Thinking Small

If you are looking for a variation to photography that is interesting and fun to publish, try photographing small objects, such as toy cars and action figures. This niche has become quite popular over the past years, especially amongst young adults. The concept is simple; make something small appear full-sized. The photograph in this article is one example where a scale model of a Mini Cooper was shot at a low angle. There is usually no need to purchase specialized equipment, such as macro lenses or light rings. Oftentimes, a quality point and shoot camera is all you need to create interesting and creative shots. There are a few methods to employ when shooting small objects that will help create the appearance of making the objects appear full-scale.

The photographer’s point of view is perhaps the most important step to create the illusion of scale. The best point of view for the photographer to shoot from is from a lower viewpoint looking upward. By shooting from a lower perspective, the object appears considerably larger. As obvious as this sounds, I have seen similar photographs where the angle appears artificial. Think about the object as if it were full scale. How would you shoot the subject if you were scaled down to the object’s size? Oftentimes, all it takes a little bit of imagination to capture an accurate perspective.

Using a realistic background is another key consideration when shooting scale models. If you shoot an action figure next to something that offsets the perspective, you will lose the effect. For instance, if you have a pencil in the background, then the perspective will quickly lose integrity. Having said that, there are variations to this concept. Using the pencil as an example, it could be interesting to photograph an action figure who appears to be wielding the pencil as a weapon or lifting it off the chest of another figure.

Another consideration to compliment the perspective between the subject and the background is to shoot the subject in front of a full-scale object, such as a building. To make this shot appear believable, use the lower perspective discussed above and set your aperture to a high f-stop at low focal length. This will prevent the background images from losing depth of field.

For those who have large scale models, this type of photography is essential to recreate your set. My favorite examples are from scale railroad modelers. A skilled model craftsman can create models that are extremely detailed in every way. In this case, the challenge becomes more of access to the proper angles. Since most model sets are compact, most cameras are nearly impossible to place on the set in a fashion that would be taken from a natural perspective. In stead, an SLR camera with a telephoto lens would be a better choice. Although the depth of field would be much more shallow, the scale will compensate for the variations in depth.



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