Saturday, March 13, 2010

New Photo Studio!

(My GUO, ol fatman here will never be "done" but he's well on his way..if ever get him and a DoC army that works with him in it on the table I'll probably finish him up and dullcote )

So I have been playing around a bunch with my Photography lately. While I do get some good results it takes me alot of time to get the results I do. Mainly poor lighting in a relatively dark basement. I use a combination of a 1/2 dozen clip on lights with Camera's aperture usually all the way open (F2.8) to all as much light in as possible. There is no, "hey let me snap a quick few shots of this to put on the blog". Its more like "we'll do I spend all my hobby time today setting up and taking a couple a decent posed photos." (and that's not even with editing some of them later) I have a decent digital (Canon Powershot A640) which a has a decent lens and the screen flips out and rotates, which is insanely handy for miniature photography. Its no SLR thou, and when I get myself financially a bit more stable I'll probably move to a Canon EOS 400 D or similar.

I've been scoping out these pre made "photo studio in a box" kits out there, I spotted this one awhile back from micro mark (a great hobby tool supplier) this ones portable and comes with Lights, a stand, panels, carrying case, etc. I set the thing up in 5 minutes and it took me a few minutes to figure how to get good results, and boy was I surprised. Couple "trial and error" caveats here. 1) I started out using a white background I had thinking it would work better than the blue/gray background it comes with. BZZZZ. Wrong. the white contrast with diffuse panels might be ok for some stuff, but I guess it was diffusing too much light(?) but the pictures seemed drab and I started to have to front light stuff with a hand held (which you should NOT have to do in this set up). Once I switched to the blue back ground, it was like WOW..ok.. this why you get the blue back drop. Also while the kit comes with two lights, I really needed a third light up top, If were using this in a decently lit space you could probably get away with the two lights..but I'm in a basement and definitely need the third light.

I finally get to change my camera settings too..with the light box in place there is enough light to close my aperture all the way (F8.0) meaning I've got way better depth of field and less blurry spots in my photo. In a lot of my pictures many of the unit shots really only showcase a figure or two or at best a full row, the rest being blurred out. I changed my AWB (average white balance) setting to Fluorescent as the room it totally lit but Fluorescent bulbs, and that also made a big difference. All of these photos I have posted- Are totally untouched. All I did was save them as high quality JPEGS. The setting for all these shots was ISO 80, F8.0, Macro, neutral or +0 light was at 1/10th of second. AWB is as I mentioned and I set all photos on a 2 second timer.

One of my entries for the Adepticon Rogue Demon this year "the blessing of Sigmar"

You've already seen these guys a bunch lately, I just wanted to show the difference between this and the old shots. Also this is the one photo I also front light with a hand held light. The front light really isnt necessary and I think it washed out the color a bit, again I havent been able to get this kind of depth before where the whole unit is in focus. again not retouched in any way!

Moving to a very large miniature, my Nazgul here wingspan was hard to frame and he is large enough to have need to reset the lights and I dont think I got them just right yet. but I took all these photos in about 20 mins, normally something like this would take me 3 hours for amount of photos I got with all the different miniatures.

Here what the full set up looks like.

Anyway, For less than $100, this is so much more worth it than screwing around with homemade light boxes and white panels like I was in the past. There are ton of tutorials out there for making your own quickly set up like this cheap, but for me I wanted something substantial that solved my problems and my light projects in the past were garbage. I am psyched to start shooting all my stuff and redoing a bunch of stuff in my galleries. I'll also be hosting some events this summer so its great to have a portable setup for taking quick shots of all the armies!.

Stankage, just wanted to add this one too.


Col. Corbane said...

I wonder where I can get my hands on one of them in the UK. What's the manufacturer mate?

Conspyre said...

It's always interesting to see other folks' setups. I am fortunate enough to have a pretty high-quality painting lamp that I also use for photos. Most of the time, if I do anything with a background, I'm pulling the lamp close (it's a swing-arm drafting lamp), bending a piece of printer paper behind the figure (usually held up with a couple of paint pots), and just bracing my wrists against the table.
Not quite as delightfully shadow-free as yours, but it's hard to beat the price on the backdrop. Now I just have to figure out where my camera went so I can get some new shots...

Anonymous said...

I've always wanted to see the results of one of those mini-photo studios. Thanks so much for posting this!! You may have convinced me to get one too. I've tried to build my own light tent but never been happy with the output.

I'm going to go looking now!


Bill Lim said...

Wow, that looks phenomenal! The blue really helps. If you really want to work with the white backround, have you tried playing around with the white balance (and ISO) on your camera?

Also if you would like to borrow my Digital SLR (and a really sweet MACRO lens) for a while and play with it before making a Digital SLR purchase of your own just let me know. I have a couple Digital cameras, and for most of the stuff (snap shot stuff, friends, going out, etc) the smaller digital is just eaiser to use, but the D-SLR is really the "beefiest" camera I own.

Col. Corbane, you can check out (I think that is the site) not sure how much shipping to UK would be, but you could at least price it out).


John@Plastic Legions said...

@ Col Corbane

Micro Mark is the seller as listed
the manufacturer is an outfit called

Col. Corbane said...

Thanks for the info mate, I've hit them both up to see how much shipping would be. Fingers crossed!


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