Friday, March 31, 2017

The most realistic photography I've ever seen of scale model dioramas

Wow, that's a title full of hyperbole. Like so much of that clickbait crap one encounters on the internet: "The most amazing [insert ridiculous claim here]... you won't believe what happened next!" However, I chose my words carefully. The photos below by one very talented Russian modeller are the most amazing and realistic diorama photos I've ever encountered, and have given me a new benchmark to aim for in photographing my own work.

Now I'll begin this by saying I have no copyright of any of these shots. None of the work is mine, I just want to share something that is worth sharing. All images are taken from the following link, and remain the property of their original owner:

With that out of the way, let's get stuck in.

A few months back I saw shared on Facebook the following shots of a German airfield in winter. They blew my mind. The winter scene looks so real, the early morning light is so perfect, the real trees in the background so seamless! I was in awe. Foolishly, I did not save the post and as things do on Facebook, it scrolled on and on and I lost the images and attribution. But the images stayed in my mind as an inspiration.

If those were black and white images, I honestly could not have picked that this was a diorama rather than a real shot from the 1940s.

And now I have found more by the same modeller, Boris Karaev from Saint Petersburg, who also goes by the forum name KarBor, and he is a master at shooting his dioramas so that they look like real life scenes. The dioramas are great, but the carefully thought-out photography is just world class.

Here is another series of shots based around a diorama set in Stalingrad:

Here is a series around Belgium in winter 1944:

And finally here are some set in the battle for Kharkov:

All images in this blog post copyright KarBor.

This isn't all of them. I encourage you to visit the link above and see the rest for yourself.

What I love about these is that Boris just gets every element right:

  • The camera angle is spot on. 
  • He shoots on days when the weather matches the scene he has modelled - look at the Kharkov series there, Boris was standing outside on a freezing cold snowy day to get those shots. 
  • The light and sky are just right. 
  • The location just matches his diorama perfectly.
  • There is no clear line between where the diorama groundwork ends and where the real ground begins. 
  • And my favourite touch - it is a 360 degree setup: he takes shots from all angles, and the background buildings or trees match the diorama scene from every angle, not just from one perfect position.

So as I said, I have a new benchmark to aim for when I am photographing my own dioramas. Sadly, we don't get many snowy days here in Australia, so I might struggle to find a snowy mid-20th Century factory as a background for my Russian dioramas!

I tip my hat to you, KarBor. That is stunning, my friend, and I just had to share your work with my audience.




  1. Indeed, both his model work and photography are spot on. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you for introducing this skilled craftsman and artist to us. It is always a pleasure and an inspiration to see people who excel!

    1. It truly is amazing, isn't it? Sadly the website isn't working any more, I don't know if that has something to do with the current war in Ukraine, but I hope it is back online one day...