trevor

Santa In Carbonite

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Announcing our 2014 Christmas card - Santa in Carbonite!

At the end of every year we collect all of the cool card ideas that we thought of during the season. I then create a calendar event for the next November, listing out the ideas we thought of. Last year we came up with a Star Wars Christmas card idea with the boys guarding Santa Claus, frozen in carbonite. Call them Imperial Elves.

Building A Set

To create this image I decided to build a miniature set in my studio. It was about 18 inches tall, and I used mostly balsa wood to build it. For the platform lighting I connected some USB led lights and then gelled them orange.

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To get the concrete texture, I used a product by Liquitex called Ceramic Stucco. It’s great at producing a gritty, concrete-like texture to a surface. After applying it, I used a combination of Liquitex Basics paints and airbrushing to get the worn effect.

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With all of the texturing and painting done, I tried out a few angles to see what worked best (you can see one angle with the camera below). Ultimately I decided on a front view, as it provided a nice symmetry to everything.

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Lighting

For lighting, I looked at stills from the original movie. There were overhead vents that had light spilling through them, raking across the walls, hitting the floor. To accomplish this I created a simple roof with the vents cut out. I placed a 580ex flash overhead with no diffusion, and adjusted the ceiling and light location until I got just the right amount of ‘rake’ across the walls and floor. I placed a flag over the sit to keep the light from the 580 from hitting the rest of the area. I just wanted it to come through the overhead vents. I also had a soft front light to serve as a general fill.

The exposure was long - 3.2 seconds, f/10, ISO 100. This gave me a good balance between the flash light coming in and the glow of the USB lights. Here’s a diagram of the lighting setup.

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Creating Santa

To create our frozen Santa, I found a 3D model online of Han Solo frozen in a block of carbonite. I took that model into Cinema 4D and used its sculpting tools to turn Solo into jolly old St. Nick. I left some of the face details so that it still looked like Han a little bit :)

In Cinema 4D you set up a camera and lights like you do with a real shoot. So, I simply matched everything to how I had lit the set (shot at 35mm). I also added in two glow lights (one at his feet and one to the right side to mimic the light coming from the control panel).

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'Principal Photography'

Photographing the boys was pretty straightforward. I had a soft light for fill. I also ran an overhead strip to simulate the vent light, as well as an orange-gelled floor light to simulate the glow from the platform behind them.

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Once all the elements were photographed and rendered, I took everything into Photoshop for compositing. I did some touch-ups to the walls and platform grates, and I added some smoke from the top. Here's a shot of how the retouch was coming along before I cropped it:

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And here's the back:

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Would J.J. approve? I hope so!

This was just one of the cards I created this year over at AustinChristmasCards.com. Be sure to head over there this week as voting officially begins this Saturday for the coveted 2014 Refrigerator Award trophy!

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Great Scott! The 2012 Christmas Card!

Some of you know that each year I do fun Christmas cards for clients over at AustinChristmasCards.com. While working on those client's cards, I have to squeeze in a shoot for our family too. This year there was much deliberation over what to do. We usually have some sort of a running list of ideas that we keep from year to year. I have misplaced said list. In the end, we decided on doing a Back To The Future themed card. It's a pretty good movie. Ok I'm kidding - it's the GREATEST of ALL TIME. You will not find a bigger fan than me. We knew instantly that Trevor had to be Biff. It just fits his personality. He probably could take Biff right now in a MMA cage fight. That meant Brandon had to be Marty, so we scored him a Coast Guard Youth Auxiliary life preserver. The car is an interesting story. Originally I tried to track down one of those fan cars that are all decked out to look like the film. When that didn't work out, I went to my backup - an 8-inch long toy DeLorean.

There's a power line running from the car to the tree. We'll leave it up to you whether the car is powering the tree or vice versa. The mall is Barton Creek Mall here in Austin - always a pleasure to shoot at late at night while wearing a dark hoodie.

Here's the front and back. Click the first image for a larger version:

Back To The Future Card #1 Back To The Future Card #2

A Pirate Birthday

Earlier I posted some pictures of the incredible Black Pearl/Queen Anne's Revenge from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Coincidentally enough, my 4-year-old is about to turn 5, and he wants a pirate theme for his party. So I took the opportunity to use the images for a 'party poster' (I have a habit of doing this. Check out my other kid's Star Wars poster). Here's a cropped version of the image. To see the full uncropped version in all of its pixel glory (1MB), click here.

The pirate thing has been with Trevor for a while. Here's his 1-year-old birthday image I designed back in 2007:

It's Playoff Time

It's playoff time in the NBA, and our family is heavy into the OKC Thunder. What's not to love about them? Great players in a great community. During the playoffs, everyone plays a little bit harder. There are a few more elbows, and a lot more passion and determination. Sometimes, players get hurt. If by chance any of the OKC starting lineup get injured, I've got two world class athletes ready to go. Send them in Scott Brooks, send them in.

And when they execute a perfect alley-oop in the 4th quarter to win the game, we'll know that we've just seen what it takes to become a champion.

Thunder Up.

Blogs In The Sky Keep On Changin'

I decided recently that it was time to shake things up a little bit in blog land. I now have a snazzy new design thanks to the folks at StudioPress. I've also added some additional content at the top. There's a page for Photog.TV, as well as my luminosity mask set. At the bottom, you'll see some of my recent Instagram images (yes, I know, I need to use it more often). And since a post can always benefit with a picture, here are a few shots of the boys taken while we were visiting some family in Oklahoma. They look so happy to be standing in a field.

2011 Christmas Card

I have a deep affection for fun holiday cards. In fact, I'm usually pretty busy this time of year creating holiday images for my clients. I love the whole process - discussing ideas, doing the shoot, and the post work. My goal every year is to create something that will stay on the refrigerator past New Year's day. This year, we went with a CSI theme. Specifically, CSI: Miami. That show is so over-the-top. Extra credit goes to Horatio Caine (played by David Caruso), as he somehow manages to open each show with a ridiculous one-liner. This video on YouTube, showing over 7 minutes of his poetic dialogue, will probably have you in stitches. It inspired us this year. Here's the front of the card:

Some people might not get the CSI reference right away, so we included an image/tag line on the back:

We had a great time producing this year's card, and are already thinking of ideas for next year. In the meantime, I've posted new work that I've done for my holiday clients at austinchristmascards.com.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and an incredible New Year!