El Dave Photography

A photographer and his toys. Updated weekly.

Famous Last Words (0)

1:05 PM by , under , ,

Famous Last Words

There's one in every party. The one guy who thinks his spellbook is all-powerful and, if he can just make his rolls right, he should be allowed to cast a Summoning spell on an Ancient Dragon. Note to non-roleplayers; this always ends in death. If you somehow find yourself playing Dungeons & Dragons, GURPS, Rifts, or any of a whole host of games and someone attempts to summon something that has a strong chance of getting loose and killing the party, kill that person's character. Don't feel bad, it's just an imaginary character on a piece of paper. They have hit dice, not feelings.

Ok, nerd moment over, and now on to business. While looking through my toy bins for something to shoot, I happened upon this McFarlane Toys set that April's mom had asked for us to hold (she had no room at home), and thought now would be a great time to reshoot it. I've shot it before, but it was early on in my photography education, so today's the day for the power-mad wizard to shine!

The best part of the photoshoot was how easy it was. Setup took a whole 5 minutes, due mainly to the smoke machine having to warm up. Processing in Photoshop was a little more intensive, as this was only my second attempt at the "Orton Effect". After the Superman shoot, I've really fallen for the painted look, with softened edges and subtle lighting, and wanted to do that here. After getting Orton to cooperate, I just slapped a border around the whole thing, Save As..., and uploaded to Flickr.


EXIF Data, make ya JUMP JUMP:

Camera: Fujifilm FinePixS2Pro
Exposure: 0.167 sec (1/6)
Aperture: f/1.8
Focal Length: 50 mm
ISO Speed: 100
Exposure Bias: 0/100 EV

Orientation: Horizontal (normal)
X-Resolution: 72 dpi
Y-Resolution: 72 dpi
Software: Adobe Photoshop CS3 Windows
Date and Time: 2007:12:28 14:59:22
Tag::TIFF::0x882A: -6, -6
Exposure Program: Normal
Date and Time (Original): 2007:12:28 14:58:39
Date and Time (Digitized): 2007:12:28 14:58:39
Shutter Speed: 2584963/1000000
Brightness: -50/100
Metering Mode: Center Weighted Average
Light Source: Tungsten (incandescent light)
Color Space: Uncalibrated
Focal Plane X-Resolution: 630 dpc
Focal Plane Y-Resolution: 630 dpc
Sensing Method: One-chip colour area sensor
Exposure Mode: Auto bracket
White Balance: Manual
Focal Length In 35mm Film: 75
Saturation: High saturation
Compression: JPEG
Image Width: 2024 pixels
Image Height: 3024 pixels


Be good,
-Dave



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EVA-03 1

6:45 PM by , under , ,

EVA-03

To everyone who looks down their noses at friendships made online, let me offer up this image as just how wrong you are. My good friends Adam and Sarah (whom I've never met face to face) sent April and I a Christmas package this year, and inside was an Uglydoll for April and this incredible Revoltech EVA for me. If this is the quality of people you meet online, I might never leave the house again!

Now to the business at hand; EVA Unit 03. I have never seen the Evangelion cartoon (yeah, yeah, I'll get to it someday), but I really dig the designs. I have a long history with giant robots. For Unit 03, I wanted to somehow capture just how huge these things are supposed to be, while at the same time having a little campy fun with it.

Trying to combine a cartoon robot (that I've never seen in action) with the classic image of Godzilla rising out of the sea to attack Tokyo presented some new problems that were fun to tackle. First off, where am I going to get enough water for this? Thought about the bathtub, but it was too deep and I couldn't safely get the camera at water level without April killing me. I thought about the sink, but I didn't want to try and clone out a giant faucet from behind my supposedly giant robot.
"AIE! We must flee the city! Unit 03 is attacking!"
"No, the children's singing has summoned the bathroom faucet to protect us!"

I tried a plastic bowel, but I couldn't get the light to work out (the dark plastic absorbed the light with no reflection) and the water wasn't deep enough for the shot I wanted. Finally, in a moment of desperation, I grabbed the largest metal mixing bowel we have and it worked PERFECTLY. The curved edges reflected the light (again, the stove-top lamp) so the EVA was lit from all the important angles and still cast a reflection in the water. Plus, it looks like it is being lit up by helicopter spotlights as it emerges from the ocean.

Photoshop cleanup was a breeze. Tweak the contrast, play around with the eyes for a more menacing look, save, and upload to Flickr, and thank Adam and Sarah again and again for being such great, great friends!

EXIF Data, EXIF Data, EXIF Data:

Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi
Exposure: 2 sec (2)
Aperture: f/5.6
Focal Length: 55 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

Orientation: Horizontal (normal)
X-Resolution: 72 dpi
Y-Resolution: 72 dpi
Software: Adobe Photoshop CS3 Windows
Date and Time: 2007:12:25 20:38:36
YCbCr Positioning: Co-Sited
Exposure Program: Normal
Date and Time (Original): 2007:12:25 21:23:38
Date and Time (Digitized): 2007:12:25 21:23:38
Shutter Speed: -65535/65536
Metering Mode: Pattern
Color Space: sRGB
Focal Plane X-Resolution: 4433.295 dpi
Focal Plane Y-Resolution: 4453.608 dpi
White Balance: Manual
Compression: JPEG
Image Width: 3888 pixels
Image Height: 2592 pixels

Be good,
-Dave



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Azrael (0)

11:42 AM by , under ,

Azrael

I've shot Azrael pretty regularly since I found him. So much so that I'm afraid I go to the "Azrael Well" too often, and that's one of the things I don't like about myself, creatively speaking. I find some technique I like and I do it until it becomes habitual, then I get bored and stop. It happened with painting wargaming miniatures and I'm determined to not let it happen with my photography.

That said, however, this photo sums up the tricks I rely on for interesting toy shots, namely smoke and fire. If one fails, the other invariably picks up the visual slack. First, I tried the old "coming out of the smoke" trick, but the flashlights I use to illuminate Azrael's wrist blades created light beams in the smoke that looked really strange. Then I tried the old "coming out of the fire" trick, which looked even more strange because here this guy is, strolling out of an inferno with his wrist swords on fire, but they seem to provide a suspiciously small amount of illumination.

So I did what any budding photographer would do, I created a smaller fire in front and used it to frame the bottom of the shot. Hindsight being 20/20, I would have preferred the front flames to be roughly waist-high (on Azrael, not up to my waist), but that's hindsight for you. Everything looks easy once it's too late to change it.

Hold <- then -> and press 'A' for EXIF Data:

Camera: Fujifilm FinePixS2Pro
Exposure: 0.5 sec (1/2)
Aperture: f/1.8
Focal Length: 50 mm
ISO Speed: 100
Exposure Bias: 1 EV

Orientation: Horizontal (normal)
X-Resolution: 72 dpi
Y-Resolution: 72 dpi
Software: Adobe Photoshop CS3 Windows
Date and Time: 2007:12:21 13:33:56
Tag::TIFF::0x882A: -6, -6
Exposure Program: Normal
Date and Time (Original): 2007:12:21 13:32:05
Date and Time (Digitized): 2007:12:21 13:32:05
Shutter Speed: 1/1
Brightness: -116/100
Metering Mode: Center Weighted Average
Light Source: Daylight
Color Space: Uncalibrated
Focal Plane X-Resolution: 630 dpc
Focal Plane Y-Resolution: 630 dpc
Sensing Method: One-chip colour area sensor
Exposure Mode: Auto bracket
White Balance: Manual
Focal Length In 35mm Film: 75
Saturation: High saturation
Compression: JPEG
Image Width: 2024 pixels
Image Height: 3024 pixels

Be good,
-Dave



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Superman: Red Son (0)

9:41 AM by , under ,

Superman - Red Son

If you haven't done so yet, please go pick up Mark Millar's Superman: Red Son. You'll be doing yourself a favor, regardless of whether or not you like Superman!

With Superman, I wanted to try and recreate a more painted look, a combination of soviet-era propaganda and the glaring face of 1984's Big Brother. I like to think I managed the painted style, but I don't know about the propaganda angle. Maybe I'll have to re-edit the thing to include a party slogan at the bottom. If anyone has any suggestions, I would appreciate it!

EXIF data is as follows:

Camera: Fujifilm FinePixS2Pro
Exposure: 0.5 sec (1/2)
Aperture: f/1.8
Focal Length: 50 mm
ISO Speed: 100
Exposure Bias: 1 EV

Orientation: Horizontal (normal)
X-Resolution: 72 dpi
Y-Resolution: 72 dpi
Software: Adobe Photoshop CS3 Windows
Date and Time: 2007:12:20 11:31:15
Tag::TIFF::0x882A: -6, -6
Exposure Program: Normal
Date and Time (Original): 2007:12:20 11:16:47
Date and Time (Digitized): 2007:12:20 11:16:47
Shutter Speed: 1/1
Brightness: -116/100
Metering Mode: Center Weighted Average
Light Source: Daylight
Color Space: Uncalibrated
Focal Plane X-Resolution: 630 dpc
Focal Plane Y-Resolution: 630 dpc
Sensing Method: One-chip colour area sensor
Exposure Mode: Auto bracket
White Balance: Manual
Focal Length In 35mm Film: 75
Saturation: High saturation
Compression: JPEG
Image Width: 812 pixels
Image Height: 812 pixels

Be good,
-Dave



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Shadow Runner (0)

8:54 AM by , under ,

Shadow Runner

I tried to mimic a process done by my Flickr buddy Pairadocs, because I'm envious of the professional quality of his work. It's always so sleek and smooth and all the lines in his photos look like liquid. I could go on and on, but my jealousy would start to show.

Standard setup and lighting (kitchen stove), with a plate mirror for the reflection and a vinyl floor tile as a backdrop. A couple different Photoshop processes like Urban Acid and a Lomo Script, and, while I think I got close, I just couldn't get near his smoothness. Back to the drawing board, I suppose

EXIF data:

Camera: Fujifilm FinePixS2Pro
Exposure: 1 sec (1)
Aperture: f/1.8
Focal Length: 50 mm
ISO Speed: 100
Exposure Bias: 1 EV

Orientation: Horizontal (normal)
X-Resolution: 72 dpi
Y-Resolution: 72 dpi
Software: Adobe Photoshop CS3 Windows
Date and Time: 2007:12:18 10:47:40
Tag::TIFF::0x882A: -6, -6
Exposure Program: Manual
Date and Time (Original): 2007:12:18 10:16:12
Date and Time (Digitized): 2007:12:18 10:16:12
Shutter Speed: 0/1
Brightness: -266/100
Metering Mode: Center Weighted Average
Light Source: Daylight
Color Space: Uncalibrated
Focal Plane X-Resolution: 630 dpc
Focal Plane Y-Resolution: 630 dpc
Sensing Method: One-chip colour area sensor
Exposure Mode: Manual
White Balance: Manual
Focal Length In 35mm Film: 75
Saturation: High saturation
Compression: JPEG
Image Width: 2024 pixels
Image Height: 2712 pixels

Be good,
-Dave



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OMAC (0)

5:24 AM by , under ,

OMAC - One Man Army Corps

I keep trying to move away from relying on the smoke machine, because, for some reason, I see it as a crutch for me. It makes it so simple to have really engaging shots with lots of action and motion without much effort! Because of this, I've been trying to mix up my photos with some using the smoke machine and some not using it, and I have to admit that I am almost universally unhappy with anything that doesn't have smoke or fog in it.

Such was the case with OMAC. It wasn't until I decided to sleep on it before making a decision that I realized that I really was happy with this one and should stop whining ;-)

The setup was: OMAC on the stove with the stove-top bulb on. I used a black light for the glow and a laser pointer for his eye glow. Crop him down, crop out his bent sword hand, overlay the circuitry pattern and clean up the colors, Save As..., Flickr, Blog. Nothing to it!

EXIF Data begins...now:

Camera: Fujifilm FinePixS2Pro
Exposure: 0.05 sec (1/20)
Aperture: f/2.4
Focal Length: 50 mm
ISO Speed: 100
Exposure Bias: -1 EV

Orientation: Horizontal (normal)
X-Resolution: 72 dpi
Y-Resolution: 72 dpi
Software: Adobe Photoshop CS3 Windows
Date and Time: 2007:12:17 20:24:58
Tag::TIFF::0x882A: -6, -6
Exposure Program: Normal
Date and Time (Original): 2007:12:17 20:10:39
Date and Time (Digitized): 2007:12:17 20:10:39
Shutter Speed: 4321928/1000000
Brightness: 133/100
Metering Mode: Center Weighted Average
Light Source: Daylight
Color Space: Uncalibrated
Focal Plane X-Resolution: 630 dpc
Focal Plane Y-Resolution: 630 dpc
Sensing Method: One-chip colour area sensor
Exposure Mode: Auto bracket
White Balance: Manual
Focal Length In 35mm Film: 75
Saturation: High saturation
Compression: JPEG
Image Width: 1464 pixels
Image Height: 2024 pixels

Be good,
-Dave



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The Goon (0)

9:39 PM by , under , ,

The Goon

The setup was a bit more elaborate for this one. We have some soapstone (?) drink coasters that served as the sidewalk, the backdrop is a shelf door piece from the As-Is section of our local Ikea, The Goon and Franky booth appear in Eric Powell's monthly comic The Goon, and the lighting was limited to the light above the stove and an LED flashlight behind the backdrop. The smoke machine was also (obviously) used. I would like to congratulate myself for growing a third arm for this shot, because I still cannot understand how I operated the smoke machine, held the flashlight, and pressed the shutter all at the same time with just two hands. This one also took a bit of fiddling in Photoshop to balance the colors with the lighting.

EXIF data:

Camera: Fujifilm FinePixS2Pro
Exposure: 0.1 sec (1/10)
Aperture: f/1.8
Focal Length: 50 mm
ISO Speed: 100
Exposure Bias: -1 EV

Orientation: Horizontal (normal)
X-Resolution: 72 dpi
Y-Resolution: 72 dpi
Software: Adobe Photoshop CS3 Windows
Date and Time: 2007:12:13 23:21:04
Tag::TIFF::0x882A: -6, -6
Exposure Program: Normal
Date and Time (Original): 2007:12:13 22:43:14
Date and Time (Digitized): 2007:12:13 22:43:14
Shutter Speed: 3321928/1000000
Brightness: -83/100
Metering Mode: Center Weighted Average
Color Space: Uncalibrated
Focal Plane X-Resolution: 630 dpc
Focal Plane Y-Resolution: 630 dpc
Sensing Method: One-chip colour area sensor
Exposure Mode: Auto bracket
Focal Length In 35mm Film: 75
Saturation: High saturation
Compression: JPEG
Image Width: 1552 pixels
Image Height: 2005 pixels

Be good,
-Dave



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Judge Dredd (0)

1:20 PM by , under ,

Dredd

Fairly straightforward setup for this one. Stand Dredd on the stove, struggle to get the vinyl floor tile backdrop to stop falling over, plug in the fog machine (that cable you see is part of the fog machine), and turn on the light above the stove. Once that was all finished, I processed it in Photoshop to get the colors suitably dreary, added a little blur for the painted look, cropped out the stove, played around with the opacity of the top layer, Save As..., upload to Flickr, then hit Refresh obsessively until someone comments.

For those interested, here is the EXIF data:

Camera: Fujifilm FinePixS2Pro
Exposure: 0.167 sec (1/6)
Aperture: f/1.8
Focal Length: 50 mm
ISO Speed: 100
Exposure Bias: -1 EV

Orientation: Horizontal (normal)
X-Resolution: 72 dpi
Y-Resolution: 72 dpi
Software: Adobe Photoshop CS3 Windows
Date and Time: 2007:12:13 15:06:32
Tag::TIFF::0x882A: -6, -6
Exposure Program: Normal
Date and Time (Original): 2007:12:13 14:53:17
Date and Time (Digitized): 2007:12:13 14:53:17
Shutter Speed: 2584963/1000000
Brightness: -166/100
Metering Mode: Center Weighted Average
Color Space: Uncalibrated
Focal Plane X-Resolution: 630 dpc
Focal Plane Y-Resolution: 630 dpc
Sensing Method: One-chip colour area sensor
Exposure Mode: Auto bracket
Focal Length In 35mm Film: 75
Saturation: High saturation
Compression: JPEG
Image Width: 1748 pixels
Image Height: 2780 pixels

Be good,
-Dave



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Hulk vs. Thing 1

4:06 PM by , under , ,

Hulk vs. Thing

For this one, I set the figures on my laptop and used the screen as the only light source. It's a technique I've heard other photographers mention, but I'd never tried it. Took a couple shots with the smoke machine, and a couple without, and this was the best to come out.

I'm wondering if I should reshoot this in RAW and with a lower ISO and blow it up into a poster. I have a buddy who really digs The Thing and I think he would really like one for his wall.

Be good,
-Dave



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Starting Off (0)

3:58 PM by , under

I wanted to set up a blog where I can focus on my photography and talk a little about how I set up my own shots while I take wild guesses at how to recreate the amazing photos I see from other people.

To start off, I just want to say that I do not have a professional studio or lighting rig. I don't have reflectors, diffusers, ring lights, or any of that other stuff. What I typically use is the kitchen counter, the light above the stove, some flashlights, laser pointers, or the occasional controlled fire to light my toy shots. If I'm feeling particularly bold, I will use the black light or smoke machine.

So that's me. I'm just a nerd taking pictures of his toys, using whatever happens to be available, and hoping for the best.



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