With the spiders finished, I thought I’d commemorate the project with some atmospheric photography. Find out how I created the scene and view pictures after the jump.
I created the scene using all the bits of terrain I had which were suitable. I then used Fallen Leaves (available from the company Secret Weapon Miniatures) and nylon wadding to dress the scene. With the wadding stretched out it makes a nice cobweb effect.
The two dark and eerie shots were shot on bulb (the shutter stays open for as long as you hold down the shutter release button, so it was a very long exposure. ISO was around 400 so they’re a little grainy on closer inspection. I used an aperture setting of f22 to ensure all the elements were in focus (long depth of field). WB is custom, set using a grey card. To create the lighting I used my iPhone. For the blue light i just searched google images for the colour blue and then with the screen brightness at it’s maximum I pointed the blue light at the areas I wanted to be lit with blue light while my shutter was open on my DSLR. With the shutter still open i switched the screen to a white a white colour and bathed the subject in that light. Altogether the exposure is around 20 to 25 seconds. The phone is the only light source, I was working in the dark with the camera on a tripod. Because of this you have to set the auto focus with the lights turned on (can’t focus automatically in low light). Once it’s found the focus point, turn it to manual focus then turn the lights off and you can guarantee your shot will be in focus.
These two perfectly lit photos were taken on 1/60th of second (a very fast exposure), which is the flash sync speed of my DSLR. Using two large flash head units I can light the scene perfectly. Because I can control the amount of light I could lower the ISO to 100, in turn reducing grain. I still wanted everything in focus so I kept the f stop at 22. A benefit to shooting at 1/60th of second is you avoid camera shake, so you can shoot in your hand and don’t need a tripod. I still prefer the tripod and I use a remote trigger to fire the shutter release which limits camera movement.
All four of these photos were captured in the camera, with no post production work done in photoshop. I also have hi res originals which I’ll happily email to anyone wanting to use them for personal use (wallpapers, screensavers etc).
This is all a bit techy and won’t make sense to anyone who isn’t into photography. I’m a keen amateur and if any professionals are reading this and have any advice, I’d love to hear it. I’m really happy with the shots. They’re probably the best miniature shots I’ve ever taken.
Finally I’ll finish this post with some clear shots of my Mirkwood Spiders.
absolutely love the scene the spiders look very realistic the scenery looks fantastic and the lighting is awesome I love the positioning of the models too Bilbo looks like he really is in deep trouble with that lot coming after him!
Your best showcase yet
Wow. Those are some very awesome photos. While I don't understand much of the camera speech, I very much appreciate the end results!
- Tiago Vitorino
Cristo! You can be more than proud of this work of art!!!
Bloody amazing mate. Those atmospheric shots are art.
I love what you've done with the spiders, that scheme really suits them. Mind giving us a quick rundown on the colours/techniques you used, if you have the time?
I was going to do mine black, but after seeing these, that just seems… dull. Patterning is definitely required.
Full tutorial here.
Great pictures! And thanks a lot for your detailled descriptions of the foto settings!
I'm happy to see that you've turned a project you've loathed for some time into a true work of art. Those photos look very atmospheric and inspiring. Thank you!
Would love to see more posts that are similar to this, as I'm trying to learn more about how to photograph my minis too.
Sorry to re-comment like this but I would also like to know how you manage to take the clear white shots with your setup. I've tried several lightboxes and a starter DSLR (Canon 650D) and still cannot get rid of shadows.
I don't use light boxes. I use studio flash heads with umbrellas and soft boxes. A light box is restrictive on size and I sometimes need to photograph big models or whole armies.
You can get chinese hotshot flashes for around £30 each now (yongnou I think they're called) If you buy two of those plus remote triggers and placed them either side of your lightbox you'll be able to get more controllable even light on your subject. Flash photography is a bit specialist but I absolutely love it.
Wow this is outstanding. What a great paint job and set. Brilliant work.
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Those pictures are fantastic! They look real and have a great atmosphere. Amazing!