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 CAG Photographing Minis Tutorial

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ShasOElanRo
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Posts : 22
Join date : 2009-09-28
Age : 38
Location : Cincinnati

PostSubject: CAG Photographing Minis Tutorial   Tue Jun 01, 2010 9:01 pm

1. Tripod, if you don't have one, beg, borrow, buy, but don't steal one!

2. Lighting. Use indirect lighting, don't shine your brightest light directly on the model. Get a bright lamp and bounce the light off of some white posterboard. Better still, build a light box, this can be done VERY cheaply!
http://www.wikihow.com/Create-an-Inexpensive-Photography-Lightbox

3. RTFM! Know your camera's settings and how to get to them. Those of particular usefulness will be ISO, white balance, shutter speed, aperture (aka F-stop), shutter timer, macro mode, and full manual override. Not every camera has the last item, but really, really good ones do.

Also, I just discovered this for myself - if your camera has automatic image stabilization, disable it! It is designed to compensate for the shaking that occurs when the camera is held in your hand. It causes more problems than it fixes when the camera is mounted to a tripod.

4. What to do with those settings.

4A.ISO. Set the ISO to the lowest number possible. This will give you the sharpest picture possible with the least noise (that grainy look you see so often). This is a holdover from film cameras, and digital cameras emulate this functionality so photographers wouldn't have to totally re-learn photography once they switched to digital.

4B. Set the aperture (F-stop) to a high number, my camera goes up to F8. This will give you the depth of field you need. You know those pics where the sword is in focus, but the model holding it is blurry? This is the setting that was responsible for that.

4C. White Balance. This setting compensates for how colors look under different kinds of light (sun light vs florescent, for example). Adjust this setting to match the type of light you are using. I left mine on automatic with good results. Your cameras may vary.

4D. Macro Mode. Use this if your camera does not have full manual override. This adjusts the focus in a specific range suitable for really close up shots. Also, use Zoom sparingly, if at all.

4E. Shutter Timer. Yes, this feature lets you hit the shutter button and then jump into the picture just in time. It is also useful for minimizing the possibility that you move the camera while pressing the shutter button, causing it to blur. If you have one of those hot shot cameras with the fancy remote shutter button, that'll work too.

4F. Shutter Speed. This is what you use to control the amount of light that is captured. This setting will be really long to compensate for the ISO setting. Higher ISO settings are for faster shutter speeds for capturing things like sports or kids playing, but they sacrifice image quality as a result. Expect to set the shutter speed 1/4 to 1/2 second or more. Your camera and lighting conditions will vary and thus dictate what setting to use.

4G. Full Manual Override. Specifically, manual focus. This setting does what it says - lets you set everything manually with minimal automation.

5. Megapixels. Most digital cameras made today are rated at least 3 to 5 megapixels. Many of these will allow for setting the megapixel rating down a few notches to allow you to cram more pictures on your memory card. But, for photographing miniatures, set it to its highest setting. The idea is to get a good picture to begin with, before cropping and resizing it in what ever editor you use (I use Paint.Net - free, does most of what Photoshop does, did I mention it was free?).

There you go. Photographing miniatures in a nutshell with room for dessert!
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Ghazkhull
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Join date : 2008-04-26
Age : 48
Location : Work... bleh

PostSubject: Re: CAG Photographing Minis Tutorial   Sat Jun 12, 2010 12:52 am

Brilliant tutorial. I thoroughly loved how you not only told what to do with a particular setting (ex: ISO), but you also told what it was for and what it was responsible for doing in/to your pictures/camera.

Thanks a million for this.



Ghazkhull
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ShasOElanRo
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Age : 38
Location : Cincinnati

PostSubject: Thank you   Sat Jun 12, 2010 11:23 am

Hey, thanks for the good words. I was just trying to create a (#1 priority) simple, (#2 priority) short tutorial that took the collective wisdom of all those lengthy, technical tutorials and boiled them down to what was absolutely necessary to this specific task of photographing minis.

All the other forums had almost a full photography tutorial (which I admit one almost needs anyway), and left me thinking I needed $5,000 worth of equipment and 10 years to learn how to use it. I knew this wasn't true.

However, as far as equipment goes, I will say this: aside from your camera, invest in a GOOD tripod. This is essential for taking good close up shots. I didn't put it #1 on my list for nothing!
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