The Ice Queen has only gotten fiercer with the passing years! The Wargs too, unafraid to bare their teeth in the direction of their master.

    This reboot theme is so fun and a real opportunity to check your growth. Will it be rewarding? That depends on you.

    I’m a bit anxious about my own reboot shoot. Will my story be better? Can I even see it more clearly now or are my new ideas for it actually rather boring?

    We’ll see.

    • Thanks for offering up such an insightful first contest. It was easy for e to participate since I seem to be doing this all the time. Sometimes I think its because Ive run out of ideas, other times I know its because I like certain ideas more than other. And it IS a great way to visibly see progress!

      I look forward to seeing what you come up with. Because I know you have high standards for yourself, I’m sure it will be a mixed bag! But even from this you will have an excellent take away.

      Go be awesome!

  2. brett_wilson

    What a wonderful reboot of a reboot!
    I love the progression, especially that of the Wargs. They seem to circle their Ice Queen with more menace and protection. But I guess that’s only natural after spending that much time with her!
    And now I’m off to scroll back in time to look for my own reboot to tackle. Maybe my lonely IG-88 series needs another dose of attention?

  3. Freethegeekman

    Great article Shelly. Love seeing all 3 versions of this and your thoughts on them. I’m looking forward to having a go at bc_reboot myself, even moreso after reading this

  4. I love your re-boot Shelly. I especially like the way her crown is glowing and I love the effect of the lensbaby 🙂 If I get the time this month, I’ll definitely go through my images and see if I can come up with a re-boot too.


    • Thanks Sunny! I know that Tony feels less is more with the LensBaby, and honestly that was how I felt too when I first encountered this lens. Now I find myself having a hard time taking it off. I will use the Edge lens if the Sweet 50 gets to be too much. Its nice to have options.

      • Tony Tulloch

        I’m almost regretting having written that comment (made soon after I received the lens) as the Sol 22 rarely leaves my camera. I think the whole lo-fi/lomo look has always appealed to me and the Sol 22 (and indeed many of the Lensbaby lenses) gives that look. There is a nice mixture of predictability and randomness from it.

  5. I love this! I’ve only gone back and retaken a handful of my old photos, but I had never quite thought of it in these terms before. I love the idea of revisiting a character or setup year over year to see how you’ve improved or changed as an artist.

    I’m impressed with how different your three images looked in the end. What seems like such a simple setup actually comes with a ton of nuance and finesse. Excellent work! Can’t wait to see what the Ice Queen and Wargs get up to next year 😉

  6. I love your most recent shot AND the journey along the way. Thanks for sharing so much of your artistry and technique as always. And congrats on the beautiful, mystical reboot, Shelly! In a certain way, I find most of my pics to be reboots on a theme or an aspiration or a feeling. I like the focus here on a particular image.

  7. Molly A. Selan

    I love this! The three pictures, the final pic with all the motion, the whole idea of a reboot… what’s not to love? … I’ve got to get a move on… I have a few ideas for a couple of mine… hmm…

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