Tourmaline .

Miniature Diorama Photographer

MMM- Photographing Miniatures – Depth of Field

Part 5 of a 7 part series on photographing miniatures.


I’ve attempted to keep this short and sweet, with lots of diagrams, while also getting fairly technical. Don’t hesitate to ask questions if something’s unclear.

PhotographingMiniatures (4)


Depth of Field – in short, the way you blur your image is super essential to miniature photography. Give too much away, with tons of detail, and you take away the mystery.

By no means is this a hard and fast rule – if you have a set with immaculate detail, in which every tiny piece needs to be visible – use a long depth of field. In just about every other case, experiment with shallow (or short) depth of field.

What is Depth of Field?

“…also called focus range or effective focus range, is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appear acceptably sharp in an image.”

Wikipedia, Depth of Field

The smaller your f number, the larger your aperture, the smaller/shorter/more shallow your depth of field.

The larger your f number, the smaller your aperture, the longer/larger your depth of field.

How Does Depth of Field Effect a Photo?

As discussed in a previous MMM post, take for example these 2 figures, 1 3/4″ tall, and the other 1.5″ tall. When placed only about 1.5″ from each other a photographed with a very large aperture, I’m able to create a varied perspective. It now looks as if the figures are the same height, but one is far away.

IMG_1344 IMG_1343 IMG_1341

In this same sense, with a small depth of field you can create the idea of something. Like in the photo below, shot at f2.8 with a 100mm macro lens, the sheets of scrapbook paper become a sunset sky and the damaged grass mat becomes a hilly field.


fence 1

Also, consider how you see the world. The farther you look in the distance, the more blurred the world gets – eyesight, perspective, whatever you want to call it, creating this in miniature, means creating a blur in the ‘distance.’ The farthest distance in your scene may only be a couple of inches away, but compared to a figure in that world, it would be feet, yards, meters, miles, kilometers away. The viewer of your image, is a figure in that world – choose what you want them to focus on and let the rest fade away.

The Shape of your Blur

Standard camera lenses, even phones and point and shoots, have a rectangular field of view. This means when your aperture is opened all the way up, there will be a thin, straight rectangle stretching the width of your image. Everything within that line will be in focus, while everything else fades away.

Tilt shift lenses, on the other hand, allow you to have a point or circle of focus which can create a more dream-like effect when used with a small depth of field and focused on miniatures.

Cambridge in Colour, Tilt Shift Lenses: Depth of Field |

Cambridge in Colour, Tilt Shift Lenses: Depth of Field |

Cambridge in Colour, Tilt Shift Lenses: Depth of Field |

Cambridge in Colour, Tilt Shift Lenses: Depth of Field |

By the Flowers, She was Swept Away

By the Flowers, She was Swept Away

Aperture is Only 1 of 3 Things that Effect Depth of Field

The focal length of your lens and your proximity to your subject matter also effect your field of vision.

” the distance between the lens and the image sensor when the subject is in focus, usually stated in millimeters (e.g., 28 mm, 50 mm, or 100 mm). In the case of zoom lenses, both the minimum and maximum focal lengths are stated, for example 18–55 mm.”

Nikon, Focal Length and Angle of View

The farther away you are from your subject, the longer the depth of field.

The closer you are to your subject the shorter the depth of field.


The shorter the focal length, the larger the depth of field.

The larger the focal length, the shorter the depth of field.


Questions? Leave a comment below.

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6 Responses to “MMM- Photographing Miniatures – Depth of Field”

  1. Bulldog Travels

    Excellent tips, thank you. I am always fighting with depth of field especially with my macro. I love using it but it can be frustrating at times.



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