With all of the recent photos I’ve been seeing on various social media feeds lately, it’s fair to say there are a lot of people out there who are happy with their shiny new HasLab Razor Crests. I have to say, it was never really on my radar, for to two main reasons: First, I simply have nowhere to put one, and secondly, I’ve never really collected 3.75-inch figures. But on top of that, and for anyone who has seen any of my spaceship-based photography, you may know it isn’t quite in my scale. When it comes to taking photos of spaceships, I like them small.

It might not be a N-1 starfighter, but I guess it’ll do

So if the HasLab Razor Crest was too big, it was necessary to find a smaller option. I’ve always enjoyed Bandai’s Star Wars model kits and I was super excited when, after a very long hiatus, they came back last year with a model kit of the Razor Crest. And what was particularly awesome was that it came in a silver plated version that matched the show.

BTS. Tom Milton

As you can see, it is certainly smaller than the HasLab version. But it’s much easier to make it fly. If you’ve never seen a Bandai model, they are nothing short of spectacular for the scales they offer. Various models do come in various scales, from large to small. My preference is actually for the smaller kind, and for the size, the level of detail is so impressive. Having to apply water decals or stickers can be a hassle, and the need to paint them to create a true representation isn’t for everyone.

I waited quite a while for this kit, but I suppose that’s the nature of things at the moment. Having ordered it last spring, I’m glad it finally arrived earlier this year, and I was very keen to have another model to build. Unfortunately, it then dropped into the long queue of new toys that need to be photographed.

Building a sky to fly in

BTS. Tom Milton

When it comes to my setups or usual excuses for dioramas in my photography, I always tend to lean toward the simple or the crude. In truth, I quite enjoy how very basic things can be made to look like something very different through the lens of a camera. In this case it was the use of cotton wool to create clouds.

BTS. Tom Milton
Cotton wool

We’ve got a runner

The Razor Crest, screengrab
Screengrab from The Mandalorian S2 E2

During the second series of The Mandalorian, Mando gets chased through some very thick cloud cover while transporting everyone’s favourite Frog Lady. And Grogu’s favourite snack of frog’s eggs. Ever since seeing that episode I’ve been looking for a reason to try replicating it for myself.

BTS. Tom Milton

In this very basic setup I’ve used a lot of cotton wool and combined it with a digital backdrop (it is The Mandalorian after all) and a few spotlights for backlighting. The clouds themselves are just various balls of cotton wool that have been pulled apart and placed together to make different sized clouds. For reference the card on the base is A3 in size, and worked quite well to bounce the light.

The lights are basic LED torches with plastic gels to change the colour to a warmer hue. The higher light in the image was added to give a wide and open light source across all of the “clouds” to brighten the scene. The lower light peeking out behind the cotton wool then gave a backlight to the clouds and provided the darker foreground and various edge lighting across the resulting photos.

The final element that may be perplexing to people is the ruler. It was simply to hand, and by using some tack I could use it to pull the Razor Crest through the clouds and capture that movement in the photo. I was having the problem of my hand or forearm appearing in the photo as I moved the ship. By using the ruler under the cloud line I was able to stay out of shot and pull from farther away.

The resulting shots

This photo wasn’t even planned and was really just a test shot for scale and cloud building. But I was so happy with the level of contrast and the various silhouettes, I was happy to include it.

When making the clouds, it actually required a lot of tweaking and adjusting to get it right. Too fluffy and they don’t catch the light correctly, becoming quite flat. Pull the cotton wool apart too much and it becomes very stringy and the clouds can become overly busy. I can’t say what the best solution is, I think it’s just a trial and error type of thing.

I don't know where he thinks he's goin' in that thing. Tom Milton
I don’t know where he thinks he’s goin’ in that thing

Because I tend to try making spaceships fly by moving them through the camera frame, I have to take a lot of photos to get a good one. It is very much a hit or miss affair, and for every one good image there are usually well over 20 bad ones. This photo is an example of just such a situation.

What I really like about this photo is how the clouds wrap around the Razor Crest giving the feeling that they are reacting to something actually flying through them.

I've lost visual. He's got to be around here somewhere. Tom Milton
I’ve lost visual. He’s got to be around here somewhere

This particular Razor Crest will definitely be flying again in the near future, through clouds and more.