Tips for Photographing Your Figures [Archive] - OSW: One Sixth Warrior Forum

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04-07-2003, 09:26
*** EDIT ***

Here is the link to the how-to page's permanent home on my website.

*** ***

A couple of others here have said that they intended to post tips on photographing figures to help everyone make better pictures for their contest entries.

The contest rules ask that you submit 4 photos of your figure, including front, back, and side views (assuming one of each side), and that they be taken against a "neutral" background.

That doesn't mean that we should photograph our figures against a backdrop of the Swiss flag. :lol It means that the backdrop should be one solid color, i.e. white, black, any solid color.

I've added two diagrams that show my own general setup. I modelled my setup after tips I got from other OSWarriors in the past.

What you need:
- camera = digital or manual, capable of manual setttings such as shutter speed and F-stop. A "macro" lens is preferable for taking close-up photos of small objects (as we are doing here).
- tripod = With the shutter speeds we need, a tripod is a must. The camera has to be held steady.
- lights = I use two clip-on "carpentry" lights that I got at Sears. They have a hemispherical reflector and are rated to 100 watts. I use 100 watts "Reveal" light bulbs. I suspend them with mic stands. You could use floor lamps, or if you're more ambitious, use real photography lights with stands. I have known some people to use desk lamps, too.
- table = two and a half to three feet deep, maybe deeper for larger subjects like vehicles.
- a fabric sheet in whatever neutral color you prefer. I use white most of the time, and occasionally lay a piece of black poster board over the sheet when photographing lighter subjects or something that has a lot of white in it.

Camera Settings:
Set your F-stop as high as it will go (mine is set to 8.0) and your shutter speed to as low as will not darken the shot ( mine is set to 1 / 8 ). Digital cameras - use the "manual" mode with the "macro" mode turned on, and non-digital cameras should use a "macro" or wide angle lens. Do not use flash. You should explicitely turn flash off.

White Balance (for digitals):
Digital cameras have a "white balance" setting that should be calibrated. You do this by aiming the camera at your "stage" background without anything in the way, using a plain white backdrop, and all your lighting turned on and generally flooding the "stage". Then, you can trigger the automatic detection on the camera and it will calibrate itself.

Color Control (for non-digital cameras):
I don't know a lot about non-digitals, but I do know that regular household lightbulbs, like I use, even though they're supposed to emit "true" white light, tend to show yellow on film. Halogen lights tend to show blue.

Positioning Subject and Camera:
You should place the subject in the center of the "stage" and the camera should be pointed straight at the subject from "center front" of the "stage" at the level of the subject's eyes. This is only to start, and should probably be used for the straight-on front-back-side shots.

Good Luck! :thumb

04-07-2003, 13:16
This is Excellent SkyPilot!!

I use a white paper background like above but Now I only use Natural Light (usually Morning/non direct sunlight). I'll try and post a pic of my actual setup, I think y'all will be really surprised by how simple it is.

Other guys (Rob Caswell, Sixty, James Von S.) have gotten great results using CLOTH backgrounds.

As for Camera settings: I have mine (Digital Camera) on auto focus, no FLASH, on a mini tabletop tripod using SELF Timer function to minimize Jitter.

Most Digi cams have preview screens which allow you to look at photos youve just taken. Dont be satisfied with the first photo you take. Take a bunch of photos and edit them down to the coolest pics.

Make sure you check for quality as well.
Zoom in to your preview to see if the pics are sharp or fuzzy.

You have four pics of your fig for the contest.
I suggest two full figure shots, front/back and
two detail shots, head to waist area usually. Like below:

I plan on Submitting only my BARBIE Bash for the stand alone and maybe (A BIG MAYBE) a Fig Diorama. ;)

04-07-2003, 14:07
edit: post removed cause the links disappeared
(ezboard post no longer there)

Sorry :(

04-08-2003, 15:10
Some excellent photography tips here! I can hold my own on outside photos, but when it comes to inside shot's I'm at a loss, thank's for the great tips! :)

04-08-2003, 19:06
Perhaps our SUPER Mods could put this info somewhere for FUTURE use for all to see?:banana :banana :banana

04-08-2003, 20:13
moved to tips because this is good info

04-08-2003, 20:30
Thanks Chet!

04-08-2003, 20:34
I'm honored Chet. Thanks. :D

04-08-2003, 22:58
Excellent tips Sky :)
Currently I have a 18W Philips Daylight bulb that I'm using and I would need to invest in another for the backdrop lighting.

04-10-2003, 12:24
My gawsh, many many thanks SkyP, DunklG, & F106! You folks are way too cool! I've been looking for those umbrella photographer lamps so thank you for saving me money - it's Home Depot time! I only have a 2-lamp kloodgey approach so the main/backlight method with the use of the carpentry lights will hopefully improve my fotos. The digi-cam tips is definitely a "saver" since my shots end up being too dark & I have to do the software brightness/contrast/sharpness bit to adjust the pix. The tip on the head-to-waist shot for the contest will definitely improve the bland poses that I thought I would be constrained under the max 4-shots per entry rule.

Not related to the contest but what's recommended to simulate sunset/sunrise lighting? I am usually driving to/from work during those times so I can't take advantage of that natural lighting.