Photography Project 52: Week 28 – Photography mini dioramas

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.

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