Even though AI can let you create virtually any scene you can imagine – it can’t replace building and photographing it yourself. I’m sure that the feeling of child’s play and creativity is still best expressed through actual photography, and for now, no one can convince me otherwise. Marcin Dobrzyniecki is the perfect example. This talented artist creates miniature scenes from scratch and photographs them, so it’s hard to tell whether they’re dioramas or life-sized objects.
His recent photo of elephants in the desert particularly drew my attention and led me to discover his work. He kindly shared some photos with us and revealed how he made the final image.
Building the diorama
As I mentioned, these elephants are actually miniatures, they’re just cleverly photographed. But what I especially like is the fact that everything was made from scratch. Yes, even the elephants! Marcin meticulously fashioned them from polymer clay. This material is one of my personal favorites: it lets you capture details very well, you can add details post-baking and bake again, and you can paint and varnish the piece with acrylic paint once it’s completed. As you can see, Marcin did a wonderful job crafting the animals.
While making the elephants was a meticulous process, the rest of the scene is actually pretty simple. Marcin started with something as basic as craft paper, but transformed it into a convincing desert landscape. With a sprinkle of fine quartz sand, the type you typically find in aquariums, the craft paper took on a textured, uneven effect, mirroring a real-life desert.
The lighting for this image was also surprisingly simple. Marcin used a LED lamp with a diffuser to light the miniatures. By setting the color to a warm orange, he added that magical, sunset-like glow to the scenery, simulating the ambiance of a late afternoon in the African wilderness. He added a bit of smoke behind the desert setup, which made the scene look like the elephants were navigating through a real sandstorm.
Gear and settings
To take his photo, Marcin used a Sony A7III paired with a Sigma 105mm 2.8 DG DN Macro Art. The settings were ISO100, f/9, with the exposure of 4 seconds. I believe that the longer exposure contributed to the hazy, mysterious look of the image, making it so captivating in the end.
This image isn’t only captivating and pleasing to look at. I believe that it’s also a great example of how even a simple setup can produce fantastic results. I hope it will be inspiring for all photographers out there who don’t own a bunch of gear and lights, but only the basics. Of course, you don’t have to craft elephants from polymer clay (I sure wouldn’t know how to do it this well), but you can buy some miniatures and play with them to create all kinds of beautiful photos. It’s also a reminder for you to play, experiment, and take real-life photos despite the development of AI. We still need to create art ourselves to be happy and fulfilled. Let Marcin’s work inspire you to do just that: find him on Instagram and YouTube and enjoy his splendid images!