Home photography ideas: Mini motor adventures in your back yard

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Photographing miniature models and toys has captured the imaginations of hundreds of thousands of photographers worldwide. There’s something charming about capturing a toy model in a real-life situation with your camera.

And of course, in the current situation, shooting a scene with a model miniature is a great way to scratch the itch of photographing an exciting outdoor scene, but without having to break the lockdown rules and travel to an exciting location. 

Shooting small with a shallow depth of field can turn your back yard into a stunning set-piece – if you're lucky enough to have a garden filled with trees and greenery, or if your home backs onto woodland, you can shoot a toy Land Rover in an exciting off-road scene. 

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It sounds simple enough, and you only need a standard zoom or kit lens to focus close enough for this shot, but there are a few key points you need to remember when capturing your miniature scene. 

You’ll need to get down really low for a convincing shot, so use a beanbag or rolled-up sweater to support your camera. And as you’ll be spending a lot of time lying on the ground, make sure you grab something suitable to lie on! 

01 Set the scene

Your chosen car model needs to sit realistically in the scene. We'd ideally place our Land Rover down in the mud, in the middle of a woodland area, but the same off-road illusion can be created with some rough ground and a backdrop of trees. 

02 Get down low

For a more realistic illusion, get down low to photograph your subject. This will create a dramatic angle, much like if you shot a real car from down low, and will also  capture the scene in the background to offer some perspective.

03 Camera settings

We want to achieve a dreamy bokeh effect, with a shallow depth of field to help obscure the background. However, you you will be shooting quite close to your subject so if you shoot wide open then only a portion of the car will be in focus. here you have two options; you can shoot at f/8, as we did here, to ensure that the front end of the Land Rover is sharp. Alternatively, you can use focus stacking or focus bracketing – this will enable you to shoot wide open, and blur the background, while getting as much of your subject in focus as you want. 

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Read more: 

The best standard zoom lenses in 2020
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Master focus bracketing & focus stacking macro modes

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Hollie Latham

Hollie Latham-Hucker is a former Technique Editor of PhotoPlus magazine. With a degree in Design Photography from the University of Plymouth, she is currently working as the Technique Editor of Amateur Photographer.