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"How do I improve my scenic photographs?" Topic

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765 hits since 24 Mar 2017
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tkdguy24 Mar 2017 3:51 p.m. PST

I'm trying to experiment with background scenery for my miniature photographs. I don't have a lot of terrain, so I'm using substitutes until I buy a few items.

Here are a couple of photos I took earlier today. They're not outstanding, which is why I'm looking for advice on how to improve them.

The first has a group of adventurers on a grassy field. I used blue paper for the sky. Lacking a proper mat, I used a green face towel to simulate grass. I added a few trees in the background.


I also used a brown napkin to simulate sand (again lacking a proper mat) o get some texture. I considered using plain cardstock, but it didn't look quite right.


I tried manipulating the results with GIMP, but I didn't like the results.

Besides getting some decent mats, how should I improve the quality? I can always craft the mats; suggestions are welcome. My photography and Photoshop/GIMP techniques can also use some work.

Thanks in advance.

Codsticker24 Mar 2017 4:07 p.m. PST

Those look pretty good to me. I would consider lowering the camera so that it is pretty much at eye level with the minis. With a bit of low terrain in front and other pieces behind you can create some nice depth.

photocrinch Supporting Member of TMP24 Mar 2017 4:26 p.m. PST

Lighting is key. Diffuse lighting or my favorite, morning or evening sunlight can be nice if you have a reflector to bounce the sunlight back onto the shaded side of the miniatures. Consider a gradated background (I just use a piece of cheap poster board). Put the figures in the foreground, lower the camera angle as Codsticker suggested, and disguise the seam of your board and the horizon with terrain. If you have small scale terrain in the back, it gives the illusion of distance.

Some examples:





Hope that helps,


tkdguy24 Mar 2017 4:27 p.m. PST

Thanks. I should definitely get better lighting. I would have taken the photographs outside, but it's raining.

My photomanipulation attempts to make the sky and grass look better didn't go well, so I decided not to use it for now. I know I'll want to do that sometime in the future, however.

I'll try some gradation and lower the camera a bit next time.

Mako11 Inactive Member24 Mar 2017 6:37 p.m. PST

Painted, and/or photo backdrops would work, and look very nice.

You can Photoshop those in, behind the minis (actually, I think you put them in first, then add the minis in the front), if you have certain skills.

Lighting is very important, and natural lighting is best, if you don't have multiple lights for a photo studio setup.

bsrlee25 Mar 2017 1:31 a.m. PST

Depends on if you are trying to photograph the fine details on the figures or produce a realistic diorama. Have a look for model railroad photography, people have spent decades developing techniques for photographing their miniatures. You can (or could) get 'pin hole' lenses for most cameras to give realistic depth of field, not sure if they will work with digital cameras as they need very long exposures.

You may also want to look at the printed back ground sheets made for model railroad layouts or if a realistic background is less important, aquarium backgrounds are readily available in most pet shops by the yard.

Personal logo Zeelow Supporting Member of TMP25 Mar 2017 7:23 a.m. PST

I use the pictures from old calendars to establish the background.


In this scene I have a forest picture propped up,and middle ground and fore ground stuff added to the scene.

Sho Boki25 Mar 2017 9:08 a.m. PST

With few terrain try do not show terrain mutch and concentrate all terrain elements you have on background..

Personal logo Jeff Ewing Supporting Member of TMP25 Mar 2017 3:49 p.m. PST

I think your photos are pretty good. Besides all the good advice given, I would suggest either completely covering the "horizon" of your shot with scenics or using the GIMP to blur the sharp line there.

tkdguy25 Mar 2017 11:09 p.m. PST

Thanks for all the suggestions, folks. They've helped a lot.

Codsticker26 Mar 2017 8:03 p.m. PST

Thanks for all the suggestions, folks. They've helped a lot.

Don't forget tom post them here.

tkdguy27 Mar 2017 9:04 p.m. PST

Will do.

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