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Girot

Lighting Help

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Okay so I have a decent light box and some great backgrounds on the way. I more or less know what I'm doing with my camera. But I have no idea what I'm doing with my lighting. No matter what I try my pictures come out dark and yellow or so over saturated you can hardly see the detail in the model.

 

What ever shall I do?

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what about multiple lights and all that? i saw something about putting the light through fabric instead of directly on the model. What up with that?

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2 lights of the same type (don't do 1 LED and 1 incandescent, for example) pointing down at your mini at a 45 degree angle from opposing sides should minimize shadows. Using a sheet or tissue or whatever is intended to help with diffusion and reduce shine. You want the lighting effects of your paint job, not the lighting effects of the shine of your lights, to be visible. I shouldn't be giving you pointers, because I take TERRIBLE mini photos, but I don't have the gear or the space to do it correctly yet.

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If you want a photo for record, use one light on either side at 45°, both lights the same type of bulb and each the same distance from the figure.

 

For a slightly more pleasing photo, I'd recommend pulling one light back about 40 - 100% further than the closer light. This will give you bit of gradation from highlight to shadow that will help reveal the shape of the figure.

 

As to color: not caused by the lights. For any broad-spectrum light you can get acceptable results if your white balance is right. The problem you have is that your camera's white balance is off. My suspicion is that this problem was caused by you having chosen flash or daylight WB and photographing under tungsten lights. Look in your camera's manual for how to select a white balance appropriate for the lighting you're using or use a post-processing program light Adobe Photoshop Lightroom ($150 if it's not on sale) to correct WB in post. (Might also be caused by a background that isn't a neutral color and the camera being set to automatic white balance.)

 

Saturation: Probably caused by a scenic mode chosen in camera. Not a light problem. Pick a mode that doesn't play with saturation, especially with selective colors.

 

Exposure: Since you're using continuous lights, this isn't a lighting problem unless you're not putting light on the front of the figure. You should be getting a decent exposure straight out of camera as long as you're not using manual exposure improperly if you can see well enough to read. The two things that usually cause under exposure using hot lights are either a dialed in exposure compensation (check your camera manual to change this) or using a white or very light background (or a light within the camera's frame). For the latter, use a light to medium gray background and make sure you can't see any bright light sources directly in the frame of the image.

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:wow: = camera settings

 

Okay so I may have been over confident with this camera. I downloaded the manual and will give that a read while I wait for my lights to warm up.

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Having worked with various kinds of lighting in my lifetime I know that certain kinds need time to 'warm up' to obtain full brightness/color. After about an hour i found zero difference, though they did get hot as h311.

lights_by_girot-d5sm01l.jpg

 

So I moved on to setting up the light box. I tried the lights at different distances but they just weren't doing much for me unless I put them right up against the fabric. I did do the 45 degree angel bit though. That worked pretty well.

 

b4f810ec4988e22502bd980cf03d9163-d5sm00f

 

Next is the whole thing all set up.

 

d7bda190b638ade5609bbc95480a6b90-d5sm00c

 

I didn't get the kind of brightness I wanted out of this but I haven't exactly got options coming out of my ears.

 

NOTE: Add the cover over the top did absolutely nothing.

 

Next up are photos of the subject. This first set is with NO PHOTOSHOPED corrections to color or light.

 

68f87ea5000788de3cd3f91f61d99cb4-d5slzzv

 

Next up are photoshop corrections using just the "auto" options. No manual tweaking.

 

29759869e97f4719d8d1f4ea382edf4b-d5slzzs

 

Lastly I made my adjustments using manual Brightness/Contrast. The top picture needed no color correction. The bottom picture couldn't be corrected using Color Balance so I opted to use the auto again to avoid a headache.

 

dfceb707b41fa6c9d92642a55576af5d-d5slzzn

 

(edited to add the final picture)

Edited by Girot
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What camera do you actually have?

 

Your test there seems to have gone pretty well - youve got roughly even lighting without any really obvious hot stops and highlights, it just looks to me like your lights dont have the power youd ideally want. But if your camera can be put on a bench or tripod and take a long exposure I dont see any reason you cant get something very serviceable.

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Your light box looks a bit dark. Are they meant for a continuous light like what you are using, or high intensity strobes that are tied into the camera so as to fire when the shutter trips?

In any event I think you want to work this in a room that has a good level of ambient light, whereas in your photos it looks like you tried to eliminate all other light sources in the room.

I don't know what kind of camera you have, but if it is an SLR with an external flash, you might try to use a flash diffuser as explained in this youtube.


568273.jpg

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Yeah, if you look, you'll see that the white background in the uncorrected photos is going to a nice, clean mid-gray. Which is exactly what you would expect. And it's taking down the exposure on the mini with it.

 

With a darker (though not really dark) background, your overall exposure will be higher and the gray will look almost like the white here.

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I'd actually skip the light box. Relative to the size of the mini, an ordinary light bulb moved in close subtends quite a large angle. And you don't have to worry much about falloff from one side of the figure to the other, which is a consideration when shooting a bigger subject.

 

I know I've linked the Tacticon 2012 photos I took last fall. They were taken with two 60W or 75W GE Reveal bulbs in gooseneck desk lamps undiffused.

 

I didn't take down the room lights, not because I needed the extra light but because the room was still in use for paint-n-take. If there's a lot of ambient light, you do need to watch out for competing color temperatures between your room lights and the subject lighting.

 

If you're using on-camera flash, a better bet than a scoop diffuser would be a white bounce panel behind your head with the flash aimed to fire at the panel. It gives you a large enough light source to soften your shadows. Whatever you do, don't use a pop-up flash unless you know exactly what you're doing. It will give you nasty, flat, specular (direct reflections) light that is about as unflattering as is possible to arrange.

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While definitely not an expert, I can share what I did to take these photos, where I think the lighting came out reasonably well.

 

I followed

to create a poor man's lightbox. I think my white sheets on the sides may have been a bit thinner than yours, but otherwise, the end result is pretty similar. As others have mentioned, I also had more ambient light coming from the room around me.

 

Exposure:

Based on your photo samples, I see a fair bit of noise indicating a reasonably high ISO setting on your camera. If most of your camera settings are on auto, it's probably struggling to get enough light for proper exposure. Are you using a tripod? Initially I had a very similar problem as you. Once I got my tripod, I was able to switch to shutter priority mode, and use a nice long exposure time. This allowed me to stay at ISO 200, and still get sufficient light in. I may have twiddled the exposure compensation slightly to get it just right.

 

White Balance:

Again, based on your photo samples, you're having the same problem I did initially. None of the camera's default settings worked (auto, indoor, etc.). Eventually, I looked up how to preset white balance on my camera. I can't tell you exactly how to do this since it depends on camera, but after I preset white balance using my box with nothing in it, immediately my colors looked perfect.

 

Hope that helps!

 

Edit: Couple more notes I forgot. The depth of field on my photos is very narrow. I have a feeling I could have improved that by having more of a clue what I was doing when fiddling with the shutter/apeture settings, but the results were good enough for me, so I stopped messing with it. I took my photos with a Nikon D40 DSLR using the basic 18-55 lens that comes with entry level Nikon DSLR cameras. I was somewhere around 50mm, f/5.6, 1/10s exposure time, and ISO 200.

Edited by Slashhamster
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. I took my photos with a Nikon D40 DSLR using the basic 18-55 lens that comes with entry level Nikon DSLR cameras. I was somewhere around 50mm, f/5.6, 1/10s exposure time, and ISO 200.

Very close to the settings I'm using. Olympus E20N on a tripod at maximum zoom from a distance of 2 feet, f4.5 for medium size figs flike this one 1/13s, direct lit by two lights. For larger figs, the f number needs to be higher because the depth of field at 4.5 barely covers a medium fig, which means exposure time is longer ( I think for large figs f5.5 and 1/6s) Getting the depth of field by the fstop setting is the thing to pin down first, then alternate shooting and adjusting the shutter speed until you get the desired level of brightness in your photo. I use a cable release to minimize vibration in the camera.

post-6758-0-09642100-1359080548.jpg

The background above is just a couple of pieces of balsa wood. My light setup is show here and is the same that I paint by.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/8396065267/'>8396065267_ac63be4f26.jpg

 

Edited by badocter

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For DoF, assuming you have a manual mode, go to around f/16 (if your camera has that; many P&S cameras do not go that small), put the camera on a tripod (because you're looking at quite long exposure times), make sure auto ISO is off, and adjust shutter speed until your exposure is right.

 

Note that going to a smaller aperture (higher f/stop number) is contraindicated in most circumstances, because you start getting noticeable diffraction softening throughout the entire image.

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I'm going to play with a few variables and post results.

 

I really appreciate all of the great feedback from you guys! Hopefully this will help others as well.

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