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:
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.
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.
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.