15th October 2014, Singapore – Some interesting photos had been making their rounds on social media. I am sure most of you would have seen them. All these photos were mainly tiny 1/87 scale (about 22mm) figures posed on food items or everyday scenes to create an interesting scene that is smacked right in between reality and creativity.
These figures are manufactured by 3 major companies who specializes in scale models. I am not naming these 3 companies here as I am not paid to do so. The figures comes in various poses for various settings and themes so it does offers a lot of options for the photographers who are venturing into this.
To start, you can go to popular online shopping sites like amazon or ebay and type “1/87 figures” on the search bar and you will be presented with all kinds of 1/87 scale figure listing. Some of these figurines are costly while some are ridiculously cheap. For example, a pair of adult-theme figures will costs you the same for buying half a dozen of everyday figures. Some limited edition figures can costs up to a few hundreds too, so I will suggest do your research, plan your photography project carefully before you even purchase any of these.
Now, how to properly create such photos? To start, I am sure you will notice the very shallow depth of field (background blur). This is intentional as to mask out whatever that is behind the scene that might make the photo weird or unnatural. So I will suggest using lenses that are F2.0 or wider to achieve the blur effect while the the camera is set to center one- spot focus properly differentiate what you want to be in focus (the figures) and what not.
Now we have dealt with the shallow depth of field, next will be getting the details from the tiny 1/87 figures. You must be thinking how can that be done, well, I will suggest picking a prime lens from 50mm onwards and that allows you to focus not too far away. A macro lens will be the perfect choice since macro lenses are known for their details and their special ability to go really close to the subject to extract insane details.
Next, will be getting the right figures for the right subject to create that magical effect. Since these figures comes in hundreds of themes, I will personally suggest buying those which are depicted as carrying out an activity. These will be easier for you to link up subjects or for shooting placement. Once you are used to shooting such scales, then I will suggest you buying those figures which are simply posed and not engaging in activity.
Due to the tiny scale and small size, these figures are easy to bring to anywhere you like. Although there is that slim chance of your figures going missing, it is better to carry these little guys in a match box or a tiny tin container from a mint drop. Shooting these outdoor is not easy too. You lose the control of light and easy setting of shooting indoors and you will probably be shooting in a prone position on a busy street if your camera does not have a tilt screen. But on the positive side, shooting these figures outdoors means unlocking all possibilities of shooting with these tiny figurines.
I am glad to share that apart from people figures, the manufacturers does produce 1/87 scale vehicles too. Similar to “people” figurines that comes in hundred of themes, 1/87 vehicles offers anything from 2 wheels to a full size Boeing A380 passenger jet complete with thousands of accessories. Combine these vehicles with “human” of matching themes, you can now create realistic scenes that are so special and unique!
Take the Christmas scene from the above photo as an example. With a little creativity, you can create a full scene like the above with matching trees, lamp posts, snow etc together with figures & vehicles. It all depends on your creativity and what you want to achieve. My last tip here will be to pay a little more attention to the lighting as it will determined if your scene looks interesting real or just a badly done miniature shot.
Oh lastly, when making the purchase for the 1/87 figures or vehicles, make sure you are buying painted ones too. Have fun and I will be back with my own set of miniature 1/87 photos soon.