Photography is subjective. Some people like ultra-tight, super-macro shots, while others prefer brooding panoramic landscapes that capture every vivid detail. Personally, I like close-ups, as it adds an element of size and realism to a tiny kit, allowing it to be larger than life for that moment when it is in the confines of a digital picture.
The following is not a exhaustive guide, it is merely an overview of the set-up I use at home to achieve most of the shots you see on this blog. I primarily snap photos with my Samsung Galaxy S4 Active (8 megapixel camera) or with my sister's iPhone 5S, which has a better focusing feature that is able to produce DSLR-esque photographs. If I'm feeling particularly diligent that day, I will break out my Nikon 3100 entry-level DSLR, just to obtain those sweet depth-of-field shots. Any photographer will tell you that it's not the type of camera you are using, but the skill of the photographer. That's true, but a good camera will make your life a hell lot easier.
I'm not going to explain the basics of photography like f-stops, three-point lighting and stuff, you're better off reading from blogs dedicated to photography than one that is dealing with toys. What I am going to do is show you how you can achieve DECENT shots with the simplest of equipment, stuff that you don't have to pay through your nose for.
Capturing the Moment
Tip #1: Find a place with good light.
The most basic element of photography is light, from which the term got its name. Light is an essential element in all of your photographic endeavours and is what separates a good photo from an awesome one. Look around your house and try to find a sweet spot where lighting is perfect, and always use that spot henceforth. Be prepared though, that G-spot might require you to go prone, crouch low or kneel to obtain that one shot.
An alternative is to procure/create your own light box. Essentially a self-contained studio with light sources, reflectors and the works, a light box will allow you to produce shots in a controlled environment. If you need more light, you can adjust the bulbs. If you need to change the background, you can easily do so. The only issue is its relative size and dependency on power, so you'd need to dedicate some real estate in your residence to house the light box.
Tip #2: Have a good background.
Most of our time, in the haste to complete kits and snap pictures of the finished product to show the world, we neglect a fundamental element of basic photography. Having a good background really makes a heck lot of difference as it:
- Reduces background noise so that your subject can be properly perceived.
- Provides a stark contrast from your subject.
- Provides a better lighting situation (of course this varies from place to place).
My set-up at home is, in a word, makeshift. Actually one layer of a self-assembled plastic rack turned upside down with all of its supporting beams combined into two long ones, this is the most effective set-up I've come across so far.
The backdrop itself (a sheet of felt from Daiso) can be swapped for any number of colours, but I stick to grey as it is the most neutral and light friendly.
Following are two photos of the same kit in the same pose with and without a proper background:
As evidenced, having a solid background gives a much cleaner feel and polished look to the picture. However, setting up and dismantling the set-up takes time, driving modelers (me) to simply snap my kits where they stand.