Last year I acquired a Lego Wampa specifically for shooting outside in the coming winter snows… but the snow never came. It wasn’t till the following February that we actually got a bit of snow.
So I had to be creative. I was itching to shoot the Wampa and since the weather wasn’t cooperating I created a storyline called the Hoth Heat Wave. This storyline has since branched in many ways including a Snowtrooper Unit that has been stranded on the surface because all the ice melt has created a thick cloudy atmosphere that thwarts interstellar communications.
I recently acquired a Hasbro forcelink Wampa and it has spurred more Galactic Warming shots. The snow is all but gone and has turned Hoth into a swampy wet mess.
This past weekend I took a group of scout out to the Arizona Strip on a campout. We hiked the next morning to what is known as the Glitter Pit. It is an active gypsum mine that is in the form of Selenite crystals. The selenite crystals are nature’s form of glass and you can actually see through the rock fairly easily.
When I was younger I remember going down into this selenite mine and being able to see into the ground three to four feet. It was mesmerizing as the depth of the stone slowly changed from clear to blue to blackness. Utilizing an Estwing prospector pick, I could chisel a good 10-12″ slab out of the ground. Nowadays so many folks have visited this site that it has been transformed into somewhat of a tourist trap. The surface has been hacked at so much that now it’s just a white cloudy mess. Which is perfect for a Wampa Cave!
I had a volunteer scout to drop handfuls of gypsum powder over my new Hasbro forcelink Wampa. It was nearly noon and the sky was clear and blue and reflected so much light that I had to use my neutral density filter applied to my Voigtlander 25mm f0.95 lens to even get any shots. This ND filter darkened it quite a bit but I ended up utilizing my Litra Gear LitraTorch to add a few opposing highlights on Wampas legs. The contrast was a bit overwhelming and I lost a lot of my detail in the shadows so the LitraTorch was indispensable in bringing out those details.
It took quite a few tries to get the “snow” captured just right. The other scout leaders watched from a distance as I pulled out my toys and worked my magic. The scouts were quite gung-ho about helping and because of them it turned out awesome!
As I was finishing up a few cars pulled up and out came some families with little kids to explore the Glitter Pit.
The Galactic Warming will continue as I find new ways to incorporate the heat into the Hoth landscapes – and I’m actually dreading snow this winter season!
Yes it’s a rather random correlation but that’s how most of my photography happens. On Friday night my wife and I went on a date and as part of it we went shopping. When you’ve got five kiddos, any time alone together is a great time – even just shopping.
We went to the toy aisles at Walmart because I always like to peruse the aisles and see if they have anything that’ll look good in a toy photo.
They had some Lego Harry Potter minifigures (finally), but they had been picked through quite a bit. I spent some time looking for a niffler with no such luck. I did get Harry Potter with his Owl because those Lego owls are epic; and it’s white so perfect for coming wintertime shots.
I found the Star Wars Force Link 2.0 Wampa and Luke Skywalker (Hoth) Figure and bought it for the Wampa. There are some iconic characters that just work so well in photography and the Wampa is one such icon. I have the Lego Wampa, but I wanted to have something a bit more articulated for this winter season. I also wanted to tie in this new Wampa figure to my Hoth Heat Wave series.
Saturday morning Wampa joined us for breakfast and had a strange fascination with the butter. He followed it all the way to a more comfortable spot… out fridge!
After an excellent breakfast we ran some errands and went to what we call the spin park; it’s a city park that has a bunch of different spinning contraptions that the kids have a blast on. They also have a section of the park that is a drainage area that has turned into a small marsh with cattails and everything.
I went tromping through the cattails and found such a cool ecosystem. There were ladybugs galore and many spiders and wasps and such. I took quite a few shots of insects and then decided the spot would be perfect for a muddy Hoth. So out came Wampa! It was a bit tricky getting around as the ground was rather unstable and mucky. There were some stepping stones so it was a balancing act to get down low enough to shoot the Wampa.
After some tricky footwork and a few shots I whipped out my pocket knife and cut some cattails for my kiddos to play with. My youngest son Clark got the first one and he whacked it on the ground and to our amazement it exploded into a huge puff of seeds! I had no idea cattails did that…
So the rest of the morning was spent collecting and exploding cattails. I also took a few shots of the Wampa in the exploded seed clouds. It sort of looked like snow and matched my Hoth Heat Wave theme.
This is usually how my toy photography workflow happens. I just get with some toys and explore. The randomness leads to some pretty creative and epic shots. I don’t always plan for shoots but when I do the shots seem a bit more forced; I like this go with the flow way of things.
Winter is coming! I actually really love the changing seasons – we once lived down in Mesa, Arizona and I missed the fall and winter that we experience here in Cedar City, Utah each year. Each season brings new colors and challenges to my photography.
This past week we have experienced our first cold snap of the fall/winter season. It got far below freezing. I like this transitional time as many folks tend to leave sprinklers on overnight and the ice sculptures that are made are perfect winter scenes for my toy photography. It can get rather cold and uncomfortable while shooting toys outside durning these times; but the strange things is I don’t even realize that my knees are going numb. I just get so engrossed in the creative process that everything else is forgotten.
I work at an engineering firm which is located in the outskirts of Cedar. The office is surrounded by expansive fields of alfalfa (hay). Yesterday on my way to work I was passing through the fields and the farmers had left their sprinkler pivots on. It was a beautiful sight – the barbed wire fences and grass of the fields were iced over.
Naturally I had to stop and take some toy photos. Woody matched the scene perfectly and I attempted to recreate a shot I did a couple years ago of Woody tightroping on barbed-wire. Unfortunately, the sun had been up for some time and had already warmed the wire and ground enough that the ice was starting to fall off in chunks. It was a race against time! The ground was also thawing which meant messiness – plus I was in a hurry and late for work; so the shot ended up being woody just sitting on the wire. Maybe next time, if there is a next time – icy barbed-wire doesn’t happen too often.
I also had Miguel from Pixar’s Coco and a certain stormtrooper with me.
I used to stop and just take macro shots of a scene like this but now it looks rather boring without a toy in the shot. I still do non toy shots in circumstances like this but having a toy to experience it at their level just adds something to the shot.
I was late to work after these shots but luckily we are all pretty laid back there. The beauty of toy photography is the ability to transform the mundane into another world!
If you’ve made it this far reading my ramblings I’d love to hear some feedback here on my blog.