Star Wars in camo II. A forward observation post on the front line

I began recreating science fiction models about two years ago for a couple of reasons. One I wanted a creative outlet that was somewhat separate from my career as a photographer, journalist and writer. That’s so I could relax and have fun. Second, as a kid in the 1960s inspired by Star Trek, the Original Series, I had built the kits and scratch built my own models and now that I’m retired I wanted to start again.

I began following various modellers and toy photographers on Instagram and came across the amazing work by Matthew Callaghan, a U.S. Marine photographer who also has a hobby of recreating scenes he is familiar with using the larger size Star Wars figures in photographs that simulated the reality of combat in Iraq.

Callaghan’s work immediately struck a chord, and not just because I am working on my own Star Wars model projects. From September 2003 until I retired in March 2010, I was the photo editor for CBC News, based in Toronto. That meant as soon as I got into work and for the rest of each day, I would see the photo feeds coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan from the Canadian Press, the Associated Press, Reuters, Getty/AFP and Canadian Forces Combat Camera.

I worked closely with CBC reporters, producers and technicians based in Kandahar, many of whom would be filing their photos back to me in Toronto. Finbarr O’Reilly who was embedded with both the Canadian and US Forces, including the Marines, was once one of my students at Ryerson University School of Journalism. He is co-author of Chasing Ghosts  along with former Marine Thomas Brennan.

At CBC, as editor, I worked on an Afghanistan project with photographer Louie Palu who was also embedded with both the Canadians and Americans in Afghanistan and is known for his portraits of Marines and is author of the new book Front Toward The Enemy.

I had just started working on my Star Wars camouflage project and was looking for an idea for doing some kind of similar combat simulation , inspired by Callaghan’s gritty and realistic photos of the Storm Troopers

I work with Star Wars Command figures which are much smaller than the larger figures most photographers work with. I noticed one of the rebel fighters from Hoth with a pair of galactic binoculars and that gave me the idea of recreating, in Star Wars terms, one story of my father in the Second World War, when he was a British artillery officer in Malaya, fighting the Japanese.

The battle was at Kampar . My father’s 88th Field Regiment of the Royal Artillery was defending the outer British perimeter.

As Wikipedia says:

Major General Archie Paris (temporary commander of the 11th Indian Division) had to defend a line from the coast through Telok Anson (now Telok Intan) up to the defensive positions at Kampar. The defensive perimeter at Kampar was an all round position, straddling Kampar Hill (Gunong Brijang Malaka) to the east of Kampar town, overlooking the Japanese advance and well concealed by thick jungle. Paris placed artillery spotters on the forward slopes protected by the 15th/6th Brigade on the western side of the position, and the 28th Gurkha Brigade covered the right flank on the eastern side.[2] The two brigades were supported by the 88th Field Artillery Regiment, which was equipped with 25 pounders, and the 4.5 inch howitzers of the 155th Field Artillery Regiment. Once the 12th Brigade had passed through Kampar Paris sent them to cover the coast and his line of retreat at Telok Anson.

My father, Lt. Frederic Rowland, was one of those artillery spotters. For his actions that day he was awarded the Military Cross.

What the citation doesn’t say was that my father was in a spotter dugout along with two “other ranks” connected to the artillery headquarters with a field telephone. At one point a mortar round landed right in the dugout. The two men with my father were killed instantly but in the random nature of the universe, my father had barely a scratch, although he would tell me that most of his uniform was blown off. He had to crawl out of the dug out to re-splice the severed telephone wire and then crawled back into the dug out to call in the artillery on the advancing Japanese tanks.

Later as a prisoner of war in Changi Jail, Singapore, he commissioned the war artist Leo Rawlings, who later became famous of his drawings and paintings of POWs  to recreate the action at Kampar. Here is a detail of that painting. The two spotter positions, black box, are suggested with just a couple of strokes of a water colour brush.

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Star Wars in camo I. If you were a Storm Trooper wouldn’t you want some camouflage?

The first step was to paint the Hoth rebel figures not in winter white but in the Second World War British uniform colour (somewhat) from Vallejo paints, with a couple of appropriate adjustments.

Here’s a close up of the spotter officer, the forward observation post commander, as he might appear in a WWII photo, using the Kodak Tri-X filter from Perfect Effects.

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A contemporary digital image of the  spotter officer and his two men with an R2 unit in the background.

Of course, I added  an R2 unit, which I call R2C1 (C for camouflage model) plus one other soldier, a reinforcement.

So I started, as with some other projects, with a clear blister pack provided an idea for a futuristic popup but portable armoured forward observation post, complete with all kinds of high tech communications gear.

Then I added a coat of grey auto primer on both sides.

Then some dark brown camouflage super flat spray paint.

Then I found the right position for the figures.

I created the com panel using the web and reduced the images using Photoshop, then reduced the entire image even further to fit on to a square on the inside of the original blister pack.

You can see that AT-STs are approaching just like Japanese tanks were attacking my father’s FOP.  Given the tech of the galaxy far, far away they are in communication with rebel headquarters and have multiple sensors, rather than binoculars and a field telephone connected by a wire. And yes the multi coloured buttons on the panel are from the Star Trek Original Series bridge <grin>.

 

The R2 access panel was created the same way.

 

 

Combat is never found in a clean environment. So I wanted to dirty up the scene. The fallen trees are from hothouse tomatoes, painted black as if they’d been scorched. I laid down a layer of standard ground cover, including some grass. Then it was all covered up with a mixture of about one third ashes from my barbecue, one third talcum powder, and one third a mixture of fine model railway ballast and fine rubble.

 

 

 

 

As well as the standard photographs, I wanted to duplicate a Second World War look with black and white and some old style photographs plus two water colours, one where I tried to duplicate the limited colours available to Leo Rawlings as well as the kind of quick watercolour painter that was common in that era.

To duplicate the Rawlings watercolour from the image, I first used the charcoal and chalk filter in Photoshop, then added a sepia photo filter. Next I duplicated that layer and used the Jixipix watercolour filter. It was a bit bright, so I used the lighten tool under the Photoshop saturation adjustment, then adjusted opacity to bring out more of the chalk and charcoal layer.

This follows the style of the “quick sketch’ watercolour used by some war artists from the Napoleonic era to the Second World War and probably even today. Created using the Jixipix water colour filter.

The front of the forward observation post as it might have been captured on old Kodak film, using a VSOC Lightroom plugin.

Another view that duplicates a faded colour photo from the era, no filters, desaturation in Photoshop.

And a couple of gritty black and white images.

Star Wars in camo I. If you were a Storm Trooper wouldn’t you want some camouflage?

First this is completely non-canon (so far) and non legends. I fell in love with Star Wars the moment in 1976 I saw the original trailer “the story of a boy, a girl and a universe… a billion years in the making and it’s coming to your galaxy this summer,” months before the movie was released. Of all the scenes in all the Star Wars movies in all the galaxies, my favourite scene is still Luke Skywalker walking out to watch that double sunset on Tattoine. So this is just a bit of fun with a series I love.

The double sunset (Lucasfilm/Disney)

When I began to transfer my love of Star Wars into model making (as you will see on the right hand menu) I began to wonder for the first time (about the same time that Star Wars Rogue One came out last December) why after so many years, the Storm Troopers are still in white body armor?

Star Wars Command figures one painted in a light green camouflage, and on the right a standard issue white armour Storm Trooper. Who has a better chance to survive a battle? (Robin Rowland)

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Now I’ve worked in movies and television for 40 years (most of that time in TV news). Always the most important thing is “the look” which is part of the production ethic and creates an atmosphere for both the actors and  the audience. John Mollo, who passed away just a couple of weeks, created the original costumes and most of the look of what came to be called “A New Hope.”  based on concepts by John McQuarrie .

Mollo won an Oscar for his work on A New Hope, and the white armored Storm Troopers became iconic, along with Darth Vader, CP30 and R2D2. So I am sure Lucasfilm and now Disney stick with what works. Later movies have enhanced “the look” but haven’t changed it. But maybe it’s time to question if that white look is still working?

In this promo for Rogue One, the Storm Troopers are charging across open water in their white body armour while the opposing rebels aren’t wearing camouflage, their dark clothing is closer to the terrain. Would you want to be one of those Storm Troopers? (Lucasfilm/Disney)

Now if we take it from the point of view of the Empire and later the First Order, we have to ask whether the upper echelons of the Empire or First Order actually have any respect for the Storm Trooper grunts?  (Even if they are the movie “bad guys.”)  Both Galactic Powers have spent billions of credits over the decades on  new  but vulnerable Death Stars ( a clear waste of taxpayers’ money),  then bigger and bigger and even bigger Star Destroyers.  There are new and advanced Tie Fighters and other space craft. But the poor Storm Troopers, what about them?  They haven’t had an equipment upgrade in 40 years.  (The equivalent  would be using Vietnam era or perhaps even Second World War  technology  in today’s  fighting)  So, imagine, James Earl Jones in his Darth Vader voice echoing Donald Rumsfeld’s infamous “You go to war with the Army you have – not the Army you might wish you have.” After all whether they’re clones or draftees, the Storm Troopers are no more than Imperial/First Order blaster fodder.

If you were a Storm Trooper in the Endor System wouldn’t want some camo? (Starwars.com/Lucasfilm/Disney)

Why even have body armor when a rebel fighter in grubby clothes can take a Storm Trooper out with a blaster or if he/she is a Jedi in some robes can take you down with a lightsabre? What good is body armor if  the blind master  Chirrut Îmwe, can take out an entire Storm Trooper platoon?

What good is body armor against a blind man and the Force? Rogue One (Lucasfilm/Disney)

Just having the  Imperial/First Order soldiers in cloth uniform could be just as effective (and much more easy on the mobile credit dispensers of the war-burdened galactic taxpayers).

Any scene in any Star Wars movie, the white clad Storm Troopers stand out in any environment. Even if rebels or other enemies have super tech sensors in that galaxy far, far away, most of the battles are line of sight, which means the Storm Troopers are easy targets even for the most inexperienced rebel fighter.

While Storm Troopers may have superior fire power and some air cover, they usually lose in the end. Rogue One. (Lucasfilm/Disney)

So I let imagination run and here is the result, if you are drafted or recruited as a Storm Trooper, wouldn’t you want some camo?

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Star Wars in camo II. A forward observation post on the front line

Would you like to suddenly meet an AT-AT driver on a jungle trail? Star Wars Command figure (Robin Rowland)

 

An AT-AT makes its way through an alien jungle. Star Wars Command figure (Robin Rowland)
The rebels or perhaps an other enemy successfully downed the AT-AT so the driver has to make his way on foot. Star Wars Command figure (Robin Rowland)
Adapting to different planets may mean adapting the camo on the body armour to suit the situation. Star Wars Command figure (Robin Rowland)
Another view of the darker camo body armour. Star Wars Command figure (Robin Rowland)
A Storm Trooper in the brush of the Forest Moon of Endor. Sure stands out. Wouldn’t you rather be green trooper? (Lucasfilm/Disney)
I call this R2 unit R2C1. It’s “C” for the camouflaged model. Star Wars Command figure. (Robin Rowland)
Another shot of R2C1. Star Wars Command figure. (Robin Rowland)
Opposing the Storm Troopers are rebels in their own camouflaged bush uniforms. Star Wars Command figure. (Robin Rowland)
Another rebel fighter in the bush. Star Wars Command figure. (Robin Rowland)

The rebel fighters are part of a related project,  a forward observation post diorama which you will find in Star Wars in camo II.

The rebel in the same dark forest as the AT-AT driver. If they meet their camouflage will help both survive. Star Wars Command figure. (Robin Rowland)
The Storm Trooper with the light green camo armour aims his blaster. Star Wars Command figure. (Robin Rowland)
The Storm Trooper aims. Star Wars Command figure. (Robin Rowland)
Catching the Storm Trooper from on high (perhaps from a drone) Star Wars Command figure. (Robin Rowland)
A Storm Trooper in white is definitely an easier target for a rebel. Star Wars Command figure. (Robin Rowland)
Another side by side look at a Storm Trooper in camo and a second in traditional white. Star Wars Command figure. (Robin Rowland)

In the Navy

Another idea I had and am working on in a future project that if there is a Storm Trooper ground army, there might also be a Storm Trooper Navy.

A naval Storm Trooper. Star Wars Command figure. (Robin Rowland)

Disney is branching out from the original Star Wars story line with the announcement that director Rian Johnson will create a new trilogy somewhere in that big galaxy far, far away, that is a separate story line from the Skywalker family epic. As Ben Child wrote in the Guardian “it also suggests that Johnson is the man to take Star Wars into the kind of dangerous new territory that might be required if these movies are to last another 40 years… Star Wars directors cannot make movies about Death Stars, fallen Jedi and Skywalker scions for ever; they must eventually begin to truly expand the universe. New worlds, races, supernatural phenomena and coteries of evil are needed if we are to be remotely interested in a galaxy far, far away in the year 2050. ”

For the various shots I used a Sony Alpha 700 with a Tamron 70-300 in macro mode and a Sony Alpha  77 with a  100mm lens in macro mode and a Sony Alpha 6000 with a Sony 18-55 E Mount.

A pirate starship chase, scratch built from toothbrush packages

An alien pirate ship in pursuit of an another starship . (Robin Rowland)

So here are the results of my latest project, scratch building a couple of alien starships and then applying my photographic and Photoshop skills to put them in some star systems not too far away.

Scratch building the Golden Starliner

You start by going to the dentist for a teeth cleaning and scaling. 🙂   And then take the clear plastic packaging for the tooth brushes that the dentist gives you at the end of  the ordeal.

Add modellers’ masking tape to mark windows for the bridge and viewing ports. The exterior tape is the exact size of the windows I want, the interior is much wider.

Spray paint inside and out. I use a heavy duty plastic compatible automobile primer.

Detail the starship with appropriate scrap that will add to the appearance of the starship.  Remove the inner masking tape and replace it with images (in my case I reduced stock photos to a few millimetres in Photoshop).

Then decide what the basic “look” of the starship should be. After the two halves were glued together, it came to be that although this is designed to be a starship,  it had a sort of steampunk look. (The projection in the stern is not a smoke stack.  The bit of scrap plastic was there to fill a gap in the original toothbrush package). So I used a gold spray paint and decided it was a luxury liner for that alien species The Golden Starliner. Remove the outer masking tape to reveal the windows.

Later I added detailing paints, varying the gold in areas with brass and copper paints and adding colours including reds, greens and blues where appropriate.

The pirate ship

Once the Golden Starliner was complete, I decided the neat thing to do would be to have it pursued by a pirate ship. For that I already had one look in mind, that the ship would be black.  Although sensors in that star system not too far away might detect the ship, it would be black to make visual spotting and identification difficult.  The vessels are not the same scale.

The main body is a shampoo bottle.  The upper deck is another bit of clear plastic packaging, enhanced with one of my favourite candies, Cadbury Cream Egg packaging.

The upper deck was glued to the shampoo bottle and secured with push pins for drying. I originally had planned to remove the pins after the glue was set but decided to keep them.   I used the same grey auto primer. The nacelles, as you can see, are from used highlighters.

The bow is  the top of a bottle of mouthwash, another cream egg package plus a bit of scrap from a juice container as the sensor unit. (Thinking that the forward sensor unit could mean the pirate ship could be part of the Star Trek universe)

The pirate ship was spray painted flat black, with the engine end of the nacelles (the highlighters) masked by tape.  Some parts were painted in a metallic blue, which was also used to dry brush “space rust” with some other parts also painted in different metallic colours to enhance the model.  Here it is seen as I am setting up to take the photographs.

Here I am setting up the chase scene for the camera, showing the completed scratch built models.

The photographs

The photographs have three elements.  The models are photographed in low light with a black background on  black cardboard.  The planets are created in the Photoshop filter plugin LunarCell by Flaming Pear Software. The sun was created in Flaming Pear’s Solarcell filter.

Backgrounds were public domain downloads from NASA’s Hubble website.

Lighting with a LED TV news lamp was adjusted to fit with the illumination of  the planet or the star.

The Golden Starliner

The pirate ship

The pirate ship orbits its base, a marginal planet where normally no one would live.

The pirate ship is an ambush predator, orbiting as close as possible to a red dwarf star so it won’t be seen.

The Golden Starliner follows its usual course from planet to planet, oblivious to what awaits it at the next star.

And the ambush predator begins the chase.

 

Camera Sony Alpha 77, Minolta 28-75 lens, Iso Auto, F32 apperture priority.

The hunt for the Millennium Falcon – the diorama

Once again the Millennium Falcon is on the run. Once again in this non-canon, non-legend Star Wars Micromachines diorama, the Falcon is trying to hide out in a crater on an unnamed, uncharted minor planet at the edge of that galaxy far far away, perhaps in the mysterious “Unknown Regions.”

The Millennium Falcon hides at the edge of the galaxy. (Robin Rowland)
The Millennium Falcon hides in a small crater on a minor planet in the middle of galactic nowhere. (Robin Rowland)

Unfortunately for the Millennium Falcon crew and passengers, a bounty hunter comes up over the planetary horizon.

A Slave 1 class scout vessel comes over the horizon of the minor planet right over the Millennium Falcon. (Robin Rowland)

 

The Slave 1 class scout hides in another crater, while waiting for the Super Star Destroyer to arrive so the bounty hunter can collect a reward.. (Robin Rowland)
The Super Star Destroyer appears in orbit over that minor planet where the Millennium Falcon is in that crater. (Robin Rowland)

So what happens next? I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Creating the dioramas and photographs

All the models are Hasbro Star Wars Micromachines that were part of a Hasbro Star Wars Micromachines Epic Battles 48 piece set that fortunately was on sale at half price in my local supermarket.

Rebelscale.com lists the MicroMachines Millennium Falcon at 1/682 scale, the Slave 1 at 1/551 scale  and what Rebelscale calls the Imperial Star Destroyer (if it is the same as the Super Star Destroyer) at 1/23529 scale.

The problem with the Millenium Falcon MicoMachine is that the detailing is way out of scale, especially compared to some of the other models. Also the shiny “vinyl plastic” (according to Rebelscale) didn’t really work for the much loved but by now old and beat up Millennium Falcon.  The model was first painted with Krylon white primer,  then  lightly sprayed with Krylon Ivory Satin.  I added detailing using sharpie style art ink pens. I then sprayed with Krylon Matt finish.  Some of colours of those inks run when sprayed with the matt finish (especially reds).  After the matt finish had dried, details were touched up with the pens.

I left both the Slave 1 and the Super Star Destroyer as is.

The base is the Lunarscape vacu-form crater mold from  Amera Plastic Mouldings  from Low Prudhoe, Northumberland, in the UK.

The sheet of plastic was first covered with Krylon white primer.  Then I brush painted a thin grey wash with ordinary (not modeling) arcylic artists’ paint.   I then sprayed the surface with Krylon Fusion for Plastic white paint and Krylon Make it Stone textured grey paint, two handed, at the same time.   Finally I finished off with a quick pass of the Krylon Ivory Satin to give the surface some variety.  Serendipitously by that time the Ivory Satin can was almost empty and the spluttering spray left lumps of paint which became the surface rocks.

The spray painted Amera Lunarscape with the Micromachines Millennium Falcon (Robin Rowland)

My work table is grey and some what dirty as you can see.  I pinned a black cloth on the wall in preparation for photography. The light for this image was daylight through a window to the left.

Setting up the shot of the Millennium Falcon and the Super Star Destroyer (Robin Rowland)

To take the photograph of the Millenium Falcon and the Super Star Destroyer the Star Destroyer model was on a platform (actually a pile of books) also covered in black cloth.  The main lighting for the shoot was an LED video light high on an extended light stand at the door to my workroom. For this shot the overhead light was also on.

All closeup images were taken with a Sony Alpha 77 and a Sony 100mm prime macro lens.

I wanted imaginative backgrounds, like the covers of 50s-70s science fiction paperbacks, so I choose public domain shots from NASA.

The barred spiral galaxy NGC 6217 (NASA Hubble)

The barred spiral galaxy NGC 6217 was photographed on June 13 and July 8, 2009, as part of the initial testing and calibration of Hubble’s ACS. The galaxy lies 60 million light-years away in the north circumpolar constellation Ursa Major.

The NGC 4536 galaxy, captured here in beautiful detail by the Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). Located roughly 50 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo (The Virgin), it is a hub of extreme star formation. Released April 14, 2017  ESA/Hubble & NASA

HH 901 and HH 902 in the Carina Nebula Star-forming Pillars and Herbig-Haro Objects with Jets  Taken in 2010 by the Hubble the region is two light years across and 7,500 light-years away from Earth. ESA/NASA

Photoshop

For both the Slave 1 and the Super Star Destroyer,  the NASA image was added in a new layer, then the eraser tool was used to reveal the spacecraft which were lighted the same way as the Millennium Falcon on the surface.

The “line” between the Lunarscape craters and the work table was blended using a combination the blur tool, the clone tool and the healing brush tool.

 

“Do or do not. There is no try” – the diorama

Yoda and Luke Skywalker on Dagobah after Yoda lifts the X-Wing from the swamp, (Robin Rowland)

For my second diorama (the first was the Emperor Palpatine and his guards) I tackled two scenes, from different perspectives from The Empire Strikes Back.

Photographed from one side, young Luke has arrived at the swamp world of Dagobah and has met Yoda.

Welcome to Dogabah, young Luke. (Robin Rowland)

Shot from the reverse angle and using forced perspective, the frustrated Luke Skywalker has just watched Yoda use The Force to raise his sunken X-wing fighter from the waters of the Dagobah swamp.

Both Luke and Yoda are Star Wars Command figures, painted in the appropriate colours. The Luke figure, unfortunately, is one of the poorest in the Star Wars Command line, compared to other personalities and even ordinary stormtroopers.

The snake (the creature that ate and threw up R2 D2) is from a $2 packet I bought at a dollar store. The flying creature was a lucky addition to the background shot I chose.

Here is the concept art of the scene from the official Star Wars site

How I did created the diorama

I started with the X-Wing which I painted in the standard colour scheme. The tiny R2 unit on the model was removed since on Dagobah, R2-D2 was with Luke. Military modellers often dip figures in Miniwax wood stain to bring out details. Usually I use a light stain, Minimax Fruitwood. This time I used the darker Walnut stain and rather than cleaning most of the stain, I let it drip into the a small aluminum pan.

Yoda also was dipped but he was wiped clean.

For the X-Wing I then added deadfall Witch’s Hair lichen (Alectoria sarmentosa) which is common in northern British Columbia where I live.

I then built the diorama using standard materials, with one exception. The styrofoam base was small so instead of commercial model water, I used several layers of standard food cling wrap (which actually comes with a slight blue tint in a private brand version) to make the snake/monster emerge from the water. I painted the layers of cling wrap with a light brown wash.

Here’s how the diorama  looks.

To photograph from different angles I then chose photos that would work as backgrounds.

Did I visit Dagobah? I wish.

The background images were photographed during a canoe trip in Okefenokee National Wildlife Refugee in south Georgia, ten years ago in April 2006.  The photographs were printed on Epson matt paper so there would be no extraneous reflections

Background image for Welcome to Dagobah
Background image for Do or do not, There is no try.

Finally here is the X wing on the diorama  showing the aft end of the star fighter.

Close up images shot with a Sony A77 and Sony 100 mm macro lens.  Others shot with a Sony 6000.

An Imperial AT-AT on patrol in swamp

An AT-AT on patrol in swamp, planet unknown. (Robin Rowland)

Star Wars Command AT-AT photographer in the woods near my house. Now that it’s spring will be able to do more outdoor photography where appropriate (the small approx 54mm Star Wars Command figures don’t always blend into a real world setting as easily as the larger 3.5, 6 and 12 inch figures).

Shot with Sony A700 and Tamron 70 to 300 on macro mode.

Why did I enlist in the snow troopers?

Why did I join the snow troopers? Snow trooper patrols in cold rain after a heavy snowfall.

A Star Wars Command snowtrooper figure, painted, photographed in rain after a heavy snowfall, Sony Alpha 700 Tamron 70 to 300 on macro mode.

Snowtrooper patrol

Snowtroopers on patrol on a snowy day, cursing the officers who sent them out. Another one of my Star Wars Command figure projects. Photographed in a snowstorm, in Kitimat, BC, January 6, 2017. (Robin Rowland)

Snowtroopers on a patrol in heavy snow. (Robin Rowland)
A snowtrooper in snow above his knees. (Robin Rowland)
The snowtroopers taking the point on this icy patrol (Robin Rowland)
Snowtrooper (Robin Rowland)
This snowtrooper wonders why he “volunteered” for this mission. (Robin Rowland)
Why does the Empire issue such crummy equipment? this snowtrooper wonders. (Robin Rowland)
A rebel snowspeeder has spotted the snowtrooper patrol. (Robin Rowland)
The view of the snowtrooper patrol from the snowspeeder (Robin Rowland)
“I have a bad feeling about this, bud,” the snowtrooper says. (Robin Rowland)

Snowspeeders at a hidden base

One of my holiday hobby projects was painting the Star Wars Command snowspeeders (with the aim, of course, photographing them in the snow.)

So imagine that on Hoth (or some other snowy world) some snowspeeders escaped the Empire attack on the main base and have found refuge in a hidden valley. (Planets are big places)

But given the Empire’s tech, and orbiting satellites, or patrols, the lined up snowspeeders could be spotted from above.

So that means it is a good tactic to disperse the snow speeders, with the pilot carefully landing this one at the edge of a cliff.

A second pilot brings the snowspeeder in right under the lip of a snowbank.

(Photos of other projects coming soon)

Emperor Palpatine and his guards

Emperor Palpatine and his Star Wars Command guards. (Robin Rowland)
Emperor Palpatine and his Star Wars Command guards. (Robin Rowland)

So here is my first project for miniatures and photography, Emperor Palpatine and his guards.

The miniatures are painted Star Wars Command 54mm/ 1/32 scale figures.

palpatine2

Technical photo details for first and second images. Sony Alpha 77, with Tamron 70 to 300 lens, tripod, ISO 1000, manual settings f25 at 13 seconds.

A wider view of Emperor Palpatine and his guards. (Robin Rowland)
A wider view of Emperor Palpatine and his guards. (Robin Rowland)

Sony Alpha 55,Sony 55 to 200 SAM lens, ISO 3200, program mode, popup flash fired, 160 at f10.

Now for the fun part.  George Lucas was inspired by the old movie serials from the 30s to 60s in creating Star Wars.

So here’s how my miniatures look using filters to emulate old movies.

Emperor and his guards in a vintage movie (Robin Rowland)
Emperor and his guards in a vintage movie (Robin Rowland)

The Silver Efex Pro filter captures the idea of the old black and white (or semi sepia movies) Sony Alpha 77, Sony 100mm prime macro,  ISO 1600, Aperatre priority f32 at 25 seconds (on tripod)

The Emperor and his guards in an old colour film. (Robin Rowland)
The Emperor and his guards in an old colour film. (Robin Rowland)

This vintage film image was created in Analog Efex Pro using an old film setting. Sony Alpha 55, ,Sony 55 to 200 SAM lens, ISO 3200, aperture priority, popup flash fired, 160 at f16.

 A little later style of black and white film. (Robin Rowland)
A little later style of black and white film. (Robin Rowland)

And if the director was still using black and white.  SilverEfex Pro, Alpha 77, Tamron 70 t0 300 in macro mode, manual settings, ISO 1600, 32 seconds at f8.

Another old film look at the Emperor and his guards. (Robin Rowland)
Another old film look at the Emperor and his guards. (Robin Rowland)

Finally, how I created the set:

The set for the Emperor Palpatine shoot (Robin Rowland)
The set for the Emperor Palpatine shoot (Robin Rowland)

So here’s the “set” for the Emperor Palpatine shoot.  The round base originally supported WalMart’s delicious chocolate fudge cake.  I had kept the base several months ago as I was hoarding possible scratch building material.  The base is set on a piece of black poster board.  The background is a cardboard box spray painted black.  The two wall panels are also from chocolate cake bought from my local supermarket.

Lighting: Three lights on most of the images.  An LED flashlight as you see to the right of the setup.  On top of the box was a small LED light (designed for use with mobile phones, pointed at the offwhite ceiling. The third LED was to the left and about two metres away pointing just to the left edge of the box.

Once I had finished the tripod time exposure shoot, I wanted to get this shot of the set so I used the Alpha 55 with just the popup flash  at -2 without changing the lighting set up otherwise.  I used the same settings when shooting wider shots above with the Alpha 55.