This Photographer Recreates ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Back to the Future’ in Miniature

Growing up, Felix Hernandez spent countless hours alone in his room, staging scenes with his extensive toy collection. Today, the Cancún-based photographer makes a living doing much the same thing, building elaborate miniature sets in his studio to shoot images for brands like Audi, Nickelodeon, and Mattel.

“I’m kind of nerdy,” Hernandez admits. “Since I was little, I preferred to be in my room playing with my toys, creating my own stories, instead of going outside and playing with the other kids. I think I’m still the same way.”

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When he isn’t shooting commercial photography, Hernandez works on personal projects, often inspired by movies like Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, and Star Wars. He builds each set from scratch on a large tabletop in his darkened studio, which is equipped with every conceivable model and part he might need. “I go there and I can stay one or two days, working 24 hours a day,” he says. “It’s my favorite place in the world.” (Not surprisingly, it’s also his six-year-old son’s favorite place.)

For his automotive photography, Hernandez starts with a standard-issue model car set, which he assembles, modifies, and paints to his exact specifications, including artificial weathering to make the car look like it’s been driven. He then builds the set, rigs up his lighting, and shoots the scene from multiple angles, trying to create as much of the image as possible “in camera” rather than adding it later with Photoshop.

Depending on the scene’s complexity, building the set and staging the scene can take Hernandez, who always works alone, between a week and a month. It’s that long, painstaking work that he finds most satisfying, even though all viewers will see are the resulting images. Losing himself in creating new worlds takes him back to his childhood, he says, to those long hours alone playing with his toys.

“The final result isn’t the most important thing to me,” he says. “It’s the process of getting to that final shot.”

Area Photos associated with Week: brand new Horizons Breaks a Record for Long-Distance Photography

This abstract glow is not merely a regular old area photo—it ended up being taken a record-breaking 3.79 billion miles away from Earth. NASA’s Pluto-grazing brand new Horizons spacecraft snapped this photo associated with Wishing Well available galactic star cluster coming toward its 2nd location, the Kuiper belt item 2014 MU69. For contrast, the runner-up for distance photography could be the famous Pale Blue Dot, taken by the Voyager spacecraft whilst it was 3.75 billion miles away.

This stunning photo of Jupiter was captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft on its tenth orbit on December 16. The planet’s odd zigzagged storms are on complete display, plus a white cyclone. Jupiter appears huge within photo, however it’s nevertheless hard to get a feeling of scale—the white cyclone on left could be the size of a entire continent in the world.

This Hubble image looks like an artfully crafted watercolor painting, however it’s a genuine picture of galaxy NGC 7331, which will be located 45 million light years away. NGC 7331 shares a great deal in keeping with our own Milky Way Galaxy—it’s approximately the exact same size and hosts an identical quantity of stars, upwards of 100,000 million.

Hubble is at it once again! This wispy galaxy is officially NGC 7252, but its nickname is Atoms for Peace, after a message provided by President Eisenhower in 1953 because of the objective of a calm quality to nuclear energy. But 1 billion years ago this area ended up being the opposite of calm, whenever two galaxies violently merged together.

Martian avalanche! No body spilled paint on Mars; this is often a naturally occuring function due to dirt moving downhill. The contrast in color is because of there being less dust in darker areas than in the encompassing lighter areas. Therefore whilst the dust it self is not that much darker, the total amount of material changes its observed color.

Recently NASA’s Curiosity rover sent back this image of the stone. However it’s not just any Martian stone; geologists on Earth identified odd star-shaped and swallowtail-shaped crystals on the exterior of the stone. In the world such forms are observed in gypsum, a mineral formed in water. These sesame seed-sized features are characteristic of gypsum-crystals that may form whenever sodium water evaporates—but it’s thought Gale Crater had been home up to a non-salt water lake, making this rocky mystery an open investigation.

An Insane View of the Milky Way From the Edge of New Zealand

New Zealand’s South Island spans 58,000 square miles of breathtaking, verdant terrain. But nothing on the ground surpasses what’s in the sky. The region is home to the largest dark sky observatory in the world, glittering with millions of stars and spectacular views of the Milky Way.

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Photographer Paul Wilson lives on South Island and is an ardent star gazer. He spends countless hours traveling to far-flung corners of the island to point his camera at the heavens. “New Zealand’s great with dark skies,” he says. “If you get out of any city, you can see the Milky Way here.”

Wilson fell in love with the cosmos (and photography) four years ago, when some astrophotography friends encouraged him to give it a try. He now makes multiple long-exposure images, stitching them together to create one enormous photo sometimes more than 500 megapixels. Wilson typically shoots between February and November when the nights are longer, cross-referencing light pollution charts with Google Maps to locate the best stargazing spots. It’s how he found Hickory Bay, about two hours south of Christchurch where he lives. “It’s very remote,” he says. “Once when I was out there, a farmer popped out in his underwear to ask what I was doing.”

He nabbed this particular shot of the bay on a still, clear night in February. It was about 3:30 am, the tide was going out, and the Milky Way was just beginning to rise in the eastern sky. Wilson hooked his Canon 1D X Mark II up to a panoramic mount and tripod on the edge of the wet sand. He made 25 20-second exposures—five down and five across—to capture the entire scene. Later, he digitally stitched the photos together in the program Autopano Giga.

The final 113-megapixel photograph captures the galaxy shimmering above a tumbling shoreline and reflected in the dark water. It’s brighter and more detailed than what you’d see with the naked eye. But for Wilson, the real thing is no less magical. “When you’re under the Milky Way you feel really insignificant,” he says. “I’d hate to live somewhere I couldn’t see it.”

Space Photos of the Week: A Giant Molecular Cloud and All Its Star Bab

There are approximately 100 billion stars in the Milky Way — each one a massive ball of hydrogen and helium burning until it eventually becomes a white dwarf or explodes in a supernova. It’s stunning to behold, but where stars begin are just as beautiful.

This week, NASA captured not one but two celestial nurseries brimming with star formation. The Chandra and Hubble telescopes photographed a glorious giant molecular cloud W51, only 17,000 light years away from Earth. Its dense mix of hydrogen molecules and helium atoms constantly produce stars and planets. In a 20-second exposure, Chandra captured over 600 young stars glittering in the darkness.

Hubble wasn’t finished star-hunting. It snapped an image of NGC 2500, a barred spiral galaxy 30 million light years away in the Lynx constellation. You can see NGC 2500’s classic spindly arms spinning out from the core, glowing with newly born stars.

The rest of the universe offered up some stiff competition for best photo however — NASA’s Juno spacecraft released images from a flyby over Jupiter’s great red spot, allowing for an even closer inspection of the raging red storm and clouds churning on the planet’s surface. And the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped a color-enhanced shot of the planet’s fascinating surface.

Want even more dazzling sights from space? Check out the entire collection here.

Exploring the Gaudy Mansions of Kurdistan’s Dream City

Photographer Eugenio Grosso moved from London to Kurdistan four months after the battle of Mosul began. But rather than join his colleagues on the battlefield, he chose to stay behind in the Kurdish capital of Erbil and explore Dream City.

Beyond the heavily armed gates of this affluent community lie hundreds upon hundreds of gaudy, western-style mansions that celebrate the decadence and affluence of Kurdistan’s elites. These enormous villas—each covering at least 3,000 square feet, with at least four bathrooms—are “characterized by attributes not found in homes built outside the city,” the developer boasts.

The self-contained community provides every amenity a wealthy family could want, including schools, high-end shopping, and a pizza joint. It was the promise of a hot slice that drew Grosso to Dream City on the very night he arrived to ferret out stories in the region. Before eating a “really strange-tasting” Iraqi version of a margherita pizza, he strolled through the development, surprised to find such opulent estates. “It impressed me because it was unexpected,” he says. “I didn’t think that in that part of the world there were villas like those.”

So began his fascinating series Erbil White Houses. Grosso visited Dream City 10 times in February, wandering the residential streets for a couple hours before dusk with his Fuji X100t. He found the neighborhood quiet, almost deserted but for security guards, construction workers, and the occasional resident emerging from a home to slip into a car. “People don’t walk there,” Grosso says. “They just get in their car to go get shisha or tea or dinner.”

His images highlight Dream City’s most ostentatious structures. Many are jarring collisions of architectural styles, combining Greek columns and porticos with modern touchs like gleaming panels of glass. A home owned by Kurdish businessman Shihab Shihab replicates the exterior of the White House. Grosso wandered by a house still under construction, and the workers invited him in to have a look. “I told them that the house they were working on was beautiful and they replied that it could be President Trump’s house,” Grosso says. “Or, at least that’s what I understood from our little chat as they were repeating ‘Trump, Trump’ while pointing out at the house.”

Some mansions remain unfinished, their progress stalled by the ongoing war. “They started building these when the economy was booming, but when ISIS came it slowed down and they couldn’t manage to sell them,” Grosso says.

Speaking of the war, Grosso eventually made it to the front lines, but found he much preferred exploring Erbil and how people live during warfare. “I thought it was good to show a different aspect of the Middle East, one I didn’t expect to find,” he says. Erbil White Houses captures the universal desire and pursuit of ‘the good life,’ even as a war rages just 50 miles away.

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