Some photographers like to think outside the box… others, prefer to be the box!
We love hearing from our fans about some of the work they’ve been involved with, and someone that really caught our eye was young Nikon fan, Tyler Card. Faced with the task of creating an eye-catching costume for Halloween this year, he went above and beyond the average fancy dress costume. We were so impressed with his efforts that we caught up with Tyler to get the story behind his picture-perfect life-sized Nikon D-SLR design.
We’re big fans of the costume here – what prompted you to make such a creation?
Well, as the saying goes, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. As of last Sunday I had no idea what to be for Halloween, and with only about a week to decide before my first party invite, I started getting desperate. The idea for a camera costume came to me at work when I picked up a box that was roughly the life-size dimensions of a Nikon COOLPIX style camera. I thought making it look like a camera would be pretty easy, but I wasn’t too excited about wearing just a cardboard box. I started looking at pictures of different point and shoot cameras to get an idea of the layout, and decided ‘why not just model it after my Nikon D-SLR, so I can measure it and get the dimensions right’. I grabbed a bunch of scrap cardboard, and got straight to work when I got home that evening.
When did you realise you could make a fully functional life-size Nikon D-SLR costume?
Originally, I wasn’t planning on making it functional, but you could say I’m something of a perfectionist. As I thought about it, I realized it wouldn’t be very difficult to make it take photos, and as I thought about it more, I realised it wouldn’t be very difficult to make a functional flash and shutter release button. I was really set on the idea of having a functional LCD screen, and was originally planning on using a digital picture frame, but I had no way of making it battery powered, and its small size was a turn off.
The LCD screen is a stroke of genius, but was it tricky to include?
I remembered that I had an old Dell laptop and it all clicked perfectly. With the laptop I would be able to connect my camera via USB and load the pictures to a folder, which could then scroll as a Slideshow in full-screen. Out of pure chance, the size of my laptop screen fitted the dimensions of my costume perfectly in order to maintain the size ratio of the camera.
One of the parts that impressed us most was that the whole costume appeared wire free. How hard was this to make?
I already had a wireless remote that had a shutter release button as its receiver, so I was able to make the shutter button functional and keep the wireless remote in my pocket. In the end, I actually found it more convenient and comfortable to just press the shutter release on the costume!
Can you tell us a bit more about the flash function?
With the use of a hot-shoe flash extension cord, I easily mounted a flash and used a can of window frosting spray on some Plexiglas to make a diffuser. I already had a couple studio strobes, which are easily controlled with a wireless hot-shoe transmitter.
We love the detail on the Nikon lens. Can you explain what it’s made from?
I decided on using a 5 gallon (approx 25 litres), paint bucket from a local homeware store as the lens, simply because the cost was so small. It was a little smaller than I wanted, but I was still looking to make it fairly cheap. My house mate suggested making a lens cap, and the lid for the bucket was obviously a perfect fit. As it came together and I could see how cool it was going to be, I got really excited about the costume and really started to focus on all the buttons and contours, to get it as close as possible to the real thing.
How long did it take you to complete the entire costume?
I worked on it for about 5-6 hours a day and right up until minutes before the party started. I admit I rushed a little bit on painting on some of the details!
What advice would you give to someone hoping to follow in your footsteps?
The best advice I can give is:
- Take lots of pictures and videos as you build it.
- Use a lightweight computer. A tablet, if you have one would be perfect.
- You’ll want to reinforce the costume with a PVC pipe because the weight takes its effect on the structure over time, and you’ll notice pieces coming loose and looking sloppy.
- Any remote trigger works perfectly. It doesn’t have to be wireless. I didn’t really use my wireless remote, because people were more interested in me pressing the button on the costume.
- Get the program “Camera Control Pro 2“. It allows your computer screen to instantly show the photos you take, as you take them. If you don’t have that, you simply have to open your camera as a drive on your computer, and play a slideshow of the photos from the folder. You’ll have to refresh the slideshow to include any photos you take while the slideshow is running, but it still works great.
- Use a through the lens (TTL) flash if possible, so you can keep your camera in Auto mode. It is really difficult to adjust the camera settings once you have it mounted inside the costume and can’t see it or reach it well.
- Prepare for everyone at the party to follow you around all night watching the photos scroll…
- Any digital camera can be used to make a costume that takes pictures and shows them on a screen, it doesn’t have to be a DSLR; however, It works a lot better if you have the option for a remote, and having an external flash is a nice touch.
Do you have any last words of advice for anyone looking to replicate your outfit?
If you do make one, be sure to email me some pictures because I want to see it!
You can see the ‘making of video’ in full below.
If you’re planning on following in Tyler’s footsteps, you can contact him via his website: http://www.tylercard.com. We’d like to thank Tyler for his outstanding work in creating this masterpiece and remind our followers that if you’ve been involved with any Nikon inspired creations – it can anything from the costumes to birthday cakes, we’d love to hear from you!