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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-28-10, 08:34 AM Thread Starter
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Default Photographing Miniatures

Here's a short tutorial to help you with the basics of photographing miniatures.

Photographing Miniatures Tutorial


If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably been asking yourself the question, “How on earth am I going to take a good picture of this mini?” Well, to be perfectly honest, there is no specific answer to that question, as there are many different ways and techniques people use. Also, I am no expert photographer in any way; however, in this tutorial I will try and cover some useful techniques and give some handy tips along the way.


Starting Off

In this tutorial, I’ll assume you’ll be using a digital camera (since it’s highly recommended) and how to use it to a basic level. It is extremely unlikely that any digital camera you may have doesn’t have some kind of “macro” function. This is probably the most important and useful setting on your camera for photographing miniatures. As long as your camera meets this very simple specification, you should be fine!


Right, down to business. First of all, you’re going to need the miniature you want to photograph, a flat surface and a background to photograph onto. I’d recommend propping up a piece of plain white card on a wall, and another sheet of card on the surface. It should look something like this:

Next, you’re going to need to make sure that the room you are working in is well lit. Even if it is well lit, I’d suggest using a desk lamp and shining the light onto your plain white background. It should now look something like this:

Position your miniature against the background so it looks something like this:

Your Camera

If you don’t already know, at this stage you should probably find out what kind of macro focus your camera has. If you don’t know, you can find out in your camera’s manual or online. For example, I use a Panasonic Lumix DMC FS3, which has a macro focus of 5 cm. If you’ve been reading this and wondering what on earth I’m on about, keep reading and all shall be explained. In brief, the macro function allows you to get very fine detail on a close-up picture. Macro focus is how close you can get to the object you are photographing without it becoming blurred. This varies between cameras but really, you want the smallest macro focus possible, allowing you the freedom to choose how close you want to get.

Taking The Picture

By now you should have your background set up and you should know what the macro focus on your camera is. Now you are ready to take your pictures! Get your camera and turn it on, and then find the macro function on your camera. This is usually represented by a flower symbol, and may look something like this:

In any case, if you don’t know how turn macro on, use your manual or look online to find out how. If you’ve got it on, then we shall move on!

If you are able to do so, don’t actually hold your camera; instead just rest it on the surface you are working on. However, if your miniature is placed on a raised up surface, then there is still a way you can take the picture without holding your camera directly – use a tripod! They will usually screw into the bottom of your camera, and if you hold the base of it, your photo will be guaranteed to come out less blurry! As an absolute last resort, simply take the picture with your hands as you normally would. The only reason I’d suggest you don’t hold it is that even if you have steady hands, you can sometimes get picture blur. Anyway, now everything is set up, it should look something like this:

The next part is extremely important, so listen up! You should never, ever use the zoom function on your camera when using macro! This ruins the whole point of using macro, so if you have been doing this in the past, it may have been where you’ve been going wrong! Make sure you are not zoomed in at all and also, turn off flash, as you shouldn’t need it. Once all this has been done, place your camera the correct distance away from the miniature in relation to your camera’s macro focus, and take the picture! If all goes well, you should have a pretty darn good-looking picture! Take any more photos at any other angles you may want, and you should be done.


You may not have needed all of this info, but it’s aimed at an absolute beginner to miniature photography. In any case, I hope I have helped, and remember: Use macro, and don’t zoom in when using it!

Also if anyone else wants to add to the thread with their photography tips feel free to!


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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-24-11, 01:54 AM
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We have the same lamp, does yours get ridiculously hot also?
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-24-11, 02:08 AM
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Very cool. This has motivated me to finally set up an area for photographing my models. It's so simple, I just lacked motivation. I will probably be using more lamps because I don't want any shodaows to be cast :/ Great tutorial though. Spot on.

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-26-11, 05:34 AM
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Let me add a couple of points that I discovered through Trial and Error.

First, White Balance. Different lights give off different light. Incandescent lights cast a yellowish hue while florescent lights shift the light to the blue. Find if your camera has an adjustment for White Balance (WB) and set it for the type of light you are using. It will help moderate the shifts caused by the different types of bulbs.

Second, use the camera's timer function. Set it to release the shutter on a timed basis so that when you push the button the camera counts down to 0 and then snaps the picture without you holding it. Do NOT hold the camera when the shutter snaps. No matter what you do, your hand, even your finger depressing the button, will move the camera. When using Macro this will blur the picture and make it fuzzy.

Third, check out this tutorial by DJinn on lighting.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-30-13, 02:23 PM
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wft is macro

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-30-13, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by rich11762 View Post
wft is macro
Macro is a camera mode that optimises the camera for close up photos.
In short is sets the camera to have a narrow a depth of field as possible so that the close subject is in focus and the background out of focus.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-30-13, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Magpie_Oz View Post
Macro is a camera mode that optimises the camera for close up photos.
In short is sets the camera to have a narrow a depth of field as possible so that the close subject is in focus and the background out of focus.
If only I had known this earlier...


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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-31-13, 12:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Sangus Bane View Post
If only I had known this earlier...
IMO I think you are better off not using Marco mode as when you are shooting a mini from close up you want a really big depth of field.

That means you want as small an aperture as you can get so heaps of light on the subject and the slowest shutter speed possible.

I think on most automatic cameras the "landscape" mode will achieve that best if you don't have an aperture priority control.
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