#inthestyleof Dudu Simas: The Cyprian Centaur

I’ve had a scene like this brewing in my head for the last couple of weeks but since I was on vacation in Spain and the UK, I couldn’t shoot it. But today, my son and I bested jet lag and woke up at a reasonable time to bike to this secluded spot along the Brooklyn Bridge Park for some exercise and a short photo shoot.

I had scouted this location before I left for Europe with Dudu Simas’s words about scale and story on my mind, and thought the slender reeds might make a great forest scene for a Japanese adventurer or mystical warrior character. I had my Sigma 30mm 2.8 prime lens on that day and took these quick photos for my notes:

However, things didn’t really go as originally planned. For one thing, I now had a young child with me at the photo shoot. A shoot which was my main mission but had turned into a side quest because asking this particular 7-year-old to come along on any kind of photography-related activity with me will just result in ಠ_ಠ.

Secondly, I ended up using a character very similar to one of Dudu’s other photos but with one modification: I turned him into a centaur. As I mentioned, I was thinking of using something more Japanese or mystical but alas, the boy was raring to go biking and the room where I keep my minifig parts had just been mopped so I just grabbed the faun and Groot from his collection and split. I already had the centaur part with me because it was a recent order and hadn’t been added to my collection yet.

As if that wasn’t enough compromising for one day, I ended up shooting with my Minolta 100mm 2.8 macro lens instead of the wider prime lens I used to take the location shots because that’s what was in my camera bag when I grabbed it to go. Of course, that changed the way my scene was going to look in camera since I was going to get less of it in there with a longer lens on.

Lesson: pack my camera bag and minifigs before telling the boy to get ready to go to the park.

The shoot

It turns out, little boys can be useful on a shoot as mine happily volunteered to man the Atmosphere Aerosol can. I’ve written about Atmosphere Aerosol before in The APhOL challenge response. It’s basically a spray that photographers use to add mist or fog to a scene. In my scene, I wanted the light from my flash to show up more so I had my son spray on command.

I set the bare flash on its lowest power and positioned it behind and slightly to the right of the centaur to add some dimension to the scene. Without it, the scene looks ok but lacks drama.


We took several shots with the spray trying to get something subtle while making sure the mist wasn’t covering the minifig’s face at least.

Post processing

Did I mention that I only brought one light source instead of two? This is what happens when you rush. Because I only had one light, I chose to use it for the background and bring up the exposure on the minifig later in Lightroom. I always shoot RAW so it’s not really that big of a deal but of course, it would be ideal to get the light right on location.

Directional light like this emphasizes texture so all the little specks of dust on the centaur’s body showed up and was quite distracting. After doing my standard adjustments in Lightroom, I sent the file to Photoshop where I healed away the little particles.

I think that despite the setbacks, I pulled off the Dudu Simas challenge quite well. I think I will revisit that location with the proper gear and a different character to tell a different story. Sans the boy, hopefully. When does school start again?

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