Photographing Miniatures with iDevice, The Definitive Guide.

One of the most important skills you need to master as a miniature blogger is the ability to take decent photographs of your models. Not saying that good photography could make a badly painted miniature to look great but bad photography can certainly make your carefully painted miniature to look like nothing!

Too many bloggers out there think that one needs professional equipment to take quality shots. No way those mobile devices that we carry with us every day could ever capture anything worth publishing!

or do they?

Not sure if you have realized it yet but in Iron Sleet, we only use iDevices to shoot our stuff, that’s right! everything you see in our blog is shot with either iPhone or iPad!

In this following tutorial I will walk you through the process how we do it in Iron Sleet.

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So what do we need to take quality photographs with iPhone/iPad?

-Place to shoot

This can basically be anything you like. Clean space and if you decide to use wall as a background(like I do), evenly coloured works best.

-Light source

Never use the flash, never. set it from auto to off.

Natural sun light is best but it tends to be very problematic for photography since its position constantly changes.

That is the main reason I personally shoot with artificial light only, this way it is easier to control things.

I personally use http://www.amazon.com/Daylight-U32500-Triple-Bright-White/dp/B0052OT64K

but I know that Kari for example uses standard Ikea table lamp with daylight light bulb)

-iPhone/iPad 

Obviously

-a Strip of standard white copy paper

We use this to calibrate the white balance right.

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Let’s begin!!

Place your miniature under the lamp for the photography. (notice how I shoot against white background to actually achieve dark/black BG in the final versions )

Place your light source so that it gets partially covered by something as shown in the picture below. This is important since the lid is covering the light hitting the miniature so that it casts shadow just behind it, thus creating nice dark background.

photo 14

Ok now we are ready to take some photographs!

But before we start, we should first set the white balance right. This way our carefully planned colour scheme gets captured in its full glory. One of the most common mistakes people do is to skip this phase. Ever wondered why your photographs look either yellows or blueish? yep, you failed to set the white balance right.

Fortunately setting the  white balance in iPhone/iPad is very easy process.

First insert the strip of white copy paper you have prepared over your miniature (try to get the paper as close to the miniature as possible since camera will lock its focus into it).photo 10

Now in this point you should decide the distance you want to take your photo from, since the focus point will be also set in the next phase and after that, you can’t change the distance without getting out of focus.

press the screen with your finger to focus on the paper strip placed before miniature

photo 6photo 2

Keep your finger pressed until the camera application says it  has locked the white balance and focus.photo 3

Now, carefully remove the strip of paper with your other hand while NOT MOVING THE iPAD

now you can steady the device with your both hands to get sharp shot

And there it is!

Final2

Depending on the position of your light source you can achieve different resultsfinal

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This is how we do it. Im sure Kari’s and Migs’s techniques differ from mine a little but the main idea is the same.

We all do have our own styles ant tastes to present our miniatures, so remember to experiment with the the different elements!

Change the position of the light source, the distance of the camera to get different results etc. etc.

I really hope this was helpful for all of you struggling to get decent photographs taken from your miniatures.

Mikko

14 thoughts on “Photographing Miniatures with iDevice, The Definitive Guide.

  1. Thanks for this – I just point and click – wonder if I’ll become more patient and try a little harder – we shall see ….

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    1. Hah! you never had any problems with your photography but maybe this will help you set them in correct mood, so they could capture the same intense feeling like your paintings/drawings do;)

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  2. As one of those bloggers who has been struggling to get good photos, I’d like to say a massive thank you for this. This was a revelation. Using a strip of white paper to set the colour balance is just genius.

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  3. Nice write-up on this. I’m glad you included the white balance step here – whenever I do any video production, adjusting the white balance is such a crucial step, it can make or break a shot. The funny thing is that I pretty much never do it for any miniature photos for some reason. I should probably start.

    Setting the mood with lighting and background is something I’d like to start thinking about as well as I get back into the hobby. Growing up with the early days of ‘Eavy Metal shoots in White Dwarf, I’m used to the full-on light blasted miniature shots with the gradient blue backgrounds, so everything I’ve ever photographed up to this point has had that display mentality to it.

    Thanks for the tips.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you!
    I know for a fact my photos need more effort, so much depends on the light placement and distance to background etc. etc.

    Invitational is the perfect chance for improvement.

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    1. Toni your entry for the Invitational is so phenomenal that it truly deserves to be photographed properly;)
      Light placement plays major role and little tweaks can make all the difference in the world, when you are looking for certain mood for your pictures.

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  5. Shoot, I might need to buy a new iPhone since my current one has some sea water mud in the camera lense, in the inside, and it won’t go away… All my images get more or less blurry because of this.

    It’s funny how people tend to bitch about the heavy shadows and stuff like that. There really are more ways to photograph miniatures than just the usual “studio style” where miniature is always perfectly lighten and brought to viewer with all the details visible.

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