Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Bavarian artillery: Regnier's horse battery

The much posted already battery is now finished, based and photographed. Here is Hauptmann Regnier's horse battery (yes, I know I bumped Regnier up a few ranks from captain with my figure selection—wargamers license :) ):

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The guns are Perry Austrian guns, the gunners and Regnier behind them are Foundry (technically, Foundry foot artillery gunners, but as these are not wearing their sword- and other cross belts, only the boots are wrong for horse artillery gunners).

I think I'll have to look into getting some diffuser filters for my lamps, or using the light tent again, as the residual shininess of the gloss varnish (they have one coat of matt over it) shows up much more in this lighting than in normal viewing.

In fact, let me get the light tent out … there, a bit better:

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The above two photos illustrate something which I picked up from a 'Photographing Miniatures' course I bought from (highly recommended, more detail will follow in a later post). While knowing your camera and Photoshop is part of the equation, by far the largest contributing factor to getting good photographs is lighting. Fully three quarters, and this is not an exaggeration, of the time spent in the video is setting up the lighting for the shot. There is no fiddling with camera settings apart from selecting an aperture and corresponding shutter time, and no Photoshopping apart from the basic treatment of raw images (i.e. colour balance and slight sharpening). Everything is done with choosing and positioning lights and filters.

The only difference between the pictures above (apart from a higher camera angle on the second one) is the lighting. The first uses direct lighting, the second uses a light tent (with the same lights as the first). That's literally the only difference. I'm not saying that the second image is better than the first, the point is that with adjusting lighting I could correct a problem in the first. That said, as you'll often find to be the case, by solving one problem I have created another: the second image is less sharp than the first. That's because I had to use a very long shutter time (4s) to get enough light on the camera sensor, and it's virtually impossible to avoid camera shake induced softness in that scenario, especially if you live in an apartment that tends to jump around with each bus driving by on the busy main road outside, like I do :).

So forget about Photoshop, fancy camera settings and blaming your camera. It's all in the lighting. Blame your lights instead :). BTW, an even better option than using a light tent would have been adding diffusion filters to the direct lights, as the light in a light tent tents to 'flatten' the scene in side a bit (something which computer graphics and lighting expert Phil will be able to explain much better than I can), but I don't have diffuser filters, so the light tent had to do.

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