Creating Backgrounds for LEGO Photography

Posted: March 4, 2020 by Robert Whitehead

My last set of tips was about creating a diorama for your minifigs, but now what about the background?

Backgrounds are often overlooked when it comes to LEGO photography. The idea and subject normally always takes preference, and the background is sometimes an afterthought.

I take a lot of time deciding on a background before even taking my camera out. You want a background that is natural to your set up. Backgrounds shouldn’t “fight” with your subject; they should complement and enhance the overall composition.

In these tips I’m going to focus on 3 types that I mainly use:

  • Paper
  • Screens
  • Dioramas

Paper

The first type of background to talk about is the simplest and sometimes the most effective, and that is the simple paper backdrop. Use this option when you want the viewer’s focus to be solely on your subject. Sometimes choosing the right colour can be the most difficult part.

Firstly, you want your subject to “pop” from the backdrop. Secondly, you want the backdrop to compliment your subject. Thirdly, the colour can help emphasize an emotion or feeling of your image.

This red paper really emphasizes the angry emotion in the image.

In the skateboarding Banana shot, purple is the complementary colour to yellow.

Try find a common colour in your subject that you can use a background to also compliment your image.

Have fun with this method and swap different colours out, get creative and enjoy the process until you are happy with your final shot.

Screens

Another method I like to use is a tablet. Tablets are great for loading or searching for an image online that can then be used as a background.

You may need to use flags to avoid reflections in the glass when using lights to light your subject. You can also use a Smart TV for a much larger background if needed.

One important thing to bear in mind when using a smart TV as your background is your shutter speed. The screen on a TV is rolled down one pixel at a time at lightning speed. Use a speed of 1/30 or slower to catch the fully ‘rolled out’ screen of pixels. This may vary depending on your TV.

I used a 40 inch LED TV to get the Bespin cityscape in the background of the Boba Fett shot.

Dioramas

Another option is to buy backdrops specific to toy photography, like Extreme Sets, they have a number of different options and I’ve used these often with great results. They can be pricey – so bear that in mind.

Hobby and model-train shops are also great places to find backdrops, I’ve found many great prints and surfaces that work really well, like the brick wall in the Cheetah shot.

Let me know in the comments below if you found these tips and ideas useful.

3 Comments

  • Paul August 25, 2020 at 1:19 am

    Hi!

    I tried to use a tablet a few times.
    But in my case it looks off… it’s obvious that the tablet is emitting light as well.
    It never looks good… what can I do about that?

    Cheers!
    Paul

    Reply
  • Robert Whitehead
    Robert Whitehead August 25, 2020 at 2:45 am

    Hi Paul

    What camera are you using and are you lighting the minifig with any other lights?

    Attach your image so I can try see where you are going wrong.

    Cheers

    Reply
  • Legomitatie
    Legomitatie August 26, 2020 at 4:42 am

    HI!!

    I’m using a canon 850d with a macro lens most of the time.
    And right now I’m using 2 flashes to light up the scene.
    Both with a softbox.

    I don’t have pictures with a tablet now, because I never saved one.
    I’ll try to make one soon, than I’ll get back to this message!!

    Thanx in advance!!
    kind regards,
    Paul

    Reply

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