Behind the scenes: “Lazy Sunday Morning”

July 19, 2018

To my surprise one of my images was featured on the Brothers Brick recently; “Lazy Sunday morning“. This is a behind the scenes post on that image.

The idea

As some of you might know, for several reasons, I am not a fan of building with Lego. This time however, I felt the urge to build a nice MOC (my own creation) for a photograph. I’ve been wanting to experiment with light coming through windows for ages, so that was the goal for this build.

Because I wanted the light to hit something I wanted the build to have textures on the walls, so I did not want to use flat surface Lego bricks. Also I wanted a warm apartment. To achieve this I used more brownish colors.

As narrative, I wanted to add all kinds of elements in there. First elements to show he’s relaxed; cosy sofa (modeled after a sofa I own myself (brown 😉 )) with a pillow so his nek won’t hurt besides a few books for relaxation (love that myself). In contrast some work-related stuff (his suitcase and closed laptop). He is also a man of travels (a map on the wall) and loves a bit off fantasy (a Harry Potter wand on the shelve). And so on.

As stated by in the review, there aren’t any fancy building techniques, however I was proud of one inventive part use: look at the fruitbowl, its the lower part of a Lego Ninjago mask 🙂

The set-up

I have my mini-studio in  the basement… but it’s a mess! As you can see in figure 1. So I had to shove some stuff aside to make room for my little apartment (the mayor’s office is in the back).

Setup of the lego image
Figure 1; The setup

Besides that the setup is pretty straightforward; a large daylight lamp outside the windows and I keep dim light in the room to break the general darkness. I do not own a light with adjustable temperature yet, so I figured I could change the temperature of the light in post-production.

Furthermore you can see a camera-remote-control lying around (to lower the chance of camera-movement), and a little piece of paper-towl, to remove as much dust as I can see.

The original image

I used a Pentax K1, with a f100-macro-lens. The camera settings were: f/11, 2”, ISO 100. I always shoot my frames in dng-raw. Figure 2 shows you the original image. I wanted to get in really close, invading his personal space to make the viewers feel as-if they are part of the scene.

original Lego image before editing
Figure 2; The original image

I shot quite a few frames before this image came to be… Cat not standing correctly, the light didn’t hit the walls like I wanted, the books reflected too much light, suitcase out of the frame, I knocked over some stuff trying to clean some dust away (and only noticed that afterwards), etc…

Post-production step 1; Cleaning up

There is always dust in my originals. The macro lens enlarges everything so much, that I don’t notice it with the naked eye… but it’s there. So the first step is digital cleaning. Besides, now I can also remove annoying reflections too! The result can be seen in figure 3.

Post-production removing dust etc
Figure 3; After removal of dust and reflexions.

Post-production step 2; “Basic” adjustments

This part is the most extensive, and also a lot of fun. I experiment somewhat until the image looks like I imagined. I started in camera-raw, first adjusting white-balance (higher temperature and more tint), second I Adjust the exposure settings (selectively darkening and brightening different tones) and lastly a bit more clarity, vibrance and of course saturation). After these adjustments I use ‘dodge and burn’ and ‘levels’ to selectively adjust the image. The result can be seen in figure 4.

Post-production after basic adjustments
Figure 4; ‘basic’ adjustments

Post-production step 3; Light through the windows

The windows were lighten and light beams added. Afterwards I selectively lowered brightness, saturation and played a little with the ‘levels’-settings in the rest of the image. Look at figure 5 for the result.

Post-production after addition of light beams
Figure 5; After adding light beams

Post-production step 4; details

I need my coffee in the morning, especially if it should happen to be a lazy morning. I also need that coffee to be hot! So I used a smoke-brush (you can find all kinds of free brushes on the Internet) and added some steam to the mug. Oh, and I cleaned a bit more because I mist specs in the first round of cleaning. The result is in figure 6.

Post-production; added steam
Figure 6; Last adjustments (like steam)

Post-production final step; outside!

At first I figured I was ready. I even uploaded the image as it was. Still it kept bugging me! It was missing something. That something turned out to be the windows. They looked as-if they were taped shut. I wanted something outside the windows. To add some contrast to the cosy inside I decided to add a busy city outside the comfort of this guys home. I overexposed and undersaturated an image of New York and used a layer mask to place that image in the windows. Below are the original vs. final version of the image.

original Lego image before editing Final Lego image after post-production

So, thats it! It was more fun than I thought and I expect to be building some more after this experience.
What do you think, is there anything you would  have done differently?

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