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Creating miniature landscapes

NR Blog Featured Image
In this post Mark White (Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter) describes his unique miniature landscapes

So often, the photography industry is full of secrets – everyone feels the need to come across as a master of the technique. As I write this article, I am proud to say that when I began this venture, I had no idea what I was doing! I had never created any sort of environment before. I had never even built a birdhouse or put up one of those little Christmas villages. I come to you with this project as a completely transparent source, resource, and peer. We are all part of the same race here, after all.

When I got my first camera, I photographed anything and everything; sunsets, pets, and family were my constant subjects, as was the case for most of us. It wasn’t long before I started to research the boundary breaking possibilities of photography and quickly became fascinated by the more alternative techniques that were out there.

NRMacro
Over the years, I have extensively explored the hidden worlds within our own - macro being hardly visible to us, and infrared being completely invisible. I was enthralled from the beginning. It has always interested me to discover the alien views and perspectives gained from being behind the lens. Photographing the hidden realms and microcosms surrounding us has made me feel like an explorer, a pioneer.

NRInfrared
Recently, I’ve been working on something a bit different, yet similar. This time, instead of being a hunter or observer, I have assumed the role of fabricator. This series depicts a set of biomes created out of things we see and use every day, just used in a different fashion.

NRDesert
Equipment:

  • Nikon D800
  • Tokina 16-28mm
  • 2x SB-900
  • 3x SB-700

EXIF

  • 28mm
  • F/20
  • 1/125s
  • ISO640

Materials:

  • 45 lb All purpose flour
  • Plain white paper
  • Polypropylene sheet

All of these landscapes have been conceptualized and created inside a 10x10’ room on a glass-top computer desk. The one above was assembled entirely out of flour. All of the colors seen in the photograph are the result of lighting trickery and very purposeful perspective control.

NRIcebergs
Equipment

  • Nikon D800
  • Tokina 16-28mm
  • 2x SB-900
  • 1x SB-700

EXIF

  • 24mm
  • F/13
  • 1/160s
  • ISO80

Materials:

  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Cream of Tartar
  • Corn Syrup
  • Water
  • Sugar

This one was created from homemade play dough and sugar glass shards, hand-sculpted and dusted with flour. It was quite tricky to get flour not to clump – especially when using so much of it, and on sticky sugar glass. Once it’s on, it’s on.

NRMeadow_2
Equipment:

  • Nikon D800
  • Tokina 16-28mm
  • 2x SB-900
  • 3x SB-700

EXIF:

  • 16mm
  • F/7.1
  • 1/160s
  • ISO50

Materials:

  • Live Moss
  • Low-Lying Fog
  • 5gallons Mud
  • Raffia
  • Sugar
  • Corn Syrup
  • Salt
  • Cream of Tartar
  • Water
  • Brown Paint
  • Bonsai

This set alone consumed a week of preparatory work, 12 hours of setup, and 3 hours of shooting. It was the most complicated and delicate piece of the set. This one contained live elements that would discolor, wilt, and crisp if left untended a second too long. Articles detailing the specific processes behind each photograph in the set will be uploaded to my blog in the coming weeks.

I ran headfirst into this venture without knowing what I was getting into. What I have come out with is an entire new skill set and an absolutely incredible experience! The series is still a work in progress with a few more pieces in the pipeline, so stay tuned!

For now, on to the next adventure!

If you have an interesting idea for a guest post, you can contact me here.

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  • style in the pocket

    simply astonishing.

  • Andrea

    Incredible craftsmanship! But what about the skies and clouds? How did you make those?

  • admiring

    wow!

    photographer + landscape-architect + lighting gaffer …. all in one talented person!

  • AM

    Those landscapes look so real. Great work!

  • http://inthemistphoto.com/ InTheMist

    I had guessed that they were shot in the studio. That doesn’t take away from the fantastic dedication and attention to detail.

  • clubber lang

    amazing work

  • Eric Calabros

    You should work for hollywood Mark, you can save millions of dollars they spend on CGI :-)

  • Sean Afnan

    These are technically excellent images. But the ability to pre-visualise the scenes is really amazing. Bravo.

  • Mark White

    Thanks everyone for all of your kind words. I really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on my project! Feedback is the best way to validate what you’ve already completed and encourage further movement. So, thank you for that.

  • jr456

    Brilliant work and attention to detail…just brilliant.

  • Teo

    I’m rarely impressed, but wow :)

  • JM

    Superb work…But you definitely have some spare time…

  • Maji

    Very creative work!

  • Andreu Tan

    I want to find words to fault the photos… I tried hard… oh well, I gave up!^_^
    Simply outstanding work and very very generous to share with everyone.

    Thanks Mark! x1000 :)

  • iamlucky13

    Very cool. This is the kind of “magic” the techs at Industrial Light and Magic used to specialize in.

    It’s ironic that they’ve switched mostly to “better” CGI techniques, only to end up with scenes that look less real:
    http://bplusmovieblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/star-wars-revenge-of-the-sith-388.png

    • Mark R

      lol Agreed! But I suspect JJ Abrams is going to correct that. At least I HOPE he does.
      Anyway, as to Mark White’s work, WOW! Excellent work!

  • http://www.danilew.com/ DaniLew

    That is real genuine talent to craft such scenery – WoW!

  • http://www.markwhiteproductions.com/ Mark White

    Hey guys! If anyone’s still following this thread, please see this:

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/markwhitephotography/miniscapes-a-focus-on-grandeur-in-minute-detail

    I’m looking to move forward with this project, and I want to include all of you!

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