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Either Miniature photography, or photography in general, everyone likes photos, here is a place to post photos of your minis, learn how to take better photos, show off your skills or just look at the pretty pictures!

How to take better photos of Miniatures (10 posts)

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  • Avatar Image killcrazy76p said 7 years, 7 months ago:

    I’m not a professional, and if anyone on here can expand on (or do a better job) of this tutorial, then please feel free to add your comments below, but here is a few pointers on how to get better photos of your minis, cos lets face it, we all love great photos of minis ;)

    why take good photos of minis?
    why not take a good photo? if your taking one, you’ve taken it for a reason, whether its just for you as a reference, or whether your gonna post it on the internet for other people to see, you’ll want it to be the best image you can take, so it does both you, and the mini justice.

    what you’ll need
    a miniature to photograph, and a camera! thats the most basic requirements for this tutorial, but like anything the more you want to get from it, the more you’ll need to put in.
    for an advanced set up (like mine) you’ll need two/three light sources, a camera with a macro feature and a backdrop to put behind your images.

    what makes a good photo?
    what makes a good photo of a miniature rather than a bad one? well, a few things. Firstly, a good photograph will have as much of the mini in focus as possible. “in focus” means sharp and clear, or “not fuzzy and blurred” if the image is blurred and fuzzy then you cant see the subject, so whats the point?
    Secondly, lighting, good lighting can really make a photo, if you have a killer paintjob on your mini, but then most of it is obscured by shadow, then again, whats the point? you might as well not have bothered.
    thirdly, only take a photo of the intended subject! iv included a picture of my “set up” for taking pics, and its purpousfully a bad photo, why? because its overcrowded (and i cant move everything off my desk to take the picture!). If your taking photos of miniatures for example, on a desk full of brushes, pots of paint etc it detracts from the actual subject. also, it confuses your camera, make the image as simple as possible, that way the camera can take a better picture and the overall result will look infinatly better as the viewer cant help but look at your mini, rather than work out whats in the background.

    basic tips for a basic set up
    So, if all you have is a camera, or a camera phone and you want to take some pics, then there are a few pointers that can help to improve your images.

    If you do want to take photos of your models, and you only have a “point and shoot” camera or a camera phone, then natural light is going to be the best bet, so doing it outside will be easiest.
    Try to stick to quite bright, but cloudy days, clouds act as a giant defuser for the light, which is what you’ll want. also avoid anywhere that casues shadows on your models or you wont get a clear picture.
    Always put your camera in “macro” mode (if your camera has visual icons for the shooting modes, macro will be the flower icon) that way your camera knows your taking pictures of close up/small things.
    Also, getting your camera as close to the object as possible ISNT a good idea, try moving back from it and using the zoom function, that way barrel distortion from the lens is minimised (makes your models look wonky) and the camera can focus easier.
    Also, if you can put a big piece of blank paper/card/cloth behind the model that usually helps too, and can make it look like a more professional photo.

    a more advanced approach

    Here is a photo of my set up, like i mentioned earlier, this is a rubbish photo. because its overcrowded, and the lighting isnt very good.

    As you can see I have quite a bit going on here, but simply put here is what you need:


  • defuser + backdrop
  • two/three lightsources
  • camera (preferably a tripod too)
  • miniature to photograph
  • [/list]

    So the set up goes like this, place your object where you want to photograph it, this should be on a flat surface, ideally table height (so you can move above and below it for different shots)
    you’ll need to place a light source on either side of the object, this means that shadows are eliminated. as if you only use one light, it’ll cast a shadow potentially over parts of your model, which wont look good. so use one on either side.
    Your light source can be anything from a camera flash like mine, or a simple table lamp, which you’ll probably already have at least one if your into miniature painting (ikea have some really nice ones cheap called “tertial” they cost less than £8 each, if you need it for painting, or plan to take lots of images then two of these can be a worthwhile investment)
    Also, try not to use standard bulbs, as these come out very yellow, which can make your mini come out a different colour in the photoraph to what it acctually is. You an pick up daylight bulbs from maplins for about £2.50, which will give your images a much more realistic look at the end. This goes for painting too, using a more natural light will make choosing colours easier, and hurt your eyes less.

    Infront of each light, place a defuser (the box that I use which has both defusers and a reversable back drop only cost me £9.99 from maplins, bargin!) infront of each light source, tracing paper works really well for this.
    The reason for this is that the light source produces a light which is far to concentrated and harsh to just be directed straight at the model, by putting a defuser infront of the light it spreads it out lots, meaning you get a nice even coating of light over your model, a bit like watering down your paint!

    now you need to choose a backdrop for your image, the best thing is to use something big so you can sit your model on it, and also have it act like a backdrop, a large sheet of card or a single colour bedsheet is perfect for this, if you can make a curve behind your model, so you cant tell where the ground ends and the backdrop begins, this will give you a much better final result, as its less to look at in the image.

    If your light sources arent very strong, or your images dont come out too well, you might want to add a third lightsource, place this next to your camera (or use your cameras built in flash) sometimes you need it, sometimes you dont, just depends on your mini!

    once all this is set up your ready to start taking pictures. use your camera in macro mode if it has one, as it’ll pick up detail much better, and it tells your camera that your taking pictures of something small.
    Try to stay as far back from the model as you can, and zoom in, but dont let the edges of the backdrop/ground be seen in the photo (it’ll ruin the illusion, and youll end up looking at the edge of the photo rather than the mini)
    By using your zoom, it’ll put as much of the photo in focus as possible, as having the camera very close to the mini will create a very small “depth of field” which can mean that the body is in focus but the flowing cloak or outstretched weapons are blurry)
    Also, using your zoom minimises distorsion caused by the camera, which can make your model look funny.

    If you have an SLR, or even a compact that lets you change the apurture and shutter speed, then youll want a really small apurture like f20, then match the shutterspeed for best effect (if your using a flash youll still be able to get fast speeds like 1/160
    a small apurture of around f20 will give you a much greater depth of field than if you use a larger one, so more of the model will be in focus.
    (^^^^^dont worry if you dont get that last bit, it might not mean much to many people :P ^^^^^^^)

    Composition is also quite important when photographing models, it might seem like common sense to put the model directly infront of the camera which is set on a level table, but you might end up missing some of the detail, or having a tiny mini sitting in the middle of nothing, just cos you wanted to fit it all in. Dont be afraid to move your model around, or move your camera, to get an image which looks better, its all about the end result.

    heres a few examples of some minis taken using my set up and applying these principles: hope you like them and this tutorial has made sense! and hopefully inspired some people to take more photos.

    check out my wargaming blog here:
    here’s my facebook page: (smaller updates)
  • Avatar Image ade73770p said 7 years, 7 months ago:

    I think the forum is an excellent idea. I wish i could take better pics of my mini’s. Photography is a mystery to me, but I found your post a great source of information.
    Many thanks for the invite :)

  • Avatar Image akuji268p said 7 years, 7 months ago:

    superb post +1 from me. on a very basic level for me, its good light macro switched on and a white background. I follow those simple steps to get nice basic photos.

  • Avatar Image cartilige said 7 years, 7 months ago:

    Great tutorial. The only bit of additional advice I can give is. Unless using a camera where you can adjust the flash, try to avoid using it. If possible turn the flash down low so that it doesn’t white out the model. Another alternative is to put a diffuser in front of the flash.

  • Avatar Image russoliver144p said 7 years, 6 months ago:

    If you’re doing any kind of macro, or near macro photography, one thing you should use if at all possible is a tripod. Any kind of camera movement is magnified so a tripod will help ensure the camera is as still as possible.
    In addition use a remote shutter release, an actual remote or a cable release will do, or failing that, use the timer on the camera so that you’re not in contact with the camera when it takes the photo.

    As mentioned above, you’ll probably have a shallow depth of field (i.e. no much will be in focus) so do all you can to ensure the focus point is in the correct place.

    If you don’t have flash or daylight bulbs you can correct colour cast later with photo editing software if you have it.

  • Avatar Image zawyvern261p said 7 years, 6 months ago:

    Dude, this is awesome… I always take sh*te photos. Thanks for this.

    Ab abusu ad usum non valet consequentia
  • Avatar Image huxy3p said 7 years, 5 months ago:

    Hey, @killcrazy, here’s an idea..

    Maybe you could post up several photos of the same miniature at the same angle, just with different blender/shutter settings? That should help many people see the difference it makes! ;)

    Easy & Grett on Youtube:
  • Avatar Image killcrazy76p said 7 years, 5 months ago:

    good idea! Im away this weekend, so ill do that sometime when i get back next week :) cheers for the idea!

  • Avatar Image marneuscalgar17p said 7 years, 4 months ago:

    Thanks for this tutorial!!

    Lord Macragge and wielder of the Ultramar´s Gauntlets
  • Avatar Image trebormills771p said 6 years ago:

    i would like to thumb this post- some great tips here