Friday, 22 December 2006

Photographing miniatures

Putting pictures on Blogger is annoyingly counter intuitive. Hats off to Google for coming up with something which is actually more frustrating to use than the picture layout tool in Word. So apologies for the messy layout in the last post, but it's not my fault. I need to think more about this. The next picture post will probably have less pictures.

There are whole web sites devoted to taking pictures of miniatures and I've got no intention of reinventing the wheel. I'm just going to note for the record how those shots were taken.

Sony DSC F828 on a tripod shooting into a cheap light box I bought on impulse a while ago. The box was lit from outside with two anglepoise lamps fitted with 75 W daylight bulbs; these are also the lights I use to paint under - in fact the set up was done on my painting table. The painting lights were Robert's idea, and a huge improvement on my efforts to get the light right using a single flash either on or off the camera. With the lights, I used manual exposure with the aperture set at 4.5 and a shutter speed of about three seconds; the times varied slightly depending on the shot, with most of the shots underexposed by about .7 of a stop to allow for the fact that I was shooting a fairly dark green and I didn't it to wash out.

I have complained in an earlier post about the limitations of the 828's viewfinder - it turns out that if you set the camera to manual and then work towards the correct exposure, the viewfinder will give a reasonably faithful approximation of the final shot based on the values that you dial in. Very useful because I was shooting a dark object against a light background and even with spot metering the camera's "correct" exposure was bringing the shot in too bright. I only wish it would do this when you're working on programme with a flash, but it's impressive to see, and it's a trick which SLRs can't do. The LCD preview has the other advantage that when you're working with this kind of job off a tripod, you can set up the shot without stooping awkwardly to see through the viewfinder. Overall, I may keep on using the Sony for this work even if I do buy a better camera.

Post processing was very limited; load the pictures into iPhoto, discard the useless shots (three-fifths of the shots on the card were useless shots from the early efforts to get the flash to do the work) and then crop the shots down. Once I had the crops done, I needed to correct a slight pink cast which I've noticed in most of my shots of figures. I can't decide whether it was because I got the white balance setting wrong or whether there's some quirk in the camera - I'm undecided because I've seen the pink cast in earlier shots which were done with dedicated flash where the white balance should have been perfect out of the box.

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