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How to take Photos of your Minis PDF Print
Saturday, 17 May 2008
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How to take Photos of your Minis
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It is extremely frustrating when after spending days labouring over a hot paintbrush or sculpting tool to produce that perfect mini or conversion you've been planning for ages, you can't quite seem to take photo's that do any justice to your work.  Anyone who's looked at a photo of themselves and recoiled in mild horror will know that the camera lens is a very harsh critic, and she is no more benevolent to miniatures!

As most of us don't actually have access to the studio lighting rigs and £1,000 cameras which they use in magazines to take our photos, we have to make do, and with a little bit of work you can get really good results without any fancy gear.  This tutorial follows the steps I used to take a photo of a Wood Elf Spellsinger I painted this week.


Things you will need

  • A digital camera;
  • A desk lamp or two;
  • A large sheet of paper;
  • An old box or stack of books;
  • Plus a painted mini of course!



The first thing you need is a background to take the photos against, something plain and neutral which will not interfere with the details of your models, and make focussing the camera easier.  The simplest way to do this is with a sheet of white paper attached to a pile of books or and old box.




Lighting is the hardest part of miniature photography, as it is the harshest critic to any imperfections on the model itself.  As a rule of thumb, the less complex your camera is, the more light you will need.  The best light to use obviously is natural light from a window, preferably in a north facing room where there is no direct sunlight which can cast harsh shadows on the model and confuse the focus of a camera.  Unfortunately this light is very rarely strong enough to take decent photos, so I would recommend using artificial lights.

Simple desk lamps are perfectly fine for lighting up your mini, and the ideal setup is to have two coming from different angles.  This stops any harsh shadows forming on the mini and means that all surfaces are visible.  The best type of desk lamp to use are the ones which have the long fluorescent tube in them, as these cast a soft area of light which reduces shadows on the model even more.  If you are going to take photos with only one light, this type of lamp with produce the best result.


This is the setup I used to take the photo of my Spellsinger.  It ain't pretty, but it is really simple and doesn't need any special rigs or backgrounds which I've read about on coolminiornot and other websites.


In an ideal world, you could simply use the flash on the camera rather than have to set up all these lamps.  Unfortunately, a flash produces a single burst of really bright and harsh light which produces extremely hard edged shadows, and will often bleach the colours of a mini out completely, as you can see here:


Last Updated ( Sunday, 18 May 2008 )
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