How I Shot My ‘Mini World’ Image


Over on our Facebook page this week we shared our recent ‘Small World‘ post featuring some of our readers shots of miniature figurines shot in larger scenes. On Facebook one of our readers – Dave Flynn – commented that he used to take these types of photos but now does something different. He shared a link to his Mini Worlds Gallery where he showed his different take on it. It includes this photo!

Mini World: Final Edit

I immediately shot Dave a message asking if he’d write up how he took it. Here’s what he sent in.

My name is Dave Flynn, I’m 45 years old and got into photography 3 years ago when I was made redundant from my career in retail. I’m completely self taught through reading magazines and watching online videos. I don’t have a particular field of interest and have a varied portfolio which can be seen at and

In my bag

For most of my creations I use the 50mm, 90mm and 18-70mm.

I will always try to use natural light where possible and have a roof terrace which is perfect for getting shots of the posed models and backgrounds.

On wet days, I use my bedside table which is next to a large window. I don’t have expensive equipment or studio lights, my editing is all done on my laptop so I am proof that you don’t need every photography related gadget or the latest kit to create amazing images. They key to all photography is the light. It’s the first thing you should think about when creating any image.

Inspiration just comes to me, I might see an item/person/scene and imagine a final image in my head then set out to create it. Photography for me is a great way to share what goes on in my brain and I hope you can get some inspiration from my thoughts.


I’d been to a festival in London and got some shots of the various performances. The bearded man in the shot below is jumping on a trampoline for his act. Shot using my 70-300mm at f/5.6 @200mm, ISO 400 with a fast shutter. When I reviewed the images; this one stood out so I tried to think how to use him in a mini world. It was a few days later when I was making coffee and I got the idea. This is how I created it.


In photoshop I use layer masks to remove the model from the background. There are other methods like using the pen tool or quick selection tool but masks are my preferred method.

There are very good tutorials on youtube about using layer masks in photoshop.


The scene is set for the background. I used 2 speedlights to balance the light. I think they were both set to 1/128 sec because I had natural light coming in the window too. I used my wide angle lens at 18mm with a shutter speed of 1/160 and an aperture of f/8.


Next it was time to drop a sugar lump into the scene, remember the speedlights are set to freeze any motion in the image. It took a few attempts for me to get this shot to catch sugar cube where I wanted. Exactly the same settings were used.


The same technique was used to catch the splash at just the right moment. This again took a few attempts ( and a lot of cleaning) to get the splash how I wanted.

The ‘studio’ in my bedroom and the scene setup.

The final edit with some curve and level adjustments in photoshop.

one lump or 2 2nd Edit Final.jpg

Thanks to Dave for sharing this behind the scenes look at his shot. Check out more of his Mini Worlds here.

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • Chris

    This is awesome! I’m already brainstorming ideas of how to take hilarious pictures of myself in a tiny world!

  • Barbara Farr

    Interesting post.

  • Sue Doss-McAleer

    Thank you!!!! I love the ‘How I shot it’ types of articles. As a new photographer, I learn much more from things like this. It gets my creativity flowing, it cuts out some of my frustrations wondering how to do something.

  • Vadivelan Palanichamy

    Interesting 🙂 and inspiring… thanks Dave Flynn

  • Jay Rodriguez

    Great stuff as always Darren!

  • Said Nuhu

    Very interesting.Thank you Dave for this behind the scene of almost same things I used to see in Ads and just ended wondering how they did

  • marius2die4

    Great one! Congratulations!

  • rocket

    very good work

  • Gail

    Great !!!
    Thanks for sharing –and you are remarkable to have been just self taught!!

  • Awesome! LOVE the mini worlds! :0)

  • NS

    Did the concent to use the bearded man in the image come when his photo was taken or upon constructing the final image?

  • Nuraj

    Hello Darren,

    I’m going To Start Photography for my hobby.can you sugges me a good camera and any need equipments for photography.


  • Dave

    Once a person takes a picture, that picture belongs to that person. What that person does with it is up to them.

  • Dave

    Thanks Gail, it takes a lot of time and practice too but it is all worth while.

  • Dave

    Thanks Said

  • Tommy Henwood

    Dave thanks for sharing, Your testimony is as inspiring as your photographs.

  • wendyoj26


  • LiL

    This was one of the best written articles on DPS…very clear…a fun topic…sequence of steps taken well done…great job on article..AND of course this shot…love it!

  • Jimmy

    I’m new to photography. This article is very interesting. How was the shadow of the man created on the coffee mug?

  • Kelly Bart

    Wheres the part when the spoon changed it’s position/angle? When he stepped on it?

  • searchsid

    This is awesome.. Very creative and well executed

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