Endor: Behind The Scenes of a Six Image Narrative

I created my recent Endor series as a challenge to push myself and see if I could create scenes that were based in a more real-world setting compared to my usual brick-built backdrops. I also wanted to move away from creating direct recreations and instead use the Star Wars universe as a playground in which to create my own stories.

As all my photography is done at home I decided I would make my own scaled down Endor on my preferred place of shooting, my kitchen table.

Endor: kitchen table setup
kitchen table setup

To create my forest scene, I used branches from a Christmas tree. To help add a more natural feel I varied their length and widths and kept the pine needles on some while shaving them off from others.

Off cuts from my local florist were used as foliage for my forest floor. Oasis, also purchased from the florist, worked perfectly to keep the branches in place, even at angles. On the way back I gathered some rocks from my local beach.

For the soil I decided upon ground coffee. It was cheap, clean and had the added bonus of filling my ‘studio’ with a deliciously pleasing aroma (It was Colombian but I don’t think the particular blend is important)

Endor: scout pose low down
Oasis and branches

I wanted to force the perspective in my shots so I staggered the branches, wider at the front and more bunched up at the back. In order to create a further sense of depth I used a photographic forest backdrop (from Bakku backgrounds) and built my scene on top of that.

To light I used a combination of natural light and a few additional lights. I wanted a dappled lighting effect and so used a single spot and shone it through as many branches as possible.

Endor: spot light
spot light

To create extra atmosphere, I used an Atmosphere Aerosol spray – but sometimes overdid it!

Endor: too much smoke
too much smoke

Once I had my scene and was happy with my lighting setup I needed a story to shoot. I always loved the costume design of the Scout Troopers and so wanted to use them as my main characters. I came up with the idea of two troopers called Tony and Kenneth (very unassuming non-Star Wars names) who had recently been deployed on a recon mission to Endor. They think they’re the Empire’s finest but actually they’re completely incompetent.

Each shot required a slightly different approach and different techniques but everything was shot on my lens of choice, a 100mm Macro. I shot through the forest to add both depth and interest to each shot.

Endor: macro lens
macro lens

For the first I used white putty to help pose the troopers (I always use white as it’s easier to hide) and used some custom Area Light blasters to enhance their look.

Endor: patrol at dawn
patrol at dawn

For the speeder shot I built a speeder bike moc (the instructions for which can be found here https://www.instagram.com/p/Bdfda_FDJBJ/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet) My initial shot had the troopers helmet flying off revealing a terrified look underneath.

Endor: new speederbike
speederbike with face

But after thinking about it I decided to keep the helmet on, which I felt let the viewer make up their own mind as to what the trooper would be feeling. I also added a motion blur in Photoshop to give a sense of speed.

Endor: speederbike
speederbike with helmet

The third shot – the walk through the woods – is both my favorite of the series and the longest shot to achieve. Not because it was technically difficult but my initial shots just didn’t look right. I think they were too front lit and it was pretty obvious that Ewoks were standing right behind the troopers.

Endor: being watched - harsh light
being watched – harsh light

So for the final image I dialed down the key light and hid the Ewoks behind some trees.

Endor: being watched darker version
being watched – darker version

The Wicket close up was 100% inspired by my personal LEGO photography hero Vesa Lehtimäki (aka @avanuat) and his book Small Scenes From A Big Galaxy. I used a lot of aerosol spray for that shot and went through a number of different lighting setups before I was happy with the final shot.

Endor: Wicket light
Wicket – too dark
Endor: Wicket light
Wicket – no key light

I don’t think it’s a patch on Vesa’s work but I’m happy with it.

Endor: Wicket
Wicket – final

For the trooper surrounded shot I again used white putty to pose the Minifigure in place and also added some highlights with an extra light shining through the left of frame.

Endor: hands up close up with light
hands up close up with side light

For the final shot I used a custom tile (from brickemoji) with ‘another day at the office’ printed on. I thought it would add a sense of fun to the scene and help convey the message of the final shot. I used a technique called focus stacking. For those unfamiliar with the term, I shot the same setup a number of times but changed the focus of each shot. I then comped the shots together so every trooper and Ewok in the final image was in focus.

Endor: stack focus 1
stack focus 1
Endor: stack focus 2
stack focus 2
Endor: stack focus 3
stack focus 3
Endor: another day at the office
another day at the office

I did take a couple of other shots – one being based on Wicket and Princess Leia’s first meeting.

Endor: cookie anyone
cookie anyone?

The second was Han, Leia and a rebel trooper walking through the forest.

Endor rebels
Endor Rebels

They’re ok but I prefer the storytelling of the six-part series.

Overall this project was a lot of fun and I certainly learned a lot. I have since experimented with different backdrops and props. I absolutely love building with LEGO and so I won’t ever stop using brick-built backdrops but it’s nice to have pushed myself out of my comfort zone and it’s certainly given me options for future setups.

Dimitri @legodimnico

8 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing Dimitri. I appreciate also the thoughts behind the shots, it really adds something to the whole BtS post.
    By the way, i love the trooper with the helmet flying off! Probably my fav of the whole series (even if it did not make the cut)!

  2. brett_wilson

    What a terrific, in-depth, and detailed BTS. Having seen the Six Image Narrative, and then getting a glimpse at what was involved in creating it really added so much to this this post. Thanks for letting us behind the scenes Dimitri!

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