This particular photograph, one of many, was taken with an old Sony A100 DSLR using a 50mm lens and settings of, I beleive, f18 or f20 and ISO400 (I should have kept better track of these.). I used the 10-second timer setting to avoid camera shake. Despite all of the diffused light bounding around the light tent, this photograph (and most others taken with the A100) still required quite a bit of brightening later, leading me to suspect that I need to slow the shutter speed, so the shutter is open for longer, which will permit more light to pass through. Maddeningly, very few pictures taken with this camera tonight were in sharp focus once I transferred them from the camera to my computer and enlarged them.
Monkeying around with cameras, the light tent, mini daylight spots with diffusers, and a light blue backdrop which I prefer, this Friday evening. Mixed results at best, but we're getting there. In all cases, I use Pixlr, and online photo editing application, to adjust auto levels, brighten, denoise, and crop those less terrible photos to share here.
A Saturday Afternoon P.S.
For anyone else out there who occasionally tinkers/struggles with miniature photography, the Tale of Painters blog has a straightforward tutorial on taking better photographs of your figures. Check it out! I also read somewhere in the last few weeks that, if you are using a fairly simple point and shoot camera or your phone to shoot your miniatures, try the panoramic or wide angle setting, if there is one, which will keep more of the subject(s) in better focus. You can always crop the photos you want to keep and display later to remove unwanted objects from the picture. In a nutshell, the lessons I am learning:
1) Avoid macro setting and/or too much zooming in.
2) Back up your camera just a bit more. More than you think is necessary.
3) Use the manual mode on your camera for best control over everything.
4) High f-stop numbers, ie. f18, f20, f22, etc.
5) ISO of 400 or below.
6) Fairly slow shutter speeds.
7) Mount the camera on some kind of small tripod.
8) Use the camera's built in timer (I like the 10-second setting, but 2- will do) to avoid shake.
9) Plenty of diffused light from daylight bulbs
11) I prefer a light box or light tent, but some argue that these are not entirely necessary. For our sort of photography, however, I disagree unless you are taking photographs of full tabletop battles of course.
12) White balance will need to be set up at some point BEFORE taking the pictures.
13) It's best to get this all sorted out so that you take reasonably good photographs to begin with. . . BEFORE any editing/cropping takes place.
14) As I find with my own ongoing experimentation, Photoshop Elements, Pixlr, or other editing software can make already good shots into great shots, but they yield lackluster results (at best) if the initial photographs exhibit problems with focus, sharpness, brightness, or color balance.
Another shot of The Heroes of Boucharde, this time taken with my inexpensive little Sony Cybershot point and shoot camera, which is five or six years old at this point, mounted on a small tripod. Sadly, I still feel this still gives me the best results of the two cameras although not everything is in sharp focus since you cannot manipulate the aperture, shutter speed, etc. for improved depth of field. It does, however, feature a timer setting to reduce camera shake. I also zoomed in a bit, but not so much that the macro setting would kick in, which introduces another layer of complications where focus and sharpness are concerned. As my artist-sculptor-photographer mother pointed out to me on the telephone earlier in the week, taking pictures of 25-30mm wargaming figures is more close-up photography than it is macro photography. Still quite a learning curve whatever kind of equipment you use though.