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Astounding photographic trick recreates mid-century America

By Stacey Kole Posted Nov. 12, 2013 Reading time: Less than a minute

How do you date a photo? Normally, you take a look at the fashion, the buildings, and the cars. If that’s how you do it then these nostalgic photos may well have you fooled.

Often recreated in movies, mid-20th century America is an obsession for many people, so a book portraying everyday scenes from this era shouldn’t raise many eyebrows. But Michael Paul Smith‘s Elgin Park: An Ideal American Town is getting all kinds of notice. That’s because Smith, a New England photographer, has created 144 pages of pure magic — especially when you know how he did it.

Shot at the right distance with forced perspective, Smith combines real-life outdoor landscapes with miniature sets and tiny die-cast cars. The result is a completely believable set of photographs that transport us back half a century.

In addition to photography, Smith is also a textbook illustrator and model-building enthusiast whose formula for creating the shots is relatively simple. Using a simple point-and-shoot camera worth just $250, Smith sets the shot on instinct, no measuring or math required. Smith’s greatest tool is merely a great eye — and a lifetime of experience.

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Have you worked with miniatures? What era would you recreate if you could? Let us know in the comments.

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