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Behind the Scenes: King Kong Chases the Flintmobile

Here's a BTS on a recent image I created. I've really grown to love that little Hot Wheels Flintmobile, it's made its way into quite a few little adventures. The King Kong is a new toy from Mezco Toys. Articulation on Kong is mediocre, in my opinion, but there's enough to work with and tell stories with. Of course this also means he's more affordable than he would have been had he come with incredible articulation, so it's a trade off. He comes with two faces (one angry, one more neutral), extra hands, shackles and a mini-Ann Darrow figure. His proportions seem a little off to me, but perhaps he was that way in the movie. He definitely looks awesome in certain angles though.

This was an image I created on my porch - one of my favorite places to shoot because of the natural light there in the morning. The porch is covered, so if it's raining I can still easily shoot there. And if it's really windy outside it provides a lot of shelter from that wind. It's an outdoor space with the benefits of an indoor space (except that if it's freezing outside it's still freezing on the porch!).


In addition to the beautiful available light, I used 3 additional Manfrotto lights to provide some fill as well as rim lighting on Kong. Fill lighting is used to soften or remove harsh shadows. Rim lighting is when you position a light (usually to the side or behind the subject) to provide a light that defines an outer edge of a subject. This can help the figure or object stand out from the background and pop and help give it more volume.

For the sky I simply used blue poster board behind the setup. Clouds, from my cloud library (not a library where one does a lot of reading), were added in post.

3 Manfrotto lights. The Lykos bi-color LED back left provides rim light, as does the small Lumimuse blue tooth controlled light on the right. The Lykos front left provides fill. Both Lykos lights are attached to Manfrotto Nano Stands.

The Flintmobile had a small wire support holding it up, which was later removed in Photoshop. Kong was positioned on some strategically placed rocks so that he appeared as if he was lunging at Fred and Barney. I can only imagine the crazy speed of Fred and Barney's blurred feet (cue bongo drums!)!

Posing matters. Even though Kong lacks the articulation of a more expensive figure, his arms still have a wide range of up and down motion. I wanted a pose that emphasized his lunging forward motion as well as contribute to a dynamic composition. Raising Kong's left arm higher into the frame achieved this.

The finishing touch, to really emphasize the directional motion and action, was the dirt and debris you see trailing the Flintmobile and Kong. This effect definitely adds to the action and excitement. To create airborne dirt and debris I use the highly technical and complex process of...throwing it into the scene (that's sarcasm for those of you who lack a good sarcasm radar!). I'll have to show a video of this sometime, but it's basically me standing just outside of the camera's view throwing dirt at the setup. Okay, maybe a video isn't necessary. Simple but effective. Since I wanted the dirt and debris behind the Flintmobile and Kong I had to do two separate dirt throws and then combine them in post using Photoshop. Maybe one day I will up my game and try to capture this in one take...throwing the dirt with both hands simultaneously while clicking my remote shutter release with my teeth (yes, this was sarcasm again!).


I think the moral of this story is, with toy photography you can create so much with so little. The old cliche of being limited by one's imagination really applies to toy photography. So let your imagination go where it's never gone before and see what happens. Enjoy the journey!

The heart stopping final image. Did Fred and Barney escape the hairy clutch of Kong??

This image was photographed with the Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 135mm f2L at f2, ISO 1600 at a speed of 1/1600 sec. Image editing was done with Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, using my incredible Wacom Intuos Pro creative pen tablet (if you're still using a mouse for editing, and not a Wacom tablet, you're at a huge disadvantage). I will do a post on my editing tools soon.


Want to learn more about how to create images like this? Do you have aspirations of photographing toys on a professional level? Check out my one-on-one mentoring sessions HERE.


Thank you to my sponsors at Atmosphere Aerosol (use discount code MW10 for a special rate if purchasing from their website), Manfrotto, Spider Holster and Lowepro camera bags.

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