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Tips & Tutorials >> All Tips & Tutorials

Eric Choon: Portraying Life With Lego Photography

2020-06-04
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2.15 k
In this article:


Canon EOS 550D, EF50MM f/1.4 USM, f/1.8, ISO 1250, 1/250s, 50mm

Being kept indoors has never been much of a challenge for photographer Eric Choon. During this stay home interval, he saw the opportunity to work on his smaller projects (literally!) and keep the creative juices flowing in his own way. Think Lego and everyday household objects as the elements, his home as the blank canvas, photography as the medium and himself as the point of inspiration, and you’ll get the gist of what this series is all about: A cheeky, outdoor day in the life of Eric Choon portrayed through Lego photography. Learn how he sets up each scene by following his journey!

 

Scene 1: Gardening in The Morning


Canon EOS 550D, EF50MM f/1.4 USM, f/3.5, ISO 3200, 1/125, 50mm

As dawn breaks, Lego Eric prepares his gardening tools for some plant care and maintenance. The soft sun rays, mildly-scented morning dew and the chirps of hungry baby birds give a pleasant (and promising) start to the day. Oh, and how can he forget his partner-in-crime to help with the removal of nasty weeds that have had a growth spurt! Ugh, at least the orchids are doing well.

 

Behind-The-Scenes: Gardening in The Morning


Canon EOS M50, EF-M15-45MM f/3.5-6.3 IS STM, f/4.5, ISO 125, 0.4s, 28mm

Tools used: Lego toys, toolboxes, dried flower buds, a translucent box, origami tree and a green mat.

Eric Choon: This is an outdoor scene, therefore natural light is essential to add a lifelike portrayal to the photo. I took this shot near my window during the day so the shadows cast on the green mat will resemble how shadows are formed with natural lighting outdoors. The trees are made from Origami (a paper folding technique), and I placed the dried flower buds in the foreground to create depth and texture.

In review: We love the creative use of actual life-size toolboxes and how it resembles a house in the final output. We also enjoy the colour story of the boxes with the Lego subjects and how the scene utilises three colours to keep the overall look clean. With an aperture of f/3.5 (larger aperture = shallow depth of field), the effect of a background and foreground blur leads the focus back to the main subject of the image. 

 

Scene 2: Grocery Shopping in The Afternoon


Canon EOS 550D, EF50MM f/1.4 USM, f/2.5, ISO 3200, 1/200s, 50mm

A short trip to pick up some groceries gives a breather from work, replenishes the already-depleted pantry and allows you to get some fresh produce for dinner. It’s always good to practice safe distancing while outdoors, to have the proper protection and to not hoard supplies. Perhaps now is the time to try that new flavour of potato chips, or to pick up more chocolate bars (seeing how I can finish one within less than an hour)?


Behind-The-Scenes: Grocery Shopping In The Afternoon


Canon EOS M50, EF-M15-45MM f/3.5-6.3 IS STM, f/3.5, ISO 125, 1/5s, 15mm

Tools used: Canned food, food packs, signage parcel paper

Eric Choon: The first thing that comes to my mind about a grocery store is gigantic objects and advertisements on them. To create the experience, I made use of food packs and canned food available at home as props. These props help to add layers and depth while the handwritten signage and some hard light added realism to the scene.

In Review: We love how the elements built the storyline! Tip: When thinking of replicating reality to a Lego photography scene, start by listing out the unique necessary details. This is to steer the viewer’s interpretation of the image to what you’ve set it out to be. For example, using sand to portray a beach or sprinkling powdered sugar to resemble rain or snow.

 

Scene 3: Late-Night Movie at a Drive-In Theatre


Canon EOS 550D, EF50MM f/1.4 USM, f/3.2, ISO 2000, 1/80s, 50mm

Always lovely to end the day with something nice, and today, a make-shift drive-in theatre it shall be! It’s been quite a fruitful day and Lego Eric finally has the time to sit down and enjoy his evening. Of course, it’ll never be fully complete without a homemade cocktail and white blanket to make-do for the movie screen. Can’t talk to you now, the show’s about to start! 

 

Behind-The-Scenes: Late-Night Movie at a Drive-In Theatre


Canon EOS M50, EF-M15-45MM f/3.5-6.3 IS STM, f/4.0, ISO 125, 1/5s, 21mm


Canon EOS M50, EF-M15-45MM f/3.5-6.3 IS STM, f/9.0, ISO 125, 1/5s, 15mm

Tools: A light source, translucent box

Eric Choon: To achieve this vintage movie screening scene, this shot was taken in a dark environment. I sketched the movie title onto a sheet of transparent paper and projected it onto tracing paper by using the mobile phone's flashlight. The use of fairy lights and some handwritten signage added warmth and created a romantic vibe.

In review: Through shadow puppetry, this is such a creative and easy way to portray a movie-on-screen scene. All you need is a strong source of light (Eric used his cellphone’s flashlight) to cast the shadow on the other side of the translucent box. A word of advice: play around with the aspect of revealing and hiding some details with the shallow depth of field to create interest and have your viewers work out the clues to interpret the scene. 
 

Additional Macro Toy Photography tips from Eric Choon:

  • A good macro lens is always a good start! With good gears, the problems you face will be halved instantly.
  • Tripod! Since you will be getting through a lot of hands-on trial and error for your scene, it will be handy to have a tripod to hold the camera steady for you.
  • Learn to be patient and keep experimenting! Working with small items can be tricky and challenging, and you would need to be able to visualise and plan each scene properly before the shoot. 
  • Knowing the props and getting them ready. I will usually have some handy tools like tweezers, blue tack, fishing lines, metal wire and sticks during my shoot.
  • If your toy of choice has a reflective glare and is affecting your output, you can temporarily reduce its shine with a ‘Dulling Spray’ from Krylon.

There are always limitations in any environment and one should make the best out of it to their advantage. Take this chance to push your creative and innovative boundaries by showcasing ordinary household objects and make them extraordinary!

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