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"The importance of good photography" Topic


19 Posts

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1,112 hits since 2 Dec 2005
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sirlancelot Inactive Member02 Dec 2005 8:35 a.m. PST

It is a shame really, because the miniatures are wonderful, but the photographs in this contest do not always do them justice. I know not everyone has a top of the range camera, but nonetheless, the standard could be improved. Here are a few tips. I hope I'm not bruising any egos here; the examples are taken not because I'm picking out the worst photographers, but because they are the best illustrations of a single defect I want to point out; you have the right to be proud of your painting skills, some models absolutely stunning.


First thing: colour balance. This is most evident with Ogdenlulimus's and PigmentedMiniatures's entries:
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Ogden's entry is a sickly yellow-green, and Pigmented's pink.This happens because light usually isn't white and our brains can compensate for it, so we don't usually notice it. Digital cameras have to do it too, and sometimes the automatic settings get it wrong. This is very noticeable on a white background, which should come out white, not pink (too cold) or blue (too hot). Three fixes:
1) Better cameras have manual control over colour balance. Read the manual.
2) Cheaper cameras dont't. In this case, change the lighting conditions and try again.
3) At last resort, photo editing tools can be used, depending on the contest rules.

Second, exposure time. Best example I can find here is AJquest's entry, since he gave us five photos, three of which are badly underexposed, one slightly underexposed, and one overexposed.
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Fix: patience, that's all you need. Take a dozen photos in a row with increasing exposure times. Look at them all, select the best, and use that setting to photograph that lovely figure under different angles.

Third, focus. On the miniature, not on the background. This is CnS's problem:
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The focus here is on the foam behind the figure.

Focus part two, the tricky bit: getting the right depth of field. You know the problem. Those bits sticking are always blurred,as with mucno911:
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You want to get the whole mini in focus, but you can't: if the front is fine, the back is blurred, and vice-versa. The trick here is to reduce the aperture of the shutter. This lets less light in, makes the image a bit softer, but lengthens the depth of field. On a cheaper camera, unfortunately, the aperture can't be set manually, so there's not much to be done about it.

Fifth, sharpness. I'm not going to say much here, but some lenses are simply not sharp enough to do the figure justice, as with Paintingploddy.
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Not much to be done, except buying a different lens. Soft lenses are good when one has imperfections to hide, as with portraits. This miniature doesn't. I'm only quibbling here, this is one of the better photographs.

Sixth and last, composition. This needs more an artistic touch than technical skills, but shouldn't be overlooked. A bit of a miscellany here. Patrick Sexton:
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What is that blurred half of a model doing in the frame? Remove it!
helmet101
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This is very annoying, because it is an interesting scene. But there shouldn't be that be bare patch in the middle of the photograph, because that's where our eyes are drawn to. The dead horesman and his fellow deserve to be entirely in the frame. Shooting from a slightly lower angle may be an improvement.

Hope this helps, and again, my apologies if I took your photo as an example of what went wrong; it doesn't mean it is any worse than the others.

nycjadie Inactive Member02 Dec 2005 8:47 a.m. PST

Well said. I think I would also add that some of the sharpness and focus problems can be dealt with by not zooming up on the miniatures so much and just taking a picture from several feet away and then cropping it.

I've found that this works for me as my camera takes lousy close up shots of things at close range when I zoom in.

Personal logo Jovian1 Supporting Member of TMP02 Dec 2005 10:47 a.m. PST

I found it difficult to photograph the figure I submitted because when I used my macro function – it always came out fuzzy – even on the tripod. So I had to back away, zoom in without engaging the "digital zoom" and the adjust lights. I think the final cropped photo came out alright. I just wished I'd have gone out and dug for one of my mech's in storage instead.

Dread Pirate Garness Fezian Inactive Member02 Dec 2005 10:59 a.m. PST

I noticed something in my own figure photos. The pictures when seen on my monitor at home look quite different from that I see on other monitors. I have done some figures that when editied at home look stunning, but when I see them on other PCs, such as the one at work, it looks much darker and yellowed in some cases.

Sometimes it is a good idea to look at the pictures on another PC if you can to see how they look online.

Condottiere02 Dec 2005 11:37 a.m. PST

Excellent post!

Cke1st Inactive Member02 Dec 2005 11:55 a.m. PST

Some key words:
Tripod. (Look for cheap ones at sciplus.com )
Lighting. (Don't rely on the flash.)
Minimum focal range. (Yes, you can get too close.)
Second opinion. (Get a friend to look before you submit a pic.)
Help. (If your friend is a decent photographer, let him/her take the pictures.)

nycjadie Inactive Member02 Dec 2005 12:41 p.m. PST

I wish Jamie was back up at the Virtual Alchemist. He had a wonderful article on digital photography of miniatures. His expertise was quite good as he was a photographer.

Although not as detailed as sirlancelot's notes, I really liked this article from the Perry Bros. It shows how much work they put into creating the photos of their products. I think it shows not only in the presentation but I can also imagine in sales. Both GW and Foundry spend a lot of time with the presentation of their products.

link

Let me know if you like it.

Scurvy Inactive Member02 Dec 2005 1:34 p.m. PST

sir lance I salute you. It needed to be said.

ming31 Inactive Member02 Dec 2005 3:01 p.m. PST

Good advice I will keep it in mind during my future photos .

sirlancelot Inactive Member02 Dec 2005 3:51 p.m. PST

Cke1st —

I agree with everything you say with the exception of the flash. The flash alone is enough to illuminate the figure even in complete darkness. Floodlights are an advantage, but using the flash alone is sufficient since there is no background to illuminate.

But yes, a tripod is vital. And either a remote, or the timer to avoid any vibration.

Topkick890 Inactive Member02 Dec 2005 5:31 p.m. PST

Excellent post. None of the contestants should feel singled out, as the tone of the post was to educate not ridicule. I believe that this post should be added as an appendix to the rules so that future contestants can avoid these errors.

Ogdenlulimus02 Dec 2005 7:29 p.m. PST

Thanks for the pointers sirlancelot. I rushed the pics because I'd decided to enter at the last hour or so. I held the figure on the yellow wood-grained board in one hand, and held the camera in the other. My pimary goal was to have it not look out of focus. I erased the edges of the picture because there were annoying bits from the game room wall showing.
I'll revisit my manual and see if my little 2.0 camera has any settings that over-ride the automatic ones.

If I'd had planned for more time, it may have been better to use my old SLR.

Oggie

Ogdenlulimus02 Dec 2005 7:30 p.m. PST

Geesh! Of course that's 'primary "

Og

Ravenseye02 Dec 2005 7:31 p.m. PST

eh…flash has an annoying way of confusing the focus of the camera. Much better to turn it off and set up some lights.

This site, while aimed at model railroading, will give you an excellent plan of attack to get the best possible pictures of your minis! It also shows how to build some good tools that you can use!

link

-Mike

Ogdenlulimus02 Dec 2005 7:45 p.m. PST

Hummmmm….I really would have preferred this advice to be given after the first round of votes had been cast.

Ogden…"a single defect"…lulimus

Cke1st Inactive Member03 Dec 2005 11:48 a.m. PST

No amount of fancy lighting and flashes will ever look as good as illumination by natural sunlight. Of course, that assumes that the weather and your schedule permit an outdoor photorgraphy session.

sirlancelot Inactive Member03 Dec 2005 3:30 p.m. PST

Well the problem with miniatures is that the classic three-light setup (key light, fill light, back light) cannot be used. I don't agree that natural light always looks better, but unless you know what you are doing it is probably preferable to profit from it as much as possible.

The link Ravenseye provided highlights a big problem on a large model: contrast. Lighting is needed to soften the shadows without removing them entirely (this is the fill light's purpose). However, on a small miniature, there aren't large enough crevices for this to be a problem. With a plain white sheet behind the miniature reflecting the flash as backlighting, correct results can be obtained (you're not taking the shot from ten metres away either).

Derek H Inactive Member05 Dec 2005 7:57 a.m. PST

Cke1st wrote: "No amount of fancy lighting and flashes will ever look as good as illumination by natural sunlight. Of course, that assumes that the weather and your schedule permit an outdoor photorgraphy session."

That will be why the vast majority of professional product shots are taken outdoors rather than in a studio then. Or perhaps not.

Decent studio lighting is fairly easy to set up and is controllable in ways that sunlight is not. It's also completely reliable.

When taking photographs of products or even models outside in sunlight professionals will usually use reflectors and/or fill in flash.

sounguru Inactive Member05 Dec 2005 1:54 p.m. PST

from: Dread Pirate Garness 02 Dec 2005 10:59 a.m. PST
"I noticed something in my own figure photos. The pictures when seen on my monitor at home look quite different from that I see on other monitors. I have done some figures that when editied at home look stunning, but when I see them on other PCs, such as the one at work, it looks much darker and yellowed in some cases.

Sometimes it is a good idea to look at the pictures on another PC if you can to see how they look online."

That is a good point to alot of people. If you do not have a calibrated monitor it will look different on every screen. Both my laptop and desk top are calibrated but they still have sutle differences. The nice thing is that I can say that my photos will hold on any monitor if they are not to far out of whack. The best thing to do is review on 2 different types of monitors in pos. Lcd VS. Crt if pos. Lcds have a tendency to be over bright so when you bring the pic down to look good it comes out really dark on a crt and the reverse is also true.

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