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HowTo: photographing a minifig and a landscape in the background

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I just thought I share this HowTo, about my experiences taking photos of Harold, The Traveling Castle Fig. So, here it is.

Harold proved more challenging than I thought to photograph with a landscape as a background. 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)


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


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.


I also made a stick with lego, 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 place 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.

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