Photo Equipment: The Sequel

by Paul Pratt on February 11, 2014

About two weeks ago I talked about a putting together a photography set up for my miniatures. I wanted to get what I considered to be a mid-level set-up that took great pictures as close to a studio set-up as possible. By mid-level I mean that I didn’t want my photo set up to be a box with tissue paper, nor a super expensive pro set up.

I received everything last Tuesday afternoon, but I was so swept up with it that I forgot to post my thoughts on the initial set-up. I’ll post another article about my experiences and my struggles with backgrounds in the next few days.

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My mail lady is the sweetest, smallest, most southern asian mail lady ever. She brought the box to the door and it was almost as big as her. I’m used to getting small boxes full of books or movies from Amazon, so this was a slight departure. Thank you Amazon for your free shipping.

Inside the mail lady’s coffin box, both the photo tent and bulbs were packed securely into their own nondescript boxes. There was a piece of brown paper packed in. I don’t know if the paper is the shipping equivalent of a garnish because it served no purpose in protecting anything.

20140211-103127.jpgThe Interfit photo tent came with its own carrying case made of heavy canvas. The entire product is tubular steel, save for some heavy plastic ends and connection pieces. Though not space age metal, I was impressed and felt it was worth the money I spent. The canvas bag was an unexpected bonus, great for keeping the entire thing out of the way when not in use. However, the building instructions were poorly photocopied and I had to figure construction out on my own. Also, the tent portion is suspended inside the tubular steel box with small strings. You have to tie sixteen sets of laces to attach the tent. Kind of tedious, but not a big deal.

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The bulbs are nicely packaged like nesting dolls (boxes in a box) and arrived safely. They are massive. When plugged into the reflector, the bulbs stick out by at least an inch. Left, you can see the comparison of the balanced bulb and a typical CFL. The color tone difference between the two bulbs is really noticeable. The balanced bulb looks like the blinding light of Jesus coming to claim my soul. The picture really doesn’t do the brightness justice. Both of those are 25+ watt CFL bulbs/ 60 watt incandescent equivalents.

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The photo tent is 24 inches square. That is a big damn tent. I wanted to make sure I could get any super heavy vehicles in the tent and photograph them comfortably. With the size, it can double as a great ebay photo booth too. My acquisition of a Titan is inevitable, so those had to fit.

My quick little test shot of Ferrus Manus turned out wonderful. The photo was shot on an iPhone 4S and is 100% unedited. Once I get my backgrounds and the DSLR going, photos should be incredible. I’m really impressed.

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New Photo Equipment Incoming

by Paul Pratt on February 1, 2014

I ordered some new photography equipment for my studio in the hopes of being able to speed up the visual process. I’ve been wanting to showcase some of my latest work, but my existing photo setup is somewhat tedious to assemble. By tedious I mean it is just a mess of garbage from my house that I use to take photographs with. It takes an hour or so to cobble everything together and leaves an entire room out of commission. For example, the background is a Babe: Pig in the City movie banner I randomly brought home from my old movie theater working days. The banner is eight feet tall.

I decided to get a light box. Before, I was just hanging some lights across the back of the Babe banner and using photoshop to edit the levels and contrast. The results were really subpar. Not terrible, but just not where I wanted them. I tend to be a perfectionist, especially when it comes to my art. When I have an idea of what I want, I want it that way. If I can’t meet that standard, I will do everything within my means to remedy that.

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This is the rig I ended up with. I almost opted for a light tent, but decided against it. I thought the openness of this would allow me to hang backgrounds better. I think i will have more accessibility and control over the subject and environment, too.

I experimented with making my own light tent from tissue paper and a cardboard box, but the results were poor. Even worse than shooting on my Babe banner, so I trashed the homemade rig.

I also purchased some full spectrum, balanced 5500K bulbs to improve the lighting. I use the bulbs in some simple clamp lights bought from a hardware store. I wish they had some tripods, though. Clamping them to the dining room chairs isn’t cutting it.

I want to try and find some textured backgrounds.  I figured I could have them printed out on nice paper at Kinkos to give the shots some visual interest and contrast. The Hanger 18 photo backgrounds caught my eye, but I could buy a fancy hooker for the cost of the A3 sized six-pack.

I should have everything by Wednesday. At least, I hope. I plan on renovating my Flickr portfolio when I get rolling (The commission is gone, however). I have a ton of miniatures that i’ve only posted to Facebook. They haven’t been officially photographed while I thought of a solution. I have some Kingdom Death, Guild of Harmony, and Horus Heresy stuff to share when I get this set up.