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Photography: Aka no SaberPhotography: Aka no SaberTutorial

EXkuroganeEXkurogane5 years ago
Hello folks, I’m here with another figure photography article again- after just about a month since my last one on Alter’s Houzouin Inshun. This latest photography work of mine needs an article – whether I felt like typing one or not – because you are looking at my biggest photography project of year 2015. In order to make this shot possible, the planning stage took 4 months with roughly a total of 93 hours of work was done on the preparation of the props, and the total costs hitting USD$150 (not including the figures, but that amount includes that car featured in the shot). That’s more than double the budget allocated for my biggest project last year – Frau Koujiro ( PICTURE #1107457 ).

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y352/EXkuroganeII/SaberRedPreview_zpsxyaet648.jpg

This article is in reference to this photo: PICTURE #1328416

The star of this shot is Aquamarine’s 1/7 scale Aka no Saber, with Alter’s 1/7 Shikinami Asuka Langley appearing as a cameo or additional character of some kind since her pose can complement Saber very well.

This photo of mine is my very own tribute to late Paul Walker as well as the Fast and Furious franchise. Yea, read on to find out how the idea came.

Ideas & Concept

It always starts with light bulb appearing over my head. When I see a figure being unveiled, even before it went on preorder, I already had an idea or two on how to shoot the photos of that particular figure. I liked how Saber The Red looked simple yet her pose is at photogenic as it gets. However the first idea I had wasn’t a fast car; it was something I knew would give me decent results but it wasn’t unique enough.

That very first idea was a sports bike (again), I mean, you have that hot pants or jeans and a jacket, complete with boots that screams “biker girl” all over. The problem? I have done 3 batches of photos involving bikes this year alone – I don’t need another one. The second issue? I have three friends who had the same thought. However, model bikes come in scales of 1/6 1/9 1/10 and 1/12 or smaller – one would need a 1/6 scale bike to go with Saber as 1/9 will be too small. It’s always okay if scales differ by one factor but not by two. A 1/9 bike is okay for 1/8 figures but not 1/7. The fact that my friends thought of a bike idea alone meant that idea is a big no. I ain’t gonna do something that someone already thought of; I needed a bombshell idea.

3 of my bike shots:

PICTURE #1217414
http://s1.tsuki-board.net/upload/pictures/2015/02/10/1217414.jpeg

PICTURE #1221837
http://s1.tsuki-board.net/upload/pictures/2015/02/15/1221837.jpeg

PICTURE #1307857
http://s1.tsuki-board.net/upload/pictures/2015/06/16/1307857.jpeg

I wished I could take it to the next level – sports cars – and I did notice 1/8 scale remote controlled cars existed. The insane idea of using a 1/8 scale car kept coming back in my mind even though I tried to brush it off as an impractical idea. A car this size won’t be cheap in the first place. But, given how hot Fast and Furious 7 is as a movie this year, which also came with a heart touching tribute at the end, I wanted to come up with my own tribute to the series. Once I have an idea in mind I won’t let go of it. I wanted to get it done. I rendered this on photoshop and I was sure my idea would work.

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y352/EXkuroganeII/idsb_zpszmbwfc3f.jpg

So I went ahead and digged around Chinese shopping site Taobao for deals, but you’d always want to be careful with the items sold there. I don’t have an issue with cheap knockoffs – I just wanted accessories and parts for my diorama for cheap and I could care less about its origins. The issue was, the item descriptions were inaccurate. A RC car, labeled as 1/8 scale on the box itself, isn’t really 1/8. It’s much smaller. Here’s one example:

Data: en.wikipedia.or...

http://gd2.alicdn.com/imgextra/i2/121441862/T2JCddXWRXXXXXXXXX_!!121441862.jpg

A real life Lamborghini Aventador has a height of 1136mm or 113.6cm, but the model car claied to be 1/8 scale has a height of 11cm. That isn’t 1/8. It’s 1/10. Probably great for Beach Queens figures or undersized 1/8 scales (like Good Smile’s Yuzuriha Inori) but nothing else. Pretty much every single cars claimed to be 1/8 scale are undersized in Taobao,and hence I gave up and I proceeded to hunt for one in the American market, even though the exchange rates against currency is awful at the moment.

It was then I got to know about New Bright’s 1/8 scale Chevrolet Corvette C7 which is a real 1/8 scale measuring 58cm X 23cm X 15.4cm in height. A new one goes for USD$99 before any discounts or offers. I knew shipping costs to a South East Asian country would be a bomb, so I went out to search for preowned ones. Luck was on my side as I found a preowned unit – without box and the car has a bit of scratches, for only USD$30. However, shipping costs with tracking is a USD$65bomb but I went ahead and made the purchase. A lot of the paint scratches/transfers which do not involve deep scratches were later removed by Hydrocarbon car polishing liquid with care taken not to cause excessive paint leeching.

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y352/EXkuroganeII/SaberDIY00_zpsdwi1gjkb.jpg

The scene from Fast & Furious 7 which I took my references from, is this one.

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y352/EXkuroganeII/maxresdefault_zpsmruvib0s.jpg

I wanted a classic warehouse look when it comes to cars. Having watched a bunch of racing movies as well as playing racing games, illegal street racers have a base of operations of some sort, and the best option would be an old abandoned (and vandalized) warehouse. With that idea in mind I started looking online for references to build my setup.

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y352/EXkuroganeII/huge-abandoned-warehouse-s_zps2lhdqvjo.jpg

Building The Props

All the planning and ideas above, to hunting for a huge car at a cost as low as possible, followed by the arrival of my shipment, took four months, or which 3 months involving lots of frustration trying to find and hunt down something that I need so badly in order for my ideas to be realized in my photos. After that, I got down to work on all these parts after getting ideas on a warehouse. I spent 2-5 hours each day (depending whether I’m free) and I accumulated over 90 hours of work tie to complete all of these parts.

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y352/EXkuroganeII/SaberDIY01_zpseab5zkiu.jpg

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y352/EXkuroganeII/SaberDIY02_zpsmkrkhhmb.jpg

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y352/EXkuroganeII/SaberDIY03_zpsukwcwebj.jpg

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y352/EXkuroganeII/SaberDIY04_zpsfygdjszu.jpg

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y352/EXkuroganeII/SaberDIY05_zpsruggsig8.jpg

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y352/EXkuroganeII/SaberDIY06_zpss46jkepf.jpg

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y352/EXkuroganeII/SaberDIY07_zpsncjjzj4z.jpg

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y352/EXkuroganeII/SaberDIY08_zpsn3hrsfur.jpg

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y352/EXkuroganeII/SaberDIY09_zpsuzqwqx9t.jpg

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y352/EXkuroganeII/SaberDIY13_zpsopqwjb41.jpg

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y352/EXkuroganeII/SaberDIY15_zpsvipf22a9.jpg

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y352/EXkuroganeII/SaberLGT01_zpsqifw1s20.jpg

Lighting and Setup

Given the sheer size of the setup, I had to take the whole set out to my front yard to do the photos. I may have the space to do it in my room (it will be cramped, of course), but setting up lighting would be a disaster of sort. A setup this huge may require 4 to 6 lamps to get the results I wanted, and to cover such a big area. I made full use of the sunlight in the afternoon as it shines in from the side. Assembly of the whole setup from its parts and adjusting my camera for an ideal framing/composition before beginning my photoshooting process took another hour.

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y352/EXkuroganeII/SaberLGT02_zpsy5978u2c.jpg

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y352/EXkuroganeII/SaberLGT03_zpss0zqtrhv.jpg

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y352/EXkuroganeII/SaberLGT04_zpszmronve9.jpg

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y352/EXkuroganeII/SaberLGT05_zpsjcy8gsai.jpg

Final Results

The settings used for this particular shot was f/5.6, ISO100, 1/50sec, WB=cloudy, and Active D-Lighting is turned on but set at normal levels to make sure all the details of the darker areas make their way into my shots.

Straight out of Camera:

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y352/EXkuroganeII/DSC_2542OR_zpsmztfjtwp.jpg

After Post Processing:

http://s1.tsuki-board.net/upload/pictures/2015/07/15/1328416.jpeg

Post processing all involve very simple tweaks, from the reduction of warmness (due to my choice of WB because it produced better tones than Auto), followed by exposure and luminosity tweaks. The rest are almost untouched because the composition is near perfect, as I paid attention in designing my props on how it blocks or allows light to enter at specific parts, followed by the manipulation of sunlight with a pair of reflectors.
The amount of work was crazy but it was worth it when I look at the results. Each year I will have at least one mega project of some sort, and this one here, is the biggest one yet of year 2015. So, that's all for today, Thank you very much for reading. =)

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Comments20

EXkurogane5 years ago#3199131For every set of props i make i don't reuse the sane background more than 3 times. Usually just two batches of photos at most. The big ones are usually "recycled" in a way i redesign it into something else, sometimes i cut them down (the large ones) into smaller pieces to be remade into some other props for other figures. It can be resurfaced or repainted. The smaller Styrofoam pieces which i deem no longer has any purpose will be discarded. I do keep some of my larger sets of styrofoam, just some of them, since i have (a limited amount of) space.
I only permanently keep parts that are either very versatile (like a pair of doors, a broken down pillar, etc, things that i can slip into many other dioramas to be used in a different way), or objects that i bought from gift shops or online stores such as miniature furniture.


Ah sounds like what I do with a lot of parts of my cosplay (props). :) Thanks for the long reply! ^^
5 years ago
This is a great article indeed. Your creativity and dedication to the hobby is very inspiring.
5 years ago
Maakie5 years ago#3199019You maybe got this question before, but I'm really curious with these projects, what do you do with these diroamas afterwards? Do you display them somewhere in your home or do you get rid of them, re-use parts for others, something else?

For every set of props i make i don't reuse the sane background more than 3 times. Usually just two batches of photos at most. The big ones are usually "recycled" in a way i redesign it into something else, sometimes i cut them down (the large ones) into smaller pieces to be remade into some other props for other figures. It can be resurfaced or repainted. The smaller Styrofoam pieces which i deem no longer has any purpose will be discarded. I do keep some of my larger sets of styrofoam, just some of them, since i have (a limited amount of) space.

I only permanently keep parts that are either very versatile (like a pair of doors, a broken down pillar, etc, things that i can slip into many other dioramas to be used in a different way), or objects that i bought from gift shops or online stores such as miniature furniture.
5 years ago
You maybe got this question before, but I'm really curious with these projects, what do you do with these diroamas afterwards? Do you display them somewhere in your home or do you get rid of them, re-use parts for others, something else?
5 years ago
You're amazingly talented! I'm in awe!
5 years ago
My god man, you should be doing this professionally. you could release a photobook of pictures like this
5 years ago
Wow, that's amazing, I love it I just can't think how to express how much I love the set you built and picture you took.
5 years ago
I have a huge amount of respect for figure photographers that build actual dioramas rather than 'shop it like most. This is pretty friggin' amazing. I try to do a little something when squeezing in a shoot whenever time allows but I can only aspire to someday doing something so grand as this!

Thank you for writing up such a detailed post. This really lights a fire under my desire to break out and try something much more ambitious.
5 years ago
No wonder I go a notice this morning. I subscribe to your blogs So this was another awesome shoot and of course build. always like to keep an eye out on your photos .

Well done Bravo

= )

Tia
5 years ago
you've done a fantastic job, it's incredibly detailed and well executed! Great job! looking forward to seeing what other pictures you come up with in the future!
5 years ago
Buy and Preorder licensed Figures and Merchandise!

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