Friday, 20 February 2015

Photographing Miniatures; an untutored view

Last night I sat in the dark and took pictures of tiny people that live in my house.
Also known as…miniature photography! So, it turns out that I don’t know how to take nice photos of my miniatures for show. Pictures always come out slightly too bright, or with too much morphing of the colours. But where I have had success is when they’ve been in enhanced photos.

So last night, with some new Mortalis tiles, some fairy lights that came off a Christmas tree and a desk lamp I mocked up a few photos of the Sons Of Sek moving through a bunker complex. Not a drastically complex setup, lighting was key however.
As you can see here, I started with some colour miniatures (some new Sons of Sek) that I’d painted recently and not snow-based and a Hades (my only non-based vehicle.
First couple of photos already showing something I wasn't a fan of; bases! From experience, tanks are a better subject for this photo faux-realism, as they have no bases that need to be removed via GIMP/Photoshop etc. When I’ve tried in the past its far easier to simply try and obscure miniatures feet but at such close range this is a little tricky.
Snap time, lop off a few feet while I still could and then with some tiny blobs of blue-tac reattach to the mortalis tiles. Just with the tiles, I went for some simple poses, and some slight rearranging.
The process I followed was very much trial and error, of the photos that you see here, there were around 40 that were discarded because they were out of focus or too lowly lit.
I started with some colour, and realised that because the Mortalis was as yet unpainted, it would look fairly poor, so in comes the monochrome filter, and off we go again.
I’m not a photographer, nor have I sat through anything professional, a bit of googling and plenty of experimentation gave me these results so take this all with a pinch of salt.
As I was shooting in ridiculously low light, I played around with the camera settings to alter the shutter speed. This meant that instead of opening for a 1/60th of a second, it opened for around 1/4th letting in more light. The light however needs to be constant otherwise the image will blur. That meant stability. So taking some instruction from Master sniper Larkin, I baffled the camera with some cloth, and was careful not to knock it.

You can also use a tripod and a timer delay, but I have steady hands.
I then fiddled with focal ratio or F number. This changes the width of the aperture and alters the focus (I think). In my language however, this mainly means how much background is in focus or not. The higher the number, the more background detail will show, lower means nearer detail only. Then play around with the focus of the image itself.
Some more images here, I need a few more bits of scatter terrain to get these looking realistic but these were a fun experiment.
After these were taken, I cropped out extraneous information like any bases, any edges of the Mortalis, then had a tweak with the settings of the picture itself using the basic photo editing suites such as are included when you 'edit' a picture, this means some colour tweaking, sharpness, brightness etc.
All in all a fun little experiment. I shall be experimenting with GIMP's free software further to see what results arise from that.

Thanks for reading.

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