More than three decades after first falling in love with “Star Wars” in theatres, Finnish photographer Vesa Lehtimäki is bringing the franchise’s most beloved ships and fighters to planet Earth.
Lehtimäki dug up his old scale models from the 1980s and carefully photographed them in the great outdoors, so the ships appear to be parked on Earth. The results will delight any aspiring Rebel pilot.
“I saw the first [movie] in its theater run back in 1977,” Vesa Lehtimäki tells Tech Insider. “For my generation, that’s like Woodstock.”
As a kid, he bought scale models and built them from scratch. Later, they made their way into cardboard boxes where they collected dust for three decades.
In 2009, the Finnish photographer began photographing his son’s “Star Wars” LEGO toys and rediscovered his passion for the franchise. He dug up his old scale models.
Since then, Lehtimäki’s growing collection of “Star Wars” scale models has dwarfed that of his son.
Though the photos don’t look doctored, the models are mostly 1/72-scale of the “real” battleships.
He paints them by hand, adding an abundance of detail that shines in photographs but wasn’t necessary for wide shots in the movies.
Lehtimäki has two ways of shooting scale models so they look believable. The first involves dragging the toy on location.
He photographs the model on a table against a backdrop, and then removes the table in Photoshop.
Other times, Lehtimäki captures the background and model separately. He marries the images in Photoshop.
The second approach is far trickier, as he has to match the lighting and angles in the two shots.
Many of Lehtimäki’s photographs are set in a snowy landscape, reminiscent of the fictional ice planet Hoth. He substitutes baking powder for real frost.
Lehtimäki’s favorite shot, titled “My Kind of Winter Wonderland,” uses a 1/24-scale X-wing fighter that’s an exact part-for-part replica of the ones used for filming the first “Star Wars” movie.
He modified the build with a custom brass landing gear and a cockpit outfitted with fiber optics. The paint job looks perfectly weathered.
His studio-scale Y-wing fighter is one of 44 units ever made. The original builders harvested parts from over 50 scale-model kits from the late ’60s to mid-70s.
That and the 5-foot Millennium Falcon are what Lehtimäki calls the Holy Grails of “Star Wars” scale models.
While Lehtimäki claims no photo is perfect, we’re grateful for the chance to live the life of a Rebel pilot vicariously.
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