The incredible shrinking cities: New York, London, Tokyo and Paris photographed to look just like toy sets

May 13, 2013 9:59 am 0 comments Views: 160

You would be forgiven for thinking they are just model toys, but these are in fact some of the world’s greatest cities transformed into miniature urban playgrounds using nothing more than a little spot of camera wizardry.

Photographer Ben Thomas, 31, has been dubbed the ‘Cityshrinker’ after developing a novel technique which he uses to reduce sprawling metropolises like New York, London, Tokyo and Paris to mere pint-sized proportions.

Mr Thomas, 31, from Melbourne, Australia has clocked up an incredible 77,800-air-miles – almost enough to go around the planet twice – on his quest to miniaturise as many of the world’s cities as possible.

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Toy town: London’s Tower Bridge with HMS Belfast in the foreground looks like a model in one of Cityshrinker Ben Thomas’s amazing trick photographs

Little Apple: A view looking out over the Manhattan Bridge Overpass in New York City. Note the tiny wedding ceremony being held in the bottom right hand cornerLittle Apple: A view looking out over the Manhattan Bridge Overpass in New York City. Note the tiny wedding ceremony being held in the bottom right hand corner

Little big city: The iconic view from the Empire State Building in New York City as you've never seen it before Little big city: The iconic view from the Empire State Building in New York City as you’ve never seen it before

Dinky: They look like a child's toy car but these are real Japanese taxis queuing for fares on the streets of Tokyo Dinky toys: They look like a child’s model cars but these are real Japanese taxis queuing for fares on the streets of Tokyo

Petit Paris: An aerial view of the Arc De Triomphe in the centre of the French capital Petit Paris: An aerial view of the Arc De Triomphe in the centre of the French capital

Baby Frisco: An aerial view of The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CaliforniaBaby Frisco: An aerial view of The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California

Train set: Men working on the tracks in Melbourne, Australia, in what looks like a close-up picture of a brilliant model railwayTrain set: Men working on the tracks in Melbourne, Australia, in what looks like a close-up picture of a fantastically-detailed model railway

Ben uses a technique called tilt shift where he carefully sets the depth of field on his camera to make large objects look much smaller than they actually are.

TILT SHIFT: HOW IT’S DONE

Tilt shift photography traditionally requires a special type of lens which can be rotated or tilted to create a distorted view of a particular subject or scene allowing a photographer to created a twisted perspective. 

Then by manipulating the depth of field more of the picture is brought into sharp focus.
However developments in digital technology mean these effects can now be added after a picture is taken.

Photograher Ben Thomas says other factors come into play including distance, framing, colour, weather, lighting, air quality and even the numbers of people or vehicles in shot.

‘It’s a playful effect,’ said Ben. I find the reaction goes from curiosity to recognition to sentimentality and wonder. I’ve seen people try to pick out places they’ve lived or visited in their travels.

‘My photos are about giving the viewer a new look at something they’re already familiar with, so there’s often a connectedness there.’

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