Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Photography Setup

As my CoolMiniOrNot gallery amply demonstrates, I've struggled with how to photograph minis for some time. I've read so many articles on the subject that I can't even remember if I'm doing what they say to do or what they say to avoid.

Whether it works well or not, here's what I'm currently using. It's a cheap and easy method if you have never tried mini photography before.

The white box thingy is a 12" photo light tent I purchased from Amvona on eBay. It's collapsible, but I never collapse it. It came with a few colored inserts, but I like just picking pieces of felt or using a printed paper with a color gradient as the background. The lights are an Ott light (on the right) and a cheap desk lamp with a compact fluorescent bulb from the dollar store on the left. The price difference is extreme, but the light quality difference is negligible. Seriously. The thing in front of the tent is a piece of foam from a Sabol army transport with a notch cut in it for my camera. Yes, I use a piece of foam as my tripod. My camera is a Casio Exilim 7.2Mp. It's a nice little camera and it wasn't terribly expensive.

So to take the actual pics, I set the camera to "macro" focus mode (for close up things) and set the self timer to 2 seconds. I shine the lights into the tent (at an angle, shown in the photo) and position the mini, then put the camera on the foam support. I elevate the camera if needed (seen in the photo is a small box under the foam to raise it up a bit.) Press the shutter button and get your hand out of there. Two seconds is enough time for the shaking from the button press to be absorbed by the foam, so the pics come out fairly clear.

After the pic is taken, I use Gimp (free image processing software) to clip and sometimes alter the image for color levels.


  1. Taking photographs of models is never easy, and I still could take better photographs.

    I still need a lightbox, and one day I will get one.

    I have (another one for you to read) photography guide on my website.

    One comment I would make about Macro mode is that it does not increase the depth of field it just reduces the focal length (ie allows you to get in closer).

    This page has more on depth of field.



  2. At first glance, I thought it was a fishbowl.

  3. Thanks for the link Felix! I'll see what I can do about manually controlling the f-stop on my Exilim. I have a Pentax Program Plus from the mid-80's that I can use, but I really don't want to have to develop film ever again!