22 December 2013

Another Vignette Finished!!!

 The most recently completed figures here in Zum Stollenkeller, four shirking soldiers from various Pennsylvania regiments in the Continental Army, circa 1776.

Here are several photographs of the latest batch of figures, finished yesterday evening, four Continental Army figures by Fife&Drum, which have been painted to represent soldiers of various Pennsylvania regiments.  The drummer's blue uniform faced with red is conjectural, but goodness knows there were enough American regiments during the 1775-1781 War of American Independence that had uniforms in these colors, so it seemed like a fair guess.  Again, these figures were fun and fast to paint, and it was a pleasure to finish and get them into the quick and dirty foamcore board lightbox and snap a bunch of photographs.  All of these shots need cropping, but they don't seem too bad otherwise from my non-professional perspective.  

 A second shot showing, unusually, what the figures look like from behind.  I dry-brushed the red coat on the figure in the upper left with tan to make it look like a very faded red or scarlet.  Next time, I'll try using fleshtone on red/scarlet coats when I need for them to look worn and weathered.

The trick seems to be, from what I've read online the last couple of weeks, to get close but not too close with the camera, which seems to throw even macro settings out of whack, resulting in partial or complete blurring of the subject in question.  Surely, the answer must be to acquire top-of-the-line, professional grade photography equipment?  But that's too dear for me at the moment, and fooling with the associated learning curve would mean less time at the painting and gaming tables, something that is already a rare commodity here at Stollen Central.

A third shot, showing the various coat colors to better advantage.  The figure in the foreground is some kind of NCO or low grade officer, who has gone rogue.  The other three are his toadies.

The next thing I'd like to do is find and purchase "daylight" lightbulbs, which from what I've read on the net about miniatures photography will enable me to take pictures in which the colors are truer than is has been the case with all of the photos I've taken of my figures and growing armies since late 2006.  Apparently, incandescent bulbs -- and it burns me up that I can no longer find 75 and 100 watt bulbs here in the United States.  These halogen and LED things are awful.  It's like living your life under constant supermarket or dentist office lighting.  -- tend to make colors more yellow in photographs than they are to the naked eye.  I don't know about that since I can't detect much difference between the colors in these photos of my figures and the colors on the figures themselves, but I'm interested to see what, if any, difference there might be.

You can see the red (actually salmon) coat, in the foreground here, pretty well.  I'm reasonably pleased with the way the weathering turned out.  Should have given the drummer's facings the same treatment too.

Now, it would be easy to get carried away in the quest to take better photographs to where that activity overtakes wargaming and painting itself.  Mustn't do that given the time limitations I refer to above.  Still, it's fun to learn a bit about macro photography and produce a few better quality photos of the Grand Duchy of Stollen Collection for use on this blog and to send along with the occasional article submission to one hobby magazine or another.  In any case, I've also included some newly shot photos of the other three vignetted completed earlier this month for your viewing pleasure.  I've tinkered a bit with the lightbox, adding more reflective surface to the inside, so that the figures are illuminated more effectively from all sides.

The same figures but slightly closer in now.  You can see better how I treated the drum cords, something that Fife&Drum's own Jim "Der Alte Fritz" Purky suggested to me a few years ago.

Finally, we're coming down to the last few days before Christmas here at Stollen Central, as I am sure is the case for many of you visitors to the Grand Duchy of Stollen blog.  Practically speaking, that means any further painting will need to wait until later in the week.  There are gifts for the Young Master and the Grand Duchess that I must wrap and place beneath the tree and a few final shopping errands to run for our big Christmas Dinner, which we have on Christmas Eve here at 'The Residenz.'  Most important, we need to take the Young Master to visit Santa Claus tomorrow at some point.  That has been delayed since he and his mother have, naturally, come down with a nasty pre-Christmas bug and have been more or less out of commission the last few days.  Both seem to be on the mend now however.

Fife&Drum Continental Army staff vignette reprise but worth including since I've tweaked my lightbox a bit and am getting the hang of using it now.

As for yours truly, so far, so good.  But I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  The way life seems to go sometimes, it would stand to reason that I'll be next in line and wake up on Christmas Day with a fever and no appetite.  Let's hope that's not the case though.  Be sure to tune in the to GD of S blog again during the final run up to Christmas, however, for some seasonal goodies in lieu of anymore newly painted figures for the next several days.

Minden hussar officer and shooting RSM95 Croat redux.

And you know?  It's funny.  While I think of my deceased maternal grandparents everyday at some point, I miss them most at this time of year.  Most of my formative years spent at their house in southeastern Pennsylania, about two hours northwest of Philadelphia in Berks County.  For all the hand-wringing about divorce and broken homes, my sister and I had a happy, almost idyllic childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood with my grandparents and mother.  We laughed, spent lots of time in each others' company, and I wouldn't change a thing about it.

The Minden "Saxon" staff rides once again, nicely illuminated and in better focus this time, I think.

There were, moreover, many wonderful Christmases at that old fieldstone farmhouse on Conrad Road in District Towship, quite a few of those with snow on the ground as well as in the Boxwoods shrubs, the Hemlock, and the Spruce trees.  There were also late afternoon trips up the road to feed Mrs. Conrad's sheep and ponies with our grandfather on the weekends in December, and toboggan rides in the snow down several levels of hills, starting in the meadow beyond the house from a stand of Hemlock trees and our grandmother's Beech Tree all the way to the next level beyond several flowerbeds, and finally down to the creek, which is where we would glide to a stop. . .  Most of the time.  I only slid onto and broke through the ice once in all of those years, but talk about cold. . .  Brrrr!!! 

Finally, the four vignettes that I've started and painted to completion between December 5th-22nd, 2013.  Last minute preparations are getting busy here in Stollen Central now, so it seems unlikely that I sit down to the painting table until a day or two after Christmas later in the week,  

Yep, daily life at my grandparents' place was truly a picture postcard, not only during the winter but throughout the year.  As close to perfect, I suppose, as one might expect actual life to get.  Without meaning to idealize it too much, the older I become, the more I realize how special and maybe even unusual those years and experiences were and remain.  Certainly outside the bounds of what might be considered normal for many people in 2013.  We were terribly, terribly fortunate.  Many people are not.  You never think about that when you are younger.  Funny the things that the approach of Christmas and the end of the year call to mind. 


warpaintjj said...

You are "on fire"! Infact you must have more staff than soldiery by now, surely time for a game?
Have a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year, very best wishes,

Der Alte Fritz said...

Continental drummers used the reverse colors protocol.

Your pix look a bit blurry. Are you using a tripod?

Try this on the macro setting: set your figure about 8 inches from the lens and snap a picture. Then move the figure in to 6 inches and take another picture. Then move in two more inches and shoot. Maybe also take a shot at 10 inches. Now with ths spread of ranges, one of those pix should be sharp and in focus. This gives you your ideal distance from the ens

Now on your base board , mark a place where you will always set up your tripod and make another mark on te board 8 inches or whatever the ideal setting is . Now every time you snap a shot, you can use the markers on the base baord to set up your shot.

Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke said...

Thank you, Jim! I'm using a tripod on most of the shots but not all. I'll try all of your suggestions with the next couple of batches.

Best Regards,


guy said...

Most interesting to read of your childhood. I also consider myself v fortunate despite a parental divorce. Enjoy the trip to Father Christmas with your family - magical.

I have just sent an e-mail to my eldest daughter aged 18 who is in Namibia for 12 months on a gap year teaching. She is meant to be in Cape Town for Christmas with her boyfriend but after visa issues he has had an extra flight to Namibia. They are off to the coast/beach. 2nd daughter is in the Alps skiing. I'm stuck here earning the pennies!

Best wishes to you and your family and once again for a most entertaining blog.


tidders said...

Another delightful vignette, you're building up a nice little collection of them.

I'm planning some small vignettes for my Wittenberg army, some figures have been ordered - looking forward to getting started on them.

-- Allan


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