“Thats no moon…” a behind the scenes look at my Death Star backgrounds

I was pleased to get home from work today to a package waiting. I was expecting it today so it wasn’t a surprise, but I was glad to see it all the same. Inside were my latest Death Star wall designs, laser cut bespoke from thin wood and ready to be painted and photographed.

death star wall-1.jpg

You may have seen the fantastic ‘Space Walls’ made and distributed by GTP Toys in the US. Although I’ve never had a set in my hand to play with, their walls are a toy photographers dream come true with incredible detail and light up features. The only reason I don’t own a set is simple – the shipping costs from there to here in the UK is understandably high. Theres no getting round it (and by ‘it’ I mean the Atlantic Ocean) and so it came down to either saving up the pennies, or finding an alternative this side of the pond. There isn’t one. Well, not one I could find anyway. So I got to thinking that maybe their could be and after a little bit of Googling and scouring Facebook, I came across Masons Attic Laser Crafts. It was then just a matter of designing the required shapes for the back grounds and details of the Death Star walls in order to duplicate them for use in the photos. Once the designs were in their system, they were able to produce the pieces for me in a variety of sizes (The ones that came today were to a 1/12th scale to fit the 6″ Black Series lines, but I do have a much smaller set to fit Lego Minifigure scale)

Painting these things is a piece of cake too – just a matter of two applications of charcoal spray-paint is plenty to give a nice finish and due to the nature of the walls. There is no need for any further detail to be added as the laser cut details show through the paint very nicely with spray paint as the application is so fine.

death star wall-2.jpg

For the final touch when it comes to photographing them I tried a couple of different options including having frosted perspex cut to fit, but to be honest the cheapest and most effective method is to just blue-tac a piece of plain white paper to the back and shine a light through!

death star wall-5.jpg

This quick shot was done using a single bulb placed behind the paper on the back of the wall and a single flash gun, mounted to the top hot shoe of my D700 and pointed straight up. Im usually a fan of more creative lighting techniques, but I think when shooting these shots, the Death Star was a pretty bright place, well lit corridors, ample lighting, really quite a nice place to work. Apart from, you know – the ‘Death’ bit.

Do you have a set of the GTP Space Walls and want to rub it in my face at how awesome they are? Maybe, like me the international shipping cost was just a little too high and you were forced to find an alternative method. Either way if you feel like leaving me a comment below go for it!

Keep photographing and having fun and May the Force be with you! – Mark

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