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.
Such a relaxing icy sauna for wampa… Even wampa deserves a day off.
I took my boys to school this morning and it was frigid! And I mean frigid… It was 6 degrees F. Bitterly cold. I don’t know what I was thinking. I don’t know why I thought it would be a good time to stop and take pictures. I liked the thick frost that had formed on everything during the night and the snow piling on the long june grass made for some excellent little pockets of glowing caves.
I guess that is what made me get out. Within seconds my fingers were no longer there. They had become numb, and still I strived for a shot. The snow turned out to be very hard to work with because it was not packed down at all. It was so cold that the snow flakes had come to rest in a stillness that left tons of air between each flake. I could literally blow the snow with one little puff through 8 inches and clear it to the ground below. This was not ideal for my wampa figure. I set him down ready to position him and he disappeared instantaneously. I hadn’t been smart enough to bring gloves so reaching through the puffy snow seemed to cut my hands with coldness. I could actually feel the sharp edges of the flakes as I brushed them aside.
I worked with what I had and added snow to the cave to compact it. I had to add like four times the snow to compact it enough to hold my Wampa. It worked though and the lighting had the glow I was looking for. I wanted a warmth to the shot even though Hoth is far from warm. I wanted the wampa to seem comfortable as he relaxed in a cave of fresh deep snow. I think I succeeded here but I still think something is missing from this shot and I am not sure what it is?