STEPBYSTEP / Build a ta­ble-top city

NPhoto - - Nikon Skills -

1 Go back to black

To make this shot work ef­fec­tively we need a clean, dis­trac­tion-free back­drop that re­moves re­flec­tions and puts em­pha­sis on the of­fice sup­plies we use to cre­ate the sky­line. Black fab­ric, es­pe­cially vel­vet, is per­fect for this. Prop it up be­hind on a stand, or tape it to the wall.

2 In­tro­duce a re­flec­tion

Mimic the water re­flec­tions that you find along a river on the edge of a city sky­line. We used a black acrylic board to make a seam­less join be­tween the ground and the back­drop. It’s also eas­ier to see the re­flec­tions in black acrylic as op­posed to a coloured or white board.

3 Ar­range your of­fice sup­plies

Get a va­ri­ety of of­fice sup­plies to make in­ter­est­ing shapes. There are clas­sic ob­jects you’ll keep com­ing back to be­cause they work so well. Sta­ples make great sky­scrapers, with each sta­ple mim­ick­ing a floor on a build­ing. Screws, nuts and bolts also make great shapes.

4 Light the scene

To keep things sim­ple, we only need to use a sin­gle lamp to one side. We went cam­era-right. The light cas­cad­ing from the side casts shad­ows across the front of the sta­ples and screws and so high­lights the tex­tures of the ob­jects, en­hanc­ing the ‘big city’ feel.

5 Get in close

A close-fo­cus­ing lens is a must with this shot, but for­tu­nately even a 50mm lens will fo­cus close enough. A macro lens is ideal, but longer fo­cal length macros, such as 90mm, mean you’ll have to get quite far back to fit the scene in, de­pend­ing on how big your sky­line is.

6 Set a small aper­ture

With our Nikon on a tri­pod and man­ual mode se­lected, we set an aper­ture of f/8 (at ISO200) to in­crease depth of field (be­cause a shal­low depth of field tells our brain that it’s a small-scale model). We then ad­justed the shut­ter speed un­til our scene was cor­rectly ex­posed.

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