Dark Crystal

This is another one of those posts that represents a funny little window in time. In August 2019, to celebrate the release of a new Dark Crystal series on Netflix (since cancelled, of course, because Netflix), an exhibition was held at the BFI in London of props from the new series. Being in central London on a weekday after work, I travelled light, and brought only my little Sony point-and-shoot camera with me to take pictures.

It was a nice enough trip, but it was fraught with all the problems of photographing in a museum exhibit: trying to take pictures in low light through glass that might be dirty or be reflecting light in a troublesome way. This means that throughout this post you’ll find pictures taken at a high ISO, possibly with hints of reflected light. You might even find them not quite being super sharp if you look too closely (please to refrain from looking too closely). If you’re familiar with my normal kit, you’ll also note that the focal lengths are a lot lower than normal as my Sony reports actual focal lengths, not their 35mm equivalents.

One last point of business: I am legendary for my lack of identifying species, and that might possibly extend to the creatures that inhabit the Dark Crystal world. This isn’t helped by the fact that I’ve not watched Dark Crystal since I was a child, and to this day I haven’t seen the new series, because why start a new series that’s already cancelled? Point is I have no idea what almost anything is in this post, but frankly that’s what you should be expecting from me at this point.

Which is to say that I have no idea what the thing in this first picture is, other than an animatronic from the series.

1/400sec, f/2.8, ISO 1250, 12.35mm

The wider shot shows some of the old-fashioned electronics behind it. Well, up its bottom if we’re being precise.

1/100sec, f/2.8, ISO 640, 9.84mm

Then there was this thing in a cage and I have no idea what it is. Look, don’t say I didn’t warn you. You can tell me what they are in the comments i it makes you feel better.

1/50sec, f/2.8, ISO 640, 16.17mm
1/80sec, f/2.5, ISO 640, 10.89mm

There were some props as well, such as this book.

1/60sec, f/1.8, ISO 640, 8.8mm

By it was the prop that painted it, I guess? Might be a good time to remind you this was 2019 and I can’t remember most of this any more.

1/40sec, f/2.8, ISO 640, 13.72mm

We also came across this model, if my memory serves (and that is a tall order at this point) might have functioned as some sort of CGI reference.

1/30sec, f/1.8, ISO 640, 8.8mm

This next photo doesn’t quite do the scale of the prop justice – it was a good six feet tall.

1/800sec, f/1.8, ISO 640, 8.8mm

We soon entered a room featuring a large Skeksis banquet.

1/25sec, f/2.8, ISO 640, 25.7mm
1/20sec, f/2.8, ISO 640, 25.59mm
1/60sec, f/2.8, ISO 640, 23.9mm
1/30sec, f/2.8, ISO 640, 12.06mm

Elsewhere there was also this little one-eyed monster.

1/20sec, f/2.8, ISO 800, 25.7mm

And this similar-looking but more surprised fluffball.

1/6sec, f/2.8, ISO 800, 25.7mm

Then we got to some more humanoid creatures, starting with this one who might be the main character or something. Don’t judge me just because I don’t pay attention.

1/15sec, f/2.8, ISO 800, 25.7mm

And this guy.

1/30sec, f/2.8, ISO 800, 22.95mm

And this girl.

1/25sec, f/2.8, ISO 800, 17.06mm

And these happy looking things.

1/30sec, f/2.8, ISO 800, 22.77mm
1/25sec, f/2.8, ISO 800, 22.38mm

Whoever set up the exhibition had a sense of humour.

1/50sec, f/2.8, ISO 800, 25.7mm

Around them were various props.

1/10sec, f/2.8, ISO 800, 15.94mm
1/10sec, f/2.8, ISO 800, 25.7mm
1/100sec, f/3.5, ISO 800, 14.7mma

Amongst them was this little critter.

1/20sec, f/2.8, ISO 800, 25.7mm

At the end of the exhibition there were what I think either the Big Bad or the wizened elder of the series. First was this guy, clearly a wizened elder, and probably either evil or curmudgeonly.

1/30sec, f/2.8, ISO 800, 11mm
1/40sec, f/2.8, ISO 800, 15.74mm

And then there was this Skeksis, bathed in a brilliant purple light.

1/80sec, f/2.8, ISO 800, 25.7mm
1/80sec, f/2.8, ISO 800, 25.7mm

He sat upon quite an impressive purple throne.

1/80sec, f/2.8, ISO 800, 8.8mm

I know it’s a bit odd to go to an exhibition for a series I didn’t watch, but I’m always interested in behind the scenes stuff. Plus, this was a free exhibition, and one of those things we could just do on a whim back in our child-free days. This was all pre-covid of course, which were different days for everyone.

Still, the pictures came out pretty well for the challenging circumstances, especially the ones of the last couple of characters.


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