I have recently had the opportunity to purchase and use the LitraTorch by Litra Gear. I love this light for toy photography. It’s such a great portable size and the perfect amount of light for fill even during direct sunlight.
I was rummaging through my closet the other day and I randomly found this Doctor Phlox figure that I purchased as an impulse buy from a thrift store a few years back – not sure why I hadn’t used it in a shot yet. I think it’s because a few years ago I was on a Lego minifigure binge. I still am, but I’m now venturing into bigger toy territory too.
The shot above of Phlox was taken on my car dash in direct sunlight with my Voigtlander 25mm f0.95 wide open. I use a ND filter to make this possible. I used the LitraTorch on high as a fill light in the front. Sunlight is behind Phlox.
I have always loved space and consider myself a Trekkie. I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, almost every Saturday. I’m sorry, but William Shatner as Captain Kirk doesn’t hold a candle to Picard. That being said, I am an even bigger fan of the reboot with J.J. Abrams. I just love the lens flares and the light in his films.
After messing around with the LitraTorch as a fill light I have realized what I have been missing. I have never achieved shots like this in direct sunlight. I’ve always had way too much contrast with such a bright background that all the details are in the dark in front. I end up with a silhouette of sorts rather than what I was really going for and I guess I just accepted that as a fact of circumstance. I would just adjust the blacks in Lightroom or something; but that option has drawbacks producing some weird digital artifacts sometimes.
Well, I was wrong. There is a better way – a nice powerful mini light studio!
There are quite a few toy photographers that I always return to for inspiration and one of them is Janan Lee aka @spideygoeshygge on Instagram. He has these mesmerizing spaceman shoots that have such great lighting. When I found Phlox I threw him in my camera bag for a shot if the opportunity arose and I wanted to emulate the feels of Janans shots.
The op came while we were running some quick errands. I was staying with the kiddos in the car while my wife went into the store to find a Halloween costume. It was a bright sunny day today and surprisingly pleasant at 72 degrees. My dash became my studio. I kept the frame tight and angled up toward the sky so I would avoid all the reflections from cars and buildings and such and the dash was transformed into another world… a world that would eventually parallel the Star Trek: Generations film with entering into a version of the Nexus Ribbon.
A bit of Enlight app magic and I combined two shots into the main shot on this post.
After these shots I busted out some heavy artillery: The beauty of the orange plastic Halloween Pumpkin Pail. $1 @ Walmart. (Not sure why I included this link – I guess it’s a bit funny for me, and it’s late when I’m writing this…)
Turned out to be quite the epic light when paired with my dash sunlight, some fancy balancing acts, and the LitraTorch as a front fill.
Doctor Phlox was transported through the Nexus Ribbon into some sort of fiery orange dimension.
As you can see from these shots – a nice studio setup is really not needed for toy photography. I love the portability of it all. The LitraTorch fits easily in my small camera bag with a few toys and lenses. I love how I can incorporate so many plain ordinary everyday objects and generate a completely new world; that right there my friends is why I do toy photography.
What kind of random things do you use in your shots? Have you ever considered portable lighting solutions? What has worked for you?