Turning a Hogwarts Express Lego Set into a Cinematic Photo Series

Benedek Lampert, a Hungary-based photographer who specializes in photographing toys and miniatures (especially Lego), has shared a behind-the-scenes look at one of his largest projects yet: the 801-piece Harry Potter Hogwarts Express train set.

While the train set may not be the biggest in terms of number of pieces, Lampert tends to go a bit above and beyond in terms of the scale of what he builds to photograph his lego sets.

In the brief three-minute video, Lampert skips the process of building the actual Lego train and instead focuses on his process of planning, measuring, cutting, painting, and finally building the surrounding sets for his toy and miniature projects.

Diving deeper into his YouTube channel, it is clear to see that Lampert spends a lot of time ensuring the details of his projects (down to the smallest scuff and scratch) are crafted with precision and care.

As he says in his email to Petapixel, “These photos are quite special because I worked with the biggest Lego train ever. The new Hogwarts express is a beast! Because of the sizes, I had to make large scenarios. For example, I worked approx 20 to 25 hours with the Kings Cross Station’s wall.”

Lampert says he started his photography journey six years ago and he has loved creating imaginary worlds.

“At first I have drawn comics but later when I became a photographer, I found my passion in toy photography,” he says.

Lampert says most of his images are created using a Nikon D750 with a Nikkor 24-70mm and a Laowa 15mm Wide Macro lens and they have become his favorite pieces of equipment. Although in this case, he also added photo taken with a Tamron 70-300mm lens to leverage the telephoto compression.

The interior photo, which replicates a scene from the third Harry Potter movie when the characters are met with a dementor for the first time, Lampert says the Lego Hogwarts Expresss’ wagon contains three sections with scenes from three Harry Potter movies, making that set up the easiest of the bunch.

“The LEGO set has already provided the scenery. I only had to care about the figure positioning and the lighting which I used some smoke for the misty atmosphere.”

For the most part, Lampert does everything in camera by building miniature sets and finding locations — or building more intricate sets — to match the scene he’s laying out.

To create the smoke in his images, Lampert uses a homemade smoke machine that works with dry ice. The plastic tube is actually an ice cream holder from a theater that he cut a hole into and then pours some hot water through the tubing to create the fast-flowing “steam” that he uses for the locomotive’s smoke clouds.

“Because of the unpredictable nature of steam (I mean it’s totally random how it will behave and how it looks) I have to mix the best variations. It also needs many attempts to get the perfect look.”

For those looking to get into creating toy images like these, Lampert says the most important thing you can do is focus on the lights.

“The most important thing is how you light your set. Everything depends on this. The same scenery could look like a simple toy or like a frame from a movie. Practice a LOT to learn how to achive a realistic result! As a toy photographer I try to copy the real world’s attributes,” he says.

“Light has many different uses and it is really important to figure out which one we use to create a specific situation. And of course, the angle and colors are also important. The right camera angle helps to place the viewer into the scene. The right color grading can create a stronger mood.”

To see more of his Benedek’s work, visit his YouTube, Instagram, and website.

Image credits: Benedek Lampert