May the 4th be with you! Take toy photos in some In-Hothspitable terrain

How to photograph toys on location with a Weeylite
1/800sec, f/2.8, ISO 1000 (Image credit: Alistair Campbell)

After photographing models with an indoor macro set up last year, I decided to pick up some winter-inspired figures to take advantage of a snowy situation.

To photograph toys, you may feel that you need a macro lens, but I have specifically chosen my kit lens to do the job – so you can use yours, too! I’m shooting on the Fujifilm X-T3 and Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 lens. It has a minimum focusing distance of around 30cm, but that’s still close enough to show off your model – and more importantly, the environment surrounding it. Ideally you want to pick up six-inch figures or bigger, as anything smaller is very hard to disguise. 

Here are five quick steps to lighting and shooting toys on location…

(Image credit: Alistair Campbell)

(Image credit: Alistair Campbell)

1. Grab some portable lighting

I’ve got a very small Weeylite K2, but you can pick up any small LED light – it doesn’t need to be in a tube shape, but I find them easy to prop up or lay on the ground. Just make sure that whichever one you buy, it has the ability to change colors. You don’t need millions; here, I’m simply using blue for a cooling effect.

(Image credit: Alistair Campbell)

2. Find your shooting spot

I noticed a couple of small boulders located just outside the car park where I was shooting. Then I brushed off some of the snow to reveal what will serve as our ‘terrain’ in the foreground, rather than a pure bright white sheet, which will also provide the image with some extra texture.

(Image credit: Alistair Campbell)

3. Use a small aperture to blur the background

I don’t usually shoot shallow apertures with miniatures, because it can give away their small size. Here the background wasn’t perfect, though, so I chose to shoot at f/2.8 in order to give it a narrow depth of field, which added some blur in the background to draw the attention fully onto the main subject.

(Image credit: Alistair Campbell)

4. Select an ISO and shutter speed to suit your shot

It’s my personal preference but I always tend to shoot at higher ISOs, for higher shutter speeds. Higher ISO ranges introduce some noise into images but I quite like the effect. It has a more filmic feel – perfect for this shot.

(Image credit: Alistair Campbell)

5. Shoot the rebel troopers!

Get low to the ground, as this will make your model feel larger. Here my mini tripod offers some stability, but sometimes I go straight onto the ground. Then I shot a variety of images with blue lighting and some without, like this main image in the background.

(Image credit: Alistair Campbell)

Read more: 

The best LED light panels
Star Wars photography using 1970s Kenner figures amazes in new deluxe photo book

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Alistair Campbell

Alistair is the Features Editor of Digital Camera magazine, and has worked as a professional photographer and video producer.