Alpha Whiskey Photography

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Sep 5, 2013
Messages
645
It says Punisher but it’s really an exercise in lighting.

I keep telling people not to ask me to shoot unmasked action figures, as the plastic faces never convincingly look like the actual person, or any human for that matter. Masked figures afford more latitude. However, the face sculpt on this figurine, as small as it is, was actually pretty good, and became a testament that effective lighting casting the right shadows and contrast could make the face look like a real person. And as my interest is more in the visual effects aspect of shooting miniatures rather than the somewhat strange (to me) grown adults-collecting-and-playing-with-toys aspect, reality is more important to me. My angle has always been to make the images look like they are a still from a movie (which probably makes me something of a happy pariah within the echelons of toy photography, where the toys still look like toys).

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Jon Bernthal’s interpretation of the character (bit too thuggish for my taste), so my approach was more of a graphic novel style, keeping him furtively lurking in and emerging from shadows like silent death personified. I also used many Dutch and low angles, as per graphic novel art, to add some dynamism to still images. The minimalist lighting and high contrast approach also helped to make the facial details more convincing, or at least make the plastic less obvious! Speaking of unmasked figures, I found that adding blood on the face (in post) made for an effective makeshift mask and helped sell the illusion. The hands were a little tricky, too, so making them bloody or dirty helped disguise the plastic.

When I found a similarly scaled motorbike that I used on a job for someone last year, I enlisted that to allow the Punisher to engage in all manner of shenanigans. He went a little crazy with it.

The vehicles were 1/18 scale and the figure is 1/12, so I had to do some rescaling when compositing in post. As ever, backgrounds were added from my archives, as were muzzle flash, bullets and the like. Lighting was achieved by multiple small torches angled in different directions. I couldn’t be bothered with diffusers or reflectors since I was mainly aiming for high contrast, so the light would be pointed at an angle away from the figure if I needed it to be softer.

One of the reasons I find this type of photography so challenging and stimulating is precisely because of how much attention one needs to pay to the essential details of photography – lighting, framing, and composition. I’m not simply pointing a lens at something and pushing a button. I have to imagine the scenes I want to shoot. I have to then create the scenes I want to shoot. I have to think about the directions of light hitting the subject, whether that’s fill light, ambient light or backlight. I have to think about where the subject needs to be in the frame if other elements are going to be a part of the composition. I have to think about the angle from which I shoot him, and whether to use a standard lens or telephoto to add more compression. Most of all, trying to create something that looks real from a miniature plastic figure or diecast models is really an exercise in problem-solving.

So, despite the sneering contempt that I get from many that this is not ‘real’ photography (do please explain what is) I believe this type of endeavor can make one a better photographer in any genre. Yes, really. :)

Anyway, prepare to be punished…


A few poster style images to begin with using the Punisher font.

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I found that shooting the figure from a low angle made the face look more realistic…
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This is just the figure leaning against the inside of a laundry basket, with a spotlight behind shining into it and some vaping smoke.
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He came with a giant mini-gun in the box, so…you know…
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I had a similarly scaled 1/12 motorbike from another job so I put the figure on it and went crazy :)
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And, of course, it wouldn’t be my work without some exploding and hurtling cars...
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The only other similarly scaled figure I had to interact with him was Robocop, so I came up with a few shots, of which this one I liked the most.
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As ever some work better than others (better being more convincing). But a fun project. Hope you like it :)


MORE HERE

VIDEO WITH BTS HERE
 

Alpha Whiskey Photography

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Sep 5, 2013
Messages
645
Some BTS images...

BTS2.jpg
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BTS-2a.jpg
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BTS3a.jpg
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BTS3.jpg
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BTS5.jpg
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BTS6.jpg
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BTS1.jpg
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BTS1a.jpg
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Glennn

Mu-43 Veteran
Joined
Dec 9, 2018
Messages
391
Location
NJ
Real Name
Glen
Truly incredible work.
I dig the Chevelle prop as well.
 

sinzen

Mu-43 Rookie
Joined
Jun 12, 2021
Messages
18
So badass! Huge Marvel fan here and c‘mon, it’s Punisher! lol

These shots are fantastic! I might need to revisit my Ronin Boba Fett and a few other figures.

Super awesome dude! Keep at it!
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2016
Messages
23
Location
Southern IL
Real Name
Eric
Yeah, I agree with everyone else, these are great. I always enjoy your series. I imagine anyone who is contemptuous of your work is likely an underperformer with misguided motivations. I say keep up the great work- I love it.
 

melanieylang

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Jun 23, 2017
Messages
2,157
I am not into superheroes or high-octane films, but I love your work every time - you have really got your vision and skills in tune 👌👍 The behind-the-scenes shots are really interesting, too.
 

Alpha Whiskey Photography

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Sep 5, 2013
Messages
645
The amount of effort gone into these is incredible. Absolutely amazing. Do you do this for a living, or is it just a hobby?
Both. I make custom posters and images for selected clients, who will either supply me with the model/item or ask me to purchase it. Some projects I do for my own amusement or because I have the time and want to hone my skills in miniature and visual effects photography.
I'm really glad you enjoyed them :)
 
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