Rocket Boy discovers Limitless Cheetos and cheeses

Limitless Cheetos and cheeses galore; Rocketboy has claimed the moon - what a score! 🚀 🧀 🌙 .
Limitless Cheetos and cheeses galore; Rocket Boy has claimed the moon – what a score! 🚀 🧀 🌙 .

Rocket Boy discovers limitless cheetos and cheeses

I have been waiting to get my hands on a Rocket Boy from the new Lego Collectible Minifigures Series 17.  When contemplating what to do with the endless possibilities of a kid dreaming about space – I thought of cheese.

I love cheese and I love cheetos and I love space.  My obvious choice on moon landscape from a kid perspective equaled cheese.  In the past I have done real looking moon shots with the Lego astronauts; but I felt the rocket boy needed somethig more on the imaginitive side.  The scribble-colored space flag would have looked way out of place in a hyper-realistic shot.

I went to the store specifically for rare cheeses, but found out quickly that rare cheeses are quite expensive.  I wasn’t ready to drop $60 bucks on edible props.  Maybe it would’ve turned out better with goat cheese, Munster cheese, Gouda cheese, or some fancy aged cheeses from some obscure Italian countryside village; but I just couldn’t do it.  I wanted to taste all of them.  I realized I was shopping hungry and was getting a bit carried away. 😂

Taking it all in
Taking it all in

I settled on a large family sized bag of crunchy cheetos that my kiddos could dig into after the shot.  Taking into account future meals, I selected cheeses including some sharp cheddar (block) cut into wedges. Feta cheese for some contrast. Shredded Mexican blend (we go through lots of quesadillas), and a crumbly cheese that didn’t make the cut.

Setting the flag
Rocket Boy setting the flag

Making the background

I made the background with just a white sheet of cardstock colored with various shades of orange crayon.  I wasn’t about to create the background with real cheese… too much waste of this golden amazingness.  Wallace and Gromits – “A Grand Day Out” was an inspiration for this shot and I thought of their rolling hills of cheese that the alien robot was able to ski down.  That’s the background I wanted.

At first the background was too close and didn’t lend to the depth I wanted – it looked flat and colored, which it was, but I wanted some depth.  I ended up moving the background further away and using a long lens (Jupiter 37a 135mm), to make the DoF shallow and blur the background totally.

Look at all the cheesiness!
Look at all the cheesiness!

I even tried taking a picture through an orange filter – but that idea canceled out all my wonderful crayon shading and it felt a bit too orange on everything.

Through orange colored glasses
Through orange colored glasses

Feta cheese “boulders” made for a perfect contrast in the endless orange landscape of the moon.  After I was done my kiddos made a quick job of cleaning up the cheetos – and I cleaned up the feta cheese!😂🚀🧀🌙

How many shots does it take you to get that perfect shot?

Just this morning I was going through all my shots and I took nearly 60 pictures just to get this one finished Rocket Boy moon shot that satisfied me.  I was thinking about this artistic process of coming up with an idea and the work that goes into that idea to make it a reality.

It really is quite fascinating – the image I had in my mind.  How come the first shot didn’t fit?  I had all the props, the tripod, the outdoor lighting… but still didn’t achieve what I wanted for another 60 shots in different poses and background depths.  Different exposures and lenses… maybe it was the vast amount of options that were at my disposal that made me take so many iterations?

Do you all have similar usage of space on your memory cards?  How many shots does it generally take to satisfy your creative ideas?

~ Joecow

 

Using Old Glass in Toy Photography

Old Glass
Old Glass

Old Glass

Swirls of light bend and transpose
Stretched and tangled, bokeh galore
Changing perception
Warps the view
Deciding the factors of focus anew
Gathered inception
Sketched and revised, blur adore
Whirls of bright mend and expose

~ Joseph Cowlishaw


Using old glass in toy photography

I love the look of old glass.  It has  unique imperfections that really make the feeling of a photo.  The newer glass is almost too perfect.  They have successfully eliminated the character of uniqueness through perfected manufacturing processes.

I recently purchased a mint copy of the Jupiter 37a lens from a Russian auction.  It shipped from Moscow and arrived to my home only a little over a week later.  I purchased this lens for its uniqueness in creating creamy smooth bokeh.  My brother Nathan Arizona recommended it and after seeing many example of excellent bokeh swirls I decided to get one.

I have also added an old macro lens to my collection – the Minolta Rokkor 50mm.  It has added more dimension to my toy photography with its imperfections and it’s perfect focus at close range.

I recently found an old video lens at a local thrift store – it was only a video telephoto 2x lens and was made during the age of videotape.  It was $10 so I decided to pick it up.  Obviously, the poor quality of this cheap lens hampered my photos by destroying to look of some of my higher end old lenses.  I tried attaching it to the end of my Russian Jupiter 37a lens and the results were horrible.  So I decided to disassemble this video lens and use the inner elements.  I liked how big the glass was and it looked relatively unscathed.  The front element had a bit of coating on it which allowed for some interesting colors and reflections while photographing it.

Coated front lens
I disassembled this lens to use the glass elements!

Charlie saves an old friend

About the same time that I acquired this cheaply built old lens I also received a Charlie Chaplin figure in the mail from Minifigures.com.

I was trying to figure out how to use him in a shot, and these elements lent me some ideas!

Interdimensional portal
Charlie Chaplin finds and reaches for a blur in time and space…

I thought how cool it would be for Charlie to stumble into unknown territory.  Unknown even to us in all our futuristic grandeur.  The lens worked perfectly for this setting.

Panda Sucked into interdimensional vortex
Charlie’s old friend Panda was inadvertently sucked into the interdimensional vortex
Old Glass lens
It looks as if Charlie is trapped in the old Glass…

I love using my old glass to create new feeling mixed with a retro feel and look.  Plus it has the added benefit of being super affordable. Old glass on a newer camera body means it has to be manually focused and controlled.  Using manual focus has taught me so much about the technical side of photography.  I love being able to change every little detail and setting to get that perfect feel that I am looking for.

Old glass does not mean poor quality.  I have found that some of my old lenses rival my newer autofocus lenses.  And they have the added benefit of character that is hard to reproduce.

I also find it interesting that there are now so many new applications that allow the user to “add” character to their shots.  I guess we miss that feel that comes from character and glass.  It is fun to add these details to the image while composing.  Even more fun than in post processing!

Lego Horror Wednesday – VW Bug


Strange sounds clanking in the engine… 🤔actually, that ain’t the engine!?😳

Phantom VW5Phantom VW6

Phantom VW8Phantom VW9

Phantom VW10
And just like that the Phantom has a new set of wheels!

My wife found some old mini Volkswagen Beetle cars from her childhood.  I rescued them from the kiddos and took some shots before they got destroyed completely!

I wasn’t sure what to use this black VW in, so I decided to make a series of shots for instagrams new feature of multiple shots in a post.

I used our trampoline as the road because I liked the texture it provided.  This didn’t make it easy to balance figures though. The slightest touch on the trampoline toppled my setup…

But after much perseverance I really like the high contrast, old movie horror feel result of my efforts.  It was fun!

Don’t step on the crack or you’ll break your teddy’s back


via Instagram http://ift.tt/2mpWjX6

Don’t step on the crack or you’ll break your Teddy’s back! 😳

Good morning folks!  Yesterday I had the opportunity to spend the day with my brother Nathan Arizona at the Heard Native American Art Show in downtown Phoenix, AZ.

We got to meet several new native artists and visit with old friends.  We have our mining company Earthtone Trading to thank for this opportunity.  We hauled down from Utah two tons of our Mohave Brown Alabaster to sell to the talented sculptors.

We arrived to the show late and ended up taking a long time finding a parking spot.  We finally found an open spot large enough for our truck in the basement of a parking garage.  We walked the show and talked with folks and then I headed back to the truck to get some flyers and take a break.

I was trying to think of a good spot for Lego photography and I am always amazed at the simply mundane areas that make my shots come to life.  The shot of Mr. Bean above with Teddy was not the shot I intended to take.  It was a gradual process from the start of looking for the right spot with some rails in the parking garage basement.  The rails made for some great bokeh and contrast. 

Mr. Bean through the bars
I really liked where these shots were taking me so I continued to enjoy the creative process and setup different angles.  It was a bit tricky to get the depth I wanted on the right and still show enough of Mr. Bean on the left.  I also decided the shot looked much better in black and white.

A glimpse of Mr. Bean
After composing a few shots I decided to try it from the other side by sticking my camera through the bars.  Luckily I have a tilt screen on my Olympus OMD EM5, so I was still able to compose the shot without having to hike around to the outside.

Mr. Bean strolling on the outside.
This is when I noticed the striking crack on the concrete and an idea popped into my head.

Careful Mr. Bean
I was so excited to have stumbled upon this idea!  I had to balance Mr. Bean just right – the umbrella and the teddy were the counterweights.  It took some patience to get it just right and luckily there was no wind at all.  Even a slight breeze would have toppled Bean and mad enough this shot impossible.  So the heavens aligned and I was able to capture these images!

Mr. Bean has a somewhat childish outlook in certain ways and that why I find him so humorous.  He takes the moment like a child would.  I felt this image conveyed what I used to feel about cracks on the ground.  The old adage “don’t step on the crack or you’ll break your mothers back” seemed like the perfect title with a bit of a change to put what Mr. Bean cares about most.  Thanks to Minifigures.com for making a great custom figure Mr. Bean.

~ Joecow

Cool little effect for a cool morning

Happy Valentines Day!

This morning I drove some of my kiddos to school early for choir practice.  My wife and I exchanged some wonderful chocolate and each one of our kiddos got a heart full of skittles.  I hope they know that we love them everyday, not just on Valentines Day.  My wife and I were talking about how lucky we are to have each other.

On the way back from dropping my kiddos off, I noticed the sun had not yet risen.  I pulled off the road into an old abandoned field that at one time had been home to a miniature golf business.   The green outdoor felt had been worn off and faded and there looked as if there had been a small brush fire that had come through not too long ago.

 

Cool frost sets in - Up before the sun
The cool frost sets in right before the sun comes up

The contrast of the charred bushes covered in frost was a lucky find. I wanted to capture this Raven Chima figure that I had recently ordered from bricklink. This particular figure was quite difficult to determine a setting and I had stumbled upon the perfect place!

I took a few shot in the morning light that gave a stark perspective which was perfect for a black raven.

Exploring the charred remains in the cool of the morning
Exploring the charred remains in the cool of the morning

The cool little effect for a cool morning

After getting a few shots I liked I decided to wait a bit for the sun to come up to add a warmth to the image to see how much it changed the shot.

Up with the sun
Up with the sun

I really like the simple effect that I stumbled upon with this shot.  I wanted to show the figure in the undergrowth / raven nest and I was lucky enough to have the sun pierce through above him.  In the first few shots I took you could not see the sun rays at all.  Then I sighed heavily and my frozen breath hit the light and lit the scene for a brief second.  I then proceeded to blow and breath hot air out over my scene (I’m full of it sometimes).

It was hard to capture the warm air just right but then I nailed it!  If you look closely in the shot above you can see swirls of frozen crystals in the beams of light.  It’s kind of a cool effect that I stumbled upon and I plan on using in the future again on fridgid mornings.

~Joecow

What are some small effects you use to add that little bit extra to your images?  Share some below!

Lenny rides the Red Bull Rampage!

Lenny rides the Red Bull Rampage
Lenny rides the Red Bull Rampage
The red rock of southern Utah makes for the perfect backdrop for extreme outdoor sports.  The Red Bull Rampage has been taking place in Virgin, UT since 2001 and has garnered some excellent live coverage of the area west of Zions National Park.

I have had the opportunity my whole life to live in this beautiful area.  I’ve explored countless dirt roads leading to so many interesting landscapes.

One such experience I remember was the Mesa road just east of Virgin.  The dirt road is very rough and narrow with foreboding cliffs all along the drive to the top.  What was strange was near the top of the Mesa, as you drive around the bend all of the sudden the road is brand new and paved.  You cannot see this change in the road anywhere on the way up.  Turns out there is an old military base at the top where they test fighter pilot ejection seats.

We didn’t know what it was the first time we came across it and we thought it was some secretive government base for researching aliens and ufos!  There is plenty of that in utah as well.

Riding rough rock with a view
Riding rough rock with a view

Back to the red rock.  The countless cliffs and canyons and formations that make the area beautiful are also the perfect setup for hiking and biking and pretty much anything else outdoors – including my Lego photography.  I have been busily capturing Lenny riding the redrock and have enjoyed all the close ups of the stone and red rock on a miniature scale.  Something that normal folk would easily pass by and dismiss – I see as the perfect setting for Lenny to participate in a crazy death defying stunt.

The joy of riding the grooves
The joy of riding the grooves
It reminds me of the movie, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.  The mundane of the backyard is transformed into an exotic jungle.  Seemingly harmless things turn into death traps.  Lenny had a few mishaps while on this shoot. Several times he fell off the minifigure equivalent of a 400 foot cliff (6 feet).  Luckily his plastic posterior bounced and landed unscathed.

The wind did not help on this shoot and Lenny weighing in at about an ounce it became difficult to peddle into.  In fact it lifted him off the front wheel a few times and deposited him elsewhere.  There is a spot near southern utah in Arizona on the rim of the Grand Canyon called Toroweap.  I have yet to take Lego out to this area because it takes nearly two hours to travel the 75 miles of tire eating dirt road.

Looking off Toroweap
This image was shot old school with my Nikon film camera before the digital age. The Colorado river 3500 feet below us!

Toroweap is the location of one of the largest shear cliff faces in the Grand Canyon at around 3500 feet above the raging waters of the Colorado.  That’s the equivalent of a 168,000 foot drop in minifigure scale. Craziness.  I bring up this location because of the wind.  At the cliff face the wind rushes up the face at nearly 60mph on some days.  We used to waddle close to the edge and put our arms out over the edge and catch the wind.

The beauty and diversity of southern Utah has made me a permenant resident with my family.  I have moved away at times and have lived in many different places, but the call of the Wild keeps bringing me back to this colorful country I consider home.

~Joecow

Where do you call home?  What are some of the unique aspects that keep you there?  Are there unique places to photograph Lego?