I recently nabbed my Force FX Lightsabers out of storage and brought them to the studio to house them on the wall. I've always wanted to find a simplistic mounting option that didn't look big or bulky, and after doing a little internet searching, I found out that Force FX Lightsaber handles fit perfectly in these mounting brackets made for Maglite flashlights.
They just screw right into the wall and after popping the handles in them, you can hardly see them, and it looks like the lightsabers are floating off the wall a few inches. The above image was taken a few moments after getting all three installed. How awesome is that!!
If you are a nutjob like me and have to have lightsabers, these are the classiest, simplistic way of displaying them. So excellent. Click the small image above to order them through Amazon.
I LOVE the 1978 movie Alien. The atmosphere, the design, the cast, the ambience, the pacing - everything is just darn perfect. Toy company NECA has been making figures based on the movie Alien and it's franchise, and I've been picking some up, making some dioramas here at the studio and making some more "cinematic" photographs using the toys. I wanted to share a little about how I'm making them and share some of them here on the blog.Read More
A word of advice to other ThreeA collectors out there that like to take photographs of their figures: BE CAREFUL WITH THE WRIST PEGS! While trying to remove that awesomesauce Mad Max jacket I have for him, I pulled on the sleeve too hard and his wrist peg snapped. This is the second time I've had a wrist peg snap - the first time was back at the start of 2017 when changing hands for my Blind Cowboy and his peg snapped. Replacements can be found on eBay, but they are stupid expensive. So be extra careful when doing anything with the hands or wrists. I've since cut that long leather sleeve off the jacket, so now it's more of a badass leather vest. Still looks excellent.
You can see a few more example images I made over on my Flickr page.
ThreeA figures continue to control my life. Oh my god.
This is "Shit Got Real JC". He's Jesus, only his arms are wrapped in bandages and he's covered in tattoos and he is 100% badass. He roams the landscape punching out zombies when he can. When I started picking up ThreeA figures my list looked like this:
Blind Cowboy/Dead Equine (horse)
Tomorrow Kings: Cornelius
KDA, my first ThreeA figure, was purchased because at the time he was the lowest priced entry-level figure into the world of ThreeA figures. He was the figure that told me "Yup, you are going to certainly want the other figures because they are incredible!" and I keep him around because he goes so well with Cornelius, which was my second figure.
There are earlier versions of JC that exist; the body of the figure is different and the head sculpt is vastly different compared to the updated Shit Got Real version. Here are two sample images I found via Googling:
Even starting right at the top of his head, JC has had some adjustments made to him for the revised "Shit Got Real" version. As you can see in the comparison images, the original JC has flatter hair and a smaller beard. The revised JC completely makes a new head mold and turns his hair and beard up to 11; a large spikey portion of his hair juts out, his bangs are longer over his right eye, and his beard is much longer. His "GODLIFE" tattoo is the same, but now there are more additional tattoo's. On the original JC, his hand bandages were part of his hand cast, but with the new JC, his arms and hands are wrapped up in actual bandages.
Overall it's a fantastic upgrade. The only "downsides" are that his costume is much more sparse on the revised figure; the original came with a track suit and a zombie head that fit into a satchel that hung around his waist. The revised JC looks more militant; more badass and more roughed up. Which was something that I was excited about. Even his feet changed dramatically; the original JC had sculpted shoes whereas the revised JC has faux-leather combat boots that his legs/feet slide into. It's really awesome.
I had been keeping an eye on JC through eBay, and when one came up at a good price, I jumped on it. I had a few "custom" ideas that I wanted to add; a weathered leather jacket that I picked up off eBay from a Mad Max: Fury Road unlicensed 12" figure, and a wood/metal sledgehammer that I also found via eBay. I just thought that this JC would look badass standing there holding a sledgehammer. Forget swords or guns - he needed something raw and blunt and heavy. The sledgehammer I found worked perfect. The great thing about 12" scale figures is all the amazing 1:6 scale accessories you can get for them.
pictured: profile of JC with leather jacket and sledgehammer
I immediately make some portraits of him shortly after he and his accessories arrived, and it also gave me a chance to use this stuff called Atmosphere Aerosol. I have been using fog machines for toy work for many years, but I've had terrible luck with fog machines; Dave let me borrow his fog machine, and after two uses it clogged up, despite me following directions on how to clean it. Then, over the last few years, I've gone through two more fog machines - each time following exactly what the directions enclosed with the machine say on how to take care of them, and each time, after only 1 use, they both got clogged up.
So I did some googling and found Atmosphere Aerosol:
It's small and compact, and I hadn't read about any clogging issues with it, so I bought a can and gave it a test with JC:
The stuff works like gangbusters! Since I'm only shooting small figures with it, a little can go a long, long way, which is awesome!
I also picked up a 1:6 scale Captain America shield for cheap jut for a little extra patriotism:
I'm looking forward to taking JC out in the warmer months this summer to get some outdoor images with him. Hopefully Sara and I will take another trip to Clough State Park, where I've taken images of my other ThreeA figures.
I love these figures - so expressive, so badass. They are so damn fun to make photographs with.
As y'all probably know by now, I love action figures and toys. I've always had an action figure in my hand since I was a little kid. I'm a bit of a pop-culture junkie, and when I was in college, I started photographing some of my toys as portraits, and over the years I've done a few series' and lots of individual images.
For Christmas, Sara got me a few figures that had me really excited. One was a Michael Jackson figure dressed in his "Smooth Criminal" video outfit, and the second was a Freddie Mercury figure, both by Japanese toy makers BanDai & Tamashii Nations, who also made the totally awesome Daft Punk figures I got years ago.
I spent a little time with Michael Jackson at the studio one afternoon. It also gave me a chance to try out a can of Atmosphere Aerosol. I've been using and having terrible luck with Fog Machines for years. I've bought three different brands of fog machine and every time I've tried to follow the directions exactly as listed in the manuals and these machines would always bind or gunk up after my very first use. It got so frustrating when these stupid things wouldn't work any longer.
I was poking around the Interwebz and saw a wedding photographer using this Atmosphere Aerosol for a portrait in a barn. It was small and portable, unlike those big fog machines, and you could use it over and over without it gunking up. Cool.
So I ordered a can from B&H and it arrived and I sat down with Micheal and we started taking some images. For the record, I also had MJ playing on the stereo at the studio. Just 'cuz.
Michael comes with a bunch of extra hands in different poses, a 2nd face with a different expression, and he also comes with a second torso (seen in the photo above) in his "Michael-Jackson-arms-stretched-straight-up" pose. Totally awesome.
Eventually I got him posed in the image above and the lighting looked good and I set the timer on my camera, locked in focus and then sprayed a few sprays of the aerosol as the shutter clicked - and I was totally in love with the result. The aerosol is so awesome and works amazing with small-scale figures; you hardly need any of the spray at all, and it is so much easier to use and store and have on hand. It's a tad expensive for a can, but I think it's worth it in the end for simplicity and it should last me a good amount of time since I've only been using it for toy photography.
Here is a behind-the-scenes shot of the image up above:
I had three lights set up: one directly above him, like a stage-light, with a grid on it to control the beam and to create a circle of light at his feet. I had two gridded strobes off to his left and right; gridded yellow and blue, to give some accent colors. I had him standing on a clear piece of plastic with a piece of black backdrop paper underneath that, to make it look like a glossy stage floor. Not shown is the Atmosphere Aerosol, but I just sprayed it directly down from over his head at the right moment.
I like photographing toys because they don't really take up a ton of space and you can mostly shoot them anywhere. If I ever had to just work out of my house and not have a studio, I could continue to shoot toys with no issues, as long as I had enough space for lighting and grip.
I've spent my whole life appreciating figures and little tiny human-being models. It allows me to still connect to my childhood joys while being able to create and totally art-direct the action and situations of the toys - exactly the same way I work with real-life clients; in controlled settings where I'm setting up lights and directing them for the sessions.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! I love sharing the stuff that I'm passionate about.
Toys rule! :D
I'm a big toy guy. I grew up an only child, so a lot of my time was spent playing with toys and making my own little universes inside my head. One of my favorite toy lines in the 1980's was Kenner's "M.A.S.K." line. These were cars and trucks that would slightly transform into other types of vehicles or weapons. For example, a gull-wing door Chevy Camaro could turn into a flying jet-car. You can see more examples of what the toy-line looked like by visiting the M.A.S.K. Collector's Guide.
I had most of the first two waves of the toys and cars, and as it was some of my favorite toys I did everything I could to preserve them and make sure they lasted. In fact, I still have two boxes of the cars and figures in my parents attic, and while visiting recently I went though everything to see how it has lasted since my childhood days. Most of the stuff is in decent shape; a few things have been lost, but a majority of everything has still survived multiple moves. I grabbed my bag full of figures and laid them all out on the studio floor one morning.
I also have an obsession with toys that wear hats and helmets. I don't know where it comes from, but if it has a hat that can be removed, it's a safe bet I've had it at one point or another :)
Anyway, here are my M.A.S.K. figures. I can still remember most of their names.
A while back I had posted some images I created of The Blind Cowboy; a fantastic 1/6th scale figure by ThreeA Toys. He was originally what got me thinking non-stop about ThreeA figures. He usually comes packaged with the Dead Equine; a giant 2o-pound horse sculpted out of polystone, and it was only available for an extremely limited time and a very expensive price. Some people, however, like to buy ThreeA items, split up the contents, and then resell them; this was how I ended up purchasing the Blind Cowboy. I didn't think I'd ever be able to purchase a Dead Equine, but the image of that horse was burned in my brain. A short while ago, I actually found someone that was selling just the Dead Equine without the Blind Cowboy.
...and now my Blind Cowboy/Dead Equine set is complete.
It was actually fortuitous, as the Dead Equine I purchased was literally everything that comes with the retail version *except* the Blind Cowboy. So it's a complete set! How awesome!
The box that the Equine comes in is HUGE. You can't see it by this picture, but it's massively large. I bet Sara could sit inside the box it comes it. It also comes with a gorgeous fold-out poster featuring the artwork from the cover.
I'll be doing more formal photographs once it gets warmer outside, but right after I got him I broke out the fog machine and played around a little bit.
This is the one toy/collectible where Sara supported my purchase 100%. When it finally arrived, she said "This is a work of art. This is a sculpture."
It's so amazing. Prints of my Blind Cowboy portraits are available on my Society6 page starting at $20.
Christmas is awesome because I'm a fool that still loves toys. So Santa comes and leaves toys for me. Because I'm basically still 11 years old at heart.
I got these two Star Wars Black Series 6" figures. They are of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker in Stormtrooper suits. They have removable helmets. As a kid, I was obsessed with toys that had removable hats and helmets. Star Wars. Indiana Jones, M.A.S.K., Visionaries, etc. If you could put a hat or helmet on the figure, I pretty much wanted it. I don't know why I'm obsessed with something like that, but there ya go - a little more information about my weird quirks.
I broke out the fog machine here at the studio and took a few photographs of these guys.
I'm on my third fog machine. No matter how correctly I clean them, they always gunk up on me. I'm cursed.
Taken by boat on the river Auduin, as we entered the realm of Gondor, while on vacation in Middle Earth.
The Argonath (also known as The Gates of Argonath or The Pillars of Kings) is a monument comprising two enormous statues carved in the likenesses of Isildur and his father Elendil, standing upon either side of the River Anduin at the northern approach to Nen Hithoel. It marked the northern border of Gondor, as nearby down south were previous outposts, the Amon Hen and the Amon Lhaw.
These two lovely Argonath statues are actually sculpted bookends that came with a deluxe version of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring dvd release somewhere around 2002. I missed the initial release of these because of price, but I went searching on eBay a while back and finally found a set.
These are so fantastic. One of my favorite scenes from Fellowship is when they pass into the realm of Gondor and see the Argonath.
This shot was taken on my back porch of our apartment; the bookends simply sitting on the railing, and me waiting for the sun to lower enough that I could catch a little bit of a "gleam" off of one of them.