SIP 25 – Action

Generally when photographer’s talk about “action” images, they are referring to some form of dynamic image, where movement is captured in a single click.  This might be, for example, the motorbike taking a corner at Druids Bend at Brands Hatch, where the bike is clear and crisp but all around is a blur.

But Action (as a noun) is just doing something – which could include just sitting still and meditating – which isn’t the most exiting, but a good introduction for toy photography on this subject.

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Toy photography has it’s own challenge here in that the subject matter will be (typically) stationary, requiring some sort of editing to show any movement.  Here’s William and Benjamin mid fight:

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The only way I could endeavour to show movement (that leg moving upwards) would be to edit the picture and start blurring parts to fool the viewer into thinking that there is movement.  I decided not to… because Action can also mean films and movies.

This is the more “easy” approach, as with simple setting up you can capture a “film still” and imply the action that’s about to happen:

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Make my day!
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“Hey you!”
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… and ACTION!

There’s still a need to carefully place the figures and ensure that the focus is correct (on the first, the focus is the gun, the second we take the hazmat guys and in the last it’s the clapper board) and in all cases, the action is implied as coming next.

next week: Quality.  This could be a challenge!

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SIP 24 – Hope

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This week’s challenge word is HOPE, and perhaps I am a child of my own generation, but the only thing that could really come to mind was this now infamous piece of Sci-Fi film.  Fortunately I did have the two characters in my collection that I could re-use (I very nearly got rid of many of the Star Wars figures in my attempt to radically downsize).

What was interesting for me this week wasn’t the subject of hope (perhaps more on that in a little while) but my thoughts when I realised the above would be the image for this week.  You see, earlier in the week my boss had made a comment about “wessells”, apparently for my benefit.  As I’d been knee deep in aligning spreadsheets at the time I may have been curt, but once he had explained it was a Star Trek reference I had to admit that I didn’t really like Star Trek, or Star Wars, something he found a bit weird (obviously I give off that kind of vibe.  Must be because I work in IT). As with so many things, this dominated my thinking for the next couple of days.

I know I have many interests, and they do touch on Star Trek (and perhaps very, very, very lightly on Star Wars), but I have friends who are very much into these things and have a way bigger interest than I do.  I hadn’t picked up on the Star Trek reference and had to google it, so if you weren’t aware it was a reference to Checkov from the ORIGINAL Star Trek (because let’s face it there is the original, the next generation, the Captain Archer one, Deep Space 9… err, oh, plus the eight? films).  I saw the original Star Wars film, I think I may have seen the second but it’s all a little hazy… mainly because at that time I was starting to work through the many films of Mr Arnold Schwarzenegger, including Cactus Jack (1979) and Hercules in New York (1970) (the latter which features a brilliant and silly car chase including squealing tyres… across a grassed park). And a reference to something that you only have a passing interest for isn’t necessarily something that you would automatically pick up on.

 

Anyway, hope. I did think of a couple of other images this week, but they were all on a similar theme, or on a cross-over with “Prayers” and “Wishes” such as “I hope my phone doesn’t run out of power”. Sometimes you just have to go with a good idea.  At least, I hope it was a good idea!

Next week: Action

 

 

SIP 23 – Surprise

This week’s challenge word is Surprise.  It could be the impromptu visit of the in-laws whilst you and your significant other weren’t expecting you… or it could be the present on your birthday of thing you always wanted.  Anyway, surprises can be fun, scary or mysterious.

And as a special surprise, there’s not many words to this blog – just enjoy the pictures.

Next week – Hope.

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What’s in the box? WHAT’S IN THE BOX???!!!!
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He’s behind you!!!
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Forming a chi ball

(I included this last image into the group because I was surprised at how well it came out!  I studied Tai Chi for many years, and it was always felt really cool how your mind and body could project a ball of energy if the will is strong enough.  I thought that this simple image projected that really well!)

SIP 22 – Honesty

When thinking about this week’s seed, honesty, my initial reaction was to go to the very atypical image of Abraham Lincoln and the cherry tree. “I cannot tell a lie”, honest Abe is reported to have said, “but I cut down the tree”.

Except it would seem that this could be a complete myth as only source for this came from an unnamed neighbour, ten years after Lincoln’s death (source: http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/09/george-washington-never-chopped-down-a-cherry-tree/).  This then got me thinking about Scouts.

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“I found it. And the tree was already like that.”

Interestingly again perhaps, the Scout Law, the cornerstone for good behaviour, does not include a Scout Law about being honest.  Trusted, loyal, friendly and considerate… but not honest (https://members.scouts.org.uk/supportresources/959/the-scout-law).

To some extent, this isn’t a surprise. Being a considerate person may mean saying things to not hurt people’s feelings (or not saying anything at all).  When I taught canoeing, a favourite question of young people on our trips was “how much further is it?”. On one regular trip the river wound round the base of a hill – with the result that the end was only a mile at most “as the crow flies”… the river route was another four.  My response, “just round the bend” was factually correct, but not wholly honest… I knew how long that bend was going to be.

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“That’s a very bold look…”

This week I managed to get hold of the new Lego collectible minifigures – the Unikitty range. These figures neatly fit into this blog post.

Lego have released several of these collectible minifigure ranges now – and certainly for many they are designed as “blind packaging” – you are not supposed to know what you are buying so it’s a “fun” challenge to get the one(s) you want. You may know where I’m going to go with this.

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“That’s a hat… or a briefcase… or a tail.”

The “morally honest” people will just take a bag, pay for it and later find out what they have bought later.  But as these are collectible figures, many will feel the bags to work out what the contents may be.  It is interesting that there are many other blind bags out there that have further disguised their contents by wrapping them in the sealed bag, or putting them in a box.  I used the words “morally honest” here because for Lego, these figures are pocket money prices… so effectively they are hoping that children will empty their piggy banks repeatedly in the hope that they may get the figure that they actually wanted.  Ultimately, the company is hoping that children won’t find the ones they want so they’ll keep coming back.  And for adults, who may have slightly more “flexible morals” their challenge is made harder by having only one of a figure in a box of 60 (the policeman in the last series)

Perhaps the playing field has been exposed a little more with the Unikitty series. Of the twelve figures,  two are cats sitting, six are cats standing and four are dogs standing. You can tell the cat from the dog by feeling for the tail (dogs have a ball, cats have a weird tail) and sitting cats by feeling for a lego slope brick.  Apart from that, it is all on the printing – so for those collecting them they will have to do so by paying aftermarket prices through resellers who will have determined the contents.

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Which will you get?

In terms of photography for the challenge, I think my favourite must be the Scouts.

 

Next week is Surprise.  Which could be fun!

 

Image credits:

The Scout was bought on eBay, the Scout Leader was a custom print by minifigs.me.  The Axe was made by V&A Steamworks as part of a Kickstarter campaign.  The Log is a standard Lego offering, the upright trunk was bought through firestartoys.com.

“All you need is love” torso from firestartoys.com.

All other elements and parts by Lego.

Backgrounds were by Walker Books (part of the animation kit) and Kanban artscapes.

 

All images taken with the Samsung S9+ and cropped using Google Picasa 3.

 

 

 

 

 

SIP 21 – Wealth

This week’s challenge is on the subject of wealth. Where I have worked recently, most of the conversations are typically about how shares are doing, which executive car they want to buy next, and… well, money, money, money. Which personally I find a little depressing as there is so much more to life than how big your bank balance is (and one main reason why I enjoy these photo/drawing challenges so much). But of course, that’s not to say I will never talk about these things – and so here we are.

Wealth (by all the references I have looked into) isn’t about how big your friend group is, or what life experiences you have gained – it is about the assets that one has. And in most cases, this is “anything of value” – i.e. stuff. This can be art, money, cars, minerals, land etc.

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Three hours to polish and 22 miles per gallon!

Reading an interesting Wikipedia article on this subject (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wealth) it also expanded to consider the concept of class (upper, middle and lower) – as behaviours in these groups are quite different, typically because of the amount of wealth each band might have. For Upper class, who will have the most wealth, it is about how to channel and use the wealth that one has to maintain and forge contacts that will enhance that wealth. For middle class, life is more about deciding how to spend the wealth that one has, rather than use the conceptual power that comes from that wealth. For the lower class, having the lowest of wealth, the focus is about obtaining wealth (but typically this is to cover expenses accrued).

I mention this because within only three bands there is always a situation when one considers someone else to be wealthy because they seem to have more assets than the other, without necessarily considering broader elements; two people could be earning the same amount of money, but one could be seen to be more wealthy because they aren’t married or have children (or indeed, don’t have the Mustang car!)

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But who is actually the wealthy one?

The two statements that I found in the article were these:

The Credit Suisse Wealth Report (mid-2013) estimated that, once debts had been subtracted, an adult required just USD 4,000 in assets to be within the wealthiest 50% of world citizens. However, at least USD 75,000 was needed to reach the top 10%, and USD 753,000 to belong to the most wealthy 1%.

Tim Harford has asserted that a small child has greater wealth than the 2 billion poorest people in the world combined, since a small child has no debt.”

But as a final image for this challenge this week, I will post this quote. The quote itself has an interesting story itself, attributed to the native american tribe Cree, although actually its first recognised use were in presentations given by native americans giving speeches in 1972. This version, however, was used by Greenpeace on a banner in 1982:

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Next week: Honesty

SIP20 – Grace

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Grace has a few different interpretations – “they graced us with their presence”, “the grace of the Lord” – the one that I liked the most (and possibly the easiest to set up) was the grace of movement.

I love the phrase “dance like no-one is watching” because all too often we limit ourselves because of how we worry what other might think of us (such as a 50-year old male playing with an elephant in a tutu 🙂 ).  In truth though, it really shouldn’t limit us – it makes the world a far richer and more wonderful place to be.  Indeed, this freeing of attitude and approach also means that we can discover things about us that we never knew – perhaps we can dance with style and grace!

Next week we move to a potentially more altruistic challenge – that of wealth.

Have a great week.

SIP 19 – Leg Godt

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Just in case you didn’t know – and perhaps, why would you, “Leg Godt” means Play Well.  This was the message that was displayed in the first Lego workshop, when the company made wooden toys, way way back in the day – and is the the contraction that makes the product name that we know so well.

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This figure is printed onto “official” lego by the US Company Citizen Brick

This year celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Lego Minifigure.  Of course, many figures came before our little chap, but so much has changed regarding printing, facial expressions that whilst he retains much of the original design, there is still a lot that is new.  I feel quite fortunate that I have been able to get hold of the celebration anniversary policeman (as there is only 1 in every box of 60) and can sit it next to an original policeman.

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In case you hadn’t guessed – the original is on the right.  Very played well!

But there’s another thing that has changed recently – the patent that covered the minifigure and the interlocking construction system has expired – and so now companies such as Nanoblocks, MegaBloks, Oxford – and many others – can now produce products that are compatible with the Lego block.  And yes, there are also Chinese companies such as Lepin who will copy and resell cheap “knock off” versions.  But for some, buying a much cheaper version will make economic sense – especially if the young person playing with the set will just dump the whole lot into a box at the end of the day. I suspect that I would have had a lot more of this type of set if it had been around when I was younger.

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A variety of figures – all Lego compatible.

But the point of this isn’t to suggest that the knock off is great – that’s not the point.  Lego always used to have a limited colour palette and a very strict set of rules regarding what it would and would not create.  Greens and Browns were a no-no as was guns and “war” themes.  So the next image is that of all the things that Lego can’t – or won’t produce – either because they don’t have the license, or because it’s themed at a more adult market. So now we have companies like Brickarms, Oxford (and yes, there are others) who will happily fill this market, potentially for the Adult rather than the Child (especially given part cost) – and of course with franchise opportunities such as Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Lone Ranger the colours have become more varied and the weapons have arrived.  The fact that it took years for the Lego Minifigure Policeman to do something other than look at his car drive around (he couldn’t get into early models) and go to the bakery says something in itself.  Interestingly perhaps whilst we do have police stations and policemen in various guises, the hospitals seem few and far between.

Anyway, the point is this.  With the many different types of figures available – either from printing companies, third parties – or even created through 3D printing – the opportunities for the child (and the toy photographer) is far more richer than perhaps it has ever been.  And if you are prepared to get out the Dremel you can even get some of these to combine, too!

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Hello Kitty Head by Megabloks; body by Lego. 

Next week’s SIP prompt is “Grace”.  The possibilities are interesting – so let’s see what happens.

By the way, if you search Instagram for SIPGOES52, or SIP_*** where *** is the word of the week, you should see all manner of interesting takes; and to me this is what makes this challenge interesting.  See you next week.