Most of us 80s kids loved playing with Lego, and that hasn’t really changed as we’ve grown up. What we’ve always needed, however, is a tribute in Lego to one of the greatest landscape photographers and his work. That’s right, this Lego set is inspired by none other than Ansel Adams, although it’s called simply “The landscape photographer.”
“The inspiration for this set came as a response to the Lego Ideas platform hosting a challenge for fans to submit ideas based on the theme of nature activities,” says Nick. “As a fan of photography and an amateur photographer myself, I knew I wanted to make a build focused on landscape photography, and I wanted to build a large format camera at minifigure scale.”
Nick fell in love with photography during his undergrad studies in music and composition. “I have always admired the work of the great Magnum photographers and Group f/64,” he says, although doesn’t do much landscape photography himself. His favourite genres are photojournalism and street photography.
“I also started carrying around the awesome Fuji X100F everywhere I went,” Nick says, “and that is when I really got into street photography. I now have the Ricoh GR3, which is also amazing.”
For the Lego project, Nick immediately thought of Ansel Adams because his work with the National Parks fit the theme very well. He knew that he couldn’t come close to translating the tonal values and dynamic range of Ansel’s prints using the relatively limited shades of black and grey that Lego uses, so Nick decided to create a tableau with the photographer at work.
The idea for the set was inspired by Cedric Wright’s photograph of Ansel Adams on his woody wagon in Yosemite. You can see the large format camera in great detail, and my favourite feature is the custom-made black and white photographic plates that show some of Adams’ iconic images, such as the Grand Tetons and Snake River. Even the car’s number plate is accurate. It’s the attention to detail that really makes this, in my opinion.
Despite some of the detailed images of the set, these are not traditional toy photographs. “Enjoying both Lego and photography as hobbies can become expensive if I’m not careful,” explains Nick. It’s possible to order all the pieces to make this set. However, the images were created using a combination of CGI in Blender, Photoshop and Illustrator.
“I built the model in stud.io, which is a free virtual building application managed by Lego. I then imported the model into Blender, where I could add the lighting and render the scenes. I also created a brief animation in Blender to promote the project. The final step was achieved in Photoshop to composite, colour grade, and do general processing for the final images,” explains Nick.
Photography and designing with Lego are both similar to me in some ways. For me there is a sense of meditation in each from trying to organizing pre-existing forms into harmony.
– Nick Micheels
Make this set a reality
Nick hopes that this set will achieve 10,000 votes on the Lego Creator platform. This will then enable the opportunity for Lego to review the set as an idea for production under their Ideas theme. The Lego Ideas platform allows fan designers to submit an idea, and if the project reaches 10,000 supporters within the given timeframe, it will be reviewed by Lego for the opportunity to be produced in collaboration with the Lego design team. The fan designer receives a portion of the royalties when it hits the shelves.
So, of course, as photographers, we need this Ansel Adams Lego set to exist in real life. You can vote here to back Nick’s Lego project. At the time of writing, it only needs around 3000 more votes. You can see more of Nick’s brilliant Lego creations on Instagram.