We recently visited Mesa Verde National Park, and in the short photography break my husband allowed, we spent time in the museum. They had a few dioramas, similar to the kind I saw at the Natural History Museum as a kid – I couldn’t help but smile. It seemed so low tech in this world of multi-media, 3-D graphics, and animation. So I decided this week’s projects would be my own take – a diorama that plays with scale by using miniature people.
I couldn’t stop laughing throughout this project……(a few glasses of wine didn’t hurt, so if the subject isn’t pin sharp, I’m blaming auto-focus). I started by using old camera magazines from the 40’s and 50’s (one of those impulsive eBay purchases that culminated in a bidding war……..and I just had to win….but that’s another story). The covers gave me a lot of interesting backgrounds, now I just needed the right subject. During my Project 365, I purchased a hundred miniature people. They are for a train set and are no larger than my finger nail; all of them fit in a box that could hold a deck of cards. The most fun was finding the right people to connect with the background to create a an unwritten story (which I’ll fully admit may only exist in my mind).
Here are some tips if you decide to try it:
- Museum Wax is great to get the figures to stand in the right place; take care to clean up the area around them. I spent most of my time in post trying to get rid of all of the extra wax, which is unfortunately white and very distracting.
- I used a medium-range telephoto, and that was enough to compress the scene – although my magazine covers were smaller than the standard size today.
- The colors may not be consistent – the magazine covers had different saturation and hues than the subjects. I evened these out in post by adding a tint, or a cross-processing treatment.
- Make sure the miniature person stands out. I did this by brightening just them using an Adjustment brush in Lightroom
Here are the mini-dioramas I created (I hope you find them as humorous as I did). To see them larger, click on one to enter slide show mode.