Today we’re interviewing Bane, a former mod on the German Star Wars forum, Imperium der Steine. He’s also dabbled in photography, and reviewed a few sets here on Eurobricks.
EBSWF: We’re glad you could talk with us Bane, how did you come to like LEGO Star Wars?
It’s an honor for me, thank you for the invitation!
Well, everything began in 2005, when Revenge of the Sith aired in the cinemas. It was the first Star Wars movie I saw, but it wouldn’t be the last. It didn’t took me long to see the other movies. At the time, a good friend of mine was a big LEGO Star Wars collector. He had every possible set… and he infected me with the LEGO virus.
EBSWF: Eurobricks is just one of hundreds of sites out there, how did you come across it?
The first contact I made with LEGO communities on the internet was quite random. I found photos of the awesome “Imperial Inspection” from The Brick Time via Google images back in 2007. A month or so later, I joined Imperium der Steine. As Eurobricks is linked quite often in the news forums I decided to join EB in 2009.
EBSWF: How much did you do for Imperium der Steine? How does it differ from EB?
I left the moderating team of Imperium der Steine in October 2012 due to a lack of time and I left it definitely on Christmas. Three of my colleagues did the same, because of severe disagreements with the admin’s way to lead the community; even though I’m not exaggerating when I say that I worked with the best moderating team ever and I had a great time in the team. All of us were very dedicated to the forum. How much did I do for Imperium der Steine? Many users and colleagues perceived me as a sort of “think tank”. I led a MOC Index project last year for all the MOCs that have been presented since 2006. Thanks to a very efficient and motivated project team, we classified about 3500 MOCs within one month. I also had the idea of making a news blog with news about all the LEGO themes, as we only post LEGO Star Wars related news on the portal, this amongst other things. And of course, the classic moderating stuff like closing threads, helping newbies and deleting double posts.
It differs from EB in many ways. First of all, it’s a German speaking forum and the main focus is LEGO Star Wars, which doesn’t mean that we don’t have non-Star Wars topics. EB is an AFOL community, IDS is open to all ages. The members are between age 11 and 55. When the forum started in 2006, there were two or three AFOLs, even the admin was only 16 years old at the time. Now it’s about fifty-fifty. That mixture between young and old is a pretty cool thing and it works! Every user is respected. The more experienced members help the younger ones to become better builders, same thing with reviews and customs. There are plenty of young people who build better than AFOLs. One of my favorite builders is only 14 years old.
EBSWF: We know you’re an AFOL, but what do people you know think of that?
Who told you that I’m an AFOL? 😀 That’s funny, because nobody knows my real age. We even had a poll in the off-topic forum on IDS where user could guess my age. Quite amusing to see what people think of how old you are. But yes, I am.
My friends know that I am a big Star Wars (and LEGO) fan, they like what I do. I don’t make a secret of it; but in the meantime we don’t talk often about LEGO.
EBSWF: Of course you build with LEGO, but do you have other hobbies?
Actually I don’t build with lego besides of the official sets I buy. I have a very restricted amount of lego parts, I focus on minifigures and on my favorite Star Wars ships.
Yes, I have other hobbies. I love photography, especially landscapes, urban impressions and macro. Good thing I live in Berlin, it is such a great city to take pictures. I also made internships in photo editorial departments of two press agencies 2-3 years ago, which was an awesome experience. I also play badminton, and of course there is no weekend where I don’t go out with friends, if that’s counted as a hobby.
EBSWF: How much time of your free time do you devote to LEGO related activities?
Less than in the last years. As said, most of the time I spent was for the forum. I hope that I can be more active with LEGO photography, now that I left the team. But it seems as if a lot of “real life” work is coming towards me, so… we’ll see. But I’m really motivated!
EBSWF: Have there been any changes or impacts to your life because of the LEGO hobby? Some people have used LEGO practically; have you found any uses for it?
Yes, it helped me improve my macro photography skills. Apart from that, I met new people thanks to community events. Some of them became real friends.
EBSWF: You chose ‘Bane’ for your username, is that because of the Batman character or some other reason?
No, not at all. I read the Darth Bane trilogy by Drew Karpyshyn and was fascinated by Bane’s evil character. Some people say there are some similarities between him and me… (Note to myself: consider to stop using sarcasm on the internet *g*)
EBSWF: Is your sig-fig your own custom? If so, have you made any others?
EBSWF: You are known here on EB for your great photography. How do you get such awesome shots?
I wouldn’t qualify my shots as awesome. There are many things I could do better, but thank you, glad you like them!
Many people think that you need an expensive professional DSLR camera for taking pictures. It’s a sure thing that a good camera can help, but it’s not the most important thing. I’m using a 7 year old Lumix bridge camera. Of course, not as good as a high-end DSLR but still, you can make acceptable pictures with older cameras. My advice to all of those who want to begin with LEGO photography: buy second-hand. It’s much cheaper and the quality is not worse.
It might not be the best method, but most of the time I have no clear idea of what I want to photograph. So I place some minifigs on a neutral background; I imagine what they could say or what kind of relations they could have. When the idea takes shape in my head, there are two possibilities. Either I use the few LEGO pieces I have to build a scene or I keep a neutral background. Playing with light and lightning is crucial. Using different exposure times can change the look of the picture dramatically, that’s why I always make many photos of one scene. When the scene is set, I try different view angles. I also have a little photo studio lamp for indoor scenes, as normal lamps don’t provide the best light.
Sometimes I take my minifigs out for a walk to find natural environments, this makes the picture more dynamic. Passersby might think I’m a freak, but the results are worth it most of the time.