Star Wars R2-D2 Shoot

One of my favorite photography forums Ausphotography is currently running a Star Wars themed competition in the lead up to Star Wars Day. Obviously held on May the 4th (May the force). Being the massive Star Wars fan that I am I just had to try a few things.

I’m an R2-D2 fan and though it would be great to create a shot of R2 escaping from the Skywalker’s moisture farmer in search of Obi-Wan Kenobi. I had some old R2-D2, C-3Po, & Chewbacca figurines that I got as a kid from Pizza Hut. They had been sitting in a box for 10 or so years.

In the cover of darkness grabbed a handful of sand from the spare block up the street from us. It was very weathered and almost like concrete in some spots. Much like the planet Tatooine’s surface.

I then  folded out m trusty multi-purpose ladder and placed 3 wooden boards salvaged from a crate across it. Poured a fair bit of sand onto the middle board in a mound formation and began brushing the sand around my little R2 unit with an old tooth brush.  The base of the R2 figurine is bright yellow so I needed to cover this up.

Then it was time to setup the camera and tripod. Lens for this shot was the Canon 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS. Reason for this choice was that I could try closer up and wider shots without the need of changing my lens. Tripod was setup so that the camera was in a portrait position at about the same height as the boards.

I then placed my Vivitar 285 flash at the back left of the sand mound at 1/16th power. I placed an orange gel that I had picked up from reverse garbage shop a couple of months ago. The flash was directed at the white brick wall in the garage, and positioned so that the hotspot of the flash would be to the left of the composed image.

To light up R2 and give him a shadow I used 2 LED lights that I have for our mountain bikes. One was aimed at the sand and the other was held above left pointing at R2′s head and gave a nice shadow behind him.

Camera settings were

  • Exposure: 1/250
  • Aperture: f/6.3
  • Focal Length: 85 mm
  • ISO Speed: 400
  • Vivitar 285 set at 1/16th power with orange gel

Post Processing in Photoshop CS 2

  • Cropped image a little to place R2 on a vertical and horozontal 3rd
  • Auto Contrast
  • Saturated the blues a little and decreased the light level for blues by just a little
  • Added curve layer, small S bend
  • Sharpened image
  • Added a small border by adding some guide lines and then using the paint brush with a soft edge I painted a white thin line around the edge except where the text will be
  • I then added the Text R2-D2 and centered it

This weekend I plan on doing another Star Wars themed shoot once I find which box my model Tie Fighter is in. I have a few ideas for it that I have drawn up on some paper. I might scan that and upload it too.

For all things Star Wars check <a href=”″>Wookieepedia</a>

Any questions please ask in the comments or contact me via the Contacts page.