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Improve your model photography!

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A general thread for general chatter on the subject of taking photos of your models. Be it getting it right with your phone or trying to work out how to use the settings on a fancy DSLR. Come and show off what you've done or ask questions about how to get specific effects or results. Or just generally ask how to improve things and show what you've got.

Hopefully we can get some good chatter going on the subject and improve how we show off the modelling and paintwork we do :)

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Artificial light always causes problems for me. I generally paint in the evening and take a snap of anything finished with my phone before I pack up to share with my group. Normal room lights are too dim but my painting lamp is too bright and there is a lot of shine. Attached is an example of a stormfiend from a unit i finished this week. 

The armour is actually more mat finished and really dark but he almost glows in the pic! 

20190410_230845.jpg

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Laststand said:

Artificial light always causes problems for me. I generally paint in the evening and take a snap of anything finished with my phone before I pack up to share with my group. Normal room lights are too dim but my painting lamp is too bright and there is a lot of shine. Attached is an example of a stormfiend from a unit i finished this week. 

The armour is actually more mat finished and really dark but he almost glows in the pic! 

20190410_230845.jpg

Okay, three tips,

like you said natural light is the best, so stand by. A window during the day. If using a lamp you could:

Diffuse the light. Get a thin cloth and hang it in front of the lamp. Should do the same as a difusser cap on a professional set and doesn’t take up a lot of space. 

bounce the light. Single sheet of clear white paper or even white styrofoam will work. Instead of shining the light on the model, shine it on the white sheet and use that to get some soft light in it. (Also great for filling in the shadows a bit on the other side of a face of model. Closer means brighter reflections. So you toy around with that.)

hope that helps 😁

Edited by Kramer
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@Laststand what you are basically seeing on the metals is the highlights in the photo being more to over exposed compared to the other areas. This is partly a result of the fact that you've got a very strong light source very close to the model and coming from basically one angle. This can create harsher shadows where the light doesn't fall and also mean that to expose the more shadowed areas the exposure goes up, which quickly blows out (overexposes) the highlights that catch the light.

 

You can resolve this in a number of ways.

1) Diffuse the light. As noted above if you diffuse the light this will help a lot. You've already seen this yourself because the sun, if in the evening/morning or shining through cloud cover, will be diffused by the sky - increasing its size relative to the subject (model in this case). If you were to compare natural light from the sun on a cloudy day to it when you've got a bright midday sun in summer you'd see that harsh light like you are working with lamp - a relatively smaller source causing harsher shadows and more chance of blowing out highlights. 
So to diffuse you need to increase the size of the light source. The diffuser cap that Kramer mentions is "sort of" the right approach. However the cap itself (or a thin bit of fabric) wouldn't actually be increasing the light source itself, its just blocking some of the light and you'd get the same effect with just a weaker light. Instead what you want to do is enlarge the source; so a large sheet of fabric/paper for the light to move through or, as noted, bouncing the light off a wall - the wall then becomes the source of the light relative to the subject. 

If you look up "light box/tent" you'll see the same idea - stand lamps fired through the sides of a box where the sides are cut out and replaced with white paper. 

 

2) Add another light. Diffusion is good but you've still got only one light source, adding a second on the other side can help a lot too; because now the brightness over the model is more even and its easier to show all the detail and colours in a single photo. It helps reduce shadowing and gives you a bit more light control. Again you will still want to diffuse a second light. 

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Thank you both for the great tips. I will try again and post the results.

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On 4/12/2019 at 2:47 PM, Overread said:

he diffuser cap that Kramer mentions is "sort of" the right approach. However the cap itself (or a thin bit of fabric) wouldn't actually be increasing the light source itself, its just blocking some of the light and you'd get the same effect with just a weaker light. Instead what you want to do is enlarge the source; so a large sheet of fabric/paper for the light to move through or, as noted, bouncing the light off a wall - the wall then becomes the source of the light relative to the subject. 

Give it a try, I promise you, the direct light affects your (camera's) perception of colour. Diffusing it with white cloth will give you a different effect. Having a bigger light source won't change a thing. The direction of that bigger light might, the harshness of the light will, and the colour of the light as well. 

Also would personally strongly advise against cheap lightboxes. Although it can help they take up a lot of space and won't necessarily give you a better result compared to putting some effort into the light set up. Which has the advantage of teaching you a photography/lighting skill you can apply in other situations. But this is all based on my personal experiences with them. 

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2 hours ago, Kramer said:

Give it a try, I promise you, the direct light affects your (camera's) perception of colour. Diffusing it with white cloth will give you a different effect. Having a bigger light source won't change a thing. The direction of that bigger light might, the harshness of the light will, and the colour of the light as well. 

Also would personally strongly advise against cheap lightboxes. Although it can help they take up a lot of space and won't necessarily give you a better result compared to putting some effort into the light set up. Which has the advantage of teaching you a photography/lighting skill you can apply in other situations. But this is all based on my personal experiences with them. 

 

I think you're mixing softness of light and colour of light together. 

Softness of light is basically defined by the relative size of the light source and subject. A bigger light source will soften the light that hits the subject; ergo it will provide more even coverage over the subject. This reduces the difference in brightness between the areas that are directly hit and those which are more shadowed and thus get less light. For the photos shown above this will reduce the impact of the bright highlights on the metal surfaces. It's why studio photographers use umbrellas and softboxes to increase the size of their light sources relative to the subject. It's why many find the light from, say, a pop up flash on a camera really harsh and bad compared to softboxes or bouncing the light off a wall.
You are right the harshness of the light does matter and to reduce how harsh a light is you increase the size of the light source relative to the subject. 

 

Light colour is also a property and different lights and conditions will vary the colour of the light. You can see this yourself comparing midday light outside to evening or morning light. It's why some artists will buy daylight light bulbs which aim to have a similar colour to the sun during the daylight - a light we most often consider "normal". Indoor light bulbs have their own colour tint as does flash light from a camera. A paper sheet on something like a light box/tent essentially aims to tint the colour of the lights (as the light has to go through the paper) to a uniform colour and a white colour so that its fairly neutral. 
If you own a camera that does RAW shooting you can also adjust the white balance of the photo easily in editing which is where the colour temperature of the photo is recorded. (I won't go too far into this as my understanding of it is at a functional level but not a perfect technical level - plus not everyone uses a DSLR so I don't want to get too far off topic). 

 

I can agree with you about lightboxes, however at the same time investing in a proper lighting setup, whilst it doesn't have to be super expensive, is taking things to another level that not all might want to do. So I tend to suggest lightboxes first since its a very affordable step that many can take with minimal investment. Heck they can use a pair of desk lights with one so they don't even need to invest in any flashes or the like (great for people using their phones/tablet or point and shoot cameras) 

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On 4/13/2019 at 4:23 PM, Kramer said:

Also would personally strongly advise against cheap lightboxes. Although it can help they take up a lot of space and won't necessarily give you a better result compared to putting some effort into the light set up. Which has the advantage of teaching you a photography/lighting skill you can apply in other situations. But this is all based on my personal experiences with them. 

     There are several companies which make quality fold up/down lightboxes which are perfect for taking photos of minis. Large enough to position a full squad or one largeish model and can be taken down and stored when not in use. I’ve seen and tested some ranging in price from $10US up to $100 and while you get what you pay for even the cheapest ones offer a marked improvement over standard room lighting for those with little to no experience in photography. 

     Now with that said if you’re willing to do a little homework you can build one just as easy as buy one. I recently gave my own photo box away because while building my airbrush booth I built it to serve double duty for both airbrushing and photographing. They only thing I haven’t done yet is install the backdrops so I’ll be using bond paper until I order/make them.

http://us.orangemonkie.com/ makes the “foldio” line of lightboxes which may well be the best quality folding lightboxes on the market for our hobby. 

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My setup is just one of these https://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/00424985/ and a philips hue bulb so i can adjust color and brightness. Some background light added from my computer desk led strips. Really all you need for good model photography is a good lamp, a camera that you can manually control white balance with and a tripod. Thats it. 

 815152594_LordOfPlagues.jpg.3b5a098976a33e9960c0014e6eb254ef.jpg 

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Posted (edited)
On 4/14/2019 at 1:49 AM, Overread said:

I think you're mixing softness of light and colour of light together. 

 

No two different things. The brightness of your light source influences how your camera records the colours. Bringing the same light closer, blows out highlights, colours will look faded. Bringing the light back a bit will bring back colours and the highlights. It's all about perception. Same goes for softening the light. Give it a try. Get one light, photograph a model very close and further away. The colour of the lights doesn't change but it will effect how your camera records the colours. I will try to remember to take a example shot of this when I finish my Vanguard hunters 👍
And that's of course besides the colour of you light. (If you are looking into lights 5600Kelvin is considered daylight coloured light. Just a quick tip, saves on the white balance adjustments)

On 4/14/2019 at 1:49 AM, Overread said:

Softness of light is basically defined by the relative size of the light source and subject. A bigger light source will soften the light that hits the subject; ergo it will provide more even coverage over the subject. This reduces the difference in brightness between the areas that are directly hit and those which are more shadowed and thus get less light. For the photos shown above this will reduce the impact of the bright highlights on the metal surfaces. It's why studio photographers use umbrellas and softboxes to increase the size of their light sources relative to the subject. It's why many find the light from, say, a pop up flash on a camera really harsh and bad compared to softboxes or bouncing the light off a wall.
 You are right the harshness of the light does matter and to reduce how harsh a light is you increase the size of the light source relative to the subject. 

But you've lost me here. What is a bigger light source according to you? Because a bigger light in size doesn't mean a change in how soft a light is nor the colour. Or do you mean with a bigger light source a brighter light source. (e.g. a smaller bulb isn't necessarily softer nor is a bigger light brighter vs one bulb is softer vs two of the same bulbs) Maybe something is lost in translation because 'to reduce how harsh a light is you increase the size of the light source relative to the subject. ' Is absolutely the opposite of what happens. 

On 4/14/2019 at 1:49 AM, Overread said:

I can agree with you about lightboxes, however at the same time investing in a proper lighting setup, whilst it doesn't have to be super expensive, is taking things to another level that not all might want to do. So I tend to suggest lightboxes first since its a very affordable step that many can take with minimal investment. Heck they can use a pair of desk lights with one so they don't even need to invest in any flashes or the like (great for people using their phones/tablet or point and shoot cameras) 

Yeah this is my bad. I meant Set-up as how you physically set up your (desk) lights and not buying a studio light set up. 

On 4/14/2019 at 1:49 AM, Overread said:

f you own a camera that does RAW shooting you can also adjust the white balance of the photo easily in editing which is where the colour temperature of the photo is recorded. (I won't go too far into this as my understanding of it is at a functional level but not a perfect technical level - plus not everyone uses a DSLR so I don't want to get too far off topic). 

Give it a go. Even without RAW photo's you can definitely tweak  your white balance without loss of quality. It's aways a balance of course but in my experience Photo editing is a lot more forgiving than you might think. Give the SnapSeed app a go with photo's from your phone. It's brilliant and you could even go into some serious colour creation with the colour curves. So tweaking your white balance is absolutely fine. 

1 hour ago, Lior'Lec said:

I’ve seen and tested some ranging in price from $10US up to $100 and while you get what you pay for even the cheapest ones offer a marked improvement over standard room lighting for those with little to no experience in photography. 

And regarding the Lightboxes, also in reply to @Overread reply, it's of course an advise based on personal experience and preference. So you guys advising it is totally valid but I would always advice against it because
1. Like you said you get what you pay for. For $100 you can also get some easy to use lights, that you can always apply no matter the size of the unit/model, no matter the background and can fulfill another functions. Like being your desklight instead of folded away
2. Because even with a lightbox which is very easy to handle it has a bit of a learning curve so why not invest that time into something that translates outside of that specific tool. 
3. You don't need to spend the money on a lightbox because you can make due with what you have in home easily. 

Case in point the example of @Eevika

Edited by Kramer

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8 minutes ago, Kramer said:

3. You don't need to spend the money on a lightbox because you can make due with what you have in home easily. 

 Case in point the example of @Eevika

Fun fact I have a full photography studio setup at home but I like using my desklamp for miniature photos :D 

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56 minutes ago, Eevika said:

Fun fact I have a full photography studio setup at home but I like using my desklamp for miniature photos :D 

Haha I’m usually the same. (Not the full set up tough but pretty much).  Too lazy to get them out for a quick picture 😂 

but New Years resolution is to do a good shot of every finished unit at some point. 

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23 minutes ago, Kramer said:

but New Years resolution is to do a good shot of every finished unit at some point. 

     New Years Resolutions are made to be broken... ya know... just saying...

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1 hour ago, Kramer said:

And regarding the Lightboxes, also in reply to @Overread reply, it's of course an advise based on personal experience and preference. So you guys advising it is totally valid but I would always advice against it because
1. Like you said you get what you pay for. For $100 you can also get some easy to use lights, that you can always apply no matter the size of the unit/model, no matter the background and can fulfill another functions. Like being your desklight instead of folded away
2. Because even with a lightbox which is very easy to handle it has a bit of a learning curve so why not invest that time into something that translates outside of that specific tool. 
3. You don't need to spend the money on a lightbox because you can make due with what you have in home easily. 

Case in point the example of @Eevika

     I get where you’re coming from there, or at least I can understand/respect your opinion. I originally bought a cheap $10 box and it worked great (for me) but I could see the problems with it as well (namely limited size and uses). I then built my own using lights similar to what you’re saying so the lamps could serve additional duty when not taking photos. I think I may have spent a total of $20-$30 on that box and most of that was lamps/bulbs. 

     However, I am  always trying to minimize my footprint when it comes to hobby space; My airbrush booth, photo box, and drying box together took up too much space. I like when I can find ways for things to be multipurpose, and I also enjoy working with my hands and building things so i went back to the drawing board again for Mk-III of my set up. I re-redesigned my entire set up to let my airbrush booth multifunction as a photo booth plus my drying box can also serve a similar function but with lighting from above and/or below for a different effect (no plans to actually use it that way but I built it so I could if I wanted to).

     Neither are fully finished (still need to add some trim to both boxes) but both are functionally finished and can be/have been in use already. Whenever (if) I finish my hobby shed I’ll move them both out there or (more likely) reduild newer better versions of both. It’s a hobby to feed another hobby... does that qualify as a viscous circle? 

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, Lior'Lec said:

     However, I am  always trying to minimize my footprint when it comes to hobby space; My airbrush booth, photo box, and drying box together took up too much space. I like when I can find ways for things to be multipurpose, and I also enjoy working with my hands and building things so i went back to the drawing board again for Mk-III of my set up. I re-redesigned my entire set up to let my airbrush booth multifunction as a photo booth plus my drying box can also serve a similar function but with lighting from above and/or below for a different effect (no plans to actually use it that way but I built it so I could if I wanted to).

 

If you manage this! That's a great win in space. It's what's holding me off from trying out airbrushing. 

6 minutes ago, Lior'Lec said:

 I get where you’re coming from there, or at least I can understand/respect your opinion.

Same here,

47 minutes ago, Lior'Lec said:

     New Years Resolutions are made to be broken... ya know... just saying...

Haha i'm already breaking the no buy more than I paint by getting the Blightwar box on the cheap 😂Just breaking one pledge a quarter ;) 

Edited by Kramer

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