When I started my first blog I had to ask my wife (the family photographer) quite a few questions about how to work the camera. There isn’t a great deal of information on the net about taking pictures of miniatures, and what you can find is sometimes very vague. I thought I’d pop a post up about how I take my pictures.
I don’t have a fancy SLR camera as the budget doesn’t allow for it, I would love to though. What I do have is a Olympus Camedia C-60 ZOOM. We bought it a number of years ago, and it is a fine camera.
I have found the most important thing to do is not use the auto settings. Auto settings are for your most typical picture. A 6mm subject is far from typical. I always do the following:
- I use the P setting on my dial. The P setting stands for Program Mode and is like an auto that allows you to choose certain over-rides.
- I use the menu to select Super Macro Mode. This means I can place models about 5-7cm from the lens.
- I also turn off the flash. This happens automatically on many cameras that have super macro. If you don’t have super macro mode, use macro mode and manually turn off the flash.
That does it for the camera.
You can NOT have too much light! I repeat, you can NOT have too much light. I have two different lights set up at all times for my painting, to eliminate shadows. I use these same two lights and pull them in as close as possible. I also have daylight bulbs in them. You can find daylight bulbs at most places with a wide variety of bulbs.
I have a cheapy little tripod that come with the bag we bought for our camera. It’s all of four inches tall and has flexible legs. It is fantastic for the job. It is imperative that you use a tripod of some sort for your camera at this level of photography. When using the slow shutter speed required for the detail of macro photography, a steady hand is not enough.
Choose a neutral background color or gradient to put behind your figs. White and black are too harsh and will really affect the quality of your photographs unless you really know what you are doing. I try to use a cream color if I have the chance.
I take shit loads of pictures every time. Then I go through and delete about two thirds of them. I think you need to get brutal about what makes the cut. I mean, you only need one good picture of a model from each angle, more than that is unnecessary, but I don’t know if it’s a good picture until I see it on the monitor.
Cropping and Editing
All pictures need to be optimized for the web. You don’t need more than 72 pixels per inch. Most printers require 300 ppi for a nice photo, so you can save a lot of bandwidth for your viewers by reducing the size. A great free web app is photoshopexpress. Give it a try.
The Light Box
I purchased a lightbox for my photography and have had good results. I wanted to take my pictures to the next level and it worked. An unintended side effect was that it was more of a process to take photos and I practically stopped taking pictures. It is in a very tight corner of the basement and I have to move the extension cord, etc… I believe that when I get it set up in a more convenient spot that requires no preliminary set-up, I will use it more. I hope!
I’m sure that all of this info will be good for larger figs as well. That ought to do it.