Sunday, January 13, 2008

Taking Better Pictures..Part II

Here we go with second part of my trial and error with miniatures photography. Hopefully this helps explain a few of the confusing parts and helps you take better pictures too. I'd like to thank Rich over at Chicago Terrain Factory, for prompting this and adding some key insight in some private discussions we had.

Last time we looked at miniatures photographed directing on my gaming table, this time we move over to standard neutral white background. I eliminated my homemade light box from the discussion as there is just no way to get enough light into the shot even with a 2.8 AV. Sure I could cut a hole in the top, and do some tests but I decided to just move directly to the neutral backdrop which in this case is a 2'x3" piece of white poster board. Per request here are some photos of the lighting set up.

Here is the basic set up, that clip-on light is actually held in my left hand directly above the camera pointing at the target when I snap the shot. Ideally your backdrop is supposed to be curved but I had to put slight kink in it to get it to stay put as I annoyingly couldn't seem to find any tape. Also note the bi-level workbench is great as the camera and tripod are on the lower level allowing the lense to take a close to horizontal shot of the regiment.

Here is the overhead lighting, the yellow work light contains 2 fluroscent bulbs, it's quite bright emulating 100 watts. The circular work light contains a clear GE, 100 watt blub. Both lights are approximately 3 feet above the target. I didn't experiment with moving the overheads close as I thought my results contained enough light to get the point across .

Here is my Swordsmen regiment, its 6 wide by 5 deep, 30 individuals miniatures, you don't see single formations much bigger than this in Warhammer so this works nicely as "large unit". The question regarding depth of field versus the Aperture value was posed last time and this answers it. This shot ISO 100, Flash OFF, Macro ON, AV 2.8, exposure +0 , one thing I noticed right away is that I was able to get a much faster shot on the white background. getting this shot off at 1/100. The 1st thing to notice here is that the formation is tilted slightly so we could examine the depth. The standard bearer is at the end of the row is out of focus and we only get a depth of clarity in the front corner of the regiment. This and all photos are taken from about 6-8 inches away.

Again exact same setting only difference is the AV is 4.0. notice on the clarity and depth of field is better, the speed is 1/60 I don't see any difference in detail outside of the better depth.

Here is the AV 8.0, exact same settings otherwise., To my eyes this picture is clearly superior in detail to the depth of field, you can make the visible face detail perfectly to the 4th row. and the freehand painting on the banner is crystal clear.

Conclusions here are pretty obvious you want to stick to the recommended AV of 8.0 on neutral backdrop shots, but don't be afraid to use lower aperture values on different backgrounds, the amount of extra light it lets in is very helpful. Keys things to worry are obviously the amount of light, and the hand held light is necessary, overhead lights alone don't cut in my opinion unless you are taking your shots in space that has lot of natural light. While I prefer to take my shots on the gaming table, I will definitely go back to neutral backdrop for some final shots from time to time. Next time I am going to look at the ISO setting and how it works in combination with your AV, Speed and exposure and how what you give up (if anything) to not get blurry photographs.


Bill said...

Thanks for part II, and thanks for showing all of us the way you actually have your lights set up. This is basically what I was thinking (from my previous photography experience).

Nice article


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