Fake Miniature Macro Photography in Photoshop

This technique allows you to produce images that look like they are photographs of amazingly detailed models, yet are, in fact, images of the real world.

Fake macro photography of models

Macro shots of real miniatures are characterized by a shallow depth of field, leading to areas of substantial blur in front of and behind the plane of focus. You can simulate this look in Photoshop fairly easily.

Fake macro photography of models

Technique:
*    Open your image in Photoshop
Fake macro photography of models

*    Since real models often have slightly more color saturation and contrast than a real scene (because there is little atmosphere between the camera and model compared to that with a real scene to cause desaturation), boost the Saturation (Image > Adjust > Saturation/Hue) and possibly Contrast/Brightness
Fake macro photography of models

Fake macro photography of models

*    Duplicate the layer
Fake macro photography of models
*    Apply the Blur > Lens Blur filter to this so you have one layer that is blurred and one not
Fake macro photography of models

*    Create a Layer Mask on this layer
Fake macro photography of models

*    You now must work into the mask so that the areas you want sharp are
*    You need the foreground and background to blur and the middle distance to be sharp, with a gradual transition in between
*    This can be done with a cylindrical gradient and/or you can paint the mask yourself using a soft brush. Often you will need to do both, in situations where, say, there is a tree in the foreground that extends across the sharp part of the image, yet needs to be blurred because it is in the foreground
Fake macro photography of models

The result
Fake macro photography of models

In Use:
Obviously some images will be more suitable than others. To explore this I have tried a wide variety of images to see what works and what does not. I will let you judge from the results in this article.

Note that some images require more work than others to get this technique to work.

To illustrate this, let’s start with this image I took in Barcelona.
Fake macro photography of models

This was processed as normal
Fake macro photography of models

For this one the normal process did not work, so I have done a linear gradient to blur the forground
Fake macro photography of models

I’ve then used a large, soft brush to paint the blur up the building on the left and fade the blur out to match and lineup with that on the foreground
Fake macro photography of models

Since the man in the blue top extends across a varied degree of blur, but should be evenly blured because of his vertical stance, I have used the eyedropper to pickup the degree of the mask at his feet and painted that in the mask up his body
Fake macro photography of models

To mask the background I made a selection that covers the background visible between the two buildings
Fake macro photography of models

Then using a gradient just in the selection, I blurred the background. I then had to fix the blur on the projections from the building, the lamps, etc.
Fake macro photography of models

In fact, it looks even better with the man in blue removed by cloning him out
Fake macro photography of models

So why would you use this technique? I can actually think of many reasons. How about a fake model picture of your street, town or city as a talking point? Perhaps to play tricks on a model railroading enthusiast? Perhaps you can think of other applications.

Just be warned, some images work better than others. The fewer the people, the easier it seems to be to pull it off, generally.

Fake macro photography of models

Fake macro photography of models

Fake macro photography of models

Some other sites with interesting work of this type (and some with basic tutorials):

http://forums.livingwithstyle.com/showthread.php?t=342065

http://www.makezine.com/blog/archive/2006/09/fake_model_photography.html

http://www.chrisdiclerico.com/2006/01/23/fake-photography/

http://www.ualberta.ca/~hsu/blog_Dec11.htmlhttp://www.pingmag.jp/2006/03/07/10-tiny-tokyo-photos/ http://www.photographyjam.com/articles/52/the-tilt-shift-miniature-fake-technique-in-photoshop-cs-a-simple-how-to http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=fakemodel&w=all You will find, as you look at the work that has been done, that many people miss the need to fix up the sharpness of vertical objects. Basically to be accurate, if the base of the object is sharp and it is vertical to the camera direction (or close) then it may look better if it is all sharp or blurred to the same degree as the base. 

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