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HowTo: photographing a minifig and a landscape in the back

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HowTo: photographing a minifig and a landscape in the back

Postby oleth » Sun Jun 20, 2010 9:22 am

Some people, including some friends which aren't from the lego community, asked me how I took the photos of Harold. So here it is.

Harold proved more challenging than I thought to photograph. I don't build much, so I decided to take him to see the landscapes. In the picture of a man in front of a landscape, the two main objects of interest (the man and the landscape) are very far one from another. A man can stand 3-5 meters away from the camera, the lens can focus to him, yet you can find an f-stop where the depth of field allows the landscape to show up nice and clear.

The problem with shooting a minifig is that it is very small. If it's placed at 3-5 meters away from the camera, it's going to appear too small. In order for it to show up in the picture, and give the feeling of a man posing in front of a landscape, it must be very close to the camera (30 to 40 cm). In this scenario, I couldn't find a normal lens that could focus either on the minifig or the landscape and an f-stop that could capture both of them clearly.

So I had to take two pictures:

1) one with the minifig in front of the landscape (focused on the minifig and the landscape blurred)
Image

2) and a second one without the minifig, focused on the landscape.
Image

I used a tripod to make sure that the scene is exactly the same in both photos. In this way the editing was easier, since the colors of the blurred landscape around the minifig, matched the colors of the landscape. The final edited photo looked quite original because the lighting is original and it's the same for both initial photos.

For the editing process I used GIMP, a fine open-source (and free) image editing software. I have a sample video on YouTube that shows how I performed the editing.

The final image (after some color fixing) is the following:
Image

I also made a stick with lego (see the following photo), so that I could attach the minifig, or a plate, where more minifigs could stand. Then for my convenience, I took some test pictures to find the correct distance of the minifig from the lens, so that the minifig is focused clearly. When I found the correct distance, I put a mark on the lego stick (I simply used a green plate), so that it's faster to set the scene. Since the stick is about 50cm it's probably impossible to hold the stick by hand and have the minifig not moving at all. So, I attached it (very professionally as you can see) to the tripod. In this way, I could also take night shots. Of course if you have a part of the scene to put the minifig on, the stick isn't needed. But this is not always the case and even if you find such a place, the stick can still be used to measure the distance from the lens.
Image

PS. Keep in mind that I am not (even close to) a Photoshop/GIMP/image-editing guru :) More input is welcome!
Last edited by oleth on Sat Jun 26, 2010 7:30 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: HowTo: photographing a minifig and a landscape in the back

Postby Bluesecrets » Sun Jun 20, 2010 12:49 pm

Thank you for sharing this. I found your pictures with Harold to be absolutely stunning. You live in a wonderful place. And you shouldn't feel bad that you didn't have any MOC's to take pictures of him with. I had the opposite problem. Harold arrived at my house in the dead of winter. I couldn't take any outside shots for it was all covered in multiple feet of snow.

Although I do think this might belong in publishing so I shall move it for you.
~ Brickshelf~Flickr~

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Re: HowTo: photographing a minifig and a landscape in the back

Postby JoshWedin » Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:09 am

This is an incredible tutorial. Well done!

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Re: HowTo: photographing a minifig and a landscape in the back

Postby oleth » Tue Jun 22, 2010 10:05 am

I am glad you like it!

PS. To be honest I haven't noticed the Publishing forum before, so thanks for moving it here.
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Re: HowTo: photographing a minifig and a landscape in the back

Postby Bruce N H » Tue Jun 22, 2010 7:52 pm

Hey,

Do you mind if i turn this into a short article and post it in the 'how-to' section of our site?
http://www.classic-castle.com/howto/articles.html
One question - what software did you use to edit together the photos?
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Re: HowTo: photographing a minifig and a landscape in the back

Postby oleth » Sat Jun 26, 2010 7:09 am

Bruce N H wrote:Hey,

Do you mind if i turn this into a short article and post it in the 'how-to' section of our site?
http://www.classic-castle.com/howto/articles.html
One question - what software did you use to edit together the photos?


Of course, it will be my pleasure! I used GIMP and I now have a sample video from the editing process :)
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