We love to showcase the amazing work of our customers, their story, and their experiences with our products. In this article, Jacki Gordon shares with us how she was inspired to start creating her popular series of miniature photographs during covid lockdown.
Miniature Photography with Jacki Gordon
About the Photographer
Jacki Gordon is an amateur photographer whose photos of miniatures have risen to fame in recent years after being featured by the BBC.
Jacki has had photographs shortlisted for a number of awards including the British Photography Awards, Bird Photographer of the Year, British Wildlife Photography Awards and Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year.
Other highlights include miniature photography commissions and Sir Grayson Perry selecting one of her photos for inclusion in his Art Club exhibition at the Midlands Arts Centre where it will hang until June 2023.
I used to have a bit of a love-hate relationship with photography. As a kid, I was enthralled and delighted by the pre-digital processes involved in developing and printing black and white photos with my Dad. There was such a magic in watching the images as they slowly materialised.
My Dad would repurpose the kitchen as the ‘photo lab’ and then the rest of the house would be similarly transformed as the dining room table and any other flat horizontal surface were bedecked with bathroom towels, the prints being laid out to dry.
The downside of Dad’s passion for photography was that once he had a perfect shot in his head, he became fixated on it. Family holidays involved him choosing our drinks in order to provide a rainbow of colours to satisfy his artistic vision.
Now, many many years later (I will soon be getting my pension), I am an enthusiastic amateur photographer. I just bought my first SLR camera 4 or 5 years ago, although I wanted one for most my adult life. And I have inherited my Dad’s fixation with getting that good shot!
As well as my passion for photography I also find the time to walk the dog for 2-3 hours each day and run at least 5 miles! My constant refrain is ‘I don’t know where the day goes’.
My partner, Paul, puts up with a lot. He tells me so the whole time. 😊
Lockdown Changed Everything
Prior to March 2020, I had been enjoying wildlife photography. However, with the onset of restrictions due to COVID and government instructions to stay at home, I had little use for my cherished 100-400mm lens.
As so many were struggling with the constraints of lockdown, I looked for ways to entertain not only myself, but importantly – my family and friends via social media.
In the early days, using my 50mm prime lens, I took numerous – hundreds (!) of photos of my dog (a border collie called Ollie) posing with different props e.g. a photo of Ollie with a cauliflower, which I called Two Caulis.
I can’t remember if I stopped because I felt Ollie had had enough of these shots, or if my followers had, and so I decided to try out macro photography and see what fun I could have with that.
I bought a 35 mm macro lens for my Canon camera (then a 200D but later upgraded to a Canon 90D). I had a couple of Lego figures kicking about, and tried a few photos with those. While I was rather pleased with these, a friend told me that they ‘didn’t work’ for him. Only slightly bruised from that feedback, I went online and bought a set of railway figures as they offered the potential for setting up more realistic-looking dioramas.
I use OO/HO scale figures. They are tiny – a man, for example, will be about ¾ inch tall and the children far far smaller, but it’s their size and their juxtaposition with everyday items (often food) that makes the image impactful, I think.
Tentatively at first, I started to share these macro photos. I sent one off to the BBC and they posted it online as part of their round up of ‘your pictures from around Scotland’. That triggered a fair bit of media exposure – print, radio and TV.
From that point on, my Instagram followers increased from 4 (!) to over 2500.
Most importantly, followers commented that my images had lifted their spirits during a difficult time for all of us. Such feedback fuelled what has now become a passion (and a bit of an obsession!) for me.
I call my miniature photography images my ‘Totie Photies’ – Scottish vernacular for ‘tiny photos’.
Camera Settings for Miniature Photography
I work in Manual mode but using AUTO ISO.
I don’t have typical settings. While I generally use quite a small aperture (between f/22 and f/32) I don’t start with preconceived notions but tend to use what I think works for a given set up. In fact, I often try out very different exposures. So, for “Walking in Pairs”, I liked the effect of a wide aperture (f/6.3) to create a sense of some walkers being far off in the distance. In contrast, “Taps Aff Day” (Scots vernacular for a day that’s so hot that it’s a tops off day) uses F/32 in order to retain detail in all the figures.
My shutter speeds are always slow to capture sufficient light and I use a mini tripod and timer delay so that there is no camera movement for the shot.
I tend to set up using a lightbox to see how things look with the even lighting that that creates. However, in some cases, I want to add drama.
I have fallen in love with my Adaptalux lights for that. In fact, I now sometimes dispense with the lightbox and limit the lighting to the Adaptalux (only). I am particularly pleased with ‘Not just a fun – guy’ and ‘Crisp Apple’.
I shoot in RAW and edit in Photoshop, adjusting shadows and highlights as appropriate, and sometimes adding texture and sharpening. (I don’t do focus stacking. In fact, I don’t know how to!).
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