Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Guest Writer: Mr O's Guide To Photographing Minatures

Well since I was unable to play in Ard Boyz this year due to semi foreseen circumstances, most notably The Stormlords birthday and 3 dozen Jello Shots, I do not have a battle report of my success.  Instead we have  guest writer today.  Mr. O is the official Rememberancer of Craftworld Lansing.  He has taken many pictures for the blog and for the tournaments that I have hosted and played in.  He has been nice enough to write up a little about taking pics of your miniatures. SO read and enjoy.

So you have just finished painting, converting, and or building a mini and the results are amazing. Now how do you share your artistic victory? You could carry the piece around with you, show everyone you know, and even show complete strangers shouting. “Look what I did!” I have found this approach flawed, as those that know you get annoyed at you shoving things in their face and strangers get really freaked out when you excitedly show them little men with swords and carry on about things like dry brushing and ink washes.

Luckily there is a better way to share your hard work. Taking a picture and using the wonders of the internet to share it with people you know and people you don’t. Welcome to Macro Photography.

You grab your camera plunk down your mini and snap off a picture or two. When you upload it disaster has struck! It’s all blurry and the glare from the light has hidden all of your hard work! Fear not, I am here to assist you in this and help solve your picture taking problems. There are 5 things that you need to keep in mind when taking a good photo especially of something small. These items are Composition, Lighting, Camera Shake, Background/Foreground, and Focal Plane. Let’s take a look at each one of these.

Composition: Simply placing a mini on your table and taking a picture is very simple and quick. It also makes for a picture that looks rushed and unprofessional. A snapshot if you will. The figure you are taking a picture of, whether it is one mini or a squad of mini’s, should be the focal point with out anything fighting for the viewer’s attention. I have seen a great many people photo bomb themselves. Try to keep the mini as the central piece. I could go on even more about subject weight and placement but that is for another time.

Lighting: The absolutely most important piece of photography is lighting. After all the nature of photography uses light and shadow like a painter uses pigment and a brush. You want enough light to illuminate your work and not too much light to add glare and wash out said same work. I have found multiple sources of indirect lighting tend to work the best. Also don’t be afraid to switch it up, you can always rest lighting. If you have 4 lighting sources you have 4 or more different light setting you can play around with including the flash of the camera itself. Since most of us are going to use a digital camera we have the freedom of being able to take a large number of pictures. This is a very useful tool with lighting. Take a picture with every single lighting variation you can think of and every different angle. You will be surprised at the results you get. Even if you have to take 50 pictures to get 1 or 2 good ones that is not bad at all.

Camera Shake: When taking pictures of things with small details and zoomed in, your very hands will minutely shake and cause blurry pictures, for this I say use a tripod, use a tripod, and use a tripod. The only other way to do this is to set the camera on whatever surface you are shooting on as well, although this limits the angles that you can use. So I say to you use a tripod, they keep the camera steady and most of them have jointed arms so you can pivot the camera and get some really great angles to take pictures. If you can set a time and stand away from the camera, that way you have no chance of shaking the camera and causing blur. If you must depress the shutter button yourself try this easy technique, take a breath and depress the shutter button on the exhale. You will be relaxed you won’t have the micro-tics that we all have thanks to our nervous systems.

Background/Foreground: When selecting your background and foreground for a shot (oh you heard me right) keep in mind the piece you are shooting and the colors involved. The kitchen table and flatware does not make a good background and can be distracting. Use contrasting colors. I find some construction paper under the mini and behind the mini. For a dark paint job I use either gray or white, and for a light colored mini I use black. Therefore the colors on the mini will stand out more and be more appealing to the eye. It is very important for the material you use to not have a glossy finish. This will make your situation harder to get the right lighting and cause unwanted glare.

Focal Plane: When taking a picture of a group of mini’s it is important to make sure that one is not in front of the others. The camera will focus on the front mini and all the other minis will become blurry. Line your group up in one even line for tight shots and to shoot regiments pull the camera back. Yes you won’t get fine detail but you get a nice crisp clear shot of the whole group.

I hope this was helpful in the photos you take and helps you get better shots. I spent many hours learning these techniques and experimenting with lots of variables. If you have further questions let me know and I will do my best to answer them. Also some of my personal photography can be found at:

Blood Runs, Anger Rises, Death Wakes, War Calls........... .............WAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!



  1. Good entry. I'm sure this will help some people along nicely. Also, I find that many people don't know about the macro button on most digital cameras. This helps immensely when taking photos of mini's.

  2. Yeah I have to confess I let Mr. O do most of my Miniature pictures as I never get them to come out well.