#inthestyleof Renner_Lego: Cereal Unicyclist

In the second installment of the #inthestyle of series featuring Renner_Lego’s fun photo of a waiter tripping and spilling sugar cubes, I issued a challenge to use real food and minifigs in action.

I didn’t want to buy anything so I scanned the fridge and the cupboard, taking mental inventory of the food items in them and then letting my mind focus on their form. Cabbage, I thought, might become a wave of some sort. The uncooked lasagna pasta could be ramps of a skate park. Asparagus spears were re-imagined as um, spears. All of these ideas went onto my list until I had several to choose from.

For my first attempt, I made some Jell-O and had a couple of minifigs use it as a trampoline.

We all live in a Jell-O trampoline, a Jell-O trampoline, a Jell-O trampoline

I thought it turned out well although I wish I captured some ripple or bounce in the Jell-O. I think the bowl I used was too small though for any significant movement to be seen. In hindsight, I should have used a larger bowl and perhaps, changed my camera angle to reveal more of the surface of the gelatin so I could capture some of that famous jelly jiggle.

For my second attempt, I decided to tackle another idea on my list: the cereal-juggling unicyclist. I’m having a lot of fun with this theme but also, I really needed to get rid of the stale Cheerios sitting in my cupboard so it was a win-win!

The minifig

I originally thought about using a clown for this setup but realized I don’t really see clowns all that much these days. Juggling street performers that I’ve seen seem to have a preferred look — a vest and a hat — so I went with that.

Everything but the hands

The setup

I set up the scene on the table where we have breakfast and positioned the cereal box in the background, similar to what Renner_Lego had done with the Pringles cans in his photo. I used pretty much the same tools that he used too: tape and paper clips to prop up the cereal and minifig, two light sources (although mine was a flash and a reflector while his were two continuous LED video lights), and a tripod. I also used a little bit of tacky adhesive on the back of the minifig to get the paper clip to stick.

Getting the shot

With my camera secured on a tripod, I focused on the minifig’s face and took the first shot in full manual mode. That way, all my camera settings stayed the same for subsequent photo which was very important for compositing later. Next, I removed the “floating” Cheerios and the unicyclist and took a shot of the background.

Post processing

After importing the two images into Photoshop as layers, I simply added a mask to the layer the unicyclist appeared in and painted black into the mask over the paper clips and tape to reveal the clean background layer below. Then it was just a matter of applying the basic adjustments to exposure, contrast, etc and cropping to create the final image.

In total, the whole shoot was done in under 1 hour: 30 mins to set up, 10 minutes to shoot and another 10 to edit.

Technically, shooting this kind of scene isn’t really that difficult. Anyone who can shoot in manual mode and knows the basics of layer masking in Photoshop can pull this off. The real test is coming up with the concept.

I really like how this juggling unicyclist turned out and I think I may be 2-for-2 at this challenge, but I’ll have to wait for Renner_Lego’s verdict. What do you think?

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