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Tranquil Ape

Still practicing...

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So I'm determined to take better photos of my my minis, despite having them revealing my utter lack of painting skill. I figure I can still play the newbie card a little while longer.


Up until recently I have been using the macro setting on my camera (nikon D5000 for those interested) when photographing my works. I was always unhappy with most of the results so i decided to read up a bit and actually try to learn a lil bit. I took some more pics today using what I had learned and i think they came out much better.


Things I payed attention to this time were:


Lighting: Made sure to move the light tent to a good spot and have lights on either side. I also borrowed an LED macro ring that mounts to the front of my lens; makes me look all pro. lol


White Balance: rather than leave it at auto or set it to a preset I set up my lighting and light tent and then had the camera set the white balance based off of the white background. I saved this setting so that I can always go back to it. (does anyone know... will i need to change this if i change the backdrop? If I'm understanding correctly, as long as the lighting is the same - the setting can still be used without the need to change)


Aperture: While I completely love the bokeh effect in most photos I found that having an aperture too small (opened up), and this close up, left portions of my mini out of focus. For the pics below I stopped down to f22 and it looks like it helped immensely.


Distance: I also noticed that on a few photos, if I got the camera too close, the the resulting photo would have a fisheye effect, so here I backed the camera up until i could just get things into focus; however this limits how close-up I was able to get. I do have some of those close-up filters but I';m not sure if i can just slap those on with everything staying the same, and get the desired result... I need to play with them.


Tripod: I found that I absolutely needed to use a tripod here, and i was lucky enough to have a wireless remote to further reduce any potential camera shake.


So enough of that, here are the pics, please don't hesitate to comment or criticize.






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The white balance looks pretty good and the images seem to be well in focus, but somehow they still seem a little "flat", and that's not a critique of the paint. It could be that the macro light ring is casting too much light and almost defeating the purpose of the light tent. Macro rings are excellent in situations where you might otherwise have to use onboard flash, but you should try a series without it. You will have to increase the exposure time a little, but in the end I believe you will see a more dramatic contrast between your mini and the white background behind the mini.


Also don't be afraid to noodle around with f-stop, and take notes of how deep your focal field is when shooting macro with different apertures. Try a bit of range-finding using a row of straight pins stuck into a piece of styrofoam, each about 1/2 centimeter behind the next. See how low you can set the f-stop and still keep 5 pins in sharp focus. Once you find that "sweet spot", you can have crisp focus all over the mini and still get good bokeh. I've had pretty good success at f/11.

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My cheap 2005 p/s will only go to f/8 :)


One thing about distance, I like to shoot at about 24-27" away. Just what works for my camera. I do use the zoom on it (physical, not digital), but it's a fairly low megapixel camera so the resulting unzoomed image would be a bit too small.


What are you using for post-processing? I'm mostly using (and learning) the GIMP, I like it because it's cross platform and I use both macs and winders (I'm a sysadmin of both).


In post, rather than scaling the image (re-sizing it for the web); you should first crop the original image and then resize the cropped image to the desired size for the web. If you look at the pics in my recent Show-Off thread, those were originally 2400xwhatever (or so, they were much larger), but the mini was only 10% of the pic, just a wee bit in the frame.


I used the rectangle select tool to select an area around the mini, then used Image>Crop to Selection. Then Image>Scale to scale it to a width of 400. Then I stitched several processed angle shots of the same width into a single vertical image (using Paint, because I still don't see an easy way to do it in GIMP, I'm still a newb with it mostly).


Hope that helps!


edit - Oh, and I'm not sure I care for the light ring, it cast a pretty harsh light.

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Appreciate all the info... As for post processing I'm not really using anything... I have been pulling the photos off the sd card and importing them straight into iPhoto. I'll be sure to try some pics without the ring and see what we have... really appreciate the info..

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I'm going to put some pics of my photo setup in the light box thread for reference.


Speaking of reference. I just updated my Ogre WIP, which you can find here. Here is a cropped and scaled pic taken in my lightbox:




And here is the same pic in its raw format (linking because it's big) :




That's the power of post. I used to also tweak the white balance in post, but then I learned to set the camera's white balance and it's much better so I just crop and resize now.

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