Words by Scott Bourne - Platypod Pro - See My Work At ToyPhotographs.com
Edited by Eryka Bagwell
I spend time almost every day making toy photographs in my home studio. It's a ton of fun!
I use lots of gear from Platypod to pull this off and I frankly am not sure if I could do it WITHOUT Platypod gear.
I'm going to walk you through the steps I use (from scratch) to make a set, and light and shoot it. And I'll show you how I use the Platypod gear to pull it all off.
This is often the hardest part of my set building. I have to come up with a background that compliments the scene I am trying to set.
Here, I want to show an imaginary battle between an alien from the ALIENS franchise against an alien from the PREDATOR franchise. I have a complex diorama that I have already built which looks like an abandoned building which has decayed. It is set against the edge of the forest.
For the background, I created the scene you see here using an AI generated image. Then I enlarged that image using GIGAPIXEL AI and sent it to Printique.com for printing 20x30" on poster board.
Now the challenge is - how do I get it to stand up on its own? That's where the Platypod gear starts to become valuable. To hold the background, I use a Platypod Max (or eXtreme - I use both but had the Max handy for this shot) and then I pair it with a Platypod Elbow, Mini Super Clamp, and 3-inch spigot adapter.
My background is wider than my table so I use an Apple Box from Matthews with three pieces of foam stacked on top to give me a place to put the Platypod Max in position to hold the left side of the background.
Then I assemble the parts and create the background holder.
Next I set out the parts for the right side background holder. This consists of everything I used in the left side holder minus the 3" spigot. This is because the right side holder didn't need to be as high as the left since it was placed on the same surface as the printed background.
You can see the printed background set out flat on the shooting table here. This is a print from an AI generated scene. Important to note since I think AI has a place in certain types of photographic art. Here it saved me from having to go to the forest to make an image. I just designed it in my mind and then printed it on poster board. (It's better to use gator foam if you can find and afford it.)
In the next image you can see that the background is now free standing - with the help of the Platypod on the left - stacked on top of the apple box and some foam and the Platypod on the right, placed on the table. By using the Mini Super Clamps, I can easily grip the ends of the printed background and the Platypods with the Platypod Elbow securely hold the background in place.
I'll go ahead now and show you how I set up the rest of the picture...
I placed a green carpet that simulates grass in front of the background.
Then I placed a diorama that I had already constructed out of 3D printed parts. I used some logs designed to be placed in an aquarium to make it look like a real forest.
Next up I add some fake bushes I bought at Michaels and designed to be used with model railroad kits.
Now I'm about ready to make the image. I am using a Genaray Full Moon 18" Bi-Color LED Light bounced off the ceiling as my "world light" (not pictured) and my Fuji X100V to make the photo.
I'm using the Platypod eXtreme to hold the Platyball Ergo and mounting the camera to the Ergo ball head so I can position the camera at roughly character level. This would be very cumbersome if I were trying to use a tripod with ball head. The surface area I am working with is barely larger than 4'x4'. This constrained space is perfect for a Platypod. I did find I need to elevate the Platyball four inches to get the angle I wanted so I used a large piece of foam core to balance the Platypod on.
In the next picture you can get a bird's eye view of the shot from the camera's perspective. Of course, there is going to be some post work. I look at the information captured at this stage of the job as mere asset capture. I will use tools like Photoshop and the particle generator in BorisFX 2022.5 to add some digital SFX to the practical effects you see in the frame.
The final result came out pretty much like I hoped it would. The Aliens vs. Predator story should be known to you sci-fi fans. This is my simple interpretation. It's all just for fun. I am practicing and learning and sharing my results for those who also enjoy "playing" with their photography.
The Platypod gear used here involved three Platypods, two Platypod Elbows, two Platypod Super Mini Clamp and one Platyball. It makes life so much easier when you have the right tools.
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If you want to see more of my toy photographs (almost all of which were made with the use of SOMETHING from Platypod) go to vero.co/scottbourne or www.toyphotographs.com.
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