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Have lightbox, will shoot!


Cyradis
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I finally got a lightbox set up. Not perfect, but vastly better. Will get another light source soon enough. Here's a few of the ones I've done recently. Rogue was done for a friend to use in our D&D game, the base will get worn a bit. Shame his face isn't perfectly symmetrical, but the ranger girl has nice symmetry! Dwarf was one of the first I tried freehand writing with - see her mace. The brothel matron's book was written in using a fine black pen instead of paint, as were the spots on the fairy dragon. Kobolds were fast-paint "give the adventurers cannon fodder" project, but turned out quite well, although simple coloring.

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Your painting is very nice. I like the way the glasses on the matron worked out; they're always tricky.

 

For photography, I would recommend that you use a darker background (medium gray works pretty well) to fool the camera into a longer exposure.

 

Also, I'd recommend that you set your camera to tungsten white balance (often shown with a lightbulb icon), to remove the orange cast from the photos.

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Hey, I just wanted to log in and reply here and add my two-cents worth.

 

Your photography with the new lightbox looks very nice. I do agree about using a bit darker grey paper, but they do look very nice. It makes me want to get on the stick and make my own light box now. I have some Canson Mitints(sp?) pastel paper that I got at an art supply store several years ago that I've tried for a background, and it works pretty well. The warm grey I used was fairly light too (like your background)so I think I'll switch to a slightly darker background for the next minis I photograph.

 

Here's the most important thing - Are you familiar with Linus Svensson (aka "VikingLodge") here on the boards? He's not active on the forums any longer, but he gave me the best advice for photographing minis that I've gotten so far - the lighting. I haven't posted a ton of minis on CMON, but when I first started, I was really frustrated that the color was off. Linus suggested I Google "CRI True Light" and get some bulbs. Those made all the difference in the world. The bulbs were about $10 each, but well worth it. I still need to get a better camera to improve the resolution of my pix.

 

Anyway, you may or may not have been aware of the CRI True Light bulbs already, but if you weren't, I hope this helps. Your stuff looks good! Keep it up!

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Not familiar with those. I just started reading and posting on these forums a few weeks ago, since I decided that I'd need some help to progress faster. Really should start that up again, since I restarted with acrylics after using enamels for years.

Will see about getting one of those bulbs, and a lamp to put it on. Currently, I'm putting the lightbox on one of my two counter stools, the lamp on my miniatures trunk, and on the other side of the stool is my sink which isn't great for placement. I do my painting at the kitchen counter where I should be eating and cooking. If I clean my shoe-box apartment I could get space to put the setup on the counter too!

I can put a gray background into the box no issue, but I'm not sure what else I can do with my camera. Perhaps if I reclaimed the camera my dad got me years ago because *he* wanted to take good pictures, I could do more with the exposure. This one I just pop it onto "Supermacro" and click.

 

Thank you for the tips ::):

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I never heard of CRI - I suppose that is a brand name? I do know that there are lots of types of daylight bulbs available that are good for photographing minis; GE Reveal is one that you hear about a lot, and it's available in incandescent and CFL varieties. They're supposed to be pretty good but some report issues with shooting reds. Then there are the Ott-Lites, which people rave about but that are rather pricey. Anyhow, it's definitely true that daylight bulbs of some sort are a plus. VikingLodge's posted minis always looked awesome when he used to post here - I always greatly looked forward to them and still hope to see more some day - so the reported awesomeness of those CRI bulbs seems credible enough.

 

Aside from that, I have just one tip: Go into your camera's settings and set the F-Stop to the highest number you can, especially when shooting minis that have tails, wings, pole-arms, or other parts that extend significantly toward or away from the camera from the rest of the mini. I'm not 100% sure of the details (though I am sure that a high F-number is good), but I believe this makes the aperture smaller, which should give you a greater depth of focus. This would have helped on these photos in a few spots, ie. the dwarf's right foot in the shot where she's facing the camera probably would have stayed in focus, as would the left wing and tail and legs of the butterfly-dragon-thing and the dagger held by the studded leather armor guy. The thing is, doing this will also result in a longer exposure since not as much light comes through a smaller aperture, so using the camera's shutter delay setting (so you're not still touching/moving the camera when the shutter clicks) and adding an extra lamp or two as planned would be ideal.

 

All that said, those are some pretty nice minis you've got there. I'm sure they'll look great on the battle grid in your D&D game - what edition are you playing? No dragonborn or tieflings here, so I'm guessing it's pre-4th... ::):

 

Hopefully some of this is helpful to someone out there eventually... If not, at least I killed some time writing it.

 

Good luck,

 

Kang

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I'll try to figure out how to do that on the camera, but can make no guarantees. Me figuring out electronics is like a monkey teaching itself French it seems.

 

I think when I get back from class today I'll label my Figure-Spree 2.0 batch in order of painting. Kinda a fresh start with the acrylics, and I like to see what progress I make. We'll be playing a 3.5 game, as those are the books I'm most familiar with, and played a small amount of, and what our experienced player has essentially all the good books for and experience with. Only tricky part is getting paper copies of the PH for the others. Fudging a few things, within reason.

 

And yes, it is helpful. If I find an online manual for my camera that would rock, like I said... me and gizmos.... monkey and French.

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I never heard of CRI - I suppose that is a brand name?

 

Color Rendering Index. It refers to how close the light source comes to an ideal black-body radiator of a particular color. That plus Color Temperature will tell you quite a bit about how the light looks.

 

I do know that there are lots of types of daylight bulbs available that are good for photographing minis; GE Reveal is one that you hear about a lot, and it's available in incandescent and CFL varieties. They're supposed to be pretty good but some report issues with shooting reds. Then there are the Ott-Lites, which people rave about but that are rather pricey. Anyhow, it's definitely true that daylight bulbs of some sort are a plus. VikingLodge's posted minis always looked awesome when he used to post here - I always greatly looked forward to them and still hope to see more some day - so the reported awesomeness of those CRI bulbs seems credible enough.

 

Ordinary incandescents have a better CRI than Reveals or any fluorescent I've seen the curves for. OTOH, their color temperature is usually around 3500K, where the various "daylight" sources are generally in the 5500K to 6500K range.

 

If you are using a daylight white balance on your camera, ordinary incandescents will look orange. Change the white balance and you can get quite a faithful rendering of colors. Daylight bulbs will look much more correct in a daylight-balanced photo, but their emission curves can give somewhat enhanced or dimmed colors at specific frequencies (this is usually not especially noticeable).

 

The one thing you most especially do not want to do is to use a mix of bulbs with different color temperatures. This will give you light that you can't really fix by changing your white balance or in post. (A common feature here is a green shadow on one side and an orange shadow on the other side of the subject.)

 

Aside from that, I have just one tip: Go into your camera's settings and set the F-Stop to the highest number you can, especially when shooting minis that have tails, wings, pole-arms, or other parts that extend significantly toward or away from the camera from the rest of the mini. I'm not 100% sure of the details (though I am sure that a high F-number is good), but I believe this makes the aperture smaller, which should give you a greater depth of focus. This would have helped on these photos in a few spots, ie. the dwarf's right foot in the shot where she's facing the camera probably would have stayed in focus, as would the left wing and tail and legs of the butterfly-dragon-thing and the dagger held by the studded leather armor guy. The thing is, doing this will also result in a longer exposure since not as much light comes through a smaller aperture, so using the camera's shutter delay setting (so you're not still touching/moving the camera when the shutter clicks) and adding an extra lamp or two as planned would be ideal.

 

The f-stop is the ratio of the length of the lens to the aperture. For a given length, a larger f-stop means a smaller aperture. As the aperture drops, the depth of field (the area where the image is acceptably sharp) increases. So, yes, you have it right. At very small apertures you can start to get diffraction softness, which reduces the sharpness of the photo throughout its depth, but this is usually a better tradeoff than wing tips and sword blades that are out of focus.

 

Normal full f-stops are F2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22, 32, 43. A one-stop change drops the light by 50%. So, if you are going from F5.6 to F16, you'll need eight times as much light for the same exposure, from increasing the illumination, the exposure time, or both.

 

Note: You can also increase the sensor speed (ISO), but this increases sensor noise. If you're using a point-and-shoot camera, especially an older camera, this noise can be quite annoying. This is less of a problem with a new DSLR.

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...So, yes, you have it right...

I understood that part completely. ::):

 

Unitl I've had time to digest the rest of it a little bit, and maybe look up a few things, it looks like I'm stuck in the monkey-french boat with Cyradis. But I do plan on making an effort to make sense of all that stuff about colour temperature (is that a warm vs. cool colours thing?), diffraction softness, sensor speed, etc. Actually, I think it is already starting to clear up a little bit just from quickly reading it over again to find and copy/paste those terms above... So thanks on my part for the expanded technical info.

 

Kang

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But I do plan on making an effort to make sense of all that stuff about colour temperature (is that a warm vs. cool colours thing?), diffraction softness, sensor speed, etc. Actually, I think it is already starting to clear up a little bit just from quickly reading it over again to find and copy/paste those terms above... So thanks on my part for the expanded technical info.

 

Kang

 

The easy way to think about color temperature is to think about metal heated in a forge. When the glow first starts to be visible, it's a deep red. As the temperature goes up, the color goes through orange, to yellow, to blue-white. The reason this is used for lightbulbs is that normal incandescent bulbs are just heated metal (usually tungsten).

 

Direct sunlight is quite similar in color to a metal coil heated to a much higher temperature.

 

When something is lit by a colored light, it takes on some of the color of the light. To quite a large extent, our eyes compensate for this when we're seeing only that light, which is why we usually don't notice the color cast, but a camera doesn't compensate unless you tell it to. (Some cameras have automatic white balance, which compensates by default, but from the color, it's fairly clear that Cyradis's camera either doesn't have that or doesn't have it turned on.) So, an uncompensated photo taken under normal incandescent lights will look orange, like the background here (which I suspect to be white paper).

 

Conversely, if you shoot in shade, your picture will be lit mostly by the bright blue sky and you'll get a blue cast to your light. You can compensate for this by changing to a bluer white balance in camera.

 

Now, if you didn't get it right in camera, you can also do quite a bit in post-processing.

 

Here's a small version of your picture of the front of the Dwarf (let me know if you would prefer that I pull it down, btw):

 

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In this photo, I've adjusted your white balance, increased the contrast a bit, and cropped the image (and dropped the resolution way down).

 

I suspect that the colors are now a bit closer to what you see when you look at the figure.

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That does look more crisp on the colors. Slight difference, but it is there. No need to take it down.

It is white mylar film on the right, top, and left side of the lightbox, and a sheet running from the back to the bottom. Back on its own is white. It was on a wooden stool, fairly bright tan color, with two thin edges of that showing (I positioned to not have those visible in pictures). On the supermacro setting I used, there is no specific zoom feature on the camera to get closer, although I could have chopped it later. Using an Olympus FE-340, 8.0 megapixel camera. Very nice generic camera for putting in a pocket and going, but not especially great at either large, small, or fast things.

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