Pictures of Toy Cars Into Nostalgic Life Like Images © Michael Paul Smith 025
Pictures of Toy Cars Into Nostalgic Life Like Images © Michael Paul Smith 025

Forced Perspective: Pictures of Toy Cars Into Nostalgic Life-Like Images

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Designer and photographer Michael Paul Smith skillfully combined his two passions to create a series of pretty incredible images. For the last 25 years, he has been building detailed scale models for an imaginary world called Elgin Park, populated by eerily identical scaled models of vintage cars and buildings 1/24th their original size.

The buildings are constructed of resin-coated paper, styrene plastic, and basswood, plus numerous found objects. The vehicles are from Michael’s collection of 300+ commercially produced, diecast models.

“My project Elgin Park came about from a need to put my 300 diecast model car collection into some sort of physical context. Even though they looked interesting lined up my shelves, all they did was sit there,” said Michael Paul Smith in an interview to Fstoppers.

To achieve creating these nostalgic life-like images, this king of illusion carefully picks out real-world environments for these cars, and then plays with different perspectives and techniques used in the film industry of the ’20s, to bring to life miniature scenes embedded in the real world. No Photoshop was used in these images; they’re all composed in the camera. It is the oldest trick in the special effects book: lining up a model with an appropriate background, then photographing it.

Unlike special effects specialists and film experts who accurately measure the distance between objects and uses mathematical formulas to precisely set up their models, Smith prefers to rely on his own intuition and sense of observation to place his models in the most accurate (and convincing) positions.

There are still times when I have the shot set up, look through the camera and discover the distance is incorrect. In a very unprofessional way, I drag the table with the diorama on it until the scene lines up correctly.

Last but not least, Elgin Park is all the more impressive when you consider that this project was made with a $200 compact digital camera…

View Michaels work on his Flickr page:
Visit Elgin Park:
Buy the book “Elgin Park: The 1/24th Scale creation of a fictitious mid-20th-century American town”