Photography: Miniatures

I've seen a few discussions along the lines of "how do I take good pictures of miniatures" on different fora over the past few months. I can't help you take good pictures, but I might be able to help you take half decent pictures.

King Charles will be our model for the day. (Picture taken in portable studio mentioned below)

I also like cameras. There I've said it. Now that is out in the open we can move on. I can happily drop phrases like 'macro', 'bokeh' and 'full frame' into a conversation, but my eyes glaze over when 'f-stops' get mentioned. As a glasses wearer of 40+ years I let the camera do the hard work, so it is 'automatic' all the way here.

First we need to talk about cameras. Photography anoraks will drone on and on about cameras for ever, if you allow them. Simple answer is, got a smartphone? Answer yes? Then the camera in your phone will be more than adequate. No camera phone? Then you'll need a camera with a macro facility. All the pictures in this entry were taken with a Samsung Galaxy S9.

The biggest issue when photographing miniatures is light. Simple, you think, just use a flash. Sorry, no. Flash, unless you are a real photography smarty pants, will most likely be way too harsh bleaching colour out and giving harsh shadows.

Flash and background household lighting (which completely negates what I wrote above. Typical!)

Background household lighting. My house is a dark 1830s built stone cottage. Very poor natural lighting. Trying to use household lighting (most light bulbs have a warm white colour) just makes miniatures look really yellow. Cold white LED bulbs are better.

Background household lighting (LED white spotlights) - actually not too bad, but some shadows

Angled spotlights, not surprisingly, cast too many shadows.

Halogen desk spotlight

Natural daylight. This is the easiest, cheapest and best solution. I've found that if I use my bedroom window sill (faces east) in the morning I can get pictures without shadows, that are lit well and that I am happy with. Since hitting on this formula I've slowly been replacing lots of pictures on this blog with ones shot like this. And yes, I've mostly used my smartphone for the pictures on my blog (Easy to spot, they invariably have lots of buildings in the background.)

Daylight (it's pretty overcast today)

Whilst looking at all the 'shiny things'™ at the Birmingham photography show I saw some light boxes. In effect small thick plastic folding studios with built in LED lighting. They looked ideal for taking close up pictures. Problem was they were £100+. Nice, but not that nice. However, tucked away in the corner of the stand was a mini one. Built in LED lights (USB powered), full price £30, show price £25. But seeing as they didn't have any change I got mine for £20. Bargain.

The studio is held together with magnets, and comes with two LED lighting strips and cables, and 4 backdrop inserts. When folded and packed away it is approximately 30cm X 30cm X 4cm.

My "foldio foldable studio" in action, and packed away.

There's an older version with fewer backdrops, only one LED strip for sale on Amazon for £10.99. Bargaintastic! (Search foldio)

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