Nicholas Busch is a Davenport, Iowa-based portrait photographer who has been working on a fascinating personal project in his free time: he shoots Lord of the Rings scenes on a tabletop using miniature scale model photography.
Busch came up with the idea for the project a couple of years ago while doing toy car photography — he began wondering whether he could composite humans into miniature scenes in a believable way. After confirming that he could through a few tests, he turned his attention to doing it with fan art for Lord of the Rings, his favorite film franchise.
Once he has an idea for a scene, he cuts out the base foam first so he can begin planning out the composition of the diorama. To build out his landscapes, Busch uses things like foam, paint, plaster, and miniature grass.
“I have used a variety of different lenses but that one seems to be able to give the most cinematic look with all my images,” Busch tells PetaPixel. “For composition, I normally try to get my lens as level with the ground of the diorama as possible to give it that larger than life look. Almost as if the photographer was really on the ground taking the picture.”
After shooting about 14 to 18 photos of a diorama, Busch brings the photos into Photoshop and does focus stacking to increase the depth of field and make the scene look life-sized.
“The most difficult part is adding the sky and making sure all of the tones match just right in Photoshop,” Busch says. “That can become extremely tedious.”
The last step is photographing his human models.
“I stick to the same lighting setup and exact same lens to make sure all of my color tones match,” the photographer says. “Once that is complete, I then composite the model into the photograph to complete the image.”
Each of his images can take between one to three months to complete from start to finish.
Image credits: All photographs by Nicholas Busch and used with permission