Elfriede Photoshoot Setup

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Elfriede’s review was the most painstaking of all the reviews I’ve written so far on this site.  It was also one of my latter reviews before I took a hiatus in 2013 (but perhaps more on that next time); needless to say a lot of things happened since the review and I just couldn’t find the time or energy to carry on updating this site till now.  I can’t believe how fast time flies, this article was last edited back in December of 2012 and all I did was insert the title image.  Guess I was betting on the world ending so I didn’t bother finishing it off… well, since that didn’t happen, here we are again!

Elfriede was one of those figures that really inspired my creativity – when I first saw the figure, my head was already drafting out ideas on what to do and how to do it.  Since she had a military theme reminiscent of WW1, I thought of doing something in a trench, bunker or destroyed building.  My biggest obstacles were time and material…

I knew it wouldn’t be easy going out and buying a model building in scale with the figure, I had to do it myself to get it the way I envisioned.  Luckily for me, I have a bit of an art background and knew my way around crafting and painting even though I really hate crafting.  <_<  I decided on the setting of a bombed out building  riddled with bullet holes and broken windows, but where to start?



I ended up using one of my many HLJ boxes (thanks Hobby Link Japan) and used the corner as the foundation of my building.  Unfortunately, I didn’t decide on doing a “setup” article until I was part way through the project, so in the picture above, I’ve already done considerable work.  I started out with coating the base in flat gray primer – the initial idea was to then paint / draw some brick work and call it a day.  But I felt it lacked a sense of depth so I started cutting up little rectangular pieces and glued them on one by one.  Since I used cardboard, it pops up a little from the walls’ foundation creating the depth I envisioned.  I then added a third layer over some of the bricks to act as “finished surface” had the building not been bombed out.  The bricks were meant to act as bones of the structure reminiscent of a 1900′s European brick and concrete style firehouse.

Initially I had only planned on doing the interior, but it just felt incomplete so I started doing a similar brickwork on the outside.  The plus side to this is I can use this prop with some other figure reviews in the future and utilize both sides.


After spending 4-5 nights cutting and gluing all the little pieces onto the walls, I felt like shooting myself… but instead, I punched some holes in the walls and made some creases in the cardboard to act as cracks to be.  I then used some black paint in between the bricks to act as shading.  I also filled in the cracks and “damaged parts” of the building with black paint to help increase the depth perception when I start to paint the lighter coloured upper layers later.


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I mixed a little bit of brown and red together to get that classic brick look – I think it turned out rather well.  I was really glad at this point that I took the time to layout the bricks one by one.  They actually look like individual brick blocks on camera, much more effective than had I drawn them onto the walls.  It was all coming together rather nicely.  :)

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In terms of painting dioramas, models, small figures (like Warhammer figures), here is my favourite part of the process: bringing out the details!  I took a watered down black and went over all the cracks and holes, since the material is made out of cardboard, it created this rumpled look to the surface which I thought was an added bonus.  The water in the paint helped make the walls look worn down, dirty and crumbling.


The final step was to dry brush the whole thing in different shades of light gray to help increase that dusty look.  Finally, after about a week, I was ready for Elfriede’s photo shoot!


I was really excited in trying out what I can do with my new backdrop and for the first time in my photo reviews, I employed the EF 50mm f/1.4 and EF 16-35mm f/2.8L lenses.  Lighting was fairly straight forward as I used a table lamp and a Canon 580EX strobe.  For this shoot, I felt two light sources were sufficient in the atmosphere I wanted to create – one for the background and one to light up the foreground.


I also wanted to toy with the idea of using the background light to act like a search light shining through the broken windows.  It is wartime after all, though I’m not sure if Elfriede would want to be caught dressed like that!


Since the spotlight idea appeared to have turned out well, I decided to go back to the good old fashioned table lamp to simulate moonlight (or some sort of night lighting) – moonlight would’ve been much colder, d’uh!  But at least the overall feel of the image came out as I had hoped, slightly mysterious and cinematic.  I can’t help it, I love playing around with a single light source when taking figure photos.  :)


All in all, I really enjoyed setting up Elfriede’s photos and they came out as I envisioned.  There were many times I would envision how I want to take certain pictures but they would never turn out the way I wanted, or that I didn’t have the props to create the vision.  I don’t know if I’ll have the time to do something so time consuming now with the kids and all, but at least I’m more or less settled after moving to the new house, so who knows!  I still have a bunch of figures and mechas I wanted to take pictures of, but uuuuggghhh, the tasks are becoming increasingly daunting!  LOL