What an incredible few days it has been for Star Wars fans culminating in the release of the teaser for The Last Jedi. Continuing this thread we present a new behind the scenes look at the work of Alex Wilson better known as @figmalix as he takes us on location on his most recent shot.
A behind the scenes look
Alex Wilson @figmalix
I was browsing my personal Instagram in December when I came across a photograph that I instantly fell in love with. It was a photograph of Stormtroopers in battle. It was unbelievable, the effects, the posing and the excitement – I wanted to do that. A few years ago, I was apart of a personal project where I would photograph my 3.75” Star Wars Stormtroopers every day for a year and it was pretty fun. After 175 days, I put down my camera, as I couldn’t keep up with it anymore…
So this shoot that I’m going to be walking you through what was carried out on April 10th in my back garden. Normally, I like to shoot in the evening time, or in darker areas because it’s easier to control lighting and even add your own light artificially. Our garden is getting refurbished and there was a huge pile of soil behind our shed, which was a perfect opportunity to create a makeshift trench.
This inspired me to break out my Stormtroopers and start to arrange them – it’s always trial and error when it comes to putting them in the right spot because one figure might be in the way of another which renders it useless – it’s invisible. So after about 45 minutes, after fiddling with the soil, figure placement (keeping them standing up is a chore) I got my figures into the perfect positions. I always try to keep an open mind and try multiple positions and variations of scenes because you never know what will or what won’t work. The key thing to remember is trial and error – don’t give up.
The camera I use is a Canon 600D/T3i, which I chose because of the image quality it produces, it’s a pretty versatile piece of equipment. I enabled my settings to 800 ISO, f/5.0 so the depth of field would be balanced as there was a lot in the background that I wanted to capture. My shutter speed was quite slow despite the high ISO since the area I was working with was darkened by a blanket and an old notice board due the harsh overcast lighting, not forgetting it started to rain heavily. To create smoke effects in my photos I used the vapour from my e-cigarette and tried different densities so that the atmosphere I was looking for was just right – I wanted it to look like the smoke of a warzone.
My weapon of choice when it comes to editing is Photoshop CS6. I find it’s optimal for fiddling with contrast, burning and dodging and creating blaster bolts or even a lightsaber. It also allows me to apply textures to create depth, which I can do by using layer masks and blending modes.
The figures I used for this shot were from the Hasbro Star Wars Black Series Stormtrooper figures (Wave 3). The articulation is fantastic and you can create a lot of emotion, gestures and different body postures because of this. If you want to photograph a type of figure, I’d recommend these any day and they’re readily available.
Some shots are tamer than others, which require little to no editing whereas some have tricky effects. The main thing that I find with this sort of hobby is that there’s always something new that you can try to do, from manipulating images to learning the different things your equipment can do. You can really do whatever you set your mind to!
A hug thank you goes to Alex for taking the time and effort to create and share this insightful look behind the curtain on his photographic portfolio resulting in this gorgeous final shot. Be sure to catch more of Alex’s work over on Instagram @figmalix and as ever leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts!