Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Round 8 has begun over at the LAF for Lead Painters League Season 7
I won't bother reposting my Rohirrim which manager to win the Round which is a nice vindication considering it lost round 1. This weeks entry I call "Monster Hunters" features a mix of Fantasy figures from Reaper, Avatars of War, and three really cool figures from the below the radar Fantization Miniatures and its Rusted Heroes line. Above is the "Monster" of said "Monster Hunters"
Reaper Troll 60021. I really liked this model and painted it sometime last year since its not one of the primary figures in the entry, but just a prop, I dont think its a big deal I post it while the contest is going on. If you like to check out the official entry and vote please do so HERE. So far the Hunters are doing ok this week. Two weeks to go, I am slowly climbing the leader board after my abysmal start. I need to win all my upcoming entries to hope to be my score last year, to do so means I need to make the top 9. its going to be tough. Next week it back to Middle Earth with some brand new stuff
and then the my Sci Fi Station is going to make reappearance for the final bonus round 10.
In other news I got a new camera to replace my broken Canon G9, it was going to cost $250 to repair
so I invested that dough in a new Canon G15, wow impress this is first couple photos I snapped, I notice and a improvement right away as off the cuff shots like this usually took more work. my pal Aaron almost convinced me to go DSLR but I stuck with what I know, the G9 was great Camera I had for long time, moving to the G15 was breeze no learning curve, which I like. anyway back with Round 9 on Sunday.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
(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.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
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.
Monday, January 7, 2008
As anyone in this hobby knows, just about everyone is interested in taking better pictures of their work right? because what better way to show it off than taking photos and posting them on your blog or public forums. The amount of shitty photos I see get posted is annoying because there isn't really much point to posting blurry, out of focus or undetailed photos. Personally I am a complete photography novice, I never took a picture of a miniature until about a year ago, and over that time I think my photos have improved alot. To point where people are actually complimenting me on them. I was surprised to realize just last night, That I was making some very incorrect assumptions about what I was doing. (I'll go into that in a second) , So I figured I had to get to the bottom of this.
There are couple basic premises of miniature photography that I have pieced together from a variety of sources. Number one is ideally you want a neutral background, people recommend a easily built light box, a curved piece of poster board or some type of light tent. Number 2, is you want to use a tripod and use the "macro" or "super macro" setting on your camera. Number 3 is you want your flash off. as that burst of brilliant light washes out the color and detail of your miniature. finally, you need to manually set the shutter speed, exposure and aperture size.
This where I drive off the side of the road. I'm one of those guys that rarely RTFM, because I like to figure shit out for myself. Don't ask me why- its Sooooo much easier to read the manual, but I guess I'm a glutton for punishment when it comes down to figuring stuff out. SO If you go all the way back to early last year and look at my pictures in my homemade Light Box, they're dark, and kind grainy and I needed use "lightroom" bring up the color and contrast of the pics, because I couldn't get enough light in the picture with flash off, even with a 100 watt light right above the miniature itself. I tried all kinds of stuff, I couldn't get my pics better. I was using this mini photography guide I picked up somewhere, I had all the settings right. what was up?
I had read of course you want your Aperture to be as small as possible and your shutter speed as fast as possible in order to take good pictures., However with Aperture that small, no light is getting into the camera without a flash. your maximum speed is also contingent on how much light can into the camera as well. An Aperture value of F.4 was recommended to me right in the middle so I figure great...so that what I was using. Finally I said screw the light box, I am going to start taking pictures on the game table, and I am going to try a smaller Aperture. and add a ton of light. So I had my light above the table, ( a couple 100 watt fluorescents) and I also used a hand held work light behind the camera, but pointing at the target.
Bang -Suddenly my pictures got ALOT better, the color was there, the detail was great, the non-neutral background really wasn't distracting from the picture. I must been doing something right. Well, kind of- I inadvertently made my Aperture larger instead of smaller as in all the way down to F2.8. As I had assumed the smaller number was the smallest aperture. However its counterintuitive and the largest number 8 is the smallest Aperture. The thing is the larger the Aperture the more light gets into the camera and that's good. Here are some photo's I took today as sample with my W.I.P Knights of the Blazing Sun.
(note all pics are ISO 100 speed setting, with the Flash Off, and Macro ON, with my Canon A640 Powershot on a small Tripod. )
The above three shots are Aperture setting of F2.8, the largest it will go with a shutter speed of 1/30th which where It needed to be for the exposure to be at "+0" (what you want ideally, you can play around with the exposure but thats another topic)
These above three shots are an Aperture Setting of F4. The shutter speed is 1/6th
The final three above are an Aperture Setting F8, the fastest speed I could get and achieve a "+0" exposure is now down .3 seconds ( the slower the speed the sooner even the motion of taking the photograph starts making the picture blurry. Your ISO speed helps combat this.
Conclusions- There isnt a hell of a lot of difference in these pics at all, despite that my Aperture went from the largest possible to the smallest possible. There are subtle differences for example the 1st three have the shortest depth of field, you see the building to rear is a bit blurry but the Knights are very clear as you progress to F8, the background gets clearer with what I see as a slight cost to the clarity of the knights, its very slight..not even particularly noticable. The most important thing as this little demo shows, is the LIGHT.. overhead light and back lighting are key, obviously the ISO speed helps with any camera movement and Macro setting is for close up detail, but other than quality of your camera lense the amount of light getting in your picture seems to outweigh your Aperture setting. Shutter Speed and Exposure are directly relevant but even here we go from 1/30 to .3 which should be a noticable speed difference, (as when you get to around "1" things often get blurry), but I dont see much of one here.
In Part II, I am going back to my old lightbox and a new neutral backdrop and then compare.