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📷 How to improve your miniature photography 📷

Hello fellow hobbyists! In this article I will try to show how you can easily improve your miniature photography with minimum expenses and simple effort.
The tutorial is meant to be from a layman to other laymen. I have no photography knowledge and the tools used are very affordable and easy to use, so anyone can benefit from this tutorial.


🛠️ TOOLS OF THE TRADE 🛠️


Photobox

The photobox is the first and most important step to improving the outcome of your miniature photos.
Personally I use the Puluz 20 cm photobox. It is big enough for my current needs and gets the job done.
It sells for about 10 € and comes with two led stripe panels, five different background cloths and a top hatch for an optional addition light source.
It allows easy focus of the miniatures (no clutter) and provides simple but effective lightning, as well as proper backgrounds to make your minis really pop.

Screenshot_2.jpg

Tips & Tricks

Use a stand

If you are photographing small to medium sized miniatures, it is good to put them on some kind of a stand and bring them closer to the light source
(in my experience Games Workshop's painting handle works, but any kind of medium sized box will do as well)

Light source positioning
Have the light source above and in front of the miniature. This photobox basically solves that automatically since it has led stripes on both ends of the top lid.
You can disconnect the cables to turn certain led stripes off. I prefer using only the front led stripe, with the miniature being in the middle of the box or a bit closer to the front.

Use appropriate backgrounds
Make sure you use the backgrounds that provide the best contrast and visibility to your miniatures.
Don't use the backgrounds in the same colour of your minis, or in clashing colours with your minis (green-red, blue-yellow).
Black and white work best in most situations. I prefer black when possible.


Tripod

The tripod provides a stable grip for your smartphone or smaller digital cameras.
It allows you to take photos without worrying about shaky hands and blurry images.
With bendable "legs" you can easily manipulate it's height to match the position of your miniatures.
The tripod I'm using costs a baffling amount of 0,50€!

tripod.jpg


Remote shutter release

With this little gadget you can take the photos remotely, without needing to touch the smartphone.
This further reduces the risk of blurry images and leaves the focus on miniature intact.
It supports Android and iOS systems and connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth.
The remote shutter in question goes for 1 €.

shutter.jpg


Showcase turntable

Last but not least is the showcase turntable. This optional but fun addition allows you to make cool 360° videos of your miniatures.
It is usually used for watches, jewelry and similar products but works great for models too. It is solar or battery powered, but since I bought it, I never had to use batteries. Price is around 2 €.
It takes approximately 30 seconds to make one full circle. At that pace it is slow enough for your camera to catch all the details, and if you want you can alter the speed in video manipulating apps.

Turntable.jpg


The combined setup looks like this:

IMG_20200419_155851_367-2.jpg


⚙️ SMARTPHONE SETTINGS ⚙️

In this day and age, to make decent photos, you don't even need high end smartphones.
However, any Samsung, iPhone or even Xiaomi flagship model should be able to make professional looking photos.
I'm using a Huawei P20 Lite. The camera specs is as follows: Dual - 16 MP, f/2.2, 1/3.1", 1.0µm, PDAF; 2 MP (depth).
To get the best results I'm using the Pro setting of the camera which allows manual manipulation of these settings: ISO, shutter speed (S), exposure value (EV), focus, white balance.
My main goal when setting up those is to adjust the ISO, S and EV in a way that the photo will look bright, but not washed with light, so that all the colours are properly visible.
Always use manual macro focus so you can make sure your miniatures are focused properly and always set white balance manually.


📸 RESULTS 📸

To conclude, here are a few examples of photos taken with the aforementioned setup:

Wight King (WHFB) taken with Huawei P20 Lite

IMG_20200419_155851_361-2.jpg IMG_20200419_155851_364-2.jpg


Crossbones (Marvel Crisis Protocol) taken with Huawei P20 Lite

002_Crossbones (3).jpg 002_Crossbones (9).jpg


Black Widow (Marvel Crisis Protocol) taken with iPhone 7

001_Black Widow (1).jpg 001_Black Widow (4).jpg
 
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