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Do you have any advice for me?


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Hi all,


I took this picture with a new Canon Powershot SD1100IS, with an Ebay-bought light tent, and three lights in the usual places. I took the photo with my new color card, which I made in a similar way that Derek Schubert described in his show-off thread here:


Here is the cropped and automatically adjusted photo: (I use an old version of Photoshop, and just hit "auto levels").




I think it looks very grainy. The colors are a little off too, as the blue in the background is a fair amount lighter that what shows up there.


Do you have any advice for me on how I could improve this photo? I think the Powershot is a pretty popular camera for mini painters, right?


Here is a link to the raw photo if it helps.


Thanks for any help you can offer. ::):

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More information would help. Do you know what all your settings were? (ISO, f-stop, resolution, quality setting, distance to mini and or zoom ratio, macro or not, etc.)? These things make a difference.


If you were shooting on "auto", there's likely things we can do to help you out to reduce the grain. Regardless, it's a nice photo. I wouldn't fret too much. There's only a little to improve.


As far as auto correction and the color of the blue background are concerned -- you auto corrected the original with the color card included, right? You didn't crop then correct. You need to correct then crop. And I don't say this to sound condescending, I just want to make sure you understand how the process works.


Also understand, the grain could come from .jpg compression when you prepare for the web. Bottom line, is we need more info. on all your settings.


EDIT: I opened your raw photo. Is that the actual size of the original you edited? If so, the problem is you've blown up the image too far. That's where your grain is coming from. It's better to resize digital photos by sizing DOWN, not up. You need to shoot a larger resolution and reduce. Not shoot small and blow up. Blowing up adds pixels, which causes grain.


As far as the blue is concerned, I auto-corrected the colors and the background seemed to come out fine. You'd have to compare.

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I gotta agree with Whiz on this. If that is the only raw photo you have, you blew her up way too much.


I followed MamaGeek's tutorial on this photo and got this:




You can see that even that is still grainy due to blowing it up a lot. I also agree that you need to tell us what your settings were, etc., so we can help you out better. With my DSLR I bring my tripod in as close as I can to the mini itself (in my home-made lightbox), turn out the lights and leave the 3 lamps on that are lighting th box and take it.


MG's tutorial for Photoshop is really beneficial. Possibly look at this when you develop mini pictures in the future as it tells you about lighting, etc., and how you can fix it so your minis look amazing. I followed it for the picture above.


I also don't have any knowledge with this point-and-shoot. From the past when I used mine primarily as my "main camera" I'd always get a grainy texture when I tried to take pictures up close, that might be it too :)


Once you let us know more information I'm sure we can help out more!! :D Also, that pic isn't so bad either; could be just the format you saved it in maybe??

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Before I start, I am embarrassed to say that I can't find the manual for the camera. I tried to download a pdf of the manual from Canon several times, but it kept hanging at halfway. Finally I just selected a similar camera, hoping that the controls would be the same, and it seems like they were.


OK, more info:


ISO, f-stop, resolution, quality setting, distance to mini and or zoom ratio, macro or not?


ISO was set at auto. For the image below, I set it at 200 as per MG's suggestion.

F-stop: I'm not sure how to set this in my camera. Is it length of time the shutter is open? Does it sometimes have a different name in digital cameras?

Resolution was at full, 8mp.

Distance to mini, about 12 inches. If I try to get closer it looks unfocused in the...what do you call the video panel in the back? Not the viewfinder...

I didn't zoom at all, thinking that in macro mode it would be all digital zoom. Not sure why I thought that, and in the image below I zoomed in a little and it seemed to help a little.

It was set to macro.


I'm not sure what you mean by blowing it up. I didn't enlarge the photo at all. I got the raw photo, and after adjusting the colors, I cropped it. I zoomed in on the photo (using cntl +) until it was 100%, but I'm pretty sure that does not affect the size of the photo or the file. So, I am missing something here. Could you explain in more detail?

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Here is my next try, using MamaGeek's suggestions.


I set the ISO to 200.

For the light setting, there didn't seem to be a setting for incandescent, so I set the white level manually. I put a piece of white paper in my photo box and hit the correct button (disc). Seemed to work pretty well.

As stated above, I'm not sure how to set the F-stop. I'll look about the interwebs a little while and see if I can figure this out.

I set the two minute timer.

I zoomed in a little so that there was less dead space.


For some reason I had a hard time getting the camera to focus on the mini. It was going everywhere else except on Rhymaiis. I took 5 shots and this was the only one that was passable. I'll keep working on this.


The new photo is below. The graininess is gone, which is good, and the colors look great, which is good, but like I said, it's out of focus.


Here is the raw image.


Any other suggestions? It's getting better...



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Ah ha, you want to get your camera much much closer physically and turn the macro mode on -> looks like a tulip on most cameras...


Yep! Also, F-Stop is the ratio between the width of the lens you are using and the focal length if that's any help.


Also, from what I have seen in PS, usually when I crop things the cropped part becomes larger; at least that's what i meant by blowing it up :)

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You were set to macro? Ok. You're much too far away from the mini I should think. I'm not familiar with your camera, but in general macro is used when the film plane (focal plane) of the camera (usually delineated by a circle with a line through it imprinted on the case toward the rear of the camera) is within 12" or less (depending on the camera). If the camera is farther out than that, you don't need macro. It's for focusing on small objects up close within that focal range.


Anyhow, let's work with a few things. Can you determine your resolution? In terms of size? 600x800 for instance. 768x1024? Likely much larger. Let's get that straightened out before we look at other settings. You can find this setting under your menu options. Set it LARGE. Then set the quality to best. This will produce large file size photos, but that's fine. Let's start there and then take a shot on auto (the little green box on the dial, most likely).


Thought here: Does Photobucket auto-crop hosted photos? This second raw photo again seems far, far, far too small to be the orginal in-camera photo.

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I just took a quick look at your particular camera's features on Amazon.


First, have you tried using the Tungsten white-balance mode? Looking at your raw photo you linked to in the first post, there seems to be a good bit of yellow, which tells me that your incandescent bulbs are causing the colour to shift. Ideally, you want your original photo to be as true-to-colour as possible, so you will need to improve your lighting. Those "natural daylight" bulbs make a huge difference in my opinion, but even those are still tungsten-bulbs and can make your pictures yellowy if they are too close to the subject. Try moving your lamps further away from the mini and see if that helps.


Getting the perfect focus can be real tricky on a compact camera with no manual focus mode, and when you're in the macro-mode, it is that much harder. It looks like your last photo is focused on the felt backdrop. The best way to keep this from happening is to trick the camera into focusing on the mini by hiding the backdrop behind a plain white sheet of paper while you focus. If your camera is like most, you can focus without shooting by pressing the shutter button halfway down. While you have it halfway pressed, hold a page of blank paper or blank file card behind the model. This will force the autofocus to see only what you want it to see. Then remove the card and press the button the rest of the way to take the picture. Of course you'll need a good tripod to make this work ..or you'll need to sprout a third hand... or sweet-talk a friend into helping you for a moment.


It's possible that your 2-second timer mode will focus the camera before the timer counts down, which makes the focusing trick a little easier. That's the nice thing about digital photography. You can mess around with settings all day and not have to wait for expensive prints to come back from the developers.

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Wow, lots of advice. Thanks!


Things are looking up. I was able to force the camera to focus on the mini (set it to focus on the center quadrant of the frame), and I was able to figure out how to use macro correctly with this camera. It seems that to use the macro between 3cm and 10 cm, it has to be in widescreen mode. I found these two tidbits out by searching the FAQ area at Canon.com.


Here is where we are at now:




I'm not sure why the pic is so big, as it is saved 3" across. Maybe it's a photobucket thing. I'll post the same pic in my WIP thread to see if it works better directly uploaded.


This pic is really nice. It shows the model very clearly, almost too clearly. You can see where I need to work on the shapes of the irises a little. The colors are good too. Not bad I think. What do you think?


Just FYI, after taking this (without the color card, as I'd ripped it off my background in frustration when my camera was focusing on it!) I ran it through PS, adjusting the levels as MamaGeek suggested. I did auto colors, which made the blue background a little less washed out, and made the flesh colors a little more true to life. Then I cropped it to 3".


Do you have any other suggestions?


Spike: I guess Tungsten was the setting I was looking for. It was called "Incandescent" on my old camera, so I didn't know what it was. I think I've solved the white balance issue by setting it manually. A nice feature of this camera is that it saves the manual WB setting even after you turn it off, so as long as I don't change my photo setup, I think it will be ok. Thanks!


Whiz, I appreciate your logical step by step methodology! I think I'm starting to get a handle on using this thing now.


Thanks everyone else too. I'd like to know if you think it can get better, but it's not bad now I think.

Edited by Mclimbin
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Whiz, I appreciate your logical step by step methodology! I think I'm starting to get a handle on using this thing now.


My pleasure. Looks like you're far beyond to where I wanted us to step back. That photo is looking nice. I'm glad you feel you were able to find a comfort zone without having to actually start at "step 1" again as I wanted you to do. Good work. Lovely photo.


Beyond that, lovely-lovely skintones. I can't wait to see this figure fully painted.


Let us know if you need any more help.


-D. ::D:

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When I shoot my photos with my PowerShot S70:


I use a 3072 x 2304 resolution.


I use the fluorescent white-balance setting -- daylight-fluorescent bulbs in my 3 lamps.


I do not use macro setting, but I set the manual focus.


I turn on my camera and zoom in as much as I can, and then place the camera at whatever distance allows me to keep the model and my color-card in the frame. This is usually about 15" (35-38 cm). I think I get fewer problems with distortion or depth-of-field this way (than I would if I shot closer but not zoomed), reasoning that the depth of the figure is a smaller fraction of the shooting distance.

I set the 2-second timer and take the first shot.

Then I check whether the focus is correct:

Before I pick up the camera, I place my spare camera battery in front of the camera, so I'll be able to put the camera back down in the same place.

I look at the image that my camera got, and see whether the focus is too close, too far, or just right.

I put the camera back down in front of the battery, and adjust the manual focus and shoot again if needed.

Once the focus is correct, I take all the shots I need.


Good luck,


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Thanks Derek. That process is quite different from what I've been experimenting with. I'll give it a try!


I think I can tweak it a little, using the manual white balance and forcing the focus to the center quadrant (or nonant, as there are nine "quadrants", 3x3, heh).


I admire your "shoot and check" technique. My painting area is in the garage, and my computer is in the bedroom. They are not far away (we have a small house) but somehow I still find it to be really annoying if I have to run back and forth several times trying to get the right shot...


Maybe I should use this as an excuse to finally get a laptop? I'm sure that will go over well! ("No, honey, really, I need to spend $500 on a new laptop so that I don't have to walk the 30 feet between my painting area and the computer. Yes, that's right, when I'm taking pictures of my minis.") :upside::poke:


Anyway, thanks for the info, I'll check it out.

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OK, I tried Derek's method of keeping a little farther away and zooming in. I also did it the old way to see which looked better. Which one looks better to you? Can you guess which one was shot in macro mode?




Photobucket is still enlarging the photos--this one was saved at 2.5 inches across. I really wish it wouldn't, it makes my mistakes sooooooo obvious. :poke:


She's got some eye issues I'll be working out next...

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My painting area is in the garage, and my computer is in the bedroom. They are not far away (we have a small house) but somehow I still find it to be really annoying if I have to run back and forth several times trying to get the right shot...


No need to take even a single step. Just press the button that lets you view the images on the screen at the back of the camera. If you zoom in near the figure's feet, you should be able to see whether the focal area is at , in front of , or behind the figure's feet.


I used to use my camera's "focus bracket" feature to take 3 shots with each click, and then I would choose the best one in the computer. But the "shoot and check" is much more efficient.



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