Have you ever looked at a friend’s photo of their miniature (or even a photo of your own) and struggled to see past the awkward lighting and motion blur?
When you want to show off your hard work for the world to see, it can be tough to actually sit down and photograph your miniatures in such a way that makes them look as good as you see them in person. And I know, because I had never seriously photographed a mini before creating this blog. Fortunately, you only need a couple of things to make your photos look professional (or, at least, more shareable).
A Good LED Lamp (or Two)
Hopefully you’ve already purchased a lamp for your miniature painting station – the difference between painting with one and without one is astounding, and if you haven’t pulled the trigger on one of these yet, you’ll thank yourself.
Fortunately, we don’t need anything of amazing quality. I personally use the following lamps on my own station:
Which leaves one question: do you need one, or two?
When working at this level (read: amateur), the difference is minor but still noticeable. One heavier shadow versus two lighter shadows and a better overall glow. If you’re not looking to invest in much right now, you should feel free to only grab one lamp. In that case, I’d suggest the first of the two I linked above as it gives you only one color but it’s the perfect tone for photographing and it lets you cycle through three different intensity settings.
Two pieces of white printer paper. One laid flat, one taped to a wall directly behind the flat paper.
Now, of course, you can certainly curve the paper a bit to minimize the shadow line. But if you use a photo-editing app it may not matter anyways.
Trial & Error
Once your lamps are plugged in and your paper is down, it’s time for a little bit of trial and error. Here are a few things to consider tinkering with as you find the best settings for your mini:
- Color of the LED light
- Intensity of the LED light
- Height and position of the lamps
- Position of the miniature on the paper (i.e. closer or farther from the back sheet)
- Height of your camera
I’ve personally found that placing my miniature about halfway back on the sheet of paper, with my camera at head level and the lamps a few inches off to the side and a few inches above the mini, works best. But maybe you’ll find something different that you like more!
You might also choose to use a photo-editing app. I use VSCO, which is free, and crank up the white balance/brightness a bit to remove any bits of shadow in the background. Of course, since this is a free, amateur set-up it does occasionally wash out the minis if I’m not careful.
And there you have it: just a few simple steps to make your miniature photos infinitely more shareable! Just remember to be open to feedback have a thick skin if you’re going to share your minis far and wide: everyone’s a critic.
Happy photographing, Commanders.