Anatomy Of A Toy Photo – Part 281

Anatomy Of A Toy Photo – Part 281

The iPhone wins again!

I worked pretty hard on this one. It took me most of a day to set up the set, think through the shot and decide where to place the lights.

If you look closely you will see FOUR – count em FOUR Platypods. There are three Platypod Ultras – There’s one down in the bottom right corner of the image with a Platypod Disc – mounted to a Profoto C1 Plus – LED light that has been gelled blue.

(BTW that light is pointed at a silver bounce card and that bounce card’s only job is to push a blue light through the open door as Batman walks in and catches the Joker playing with the PacMan machine – AGAIN!)

There’s another Ultra holding my iPhone 13 Pro on the Robus SPCS-001 Smartphone Tripod Adapter & Stand. For those who listen to my iPhone podcast w/ Jefferson Graham, this is the stand I mention on the show that airs Friday. It’s my new favorite iPhone holder.

There is a third Platypod Ultra bottom left corner of the image holding a LumeCube Panel Pro that is dialed into a blue color and again, the light is pointed out a silver bounce card to bring some more of the blue light into the scene.

The fourth Platypod is a Platypod Max and it has the Platypod Elbow – mini-super-clamp attached to it holding up the bounce card. (I cannot live without the Elbow. I have several and use them all the time.)

So in addition to the four Platypods, there is a working 1:12 scale PacMan video game. Yes it actually works. You can play the game. (Mind blown.) There is also a palette of cinder blocks (1:12 scale) that I found on Etsy. Also there is a faux locker room with some boxes, benches and lockers.

I also want to mention that if you look carefully just to the left of the PacMan machine, there is the Joker’s cane. I believe in attention to detail. 🙂

Off camera and above everything is the brilliant Genaray Full Moon 18″ Bi-Color LED Light it has a diffuser sock on it and it’s pointed at the ceiling above the set and dialed in to about 1/3 power. This is what I call my “world light.” Relative to scale it’s as big as the sun and I use it to provide overall ambient light to the scene.

The final image is meant to portray Batman sneaking up on the Joker after he catches the Joker engrossed in playing the video game.

I try to have a little story in my mind as I build these sets and make these photos. The fun part is I have absolutely no idea what I am doing. I am new to this type of photography so I am working with a true “beginner’s mind.” And if you asked me – am I doing it properly? I have no idea and don’t really care. Nobody is paying me for this so it’s all for fun and that is a brand new experience for me.

I get to be creative in photography in new ways. As a wildlife photographer I control nothing. I have to wait on the animal and hope I find it in good light, in favorable winds, and close enough that I can capture a photo of it.

In toy photography I literally start with a blank canvas and build everything myself. It’s all me – all up to me – and the only person I have to satisfy is myself. I am having the time of my life and am a little sad that I didn’t discover this type of photography sooner. There are many people who are far better at it than I am but I am practicing and learning every day. Maybe I’ll live long enough to get good at it.

When I got the DNG file from the iPhone, I opened it in Adobe Camera Raw, made some minor adjustments and then imported the image into Photoshop. There I used the BorisFX Optics 2022 plugin and I added the screen over the top of the building, did some sharpening, color grading, and re-lighting.

Oh and about the iPhone 13 Pro. It is the only camera that would fit in this scene. My Sony is way too big. So the beauty and utility of using an iPhone camera that will fit in tight places saves the day. I shot RAW and while I usually use Firstlight from Filmic Pro, for this type of image, I decided to just use ProRaw on the iPhone because I wanted to test the experience of viewing the scene on my Apple Watch and then triggering the shutter from the watch. The whole thing sounds like science fiction to an old guy like me and 10 years ago, it would have been.

It’s the best time in history to be a photographer. There’s so much great gear out there.

I hope it’s been helpful for you to see how I did this image, even if you don’t like it. Maybe it will inspire you to do something like this on your own.

P.S. If you want to see more of my toy photography, visit my Flickr page –

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