Lenny Raptor – Red Explosion

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Ferocious peddling… heart pounding… blood surging… Lenny is not an MEM (Mindless Eating Machine).

I was out helping a friend of mine build his house and afterwards i decided to head out to the small desert town of Lund, UT.   I really needed to get out there and since his house was pretty much half way there I decided to drive the rest.

When you get through the small foot hills west of Three Peaks Recreation Area, there is a turn in the dirt road and an excellent view for a nice vanishing point.  Lund is located on the other side of the valley and has a population of about two.  Train tracks cut through near the abandoned houses and homesteads.  Back in the day Lund was a pivotal point in the railroads progress where they switched out cars and kept the rails rolling.

The valley leading up to Lund is somewhat open range and the cows dot the landscape.  I have hiked out to some abandoned buildings that are now used as shade structures for the cows and it is interesting to find their paths carved into the desert sagebrush and soils.  Each path goes out as a spoke from the shade and has been trodden so well that they are dug into the soil by about 4-6 inches.  There are scattered cow pies and any grass has been nibbled to a stubble.

I initially traveled out this way to get a shot of the vanishing point road but it didn’t show up well with the focal lengths I brought and with being so close to the ground.  It was cold and my hands were frozen with beating wind.  I decided to head down a off-shoot dirt road that was not used very often.  This road led me to a small shooting range that was filled with various bullet shells and random broken things.  I went exploring for a small scene and found an exploded red paint can.  The red paint was splattered all over the rocks and if the can had not been there, I wouldve thought that I had stumbled upon some gristly murder scene.  I am glad the paint can was still easily recognizable.

This paint can was the perfect place to setup a bike ride for Lenny.  The red offset his green appearance and matched his iconic red bike.  I set him up with his tail catching the edge of the metal so it could help prop him up.  The wind was still there and frigid – but with this find I barely noticed.  The background was a bit rocky and distracting so I used a technique to blur it in a motion sense.  It is rather easy to create the effect by placing my fingers in front of the lens when the aperture is wide open.  It creates a motion effect in the bokeh by applying the lines of light that come through the cracks in my fingers.

I thought the image turned out quite well although I still think its a bit to busy.

Batman’s Lobster is Alive!?

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Wha…!? It’s still alive!? I nuked it for like 3 minutes!??

I got this idea from the fact that the little Lego lobster from the new Batman Movie CMF Series has cute little eyes.  How could he eat something so cute?  I took this shot inside.  I don’t often take pictures inside because the lighting is so much more difficult than natural outside lighting.  I find I have to turn off all the lights to get rid of all the unwanted reflection on the plastic.  I especially dislike it if it puts a glare on details like the face and eyes.

I wanted this shot to look like early morning in the batcave.  So I used a large chunk of selenite I had mined from a glitter pit in Saint George, UT.  I though it made for a good natural rocky wall that let the light filter in from the window.  The floor is a sample piece of Tritan from the Eastman Chemical Company.  I got this sample a while back when I was choosing a material for my Tritan Wowflute pocket ocarina.  The clarity it offers is fantastic and it made for a good translucent blue floor for batman to stand on.

I used a piece of wadded up paper (spit wad), and rolled it to fit into the lobsters bottom connector piece.  This way I could prop up the lobster to see more of the excellent detail while it still facing the camera.

The idea was this lobster is still alive and kicking!?  Alfred should’ve cooked it longer…  I had a similar experience as a kid but instead of sea crustaceans it was ants.  I am not sure what I was thinking but there was a phase in my early childhood where I experimented at the demise of small insects.  My dogs bowl of dogfood was out in the garage and had been discovered by a lone ant.  This slowly turned into a steady stream of ants which then covered the entire contents of the bowl.  My dog was disgusted for obvious reasons and I decided the easiest way to get rid of the ants would be to microwave them.

This was a disaster.

The ants didn’t seem to affected adversly from the microwaves.  Either they were too small or just have some kind of super power like ant-man to avoid radiation or something?  Well, the microwave was crawing with ants everywhere.  The microwaves had cooked the dry dogfood and made it hot which made the ants want to climb off.  It was a mess  to clean up but I learned that nuking something alive may not actually make it not alive.

Hence, batman discovers that simply nuking a lobster for three minutes in the microwave doesn’t always work…


Lenny Rides in the Crisp morning Light

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Up bright and early before the sun hits the valley – that’s how Lenny rolls.

Early mornings are a great time to do toy photography.  I find that my mind is wide awake and ready for the day.

I took this shot while traveling down to my newly opened stone quarry.  I was traveling down the black ridge on Interstate 15 from Cedar City to St. George and the morning light was barely lighting the sky.  I decided to take an early exit near Pinto, UT and head towards the Pine Valley Mountain Range.  The  snow capped mountains lit up pink in the sunrise and the valley below was still in the shade of the black ridge.  I hurried up a dirt road and parked.  The light was changing every minute and I was striving to get a few shots all along those changes.

The hood of the truck turned out to be a nice clean setup for a shot and the reflection of blue hid the fact that this old chevy had a dark green faded and rubbing off paint job.  The bright mountain range behind Lenny’s head was a great contrast which brought your eyes to his.  I made a rather steep angle with my camera because I wanted it to look like Lenny  was on the verge of a very steep ridge.  I liked the blues that the early morning shadows gave so I decided not to bother with the exposure at all.

Ancient Fairytales

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 Ancient fairy tales are always scary and dark… like batman!

I really thought this figure was hilarious when I saw it was to be included in the Batman Movie CMF series.  I like how they made the face with a begrudging mouth that make it look like batman is hating every part of the suit.  It’s like he lost a bet or something.

I took this shot in the evening when I arrived back from working up stone for our mining company.  The snow had not yet warmed enough to be sticky so it was rather tricky to place the figure.  I wanted him to appear lightweight because hey – it’s a fairy batman.

I’ve learned a lot over the years about the true nature of fairy tales.  They were generally told to scare children into being good and obeying their parents.  Being a father of five I am guilty of this tactic at times.

I think there is a better way.

I have pondered this a lot as of late because it seems my children are all turned up to “blasting” like the toy I put puts it when you turn the volume up all the way.  We can be sitting down for a meal, right next to each other, and they shout what they want.  We thought maybe they all had wax buildup in their ears and one did – but even after getting that out they were still loud.

Our kiddos range from young not even two all the way up to seven.  Yeah, we had our five kiddos really fast.  I think this is more of the reason why they are loud.  For one, small children don’t really care about being quiet.  They just care if their needs are being met.  

I think the issue is they feel as if they are competing to get a word in edgewise and therefore they try to talk over everyone.  But then again they talk loud even when everyone else is quiet…

Anyway, I have been thinking about the true nature of fairy tales and how they were created to put fear into children.  I think I like the fact that Walt Disney took the liberty to change them into more of a friendly story towards children.  Children need more care and understanding in their lives – they need to feel loved.  Fear is the opposite of what they need and can lead to harbored feelings of distrust.  

I still think fear is a good tool at times – like a healthy fear of getting hit by a car to keep them from running into the street.  But I also think teaching a child on their level using terms they can understand would be much more beneficial to everyone.

Big Willie Style

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Big Willie Style! Lenny sort of cheats by using his tail…

I absolutely love the bokeh results I get with the Minolta Rokkor 55mm!  It is a bit soft wide open at f1.7 but its worth the shallow depth of field.  This particular shot was taken in the morning on my way to our rock quarry near St. George, UT.  I pulled off the highway and up a dirt road and stopped near a boulder that had a bush in the background.  The morning glow came in through the bush sticks and created this fantastic bokeh.  I hadn’t set up Lenny doing a wheelie until now because it is quite tricky to get him to balance just right upright.  The angle of the slope on the rock made this shot possible.  Lenny’s foot is actually propping him up on the rock side and then his tail helped stabilize him.  It was still a balancing act.   Luckily there usually is no wind in the early morning calm.

I like getting up before the sun.  I don’t always do it but when I do I feel like I get so much more done in the day.   I beleive it was Benjamin Franklin that stated that “an ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure”.   I have heard it changed to “an ounce of morning, is worth a pound of afternoon” and I tend to agree with this statement.  I feel when I am up early I am alert and ready to get things done.  By late afternoon I feel sluggish and ready to relax and wind down for the evening.

Riding the Grooves

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Riding the grooves of an old pioneer house!

Sometimes I feel like Lenny here in this shot.  You get in the groove and get set in your ways and it’s difficult to change.  These grooves are a bit like ruts in life.  When I was a kid, twelve years old or so, I got to practice driving my dads truck on dirt roads west and south of town.  One such road had clearly been traversed by a large truck during muddy weather and had carved deep ruts through the road.  My father helped me navigate them but on one occasion I dropped down into them.  The ruts proved to steer me.  It overpowered my ability to grab the wheel and make my own steering decisions.   It took quite a bit of effort to climb up the side of the rut and out.

Sometimes I feel in my work that I get into ruts.  Ruts that either others have created or versions I have created through habit.  It is easy to feel like you are working when you are in a rut, but really you are just going with the flow.  Some ruts are too deep to get out of and are difficult to change.

I experienced this at a place I worked at in the past doing 3D modeling and design.  They had a system that worked but seemed very repetitive.  I was given the task to do this repetitive work and it was rather boring.  In fact, I nearly fell asleep while doing it.  I strove to find new ways to think outside the box and implement new strategies to get the process more automated.  In the end though, everyone just kept doing it the way that seemed easier because they knew it.

I also worked for a mining company as the General Manager.  My goal was to create systems that made it easy to follow the stone from the mining process to the logistics and processing of the stone.  There were five owners, one of which had much more control and say in the company than the others.  This owner did not want to change and adapt to new technologies and therefore undermined my ability to manage the company.

I now own my own mining company and I have found that my systems work very well.  I do not yet have the assets or cashflow that the other mining company had so many of my new systems are not yet perfected but I know they will work.  Even after implementation, I am open to new ideas and technologies. I do not want to be stuck in ruts – especially my own.

Lenny doesn’t stay in ruts long – he’s always changing and looking for new adventures.