Felix Hernandez

Photographer Brings his Scale Models to Life by Mixing Camera Effects & Digital Art

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Meet the Photographer Bringing us These Mesmerizing Images – Felix Hernandez

Felix Hernandez is a commercial Photographer, Designer and Digital Artist born in Mexico City, currently living in Cancun, Q.Roo. He produces creative concepts and images for clients of his own creative firm and for other advertising agencies and also for clients from all over the world.

Felix's Work

  • Proyecto Matatema / Creative Agency / Owner
  • Hernandez Dreamphography / Studio / Owner

Felix writes articles on demand for different photography magazines like Retouched Magazine, DOCMA, Digital Camera, Digital SLR Photography, Digital Photo, Good Light Magazine and others.

His work has been published in popular photography websites and other product websites including Adobe, Audi, Daily Mail, Bored Panda, Canon, Fstoppers, 500px, etc. An impressive resume you might say!

A Global Star…

Recently over the past few years, his work with scale models has gone viral and has been shared and published around the world.

Fiat 500

Fiat 500 – Image by Felix Hernandez

Working both in his studio and on location, he mixes in-camera effects and digital art to accomplish realistic images and bring his scale models to life.

This has brought him during the past year, various invitations to impart conferences and workshops in places like

  • Cali,
  • Copenhagen,
  • New York, and several cities around Mexico.

Here is what Felix has to tell about his Photographic journey:

“For me, photography is not a portrait of what exists out there, but a portrait of what exists in me.”

… I remember. Since I was a kid I used to spend hours alone in my room playing with my toys. I also remember that the best part was “weathering” them and creating for them an environment to match the scenes in my head… 

Now that I'm a “grownup” I realize that I never stopped playing and that the only difference is that now I have a camera in my hands. Photography and digital art just gave me the possibility to bring alive, those scenes that I have had inside my mind since I was Little.

BTS 1

BTS 1 – Image by Felix Hernandez

BTS 2

BTS 2 – Image by Felix Hernandez

THE SMURF BEFORE AND AFTER

The Smurf, Before and After – Image by Felix Hernandez

Toy photography is not so different from other kinds of photography, but it has its own particularities, mostly because of the scale. There are some subjects that require more aspects to be taken into consideration.

So what are the factors Felix considers while creating his work of art?

Read all about what Felix himself says about his masterpieces…

Addressing Scale

Scale is one of the most important factors. If what you want is to give a sense of “realism” to your scaled models (toys), in many cases, you will need to get closer with your camera.

You could think that using a Macro lens would do the job, but they have a shallow depth of field, which means that you will only have focus in a small area of your subject and the rest of your subject and scene would be out of focus.

This would be a downfall as our brain has been taught to see things in human scale.

Types of Lens

Therefore, a solution for using a Macro lens and achieving focus on all of our subject is to use the technique of “focus stacking” where you take different shots of your subject, focusing from the very first plane (the closer part of the subject towards your lens) to the farther plane of your subject and in between.

In the end, you will have “x” amount of individual shots of all the planes of your subject in focus. Individual images that you will process in software like Photoshop to get a final image with all its planes in focus.

When your scene is wide enough, a Macro lens won't help. Use a wider angle lens; I normally use a 24-105mm lens. The focal length that I choose will depend on the scene and composition I am working with.

You don't have to do focus stacking if your models (toys) are big enough and you are using an “f value” between f/11 and f/32.

WAR WINGS BTS

War Wings BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

WAR WINGS 1

War Wings 1 – Image by Felix Hernandez

WAR WINGS 2

War Wings 2 – Image by Felix Hernandez

Using Light

I shoot my models at the studio with studio flashes. It could be similar to shooting a product, but again, if you want to give the sense of realism you are looking for, you have to think of the scale.

It's not the same as shooting a real human model with an “octabox.” So all the basics of lighting in the studio will apply, but take them to a smaller scale.

I normally shoot with a beauty dish and/or a snoot for the models and two more lights for the background if I want it to be pure white.

Almost in Paris BTS

Almost in Paris BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

Almost in Paris

Almost in Paris – Image by Felix Hernandez

The Scene 

I love photo manipulation and digital art… But what is really cool, is to do all you can in camera. It is not only fun, it also gives the image a more realistic look.

So if the model is in the snow, use your imagination and create a snow scene… I use wheat flour to create snow and I use corn flour to create deserts.

If I want to add some atmosphere I use smoke from a cigarette (you don't have to smoke, but I have found that it’s the best way to control small amounts of smoke and put them where you want), or spray water for a rainy day…

If I want to make droplets I use corn syrup or if I want to freeze something I use butane gas (Beware, butane gas is strongly flammable so don't smoke a cigarette at the same time!)

The possibilities are endless and there is no recipe, just use your imagination and try different things. Most of the things you will need are at home or at the store around the corner. Be creative!

BTS-Rogue-one

Rogue One BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

Rogue one1 color

Rogue One – Image by Felix Hernandez

Post Production

Post will give the final “punch” to the image. In post, you can insert images to your background, elements that compliment your storytelling, Effects otherwise that could be complex to do in camera, adding a sense of motion, color grading for adding the “mood”, etc…

All of these tasks are done in Photoshop.

 Kerberos 2

Kerberos BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

Kerberos 3

Kerberos BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

Kerberos 1

Kerberos – Image by Felix Hernandez

When Felix talks about the inspiration behind his works, he says

We sleep a third of our lives. Every time we go to sleep we go into a magical world of imagination. Our fears, yearnings, thoughts and ideas blend together in our dreams… It is just a matter to remember them and learn how to direct them.

Conclusion

In the end, Felix says,

“Toy photography is just a mix of playing and technical photography aspects. The technical side can be learned and it's “easy”, but the “hardest” part of toy photography lies in our minds and in our hearts, and that is staying childish, foolish, dreamy…Learning how to play again.

If you have forgotten how to… just spend some time with your boys… If you don't have boys, then grab some memories from when you were one!”

Here are some of the processes that were involved in some projects that Felix has completed. Some have a video of “behind the scenes” footage where you see the steps involved from start to finish in creating a piece of art.

So sit back and enjoy! You may get some creative ideas for your own little projects!!!

1. The Crow and the Dove

BTS 1

The Crow and the Dove BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

BTS DRY ICE SHOTS

BTS Dry Ice Shots – Image by Felix Hernandez

BTS FOCUS STACKING

BTS Focus Stacking – Image by Felix Hernandez

BTS MODEL SHOTS

BTS Model Shots – Image by Felix Hernandez

THE CROW

The Crow – Image by Felix Hernandez

THE DOVE

The Dove – Image by Felix Hernandez

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2. Audi R8

About the Making of this Project

For most of my images, I use a mix of in-camera and digital effects. In the case of images for the Audi R8, for some of the images, I went only with in-camera effects.

For example, for the fog or mist effect, I used dry ice. To make snow I used wheat flour and to make the seafoam-effect I used shaving cream. You can achieve motion effects by doing long exposure effects, applying light painting techniques and by also building scale model props.

A bts 3L

BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

About the Environment Where the Photos were Taken

They are all so different…You have to use different techniques for each one of them… What I can say is that the shot of the R8 from the top was the easiest…It was all done in-camera; building the surface, applying dry ice to give a sense of motion and light painting the headlights.

A bts 2L

BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

 A bts 4L

BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

 A bts 6L

BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

Were there any Difficulties Faced?

Doing photography with scale models is not so different from other kinds of studio or on-location photography. There are no difficulties, only some basic knowledge of how we perceive scale and how to change that perception is necessary.

A bts 8L

BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

 A bts 9L

BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

About the Technique

I have only been experimenting with this technique for about two years so I think the best is yet to come.

      Audi R8 1L

Audi R8 – Image by Felix Hernandez

Audi R8 2L

Audi R8 – Image by Felix Hernandez

Audi R8 3L

Audi R8 – Image by Felix Hernandez

3. Chevy Nova

    IMG_3697

BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

IMG_3704

BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

IMG_3722

BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

IMG_3776

BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

1 BTS Nova 1 color

BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

2 Nova 2 color

Nova – Image by Felix Hernandez

3 Nova 3 color

Nova – Image by Felix Hernandez

4. The Dukes

When Felix talks about this project, he says,

“This project on the Famous Movie Cars was my first personal project of the year 2016 and it’s a tribute to my Childhood and to all those cars of TV series and movies that made me happy in my youth.

The general concept behind this series is showing the cars as the main characters, so you won’t see any drivers.

The first one of this series is “Dukes of Hazzard”, Do you remember them?… The General Lee and the Iconic Police car of Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane were shot at the studio doing the dust effects on camera in multiple shots using 1/18 scale cars (collector cars) shot over a simple background, using 2 to 4 studio flashes.

The project was thought and produced to be completed using digital manipulation. Combining multiple shots, adding light effects and of course the final touch… the color grading, all were done in Adobe Photoshop.

Combining the best of two worlds, photography at the studio and digital manipulation in Photoshop I bring my ideas, thoughts and dreams to life… In the end, photography for me is not to portray what exists out there, but to portray what exists in me.

BTS DH1

BTS Dukes of Hazzard – Image by Felix Hernandez

btsGL1

BTS Dukes of Hazzard – Image by Felix Hernandez

btsGL2

BTS Dukes of Hazzard – Image by Felix Hernandez

btsGL3

BTS Dukes of Hazzard – Image by Felix Hernandez

 General-lee-1-color

General Lee – Image by Felix Hernandez

GL-2-art-color

General Lee – Image by Felix Hernandez

gl-4-color

General Lee – Image by Felix Hernandez

gl5-art-color

General Lee – Image by Felix Hernandez

5. The Wardrobe

bts 2

BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

BTS 5

BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

BTS Book 2 color

BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

bts3

BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

bts4

BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

Selfie felix

BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

The Wardrobe BTS

BTS The Wardrobe – Image by Felix Hernandez

The Wardrobe I

The Wardrobe I – Image by Felix Hernandez

The Wardrobe II

The Wardrobe II – Image by Felix Hernandez

The Wardrobe III

The Wardrobe III – Image by Felix Hernandez

6. Inner Trip

Felix says, “So far this image of a minibus with the Milky Way I think is my fav so far… I weathered and modified the scale car and it was lit up only with a small flashlight… You don’t need too much fancy gear to create something unique!

  w1

BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

w2

BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

w3

BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

w4

BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

w5

BTS – Image by Felix Hernandez

Inner trip BTSjpg

BTS Inner Trip – Image by Felix Hernandez

Inner trip

Inner Trip – Image by Felix Hernandez

Finally, look at some of the images relating to Star Wars that Felix has created using the above techniques and more!

CLONE WARS

The Clone Wars – Image by Felix Hernandez

SWIN1

Star Wars – Image by Felix Hernandez

SWIN2

Star Wars – Image by Felix Hernandez

SWIN3

Star Wars – Image by Felix Hernandez

SWIN4

Star Wars – Image by Felix Hernandez

 TROOPERS 1

Troopers – Image by Felix Hernandez

TROOPERS 2

Troopers – Image by Felix Hernandez

TROOPERS 3

Troopers – Image by Felix Hernandez

TROOPERS 4

Star Wars – Image by Felix Hernandez

SWIN6

Star Wars – Image by Felix Hernandez

If you like Felix’s work, you can see them more of them and learn about them on the links below.

Further Resources

DOWNLOAD
FREE FOR READERS: Understanding the functionality of your camera and using it like it's your companion involves investing some time into learning it. Why not download our free Camera Craft Cheat Sheet and get some free tips! Download it here.




Further Learning

Using Lightroom? Photoshop? Elements?
Learn a ton of highly valuable pro post processing tips to make your time at the computer more enjoyable.
This amazing eBook guide will help you discover what you can do to make your photos shine!
“Learn The Fundamental Editing Steps From A Pro, That Will Change Your Photography Forever!”

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Dahlia Ambrose

Dahlia is a physicist and self taught photographer with a passion for travel, photography and technology. She can sometimes get obsessed trying new photography techniques and post processing styles using Lightroom or Plugins in Photoshop. She occasionally writes articles on topics that interest or provoke her. You can check out her photography on Instagram, 500px and Flickr

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