Photographer Andrew Mitchell @ recently took time to share with us his photographic process in a behind the scenes feature showing us how he greats those atmospheric shots in the style that he truly owns.
Behind the scenes with Andrew Mitchell
When taking pictures, I like to shoot bare minium not using a, flash, tripod, or reflector in a typical shoot. I prefer minimal gear for three reasons; my locations are often a bit of a hike, the gear can be heavy and, most of all, I dont have it. There are several steps I use when getting a shot. Location, posing and editing. Those three steps alone are the foundation of every shot I take. Location is important because its the setting of your photo. If I’m shooting Star Wars figures, I want to get them into an environment that feels like they belong. The location needs to compliment the figure. The posing is important because it gives the figure life and sets the mood. And editing is important because it provides enhancements that you don’t often get in camera.
For my Star Wars shots, I typically put them in tall green grass. The subject of my shot is my photogenic Scout Trooper. I captured his back right shoulder for my shot with a DLT-19 heavy blaster from an Entertainment Earth Exclusive Sandtrooper. I posed him with the gun slung over his shoulder resting on the White (Seargent) Paldron from the same sandtrooper. On top of the paldron, was Kylo Ren’s tattered cape. Once I had an acceptable image, I moved to the final phase of my shoot; editing.
My preferred editing software is Adobe Lightroom. For this shot, I brightened the highlights, added some contrast and also cropped unneccessary bits of grass to emphasize the Scout as the subject. I like clean sharp crops.
The details on the figure(s) can be found below.
-Star Wars The Black Series Biker Scout
-DLT-19 heavy blaster and Seargent Paldron from ther EE Exclusive Sandtrooper
-Kylo Rens tattered cape from the Star Wars the Black Series Kylo Ren
Since I was shooting Acid Rain, A World Under Pollution, by Oritoy (Kit Lau) I wanted to put them in an apocalyptic wasteland environment. To create a wasteland setting, I used rocks and made a semicircle as a backdrop to the scene. I built a small fire in the middle and spread the ashes around giving it a burnt setting. I also made it little muddy with no grass.
My focus was Bob. When I pulled him out of my bag, his gun was under his arm and was being held by his hand. The posing was accidental. But, after a few tweaks, I had a unique setup that I hadn’t seen done before. I put Damien in the back with his gasmask head on and had him in mid-stride. I took shots from several angles and varied focal lengths until I was satisfied with the results.
Editing is essiential to every good photo. My last step is post processing. I edit using Adobe Lightroom and I highly recommend it. Editing apps can be a temporary solution if you don’t have Lightroom but they’re not the same. Once I load my image into Lightroom the first thing I do is sharpen.
Luminance is great to start with but you need to know how to use it. To much luminance makes your subject look glossy, or even painted. It takes away the detail and weathering of a figure. So, I typically only do 10 luminance. I tweaked my highlights and brought in some contrast and added a clean crop.
My favorite Lightroom feature is the brush tool. It’s a common tool but, often times over looked. Its easy to use and is in every photo I post. If I wanted to make the figure more visible, I would raise the shadows with a brush tool and brighten just the figure. This is extremely useful with Bob because his hair almost always casts a shadow on his face.
The details on the Figure(s) can be found below…
-Subject is Bob from the Acid Rain Taste of Coffee diorama.
-Back ground subject is Damien with the gas mask head from the Acid Rain Taste of Coffee Diorama.
Action shots take skill and practice. I set my figures up in my burn pit and set my camera on a shoebox. I know putting your camera on a box is odd but when you shoot low budget like me its understandable. With two subjects in frame, I started to decorate the scene with other troopers. The best time to get an action shot with dirt is after it rains. Thats the best time because the clouds create a natural soft box which provides consistent light. This is especially usefull if you merge multiple photos together in photoshop. To get the explosion and smoke/fog I used a Can of Compressed Air. Please take note of the safety precautions listed on the can. It blasted the dirt towards my subject and made the smokey atmosphere. In Adobe Lightroom simply adjusted the highlights, add contrast, brushed in some highlights and cropped the image. It took me about an hour to get this shot. If I had to change anything it be framing. I cut off half of the stormtrooper in the back which annoys me. Other than that I’m satisfied with the final image.
The details on the Figure(s) I used below.
-Entertainment Earth Exclusive Sand-trooper’s with one Kylo Ren’s tattered cape.
Its always great to see how the community pieces together their portfolios of content so a huge thank you goes to Andrew for taking the time to compile the content for this feature so be sure to head over to Andrew’s Instagram page @worn_out_trooper and leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts!