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I have many sizes of one item, let’s say for example sea shells of one type but from the tiniest size to the largest one. I want to create a photo/multimedia project/collection but I don’t know how to do this to create the sense of scale. I also don’t know if I need to use a few different lenses for this purpose or not.

I’ve done some research online but I’m either using the wrong keywords or no one has done this before!

  • What equipment do you already have? DSLR, macro lens...? – rackandboneman Aug 31 at 23:28
  • @rackandboneman I have a Nikon D7000 with 18-105, 50mm, f/1.8, and 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses. – Neeku Sep 1 at 8:31
  • Sounds good, you might want to add a decent macro lens to that setup for that kind of work (eg a Micro-Nikkor or an adapted Leitz 60mm/f2.8) – rackandboneman Sep 2 at 8:02
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Here are some ideas.

  1. Just fix the camera in one spot and put the objects on a marked spot on your background. Frame for the biggest one. (the smallest ones can be really tiny on the frame)

  2. Use some aid to frame the image, for example, if you are using live view, you could put some Scotch Magic tape (that can be easily removed) on the back as a reference, but take the photos on a textured background, for example, wood or a Tartan fabric. This background is the one that will give you a sense of scale. Leave the camera fixed on a tripod on a fixed spot, and use the zoom lens to frame the different sizes.

  3. Use some other reference for scale, like a printed scale (imagine a forensic ruler) or a bill.

  4. Use a fixed focal lens, and reframe dollying in or dollying out. The change in perspective for the background will add to the perception of scale.

  5. Put them next to each other.


Try to connect the camera to a computer, it will be easier to compare previous photos, and you potentially remove the need to tape your camera... You can tape the monitor instead. Tape and un-tape the scotch tape into some cloth to remove the stickiness to a minimum, use only small chunks as a reference, do not press them too hard on your monitor.


So, you have the option of using different lenses, (for example to use the idea number 2) but try to keep the aperture consistent. Do not use the maximum aperture that can potentially vary from lens to lens, and from focal length to the other, use an aperture of let's say f11, that also will aid you in maintaining focus across the objects.

If you are using a single lens, like in the idea No. 4, you could use the maximum aperture. The shallow DOF on the background will also give an impression of scale, but on smaller objects, when focusing too close can give you problems on the edges of the object.


Keep the light consistent, so try to use artificial light. If you use natural light this will change across the day.

  • Thanks Rafael. This is a very detailed answer. I will refer to this whenever I eventually get the time to spare on this. Inwas also thinking of making a video of each frame the way they make to scale planets and creatures, like starting from a sand grain zooming out continuously to Earth, Sun, and so on. I’ve seen this before but I can’t find it now. – Neeku Sep 3 at 21:31
  • "Powers of 10" is the film you're thinking of. – Drew Sep 3 at 22:34

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