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New camera=better pics?


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So I was finally able to buy a decent camera. Now all I need is more experience and your help...


HERE is the best I could do with my old camera.


HERE is what I've been able to do so far with my new one.


Do you have any suggestions on how I can improve my photography? Right now, I'm getting an aweful red cast to everything, and I don't yet have enough skill with Photoshop to do anything more than "Auto Levels." What would be the best way to remedy this, either while taking pictures or after I've uploaded them onto my computer? If it helps, I can post an example of the image before any correction.


Thanks in advance.

Scott ::):

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Cyan is the opposite of red, so add Cyan.


Really, stop using Autolevels. It's good for people who know nothing, but what's the use of having something like Photoshop if all you're ever going to do is use Autolevels? :huh: I've never understood that.


1) Get rid of the white background. Use a light gray or slate (blue gray) or even a gray/tan color. White can make dark minis look underexposed and light minis overexposed. While your illumination is fine, it's very stark against the white background. Remember, it's not just a close-up picture. You're shooting a portrait.


2) Remember these rules:

  • Cyan is the opposite of Red.
  • Magenta is the opposite of Green.
  • Yellow is the opposite of Blue.

Judging from your background, your color cast is more of a reddish/yellow. This tells me two things.


Set your White Balance on your camera, if it has one.

Use Reveal or non-standard indoor bulbs. You need something balanced for Natural "true color" light. Make certain, however, to set your white balance for the lights you use.


Also, whenever you change a bulb, check your white balance again. As they dim, bulbs can change in color (which is why, when I worked in a photo lab, I had to run tests every single day on the printer to color correct the bulb). As a result, this can cause color shifts in your images, even if you've never changed a thing except the bulbs. Strange, you'd think I'd remember to say that first thing after doing the color correcting daily for six straight years. :lol:


For this image, I wouldn't adjust anything. The change is so minute it would be hard to get a "true white."


Without knowing how you're actually set up, though, it's hard to tell you where you need to correct. Except for a slight brown tinge to your background shadow, everything looks okay.


edit: damned typos.

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What do you use for lighting? If the camera is white balanced for daylight and you have incandescent bulbs, then everything gets a red or orange color shift.


Some cameras offer a manual white balance. You set up all the lights and take a picture of a piece of white paper. The camera reads this and corrects the lighting to pure white. As long as you use the same type of lights, the settings will allow you to take pictures without the color shifts.


My set-up is color balanced for GE Reveal bulbs, so when I am shooting pictures, the 3 lamps with Reveal bulbs are the only ones on in the room. I still make some adjustments to levels/brightness and contrast, but no color correcting.

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I'm with the others, your minis look great to start with.


I don't know what level of photography experience/skill you have, so please forgive me if these are really basic suggestions :


Get out the photography books and magazines and (re-) read them.


If your new camera has the options of manually setting exposure, apeture, etc., learn to use it in non-auto mode. In some cases the computer's brains may know best, in others you may do better.


Take series of pictures, changing only one thing at a time (and try to keep track of what you changed each time). Even if your camera is doing auto-everything, you can do things like trying different background colors (dark vs light, netral vs. colored), different light bulbs, different arrangements of your lighting, focusing on a light-colored vs. a dark-colored section of the mini, and see what happens each time.


Even try changing things that you don't necessarily think would change the picture. We've been getting the best results turning off the regular interior lights and taking pictures with only the lights on the mini. Kind of surprising that the ambient light wasn't being overwhelmed by the lighting for the picture, but it was having an effect.

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Any surrounding light is going to have an effect on your mini and the way the camera sees the image. Even if you've got a studio setup, windows that allow in daylight can change things based on time of day and weather. This is why most portrait photographers shoot in a room without windows and have their lighting set up in static settings.


Once I get everything set back up I'll take a picture of my "studio." I need to replace some of my photostrobes and should really invest in a digital camera. I just wish I could afford what I want right now (SLR).

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I just wish I could afford what I want right now


Don't we all?


Bushido... if you're looking for some Photoshop help, shoot me a PM, or email me a 'before' photo of one of your minis, I can clean it up and tell you exactly what I did... (wow! a real life application of my work experience!)


Basically, what you'll need to learn are:




- Levels

(Adjusts black and white levels via a histogram)

- Curves

(Adjust contrast and color... good tutorial right here)

- Color Balance

(Not used quite so much, but a decent tool none the less... It's a more 'true' way to adjust than messing with the hue controls)

- Variations

(Simultaniously adjusts brightness, colour, and saturation... there's a really good explination of why it's cool right here.)


Like I said, if I had some before pics here at work, I could illustrate a 'quick and dirty' fix for minis... (Maybe I'll do that some time this week and post it)...

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Thank you for the replies.


Really, stop using Autolevels. It's good for people who know nothing, but what's the use of having something like Photoshop if all you're ever going to do is use Autolevels?


I don't have much experience with color correction, and I was hesitant to make too many changes...when I'd be pretty much flying blind. Right now, I'm doing mostly black and white stuff like this.


My photo set-up isn't the greatest. I have one lamp (with a reveal bulb) positioned about a foot and a half away from the miniature. My camera is on a tripod below and behind the lamp. I took a few pictures with a white-blue fade backdrop, but the red cast was worse.


Here's an example of the picture before any correction.


Thanks for the suggestions, ThePolo. I'll do some experimentation with those tools.

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Now, first, to preface this: I am not a professional photographer or graphic artist. I've worked for quite a while in marketing, and print media and have had a lot of 'practical experience' cleaning up photos for print. My way's not 'the best way' or 'the only way'... it's just the way that I do it... So... To move on:


Quick and Dirty Mini Clean Up

by Polo


First: You're going to want to open the image (duh) and crop it. I'd reccomend making the Level and Variation changes before resizing, if possible. Then, open the 'Levels' dialogue:



Now, this image has presented us with the following histogram:



Eww... Not what I like to work with! Basically, I can tell from this that your lighting is a bit off, or the white balance on your camera wasn't set. (You mentioned yourself that you're only using one bulb... and it is a new camera, so that's expected ::D:)


What we should (hopefully) see, is something like the red area below... A nice smooth curve.



Since we don't have that nice little wave, we're going to set your white level using the eye dropper all the way on the right....



Once we click that, we'll just try to find your photos 'white' level... I usually pick the brightest part of the background... Since the paper's white, the spot in the circle should do:



Once we've set the white level, we'll deepen the shadows just a little bit by sliding the far left slider over towards where the actual value begins (you can tell that by looking at the histogram).



Click 'Okay', and this is what we get:



Now, I'm going to tweak the Variations, just a bit... Open up 'Variations' and we'll see the following:



Now, the Variatons tool is flat out cool. It lets you adjust color, saturation, contrast, brihtness... all through a nice little GUI, without having to mess with dials or sliders... Just pick the ones that look right. After adding a little bit of Blue to my midtones, a little Magenta to my shadows, and dropping the Highlights down a touch, we get this:


(Note: Variations is pretty much just 'to taste'... play around with it for a bit and you'll see what I mean)


So... here's a side by side:



That's it... quick, dirty... far from perfect, but not too bad for a few minutes on my lunch break, eh?


You can sometimes get a similar effect by using the Adjust -> Photo Filters tool... try adding a 'Cooling' filter to one of your pics, and that'll get rid of some of that 'redness' in just one click!


Hope I've helped!

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Now, the Variatons tool is flat out cool. It lets you adjust color, saturation, contrast, brihtness... all through a nice little GUI, without having to mess with dials or sliders... Just pick the ones that look right.

Hope I've helped!

The variations tool is just great- I've never used it before your post and it's just too cool. Thanks!


I also use curves in PhotoShop to adjust color and intensity (Image> Adjust> Curves).


You can print out a strip of paper (or get one at a photography shop) that is pure white at one end, pure black on the other, and 50% grey in the middle. Place it next tp your mini to the side or bottom when you take your pictures (you want to be able to crop it out later).


When you're in PhotoShop the Curves dialogue shows 3 droppers at the bottom (a white, a grey, and a black). If you click on the grey dropper and then the 50% grey box on the strip in the picture, it will correct the color balance to make the area you clicked on 100 % neutral, and thus correct your colors.


It's pretty handy and quick if you're taking a batch of pictures at one time, and gives you a nice starting point for further correction.


Scott- this mini is just great! I love it, she's so original.

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Thank you very much ThePolo. It's nice to be able to see the steps being performed. By the way, to make rock bases, I bake a "pancake" of sculpey and then simply break it apart in the shape I need. This yields relatively natural looking results without a lot of work.


bleujenna, I'll give that a shot. Thanks for the tip.


Scott- this mini is just great! I love it, she's so original.

Don't tell that to the 40k purists...they jump allover the "there's no such thing as female space marines" bandwagon... :lol: I did want to create something that would test my abilities, though, especially if I ever try to build an army of these.

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