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Entry 4: The Story of MikuEntry 4: The Story of MikuDiary

TheTravelingSeeTheTravelingSee3 years ago
It's been a while since my last entry and I thought it'd be appropriate to evaluate exactly how I've been feeling during these past few weeks. Excuse me in advance for the length and amount of rambling I do in this post. Seeing as how it's a diary entry, I don't feel it too necessary to be all that concise with my thoughts.

(To get this out of the way, most of the photos you see below were taken on the Sony a7 ii with a Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens)

I haven't been doing nendoroid photography for too long (only about 4 months). In the short time that I have been able to progress my "skill" in the craft, I have been fortunate enough to acquire a handful of good friends and create some works that I can be proud of today. Hell. I've even been invited to be featured in a figure photography book among some other big name photographers that I have always respected. An honor that humbles me to my very core.

That, however, is not the basis for this particular post. I am also not here to boast, but instead to describe my thought process and procedure in creating what I have coined to be The Story of Miku Series.

https://preview.ibb.co/hYuSoc/Cover.jpg

On my Instagram account I like to take themed "series" of photos to keep my ideas concentrated and interesting. For this particular series, I wanted to tell a story.

Inspiration for said story had its origins in multiple places which I'll be discussing as this article progresses. But the very source of my initial motivation to complete this project was with a comment left on one of my old photos by a user named Valestein3. That photo is shown below:

https://static.myfigurecollection.net/upload/pictures/2018/02/22/1928606.jpeg

Valestein3 had commented the following:

"To me, there's a hint of loneliness to an otherwise good photo.

The way Miku is standing in the corner seems like she's hiding or wants to be left alone. Her only sense of comfort is the moonlight spilling from the window. That's my interpretation.

I can't appreciate the luminescent eyes and the celestial sky but they're good highlights to a dark picture.
"

No one had ever given a single one of my photos this type of analysis before. I was surprised and the comment really got me thinking. It made me wonder exactly how and why Miku was holed up in the corner of a dark room in the first place. I hadn't realized it when I was taking the photo at first. In fact, this was supposed to be a photo set in daylight with bright sun rays beaming through the window instead of moonlight. But regardless of that, the final product was something that ultimately came off as cold, somber, but... almost content in the way that she was looking out the window while munching on her moon cake...

And so, my mind began to race as to how I'd rationalize this singular event and put the pieces of her long story together. I'd just reached about 400 followers on Instagram at this time and was basically just getting my name into the community's eye, but for this series I understood that I had to pull out all of the stops and produce something that I'd be proud to call my first true story series.

And so it started with Part 1. The Introduction of our main protagonist, Miku.

https://preview.ibb.co/kbSxoc/Part_1.jpg

From the get go I understood that I'd have to elevate my level of editing and photography in order to accommodate my intentions of creating an actually decent set of photos. In this particular image, I grabbed some inspiration from the editing styles of some of the greats. The small "dust-like" bokeh and rainbow spectrum light rays were inspired by the very amazing Allgroassai while the composition and decor were a little more inspired by Vince454. A common trend that you may pick up on as the series progresses is my use of the camera tilt to emphasize movement.

This photo also marked one of my first true uses of wire to actually suspend the nendoroid in the air. I would later use this skill to great effect in later photos as I delete the wire in post.

https://preview.ibb.co/k0O91x/DSC01491.jpg

As the series continued I knew that I had to create a compelling story that would allow the viewer to connect and or relate with Miku in some way. And seeing as how the final image seemed so somber, the idea for a sad story prevailed. But first came the notion of how that story would be portrayed. So in typical and generic fashion, I decided on a romance with the only other nend that I thought appropriate: Kaito.

https://preview.ibb.co/kWEz1x/Part_2.jpg
https://preview.ibb.co/mTMwgx/DSC05216.jpg

A little fun fact about this series is that it was the first one I'd ever done that truly involved the swapping of nendoroid bodies and accessories as you see above. My whole house was a terrible mess for the longest time because of this series. In fact, it still hasn't quite truly recovered!

Anyway... In this particular photo I sort of lulled the viewer into a false sense of fanciful whimsy. The series seemed like it'd be nothing more than a typical RomCom. Mind you, no one but I and the people helping me knew what the series was actually based off of and what it was supposed to evolve into. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

The next portion of the series had to portray the "dating phase" of the Miku and Kaito relationship. I observed with great intrigue that, as my series progressed, interest for it started to wane as the dating portion progressed. I suppose people can only handle too much of one thing for so long! But anyway... I made as many pictures as I did for the dating phase because I wanted to make sure that everyone knew that both Miku and Kaito actually seemed to have some sort of connection with each other and that their affection did not spontaneously appear out of the blue.

The two images below were posted together. The first shows their initial encounter before Miku loses composure in the second. Thus set the tone for the rest of their relationship as it seemed.

https://preview.ibb.co/mwvTuH/Part_3.jpg
https://preview.ibb.co/bRhV8c/Part_4.jpg

As you can see, these photos also made use of the wire. But then came the notion of focus. At the f-stop that I was using, if I were to focus on Miku, Kaito's face would be blurred. And if I focused on Kaito, Miku's face would be blurred (A good example of what I mean is shown in the first photo between these two. As you can see, the camera is focused on Miku's face, leaving Kaito horribly blurred out). So for the first time, I practiced multiple image layering with this particular post. Basically I took two photos of this shot, one with the focus on Miku and one with the focus on Kaito. I then layered them together and erased the necessary portions of the photo to ensure the clarity in both of their faces.

https://preview.ibb.co/fktbgx/DSC05473.jpg
https://preview.ibb.co/evHiBx/DSC05474.jpg

As previously stated, their relationship basically progressed from there. This next photo, whose posting happened to land on Easter day, was uploaded to MFC not too long ago and is perhaps one of the most involved photo I've taken to date.

https://preview.ibb.co/cTCV8c/Part_5.jpg

For this particular image, I rigged Miku up into a small boat that was suspended over the ground via some wires hung on a rake handle. The rake handle itself was mounted on a step ladder and was grounded with the use of a trowel to prevent the weight of Miku and the boat from tipping it over. The dirt effect seen here is actually real and was done with a canister of compressed air aimed directly underneath the boat.

Fun fact about this photo was that, after settling Miku into the boat, the front half became way too forward heavy, forcing me to dig another wire behind the boat to anchor it down. The photo itself was inspired by the very talented oskaede (even if he doesn't acknowledge my existence).

https://preview.ibb.co/jngq8c/DSC05992.jpg
https://preview.ibb.co/mc1CMx/DSC05994.jpg
https://preview.ibb.co/cXgq8c/DSC05995.jpg
https://preview.ibb.co/itW1EH/DSC05997.jpg
https://thumb.ibb.co/c74z1x/DSC05998.jpg

Here are some of the materials that I used for the shoot.


https://preview.ibb.co/kFosMx/DSC06004.jpg

https://preview.ibb.co/kypMEH/DSC06003.jpg

The next few images were made to illustrate the progression of the two characters' relationship and are more standard. I have nothing too extravagant to say about them.

https://preview.ibb.co/mqWOTc/Part_6.jpg
https://preview.ibb.co/eT7xoc/DSC05291.jpg
https://preview.ibb.co/gBjMEH/DSC05293.jpg
https://preview.ibb.co/byEMEH/DSC05296.jpg

The next seven photos were all posted together (I would never spam such similar images as separates posts). They took a really long time to edit, which is probably why the editing itself is pretty subpar here. But it was effective enough.

https://preview.ibb.co/kauMEH/Part_7.jpg
https://preview.ibb.co/kWKcoc/Part_8.jpg
https://preview.ibb.co/b2sxoc/Part_9.jpg
https://preview.ibb.co/jmb1EH/Part_10.jpg
https://preview.ibb.co/njqTuH/Part_11.jpg
https://preview.ibb.co/dsCK1x/Part_12.jpg
https://preview.ibb.co/b6ViTc/Part_13.jpg

This post marked the end of the "dating phase" of the series. Take special note on the fact that I decided to set this last post to be at nighttime. This was intentional. Basically to signify that the transition into what was coming would not be pleasant whatsoever.

And so, Kaito proposed.

https://preview.ibb.co/nKQiTc/Part_14.jpg

Again, decidedly I made it so that this photo was to be done at night. Not typical of what you might expect from a happy marriage proposal photo. Fun fact, I realize now that dark photos rarely ever do as well as bright and or pastel-colored photos. This is kind of a given, but I confirmed it time and time again with this series. Another fun fact is that this diorama that you see here was built for the soul purpose of being in this photo. It was inspired by a user who goes by the name nendorhome on Instagram.

Anyhow... At this point, many of my followers believed that the end of the series was near and that the bright and bubbly wedding photo would be next. But like many things in life, unexpected events are bound to alter the course of one's reality.

https://preview.ibb.co/fmhV8c/Part_15.jpg

This photo, being extremely involved in its own right (I forgot to take a picture of the rig. But the background is edited to include the treeline and street lights) was not well received when it was initially released. Not only for its admittedly awkward composition, dark lighting and general obscurity, but also for its seemingly sadistic effort in trying to destroy something so precious.

My followers were torn. Many of them were confused. Some of them astonished at my audacity. And some, were even a little angry! The question came down to "why?"

Evidently, one of my largest concerns about the series from the beginning was to create something decently memorable. Aside from my obvious goal of telling the story of how Miku ended up alone eating a moon cake at night, I realized that if the story were lighthearted fun all throughout, it would quickly be forgotten. And the shocking reveal of the oncoming car right after a proposal sent many into a frenzy.

And so, the second half of the Story of Miku began. This half being based on the five stages of grief, if you are familiar with them. The stages are supposed to be a rough outline of what many individuals might experience should they be dealing with grief of any sort. The stages go as follows: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

And so, with the passing of Kaito, he was replaced with ugly visage of denial instead.

https://preview.ibb.co/i8s8uH/Part_16.jpg

Here I utilized layering again to edit Kaito into the scene as a ghost. Basically I took a picture of him while he was in the shot, and one when he wasn't.

https://preview.ibb.co/mWM1EH/DSC01716.jpg
https://preview.ibb.co/g3jtTc/DSC01717.jpg

Take note of the ring, as it would be a reoccurring motif throughout the rest of the photos. A little thing I noticed about myself and my style of editing is that I am very interested in light and the dynamics of how it works i.e. the lamp. I try my best to create an ambient feeling when I can.

The story then naturally melds into anger. The second stage of grief.

https://preview.ibb.co/nGKXMx/Part_17.jpg

Nothing too special to say about this photo aside from the fact that I was practicing with motion blur and rigging up all of the flying items. Before I would probably rely on Photoshop to do all of that editing myself, but a little bit of extra effort to make sure that the real items were actually suspended in the air makes the final product all the more worthwhile (although the pencils and green snack were edited in via PS).

At this point I was still getting some backlash on my choice of direction for the series. Again I was asked why I should ever place such cute and chibi nendos in such a miserable situation. But although they may have felt as such, I wanted to pursue the series to its conclusion. Fun fact, when this idea first surfaced in my head a few months back, I had planned for only fifteen photos. I ended up taking twenty-two...

The next stage of grief was bargaining, which is characterized by one's effort at bringing their life back together, but more often than not, in a negative way. In Miku's case, she decided to write letters to ask for Kaito's reincarnation. Although you don't really get a sense of that in the photo seeing as how all of the writing is blurred. Each piece of paper says something different along the lines of "Miku will do anything for Kaito to come back," and "Miku misses Kaito," etc.

https://preview.ibb.co/g2ATuH/Part_18.jpg

To be quite honest, I don't really like this photo at all. The idea for it was rushed and the result, in my opinion, didn't turn out the way that I wanted it to. Ironically however, it now stands as the most popular image on my Instagram profile at around 350 likes (that might not seem like a lot to some people, but it's a decent amount for me). This was also the point in which almost everyone was on board with the idea of Miku's journey of growth and acceptance. We were finally all in it for the long haul and the responses and feedback definitely showed it.

If you couldn't tell, this photo was actually inspired by Exkurogane's Your Lie in April photo of Kaori in the piano room. Hopefully it was a nice homage to him.

And so came the fourth stage of grief and likely my favorite photographic creation to date... depression.

https://preview.ibb.co/nzeMEH/Part_19.jpg

I don't know about everyone else, but I certainly won't say that I've lived a hard or unprivileged life. In fact, my existence has never been shown any extended period of grief or real depression. I was raised in an amazing family, surrounded by great friends and given a very respectable education.

I won't say that I am an official when it comes to depression, so I won't speak about it at length here, but I felt like it was my duty to portray it with the level of respect that it deserves.

This one setup took about two hours to fully construct. As the moonlight rained down on Miku's head, Kaito covers her shoulders with a nearby blanket. Likely the most he could do in his ghostly form.

I don't like to boast, and I will be the first person to point out the flaws in every single one of my photos, but I truly believe that I was able to capture something genuine with this image... or at least, as genuine as you could possibly get from a bunch of plastic chibis and miniatures.

And so the time came for the last stage of grief. Acceptance.

https://preview.ibb.co/cTROTc/Part_20.jpg

In all honesty, I probably could've made a better picture for acceptance. Not quite the finale that I was hoping for at least! As per usual, Kaito was suspended on wires as multiple photos were taken and composited into a single image to create what you see above. A fun fact about this photo is that I had actually forgotten to include the ring in it! But I suppose it can be considered a "happy accident" as it symbolizes how she was finally able to let go of Kaito, allowing him to pass on peacefully, and, in extension, the ring.

But of course, me being one for extravagance, had to end the series off with a "bang" or at least my attempt at it. After all, Miku wasn't in her Harvest Moon outfit yet! And so came Part 22 of the Story of Miku.

https://preview.ibb.co/h2aHoc/Part_21.jpg

Surprisingly, although heavily photoshopped and color-enhanced, this is a real photo. The image itself was inspired by Eyeland's photography (AKA the god of MFC). I spent a few days in preparation for this session. I studied up on the techniques for astrophotography and went out to practice at the beach one night with a friend before I was ready to go out and do the real thing.

Notice that Miku is now wearing the Harvest Moon outfit. The idea is that, after this photo, she returns home and has herself a moon cake. She seems a little lonely in that photo... but content, because she knows that, although Kaito may be gone, he had never truly died.

This photo was taken at Big Bear Lake at around 9:00 PM Pacific Time on a Sony alpha ILCE-5100 at a 30 second exposure. I used a 16mm lens at f/2.8 at an ISO of 100. It's not that stunning and I did add in the Milky Way for the effect, but the original picture wasn't half bad either.

https://preview.ibb.co/cUNrWx/Miku_Final1.jpg

But anyway... That was the end of the Story of Miku Series.

After I had finished, I had this fantastic sense of accomplishment. When all tallied up, the series took a month to plan, about three weeks of continuous shooting in order to complete, and several hundred dollars worth of materials, nends, and equipment among other things.

By the end of it all, I had gone from 400 followers on Instagram to around 650+. All in the span of around two to three weeks. It was really this series that got me invited into the aforementioned book feature, and I am grateful for all of the opportunities that everyone has given me up until now.

I probably can't list everyone who has had a hand in helping me create this series. A good friend who goes by the username wndrenvy on Instagram had created a extended story series called "Rin's Adventure," which had no small part in inspiring the makeup of my story. I had also taken notes from creators such as Allgroassai, Vince454, Kixkillradio, Koko and many others in terms of editing and style. Throughout this venture I was supported at length by other users such as my good friends Didimews, Zir0, Yllia_art, Kappamikez and many more just to name a few.

A massive thanks must also go out to my parents and friends who, not only supported me through many of my photos, but outright assisted on set for most of them. Helping with the creation of the props and rigs sometimes as well.

I know many may wonder why I would go through so much effort, money and potential stress to complete a seemingly inconsequential series of photos such as this. In fact, why am I making it seem like such a big deal in the first place? It's just 22 pictures. I myself do not entirely understand why I'd done it. Even now as I have spent about four hours typing this article, I still don't fully understand why I have given so much credence to this series...

I won't humor the cliche idea that this series of photos "changed my life." I mean, in all sense of the phrase, technically it did change my life. But if anything it was proof to myself that I could grow, improve and accomplish anything like this should I devote enough of my mind into it.

I suppose it doesn't seem like much and I'm probably rambling now... but if anyone actually managed to read to the end of this God forsaken post, then thank you kindly. I hope to produce much more in the future. Maybe nothing as long again, or at least not any time soon... But one day... One day...

If you're interested, please follow me on Instagram and Facebook for more and (shorter) updates on my photographic journey. And please do let me know down below if you actually managed to make it through this essay. Photography really has taken me places and changed the way I see the world. I just thought it necessary to describe exactly how that was. Thank you again!

IG: thetravelingsee
FB: thetravelingsee
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Comments19

ChocolateSpider3 years ago#33738509This was such a fun read. You have quickly become one of my favorite Nendo-photographers with your fun and whimsical Miku pictures. I especially like the set where Miku want to play with Kaito, but he won't wake up. Looking forward to seeing your future pictures. ^o^

That's really kind of you to say! You've been following my photos for a while and I appreciate it thoroughly (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧ Hopefully I can continue to bring everyone quality content!
3 years ago
This was such a fun read. You have quickly become one of my favorite Nendo-photographers with your fun and whimsical Miku pictures. I especially like the set where Miku want to play with Kaito, but he won't wake up. Looking forward to seeing your future pictures. ^o^
3 years ago
angelbott3 years ago#33407750These are so adore. xD

Thank you very much! (*^▽^*)
3 years ago
These are so adore. xD
3 years ago
u-mi3 years ago#33391912I love how much thought and work goes into your photos, plus a bonus for Miku <3
Followed you on IG, can't wait to see more of your work!


Aha! You're really too kind! ^^ I wouldn't be as motivated to continue should it not be for people like you. Thank you very much!
3 years ago
I love how much thought and work goes into your photos, plus a bonus for Miku <3
Followed you on IG, can't wait to see more of your work!
3 years ago
TheTravelingSee3 years ago#33385139Thank you Stacy! You were there since the beginning! It's such a surreal feeling having so many people who I've always looked up to, be my friends on Facebook and the community. Some of the senpais even ask me for advice on how to do things. It's been such a worthwhile experience \(^.^)/

It's very gratifying seeing your own work evolve and feeling that you are indeed making progress (I speak for myself there, but I'm sure it's true of lots of folks), so I bet you are very happy. as I'd be very proud of the work you just shared if I were you...looks fantastic!! ... I mean I remember you saying initially that you were not at all experienced in photo editing, now look at you go!! :D Very awesome stuff indeed!! You're a regular pro now!! :D

Keep 'em coming!!!
3 years ago
MillyParis3 years ago#33380988Second on this, I cried too.

I'm sorry to have made you cry as well! ;( I'm glad you enjoyed the series and read through the article though ^^ Thank you very much!
3 years ago
Stacycmc3 years ago#33379522Awesome job!! Your editing skills are quite fantastic now, congrats on your photography/editing journey, and your feature in a magazine....awesome accomplishment!
Great little story too, and wonderful job with your staging and such....truly awesome shots! Keep up the awesome work!! :D


Thank you Stacy! You were there since the beginning! It's such a surreal feeling having so many people who I've always looked up to, be my friends on Facebook and the community. Some of the senpais even ask me for advice on how to do things. It's been such a worthwhile experience \(^.^)/
3 years ago
solluxcaptor3 years ago#33378641These pictures capture everything so well! Especially the depression one, you captured that feeling tastefully but with realism in the image.

I'm really glad that you think so! I wanted to try to be as authentic as possible. Could you believe that the original photo was only supposed to be of Miku being surrounded by actual bottles of alcohol? XDD I'm glad I decided to do this instead! Thank you for your feedback and for reading through the article!
3 years ago