Flickr Find | Miniature Fakery

While I’m generally very turned off by HDR images, I have been obsessed as of late with tilt-shift miniature faking. The effect makes normal images look like perfectly composed models. Some beautiful examples below.









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Comments on “Flickr Find | Miniature Fakery

    Trip Fontaine on January 14, 2009 12:12 PM:

    It may not be HDR but this is awful, sensational photography just the same – it requires little of the viewer and is a one trick pony – hardly sustainable.

    While there may have been others before him, I believe it was a Japanese photographer (name eludes me) that popularised this aesthetic – the style was rapidly emulated bringing the short lifespan of a visual trend to its death.

    Sorry to get morbid on you ACL – keep up the good work with the rest of the blog.

    Sean on January 14, 2009 1:43 PM:

    Ben Thomas @ cityshrinker does nice work also.

    robbie on January 14, 2009 1:57 PM:

    Whoa, I enjoyed these images; thanks for sharing.

    chasingmoss on January 14, 2009 2:08 PM:

    For they DYI types, the latest issue of Photography magazine includes a walk through of how to do this yourself.

    Peter on January 14, 2009 2:29 PM:

    Online tilt-shift image maker

    Erik Avram Sälgström Peterson on January 14, 2009 4:34 PM:

    These particular images don’t appear to have been crafted with HDR technique, but the level of exposure range created with HDR would be interesting to see in model fakes.

    Rob on January 14, 2009 4:35 PM:

    just saw an exhibit on illusion photography at the Met. Some photographers are able to do it in a manner where it is every bit a work of art.

    i can’t remember the guys name, but he uses old toy soldiers along with false perspective to create realistic battle scenes in b&w.

    sam on January 14, 2009 4:53 PM:

    Yeah Rob, that Met show was great.

    As for this kind of thing being bad… isn’t the history of photography totally intertwined with sensation(alism) and novelty (particularly at the outset) balanced with its documentary possibility? Camera (pony) tricks aren’t inherently awful or artful as anything a camera does is a trick, is techne.

    Michael Williams on January 14, 2009 4:59 PM:

    Yeah what Sam said! Listen, I’m an idiot when it comes to photography but I like what I like. This works for ACL because I run the joint. Ha.


    JP on January 14, 2009 5:09 PM:

    I’ve never even heard of this, but I’m hooked. It reminds me of all the miniature scenes in Mister Rogers.


    Steve on January 14, 2009 5:33 PM:

    I’m not familiar with this type of photography either and I like it…

    trip on January 14, 2009 6:27 PM:

    Thanks for posting this. I read about this style one time, but had forgotten what it was called. It may be a one trick pony type of shot, but it can create some very interesting and aesthetically pleasing pictures nonetheless.

    Marcellus on January 14, 2009 6:44 PM:

    So funny you mention this, I just had to create an image this morning that used this technique. For those interested in learning how to produce the image in photoshop, check out:


    a paynter on January 14, 2009 6:50 PM:

    looks best when shooting 4×5 or 8×10 cameras. achieved through the movements in the bellows. the digi people are manipulating among many other things…..

    Ansel Olson on January 14, 2009 8:30 PM:

    call me old fashioned but I prefer it done with bellows or a tilt shift lens.

    Andy on January 14, 2009 8:56 PM:

    Nice example of the real thing here.

    giuseppe on January 15, 2009 12:41 AM:

    As both an architecture student and the father of a kid who watches a lot of Thomas the Tank Engine, I look at more than my fair share of actual miniatures.

    I’m usually not a fan of digital trickery, but this is fun and cool, so why not. Thanks for an unusual post.

    ecstaticist on January 15, 2009 2:47 AM:

    Hey Trip, who made you the art police? Why not let people do photography how they like? The audience determines whether they like it of their own accord. The moment of art is out of your control, bud, thank goodness. I suggest you just do your own thing and see if anyone likes it, if that’s what you are aiming for.

    coco on January 15, 2009 6:31 AM:

    as with all art, it’s done best when there is a purpose behind the technique

    invisibleagent on January 15, 2009 9:36 AM:

    Tilt Shift is definitely making a huge come back, both Leica and Hasselblad announced they were releasing tilt shift adaptors last summer.

    The technique is based on the Scheimpflug principle; article on wikipedia here:

    Very cool post ACL!

    Curt on January 15, 2009 4:35 PM:

    It’s interesting to see some of my photos here, and the responses to them. Pictures 2-5, and 7-8 are mine, and if you enjoyed them, I’m glad.

    If you didn’t, that’s fine too, though I don’t understand some of the criticisms, especially those made by Trip.

    It seems to me that you either like an image, or you don’t. How that image came into being, to me, seems irrelevant. The comment “this is awful, sensational photography” could be applied to any image, anywhere, at any time, depending on one’s point of view, right?

    So could the comment, ” it requires little of the viewer and is a one trick pony – hardly sustainable.” These are not valid criticisms, because they merely reflect the personal tastes and biases of the person making the comment, and are unprovable.

    I would have to ask, what should an image require of the viewer? Who sets there requirements?

    Yes, it is a gimmick. It is a trick. It’s all done on a computer. I don’t use a real tilt-shift lens, because they cost a small fortune. We all do what we like with what we can.

    As for art being “done best when there is a purpose behind the technique,” I would have to say that creating art is purpose enough. Again, who cares why it was created? You almost never get the complete story of the artist’s purpose anyway, unless you create it yourself, and even then you might forget, or the reasons may change. So why denigrate something simply because the purpose isn’t clear, or to your liking?

    I can see being critical about the way the technique is applied, or other technical aspects, but merely saying “I hate tilt-shift” or “I hate HDR” means about as much as someone saying “I hate the color red,” or “I hate rap music.” Different strokes for different folks, right?

    Either you like it, or you don’t. That’s art; that’s life. I don’t feel that this technique is dead at all. It’s fun to do, fun to look at (well, for some), and my god, it’s showing up everywhere now.

    The more things you like, the happier you will be. Keep creating, keep having fun. Life is too short to worry about art.

    Thanks everybody. It’s been fun.


    Stephen on January 15, 2009 9:30 PM:

    Nicely put Curt :)

    the lil bee on January 18, 2009 1:16 PM:

    The second and sixth photos are completely amazing. Wow. #6 looks like something from Capri actually.

    I’m surprised there’s so much controversy over these photos. Curt, I think they’re beautiful.

    ronnie on February 7, 2009 10:29 AM:

    Thanks for featuring one of my photographs here; #6 is mine. I agree completely with what Curt has said, so I won’t re-state it (loving #2 Curt). Mine too has been constructed with CS2 trickery (and was my first attempt) – tilt shift lenses are around £1000 and I can’t justify the cost!
    @ the lil bee – the original photograph was taken in Porthleven in Cornwall, UK. The colour has been saturated slightly to add to the illusion of it being a miniature.


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