Welcome to "Adventures in Lead", a blog dedicated to the hobby of miniature wargaming. The figures and terrain on this site are mainly for a campaign set in exotic "Indostan", a distant land bearing remarkable similarities to 18th century India during the Seven Years War. Bits and pieces from other projects may pop up here as well from time to time, including colonials, gladiators, pirates, dinosaur-hunting and even some RPG'ing.
The actual campaign journal and after action reports for the Indostan campaign can be found on their own blog - "The Jewel in the Crown", the link to which is found by clicking the small image below-left.
If you do find anything remotely interesting on this blog please leave a comment, it's what keeps these sites going and their authors motivated - Thanks for looking.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Photography blues...

One of the most challenging aspects of this hobby involves another entirely separate hobby in itself - photography. Having very little skill with a camera I can sometimes struggle to get a decent photo at all. While on the other hand, when I'm really not trying, I often get lucky.
The type of camera of course has a vast influence over the results. I have a few different cameras to choose from, but all are very simple, relatively cheap affairs and they can all produce different results, some good and some not so good. Even the cheapest and oldest model I have has managed to give me some good shots over the years.
Lately I have been using a Kodak EasyShare Z1085 IS, which is supposed to be pretty idiot proof. Guess they never had me in mind during the design process. This camera has a Smart Capture feature that assists by adjusting the settings to suit the environment. Now this is where I can run into problems.
As mentioned previously on this post, I have wrestled with the age old question of "to flash or not to flash" before. Most folks in the know agreed that for the best results in taking photos of miniatures, a flash should not be used. So not wanting to become a trendsetter, I try to conform to the status quo and turn off the flash, secure in the knowledge that more skillful people have paved the way.
Alas, turning of the flash often gives me less than good results. Take for example my last post where I showed some Foundry gladiators I had recently finished. The photos I think are pretty poor, and really don't show the miniatures in their "best light". They appear muted and washed out. While taking these photos, ashamedly, I really tried hard to get some good pictures. I set them up under a very good light source, set the camera on a tripod, turned off the flash and gave them a quick doctor in Photoshop. All that work for some substandard pictures.
Mulling over it all, I grabbed the camera this morning in an effort to see if I could work this thing out and snapped away at some minis on my desk. The shots I produced are shown below. They were taken in all natural light with the flash on. I think you'll agree they are of a better standard than what I produced the other day and with no effort at all. In a state of total confusion - I give up! (Click the images to enlarge)
A quick snap in natural light with the flash off.
Now with the flash on.
Same conditions with the addition of the white background.

11 comments:

CPBelt said...

I feel your pain. I feel the same way about photographing miniatures. Drives me nuts. I just can't seem to get it right. I use a Lumix camera. I'm not buying a digital SLR just to shoot my models.

Laughing Ferret said...

the flash doesn't look bad for a workbench shot. The last looks pretty good, just needs more light. is that with one light source? really need a lightbox,cheap & easy to make, and then light source from top & both sides and you'll get decent results.

best camera setting is to use "evaluate light source" instead of a pre-set setting (like incandescent or sunlight, etc)

I do this, but even still the light isn't enough, must do a quick "autobalance' on photoshop. I've got to where I'm pretty happy with my photoing minis, but the photos never look quite as good as the actual miniatures. But if the difference is a camera that costs 3 times as much I have to pass on it for now.

Willie Anderson said...

I think if you get better results with the flash on go for it!
It does seem to have produced a brighter picture, although as LF said a lot of guys use a light box which seems to get great results.

What method did you use on the other pics on the blog? they all look great to me!

Best wishes
Willie

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

I'm not a good photographer (some would say I'm not even a good wargamer..!) but I always follow the same rules when I take my pictures... get as much light on the subject as possible, turn the flash off, put the micro button on (on my camera's it's the button with the flower on), put the camera on a tripod, and then use the time delay to take the picture so there's no shake at all - after that I feed the pictures through Picasa 3 the Google imaging s/w (which is free) to touch up/crop/enhance etc..

peter said...

I always have the same problem shooting pictures. Now I always try to make them outside without flash. I get the best result with that.

Greetings
Peter
http://peterscave.blogspot.com/

Michael Awdry said...

As with the other Gentlemen this topic proves to be an ongoing struggle for me too. I seem unable to get the consistency that I'm after; sometimes they look good and others dreadful.

Paul Darnell said...

Natural light is indeed best, with the sun in front of the figs.

Can't always do that due to the weather, but try to take them in a room with as much natural light as poss.

Mine are all a mix of quick snaps taken in the workshop which are a bit naff and those set up pics taken out doors, or in with the use of some extra lighting.

I bought a large but cheap £30 light at B&Q which you would use outside on a building site and its really good for lighting up a whole games table.

Smillie said...

I paint under an artists daylight lamp so I light my miniatures for photographing with this and then take pictures with the flash of using the close up setting on my camera (which is a little flower icon, I have no idea what its really called)

I think put the pictures through photoshop (I'm lucky enough to have access to a copy as the wife is an artist) and alter the light levels there.

Paul´s Bods said...

I know what you are going through...no matter how i take pics they never look like the real thing...and even worse..the pics look different on the camera, when I transfer them to my PC, when I put them on my blog, or on a forum..but worst of all, they look completely dferent depending which medium I use to look at them..ie, on my laptop they look different again
I gave up trying to get the perfect setting ages back..
Anyway, your minis and the pics always look ok...:-D
Cheers
Paul

Fitz-Badger said...

I do the same as Smillie, but I agree that whatever works for you is good. If you get better results with a flash why not use it?

Paul of the Man Cave said...

Yep, its still a mystery to me too! I usually take a couple with both and then see which comes out best in the end.

For my general "table action" type shots I go no flash but use a mini-tripod and the camera's 20second timers to eliminate blur from hand wobbles with longer exposure times. That sounds like I know what I'm doing, but I don't :-)

PS Nice figs!