Adam Makarenko’s EXOPLANETS – Hand Crafted! Physical Planet Landscapes, Photographed Beautifully

EXOPLANETS is a body of work comprised of hand crafted planetary models that are photographed. All elements within the picture are in camera including alien landscapes, accretion disks, planets, and star backdrops. This new work ultimately questions the extension of our reach in both the universe and our imaginations, and the lengths we’ll go to to find meaning in our own existence. I am making a thousand of them both as an artistic study, and a testament to the vast reality that exists beyond us.

The planets can be made out of anything that is a half globe. The half globe molds (used for chocolates, or baking) are great for filling with tile grout and plaster. The painting process is really organic and involves swirling, dipping, and spraying. Essentially It’s just playing around with surface textures.

The rings are made through a time lapse process of spinning colorful strips of paper on a turntable. I later composite these time lapse rings around the planets (Photoshop).

For the star backdrops I started out using black paper with holes punched through it, and then pastel over-top (to replicate gases). but now I am suspending glitter in plastic for star backdrops…

The landscapes range in size from a few inches to several feet across. If I have the space I can shoot everything in camera, but I still need to shoot separate layers for all my work, because I want to achieve a deep focus. In real life we would see a vast landscape scene in the same way. Yet, in the miniature realm the camera has to be tricked due to the shallow depth of field caused by the close proximity of everything. This is why having control over layers is essential.


Here are a few articles on my work:

Recent Press on my work (2016-2017):

Imagining Exoplanets

This Photographer Creates Amazing Planet Photos by Hand

Short bio:

In December 2007 Adam was awarded American Photo of The Year from American Photo magazine for his unique photography work with miniature bees and apiaries. He also won the coveted Bright Spark Award, published in The Magenta Foundation’s 2008 Flash Forward publication for the same work. Since that time, he has garnered incredible notoriety as a photographer. His photography work has been featured in American Photo Magazine, The Walrus, Maclean’s, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Life, The New York Times, New Statesman, The British Journal of Photography, and Wired.

Adam was born and raised in Northwestern Ontario, Canada. He grew up in a small mining town called Atikokan, which had two of the largest open pit mines in the world.


Adam Makarenko

Toronto, Canada




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