The SETUP / establish a miniature war zone
1 Toys and props We set up our battlefield with toy soldiers. It helps to have an array of poses to add variety. We also sprinkled some soil in the foreground along with sticks, then used other props for the backdrop. 2 Scene depth To give our scene some depth, we posed our figures and scenery on three planes – a foreground (the frontmost soldiers) midground (distant soldiers) and background (hills, statue and trees). 3 Tripod We’ll build our image by capturing several different shots, so we need a tripod to keep them in alignment. It must all stay in the same position, so be careful not to nudge the table or figures between shots. 4 Cable release A cable release enables us to shoot without having to touch the camera. It also means we can concentrate on creating the smoke and lighting it with the torch then fire the shutter at the right time. 5 Wide lens A wide focal length is best as it lets us create a sense of epic scale. We shot at 24mm. This also exaggerates perspective, so objects close to the camera appear larger than those further away. 6 Dark room We’ll be painting with light so make sure the room stays dark – this will allow us to use longer exposures. So turn off any lights and seal windows, or try shooting at night. The less ambient light the better.
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