Shooting Challenge: Scale Effect

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Before CGI, when a movie blew up a train, they either had to blow up a train, or build a model, film it at high speed and fill it with firecrackers. For this week's Shooting Challenge, we're exploring option 2.

The Challenge

Take a photo of a very small object—a toy or model—and make it appeal life-sized. (pyrotechnics optional.)


The Technique

Let's review what you're trying to do: You want to make a tiny object look giant. And to do that, you need to screw with the psychology of someone's brain.


First, choose a small object that could be giant. Diecast cars are great subjects, as are most scale models, because they cram a ton of detail into something tiny. Also, while we know pennies are small, we expect cars, trains and planes to be huge, so that's where the psychological hack comes in.

Secondly, follow every step on this list. Seriously, this guy gave some sort of model photography master class in the comment section of a diecast blog, but his tips—like using plain backdrops, lots of light and zooming in with your camera lens to avoid distortion (not even using a macro!)—clearly work. I'd add that just because something is tiny, try to shoot it as you would a large object. Approach it from the same angles.


The Example

Our lead shot is by flickr's Luigi Crespo. It's fantastic, isn't it? This model looks like a car ad. And look at the tricks here: Smart lighting, a standard "car ad" angle and a cue-less backdrop.


The Rules

0. No watermarks. They're so ugly.
1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos must be taken since this contest was announced (read more on that above).
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to, not me.
5. Include 970px wide image (200KB or less) AND a 2560x1600 sized in email. I know that your photo may not fall into those exact high rez dimensions, so whatever native resolution you're using is fine.
6. One submission per person.
7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)
8. You agree to the Standard Contest Rules - though we DO accept non-US resident submissions.
9. If the image contains any material or elements that are not owned by you and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the image, you are responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the image in the manner set forth in these rules without additional compensation. If any person appearing in any image is under the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.


Send your best photo by Monday, October 15th at 10AM Eastern to with "Scale" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameScale.jpg (970px wide) and FirstnameLastnameScaleWallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions. Include your shooting summary (camera, lens, ISO, etc) in the body of the email along with a story of the shot in a few sentences. And don't skip this story part because it's often the most enjoyable part for us all beyond the shot itself!