Action Figures (a.k.a. Dolls For Big Boys)

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I recently had the pleasure of being invited to the Middle East Film and Comic Convention (MEFCC) held annually in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is the premier pop-culture event in the Middle East, drawing thousands of visitors from across the globe.

Be it exciting cosplays or the variety of merchandise for sale, everything is so vibrant and lively. You can actually feel the creativity pulse across the exhibition halls. Events like these are a dream come true for photographers.

I love photographing people but I have never really had the chance to photograph action figures. What’s more, I never really gave a second thought as to how life-like some of these dolls, I mean action figures (all pun intended), looked. Here are the fruits of my labor for your viewing pleasure; hope you enjoy them.

Your comments and feedback are highly appreciated.

Cheers!

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Gundam Fever: Toys For Big Boys

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I came across a booth at the Middle East Film and Comic Convention selling these Transformer-esque toys. Little did I know that I’d be falling head-over-heels in love with these Gundam robots, or Gunpla (Gundam Plastic Models), as they’re officially called. The generous folks at www.otakume.com were giving away free Gunpla kits to people willing to register and attempt to assemble these robots. I naturally registered and, after a while, was building my first ever Gundam.

These kits come with complete instruction sets; you have to cut, join and assemble the entire Gundam from scratch. These components come as molded plastic sheets that you have to cut parts of using a cutter. If you happen to love puzzles, you’ll absolutely adore these robots. The precision with which each piece fits into the other is mesmerizing, to say the least. It’s a good hobby for kids and adults alike and serves to be a good distraction from technology. What’s more, it helps hone your hand-eye coordination, a skill necessary for several professions.

With two kids hovering over me, it took me around one-and-a-half hour to assemble this bad boy. These kits start from around $25 and go all the way up to a few thousand. I’m still trying to navigate the intricacies of grades and classes; having said that, I can’t wait to get my hands on the next one!

Light Painting Basics

Over the years, especially with the advancement in digital imaging, I have seen some amazing photographs using lights as paintbrushes on very high shutter speeds. This was my first formal trial (with a DSLR) and I thought the results could have been better, had my daughter not been chasing me around while I was ‘painting’ with light. Anyways, the photos below shows how easily one can coordinate his/her movements to make interesting effects. If you own a DSLR camera, you can have fun with these techniques too in just a few simple steps:

  1. Get a hold of some LED or Laser lights; these seem to work best as the light emitted from these is relatively focused on one point. Having said that, I suggest you try using some other light sources, like toys, to get some really interesting outputs.
  2. Set your DSLR camera to Shutter Priority mode (S mode), and choose a shutter speed; you may need to experiment a little with the speeds depending on what you are trying to paint, but generally, anything between 10″ and 30″ should do the trick. Remember: the higher the shutter speed, the more time you get to paint on one exposure.
  3. Set up your camera right in front of a dark wall, and take a test shot with the room lights open to gauge the ‘canvas’ area that you’ll be getting to do the painting.
  4. Turn off all the lights in your room; stand in front of a relatively dark wall, if possible, so as to eliminate any light bouncing back from it.
  5. Press the shutter release button, run and take position in front of the camera.
  6. Paint your heart out till you hear the shutter close again, signified by a barely audible click.

It was about 12 am when I started and I went through with it even though I could see my wife’s angry gaze piercing through me. So naturally, I wanted to write ‘I love you’ for this test to show my wife that I loved her more than I loved my camera. Then midway through the shoot, I decided it was more interesting to draw a heart and write the word ‘love’ in the center. I took these four photos in sequence at shutter speeds between 10 and 15 seconds, and the end-result was not bad at all, given that it was my first time (kind of). Enjoy!

First Attempt

Second Attempt

Third Attempt

Fourth Attempt

Here are a few other images I have done using my Nikon D7000 DSLR as well as my trusty old Cybershot DSC-W130, and they were creating using some of my daughter’s toys.

Outta Control

One of my daughter’s favorite toys – may it rest in peace (or should I say ‘pieces’?)

Cacophony

Light Experiments – My Daughter’s Toys

Every time I get a new toy for my daughter, I inadvertently end up playing with it myself, just because toys these days are so complex, so interesting, so fascinating. Interestingly though, (Chinese) toy designers have cleverly integrated readily available (cheap) lighting technology such as LEDs into their creations, making them a little more attractive and appealing to today’s kids (who wants those boring toys from the 80’s anyways?).

At times, I can’t help myself but photograph these creations, sometimes with dramatic results. Presented here, are two of the toys that are (were) my favorites, may they rest in peace (pieces).