DIY Photo stuff
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DIY Photo stuff

Posted in Custom Workstation

Posted by somebody1
on Tuesday, October 20, 2009
User Comments
Incom -
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Now, this is a really neat little product! If they'd only put in a black and grey background, instead of all those neon coloured ones.... ... me_popular
Incom -
Friday, January 4, 2013
I took an Ikea Drona box (, cut out the sides and top, attached cut out piece of an old white blouse and that's it. Later I added a black and a white backdrop, made of lengths of smooth cotton fabric. These are held in place by a strip of velcro in the back of the box.

It's perfect for 1/18 as well as 1/6 scale figures and (small) vehicles. For larger pieces I just hang up a large sheet of black or white fabric and turn on a couple of desktop lights.

I always use a tripod and a 2sec delay on my camera.
Cosmic Fantasy Customs -
Thursday, December 27, 2012
wow, that is amazing.
shapp -
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
What is that made out of Incom? I've wanted to make one but just haven't had the time to get around to it
Incom -
Monday, December 24, 2012
Here's that lightbox I talked about:

Jaiman -
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
The way I take mine is using a light-cube. They're not expensive and they help you to produce very professional shots. They key is taking the photos in natural light. The cube material diffuses the light to give all-round coverage and eliminates harsh shadows.
Incom -
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Darklord's extensive photo tutorial has practically become a mantra of some sorts. Great advice for everyone!

Haven't got enough posts yet to post pictures, but I made a lightbox from an Ikea Drona box. Google it and you'll see the one I mean. It's an awesome box, that is foldable. It's about 16" on all sides. I cut out the sides and top and attached pieces of an old white blouse in the gaps. I mainly use three desktop lights (sides and top) and have recently made two cloth backdrops (black and white). The backdrops attach inside to the back, using velcro. I drape them down in a slight bend and place my custom in the box.

I'm a bit of a photography nut as well and I always use a tri-pod for shooting my customs. Timer set at 2 secs (to prevent little shocks from me pressing down the shutter). ISO at the lowest, aperture widest (unless I'm shooting a figure pointing or aiming at the camera, then I up the aperture to F11 or something like that). Using these settings, I can even shoot great pictures in little to hardly any light. Just as long as the camera can focus on the subject.
Cosmic Fantasy Customs -
Sunday, July 17, 2011
lets just start off and say thanks to you darklord1967 you have given a lot of great advice on taking pics. You must either be a professional photographer or have practiced the hobby to the Nth degree. All the advice is appreciated, just if some don't have a lot of light or the best of cameras, set ups, etc an overcast day with a background will help any novice photographer. And also give a close representation of the colors and show great detail, just make sure it is overcast/cloudy not that sunny. On a bright sunny day it will shadow and distort your fig and color. I need to get a tripod so that I can quit using my flash, but for the time being it is not terrible. But thanks, your advice really helps.
darklord1967 -
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Hi everyone!

I've been customizing action figures for a little over 30 years. And in that time I've learned a thing or two about photographing them. Now, I had to learn the hard way, through trial and error, how to take decent photos. But this was only because as a novice, I did not have a working knowledge of the very BASICS OF PHOTOGRAHY AND LIGHTING FOR MINIATURES. Believe it or not, this is a considerably specialized area of photography, one that took me years to learn the specifics of.

I'd like to share that information with you, my Action Figure Customizing friends.

You see, I believe that it is ONLY through the sharing of knowledge that we will improve the presentation of ALL of our work! This in turn will make toy companies (like Hasbro, Mattel, DC Direct, and Marvel Legends) stop and take notice, and give us what we want… better and better products!!!!

I want to warn you at the onset, though, that this post will be very LONG!! Depending on how quickly you can read, this could take you a half hour or MORE to get through. So you may want to get comfortable!

So without further ado. Let’s get started:

As it is, PHOTOGRAPHY can be somewhat intimidating to those who are novices. It can be awfully “technical” and can really put some people off.

But I can assure you: Armed with practice and the right knowledge, you can take pictures that will really make your custom action figures stand out, and let everyone know who you ARE!

The techniques I’ll cover apply to pretty much ALL cameras (film OR digital), and can be used to photograph virtually ANY action figure.

Before I get too deep into MY OWN personal photography techniques, I think it might be best if I offered some general background information about photography. This will help you to understand many of the photography terms that I’ll use later.

Before you can take any pictures of your prized custom action figure you will need a decent CAMERA (duh! ). There are a myriad of cameras available out there, but not all of them are APPROPRIATE for the type of photography that is employed when photographing Custom Action Figures!!

What are the different types of CAMERAS?

The Polaroid or “instamatic” camera has been around for decades. It is an extremely good “planning” camera that lets you quickly take a picture and see what you are going to get before you take a final photo with your “main” camera. Fashion photographers use these all the time in their work. But are they suitable for taking serious photos of your favorite custom action figure? Uhhhh… I think not. You don’t really have the ability to manually focus with those cameras, and the quality of the final photos is not the best.

We’ve all seen them used in EVERY possible place: at family outings, gatherings with friends, college dorms and parties, hang-outs at the beach… Virtually EVERYWHERE and ANYWHERE that someone wants to take a quick picture with their pals without a whole lotta fuss, these are the cameras you’ll see. And of course they come in MANY varieties. These pocket cameras and phone cameras are VERY popular! But can you make that custom Action Figure that you worked long and hard to create look really good using one of these? The answer generally is “no” . In the case of Pocket Cameras, they use a viewing system known as a RANGEFINDER. That means that when you look through the eye piece to snap a photo, what YOU are actually seeing is something roughly in the RANGE of what the LENS sees, but NOT EXACTLY the same thing. With the lens being about 2 inches below the eyepiece that you’re looking through, there IS a difference between what you see and what the camera sees. This difference is known as PARALLAX CORRECTION. This parallax difference is NOT that critical when you are several feet away from the subject that you are going to photograph. But when you are mere inches away from your subject (as you will be when you take a picture of your custom figure), that difference will be HUGE!!! A custom action figure that you framed to be in the center of your picture will likely end up being far off to the side (possibly even cut-off) in the final photo! As for Phone cameras, they are really not suitable for proper action figure photography either since the ability to macro focus (critical for this type of work) is really not available.

Ah!! Now we’re talkin’!!! The Single Lens Reflex camera (or “SLR”) corrects the “parallax” problem of the pocket camera’s inaccurate viewing, by giving the photographer the EXACT view that the lens sees!! Thus, when you look through the eyepiece, “What you see is what you’ll get!!” SLR cameras manage this neat little trick by employing a pair of mirrors inside the camera body. The image inside the eyepiece, then, is a reflection of EXACTLY what the lens sees, bounced from the mirror directly to your eye. Presto!! SLR cameras come in many different varieties to shoot the different “formats” of film: 35mm, 120mm, Medium Format, etc. The most common format that is used to photograph our Custom figures is 35MM. These types of cameras have removable lenses that allow one to interchange from one focal length lens (say a 28mm wide angle lens) to another (say a 150mm telephoto) with great ease.

The introduction of the digital camera about 20 years ago is quite possibly the greatest boon to the action figure (miniature) photographer! These cameras combine the potential “point and shoot” ease of a Polaroid or instamatic camera, with the high image quality and framing accuracy of an SLR. Typically these cameras are equipped with a ZOOM LENS lens that lets you cover everything from as wide as 28mm to as telephoto as 150MM and beyond!!

Now that you know a little bit about cameras, we can now move onto the next aspect of photography that you’ll need to be intimate with:

Once you’ve selected a good camera (hopefully either an SLR or a Digital) to photograph your custom action figures, you’ll next need to have a good working knowledge of LENSES:

The standard lens that accompanies most 35mm cameras is the 50mm lens. This lens is meant to represent the closest example of the human eye’s field of view (within the confines of the photo frame area) .

The “Wide-angle lens” is typically used to describe any lens that represents a field of view WIDER than the human eye. The focal length of such a lens is usually 28MM or shorter. When that focal length gets really short , you have what is called a “fish-eye” lens where objects appear roundly distorted. An example of when a Wide Angle lens is used: You and your friends wish to take a group picture in your living room. The photographer (your dad) has backed up AS FAR AS HE CAN GO and is now up against a wall. But he cannot fit your whole group in the frame. But dad is calm, cool, and collected. He knows this is NOT a problem. He reaches down into his photo bag and retrieves his wide-angle lens. Once he clicks it into place, he is NOW able to fit you and the ENTIRE GROUP easily into the frame!

The Tele-photo lens is typically used to describe any lens that represents a field of view that is more MAGNIFIED than the human eye. The focal length of such a lens is usually 80mm, 135mm, 150mm and beyond. An example of when a telephoto lens is used: Your mom is REALLY into bird-watching. She knows that she can’t simply go up to a little birdie and ask it to pose for a picture without it flying away. So what’s her solution? She attaches her VERY long 150mm telephoto lens onto her camera so that she can take a photo of the Yellow-Bellied Sap-Sucker perched on the tree branch WAY ACROSS THE STREET without disturbing him.

The Variable Focal Length lens (or “Zoom” lens) is typically used to describe any lens that can CHANGE from one focal length to another. An example of when a zoom lens is used: A Sports Illustrated photographer in on the race track at Belmont. He needs to be able to photograph the racing horses when they first leave the starting gate that is, say, 100 yards away AND he also needs to be able to photograph the winning horse as it crosses the finish line directly in front of him. He needs to be able to do this quickly, and cannot waste time changing lenses. With his “zoom” lens, he sets his focal length to Telephoto at the start of the race to catch the far away horses, and then he changes his focal length to Wide-Angle when the horses cross the finish line in front of him so that he can fit them ALL in the shot.

The Macro lens is used to describe any lens that can represent a MACROSCOPIC (close-up) field of view by physically getting CLOSE to the subject being photographed. Some of the finer Macro lenses allow the Photographer to get as close as 1 inch away from his intended subject with a perfect focus.


Now you know all about lenses. Good!! Are you still with me? EXCELLENT!! Let’s move on!!

Now you need to know about FOCUS. One of the things that many custom action figure photos suffer from is POOR FOCUS. It’s understandable. Focusing on items this small is NOT an easy thing to do. And you’ll need to know some basic focusing principles:

When dealing with MACRO photography of your Custom Action Figures, you’re going to run into the dreaded problem of DEPTH OF FIELD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Play SCARY music here)

What’s “Depth of Field” you ask? Well, simply put: In photography, the "Depth-of-Field" is the area immediately in front of and immediately behind your point of focus that ALSO seems to be relatively in focus.

With a MACRO LENS, the Depth of Field is incredibly shallow!! That means that if you’re about to photograph your awesome new 6 Inch Scale Batman Action Figure (full body shot that FILLS your frame), and you have very carefully focused on his FACE, there’s a really GOOD chance that anything past, say, the back of his head (about .25 inch from the point of focus) will be completely BLURRED!!!

With a WIDE ANGLE LENS the Depth of Field is considerably deeper. This lens lets you get pretty close up onto your subject (although not as close as a MACRO), and your area in front of and behind your point of focus will be pretty sharp. The only trouble is, when you get close to something using this type of lens, there’s usually a bit of distortion of the subject.

With a TELEPHOTO lens, the Depth of Field is, once again, pretty shallow. Yeah, you can photograph something that’s really FAR AWAY, but anything in front of or behind your focal point will be blurred. And you cannot physically get CLOSE to a subject with this type of lens and focus upon it.

But wait!! There’s more!! There’s ANOTHER factor that determines your Depth of Field: It is the APERTURE that your lens is set at!!

What’s an “Aperture”? Well, that is simply a term used to describe the size of the camera shutter’s OPENING at the moment that the photo is taken. The shutter’s Aperture settings are usually found on your camera’s lens, delineated as “F” numbers: F22, F16, F11, F8, F5.6, F4, F2.8 etc. Generally, aperture works like the human eye’s IRIS. If the subject is BRIGHT or has a LOT OF LIGHT thrown onto it, then you may want to set the aperture smaller to prevent "over-exposure" (that's when a photo turns out all white and washed-out looking). Conversely, if a subject is dimly lit or lacking in light, the aperture should be opened up to catch as much light as possible and prevent "under-exposure" (when a photo turns out waaaaay too dark). The higher the "F" number, the smaller the shutter's aperture opening is during exposure. For example, an "F22" aperture setting is the smallest shutter opening (ideal for bright light situations). An "F2.8" (and lower numbers) aperture setting is the largest aperture opening (ideal for low light situations).

How does the size of this “Aperture” affect Depth of Field? Well, generally the SMALLER your aperture, the greater your Depth of Field. Conversely, the larger your aperture, the shallower your Depth of Field. This is no different than when you look at something with your naked eyes. Instinctively, you may SQUINT at objects that are not focused or clear. When you squint, you are in essence, making a smaller “aperture” for your eyes to look through, thus improving the focus of your vision.

If your action figure is being photographed in a low-light situation, and you wish to maximize your depth of field, you have run into a special circumstance. But there's no need to panic. A solution is available! Yes, to maximize the Depth of Field of your photo, you will have to close down your camera's shutter opening as much as possible (minimizing what little light you have). Logic dictates that your photo will turn out too dark. HOWEVER, you can compensate for this by increasing the DURATION of the shutter's opening (shutter speed). The slower the shutter speed, the longer the exposure becomes (letting more light in !) Miniature photography with a very deep depth of field often requires long-exposure photography. A tripod is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL for this type of work. The shutter speed dial on your camera has one letter and some basic numbers on it (Re: B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, 30, 60, 125, 250, 500, 1000). Each number represents the shutter's exposure speed as a FRACTION. So the "1000" means the shutter will open and close for 1/1000th of a second (fastest speed for capturing fast moving action). The fractions continue all the way down to "1", which means a 1 second exposure. That is considered a "long" exposure, ideal for very low-light work. Any exposure slower than 1/60th of a second ("60" on the shutter speed dial) requires the use of a tripod (and a cable release is strongly recommended), because even the most minimal camera shake from your breathing will create a blurred photo. Then there is the "B" setting on your shutter speed dial. This stands for "BULB". This shutter speed opening is available for exposures that are longer than 1 second. On the "B" setting, the shutter will remain open for as long as the shutter release button is held down. In the past, I have been required to do some VERY long exposure photography with my action figures, and have had to use the "B" setting on my shutter speed dial. In the series of Custom Batman MEGO action figure photos that I submitted to the Realm's Custom Action Figure Showcase, the average exposure time for each of those pics was about 50 seconds! They were each shot with dark spooky "noir" lighting, AND with the smallest aperture opening on my camera (to maximize the Depth of field of the photos). If I did not compensate with really Loooooooong exposure times when taking those photos, they would have simply turned out black.

As you can see, miniature “Macro” photography presents a whole unique set of problems! But UNDERSTANDING the root of each problem makes you a better photographer.

Now having said all this, I can now talk about my own PHOTOGRAPHIC TECHNIQUES:


Many photographers don’t give this NEARLY enough consideration when they photograph their custom action figures. A decent placement / posing of your figure can EMPHASIZE the strengths of your customizing work and DOWNPLAY your weaknesses. Even a mediocre figure can be made to look like a MILLION BUCKS when it is properly posed / placed prior to photography. Likewise, the finest crafted figure in the world can be made to look AWFUL with poor posing / placement before photography.

Really take the time to consider THE CHARACTER that you are photographing. How would he/she stand if he/she were being photographed in real life? Would he or would he NOT look directly into the camera? Does she look best on her left or on her right side? Should this character hold their blaster or lightsaber, or would that actually DISTRACT from the custom work that you’ve done on the figure? These are all critical questions!

As many of you have pointed out, even the posing / placement of soft-goods garments is critical. If you chose to use cloth garments on your custom Action figures, don’t let the fabric just hang limp or “poofy” on your figure. Take the time to nip and tuck and gently fold the fabric with your fingers until it hangs on your figure in a pleasing way. Does your character wear a cloth hood? Don’t be afraid to press it down with your fingers, molding over the contours of the action figure’s head. Eventually, the cloth WILL take the shape of an actual worn garment, and NOT look like “Little Red-Riding’s” hood!!


So now you know that you should be working in Macro photography to properly photograph your custom figures, right? Well, DON'T BE AFRAID TO GET CLOSE!!!!!!!!! Your figure should ADEQUATELY FILL THE FRAME of your finished photograph so that the viewer can appreciate (or de-preciate ) your work. I can’t tell you how many photos I’ve seen of some BEAUTIFUL custom action figures where the figure took up maybe a CORNER of the frame!!! Let’s SEE that figure!! ‘nuff said!


Take the time to carefully FOCUS your shot prior to photographing that custom Action Figure!
The NUMBER ONE problem afflicting some custom action figure photos is BAD FOCUS!!!! When shooting in Macro mode, you will need to hold that camera PERFECTLY STILL, because if you move in or out just a fraction of an inch during exposure, the focus WILL BE THROWN OFF! Make sure that you are properly braced during photography to minimize your movements. OR, if you had too many cups of coffee this morning and can’t quite keep it steady, then use a tripod and a cable release to take your pics.


Generally, I find that it’s best to keep my backgrounds plain, neutral, non-reflective, and uniformly colored. I make it a point to NEVER photograph my figures on a shelf full of other figures, or in front of a comic book, or in front of the leaves of a tree or potted plant, or even propped-up against my cat "Jedi" . These other items in the background of your photo will only make things look “cluttered”, and will take the focus away from your main subject, which should be your AWESOME custom Action Figure creation! One of the things that I like to do is pose my figures on a WHITE table top in front of a WHITE wall. By playing with the lighting on the back wall you can create many nice shades of grey that will make a particular character stand out! Remember the brightness value for this background is DIFFERENT FOR EACH CHARACTER!!! I would NOT photograph my custom Darth Vader against a black background, for example. Likewise, it probably would not be wise for me to photograph my Luke and Han as Stormtrooper customs against a solid white background!

With the depth of field being as shallow as it is during Macro photography, that is one thing that I actually TAKE ADVANTAGE of in regards to backgrounds!! I make sure that my custom figures are far enough away from the wall behind them so that it becomes a COMPLETE BLUR in the finished photo. This blurred “non-descript” background helps to make a sharply focused custom action figure “leap out” at the viewer!


I always make sure that there is sufficient light on the Custom Action Figure that I am photographing. This lighting needs to flatter the action figure, and highlight its face and all of its sculpting and / or cloth work. If the figure is too frontally lit, it will look “flat” and boring. Also, a frontally lit Action Figure produces shadows upon your background that are unattractive and amateurish… especially if the figure is close to that background.

I also always make sure that I have MORE THAN ONE SOURCE OF LIGHT THAT I CAN CONTROL. I always use one light source on the background so that I can make it brighter or dimmer at will, and I use another light source on my Custom Action Figure subject to properly highlight it. On occasion I will use a THIRD light source for special effect:

One technique I’ve employed is to use a COLORED ACCENT LIGHT to photograph colorless characters like Darth Vader.

In the photo of my custom Darth Vader action figure (featured here on the Realm) , you can see the use of a blue “accent light” off to the right. This was subtly introduced during photography to make this all-black character a bit more colorful.

Now, this does NOT have to be an expensive or complicated thing! In the case of my own pics, that “blue light” that you see was nothing more than my small television set displaying the blue DVD “menu” screen! Each figure was placed close to the TV screen (just out of frame) during photography, to catch some of that blue light spill. Presto!

Some folks are tempted to use electronic flash to photograph their customs. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS. First of all, the light given off will be too frontal, resulting in a “flat” and “boring” look.

Secondly, since you will be working in Macro mode, the harsh light will be too close to your figure, washing it out in the final photo. That beautiful custom action figure that you worked so hard to create will look more ghostly than the spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi hangin’ out on Dagobah!

When using varying sources of light to photograph your action figures, you may notice that the colors of your final photos may be a bit... off.

There is a VERY specific reason for this... one that is a bit... involved.

An EXTREMELY important aspect of photographic lighting that you should ALL be aware of during COLOR photography is COLOR TEMPERATURE of LIGHT:

Simply put, this is defined as the relative, apparent COLOR of a given source of light when viewed by a particular photographic device.

I hear you all saying "Huh?????" Let me try to explain.

Lighting sources come in virtually every color of the visible-light spectrum, and each of them are seen a CERTAIN WAY by the camera and/ or film that you are using ("photographic device".

Understanding the color temperatures of different light sources will help you to make better creative decisions when lighting your custom STAR WARS Action Figures for photography:

Color Temperature of light is measured on a KELVIN SCALE that classifies the COLOR of bluest light (on the high end of the scale) to the reddest light (on the lower end of the scale).

The human eye tends to overly compensate with any light source that it looks at and identifies it as “white”. I can assure you, however, the human eye is WRONG!!!

For the purposes of simplification, we’ll just deal with certain basic types of common light that most people take photographs with:

Starting at the the VERY TOP of the Kelvin scale, we have the "coolest" (bluest-white) light source known to man, the DAYLIGHT SUN (at high noon). This light source is rated at "5800° Kelvin."

As we move a little lower (warmer) on that light color temperature scale, we encounter the blue light of a camera's ELECTRONIC FLASH rated at 5500° Kelvin.

Moving lower still on the light Color Temperature scale, you might find a BLUE "TUNGSTEN" PHOTOGRAPHY BULB, rated at 4800° Kelvin.

Then farther down the Kelvin light color temperature scale, things actually begin to get a bit GREEN. An overhead FLOURECENT type light source may LOOK white to you, but it is actually a greenish light rated at about 4000°Kelvin.

Down and down we go along the Kelvin color temperature scale until we come upon a (warm) TYPE-A WHITE "TUNGSTEN" PHOTOGRAPHY BULB rated at 3400°. At this point, the light source is beginning to take on a decidedly (warm) yellowish cast.

Just below that on the Kelvin color temperature scale, there is the (more common) TYPE-B WHITE TUNGSTEN PHOTOBULB used by many studio photographers (rated at 3200° Kelvin).

Moving even lower on the light color temperature scale, you'll find your average household INCANDESCENT LIGHTBULB whose color temperature is a "reddish" 2800°Kelvin.

Near the bottom of the light color temperature scale you'll find the red light thrown by the LIT FLAME OF A CANDLE, and far below that is the lighting that we refer to as INFRA-RED.

Now, as I said, ALL of these different light sources have a measurable COLOR temperature even though to your naked eye, most of them may look "white".

The photography / digital image industry has long understood the overall effects that these different colors of light can have on your photographed images. For that reason, they have taken steps to ensure that the knowledgeable photographer can make ANY light source that he is working with appear as PURE WHITE in his photographs provided he is using the correct film IN his camera, or has performed a "White Balance" ON his (electronic / digital) camera.

Once you have determined which light source you will be using to take your pictures, you will need to purchase the correct CORRESPONDING FILM-TYPE if you want that light source to photograph as WHITE.

So if you are taking photos outdoors in the daylight, you will need to purchase film that is "rated" for the high (blue-ish / white) color temperature of daylight. This film can be used indoors too, but only if your main lightsource is the sun coming in brightly through a window, OR if you are using ELECTRONIC FLASH (which has a color temperature very similar to daylight).

If you use that SAME film with a lightsource that it is NOT rated for, then your pictures will develop an OVERALL COLORED CAST.

For example: Daylight film used with TUNGSTEN Photo Bulbs or INCANDECENT lighting will produce yellowish or reddish pictures. Why? Because Daylight film is "rated" for a light source that is much "bluer" and it therefore "sees" your incandecent light for the reddish source that it is.

The OPPOSITE also holds true. If you use a Tungsten-rated film stock (Type-A film or Type-B film) outdoors in the daylight, your pictures will develop a bluish cast on them. Why? This film stock only sees a warmer, reddish light as "White" and it therefore sees the Daylight sun as the BLUE light source that it actually is.

In the DIGITAL electronic world, there are NO film stock "types" to contend with. But the issue of Color Temperature of light is still very real. For this reason, it is important to do a proper "White Balance" of your camera prior to the start of your photography. This ensures that your main light source will be seen as WHITE in your photos.

Ensuring that you main light source is seen as WHITE by your media is important because it is only WHITE light that will represent the colors of your Custom Action Figure subject accurately. Also, understanding this light color temperature principle allows you to be that much more creative as a photographer of your custom action figures. For example, you may intentionally wish to photograph your figures with a bluish tint to make them appear "cold" (like say a character in a snow environment). Or you may intentionally wish to photograph your figures with a reddish tint to indicate "heat" (as in a character in a lava, inferno, or hellish environment). The sky's the limit.

Now get out there, armed with your camera's and your new photography knowledge and take some INCREDIBLE pictures of your AWESOME custom action figures!!

-Roberto DARKLORD Williams
Cosmic Fantasy Customs -
Monday, June 13, 2011
all these are great ideas. I say if you are going to take pics outside wait for an overcast day it gives the best light without being to harsh. The tents are perfect for inside, but if you want to go with another idea use gary fongs light diffusers to lessen the light to make it less harsh. They have other diffusers I just had the best eperience with his, also it helps to keep sheen down if there is any and allows for a more true representation of the color. I will have to try and make a box, since I just use a background attached to the wall. That would help to send the light to get all the areas of the figure, so you won't have those shadowed spots.
Automatauntaun -
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
honestly a good camera goes a long way...and now of days A good smart phone is better then a good camera cause its a camera and more. I do everything on my Iphone for
,as previously stated. the other thing is IF you can't make or get a good light box. Natural light is you best friend. take a photo at like day brake or dusk. thats when the best light happens . or 12? if you want it extra bright.
Automatauntaun -
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
You know, I wrote this on my phone and it all came out wrong (stupid predictive text) it should say the missus got it for me and I might try a Ludo one day .

I hear ya on that I love smart phones but I tend to type real fast and the predictive text just....I can't write what it dose...its vulgar. Also my phone has proved to hold a 18th century view of racism? It turned "Netflix" into "Negroid" that was a fun face book update...

were most of my tragic magik happens. We have a collapsable photo tent and I have to say its awesome, something like 20 bucks? comes with color sheets and a nice case to carry it in but, with MY Iphone 4 I have been Finding the HDR and the right lighting has made some of my Pics taken in the tent look like dog food! this thing is great.

I jump between these two stations

and my Lady just dl'ed the Photo synth app. so I gave it a shot. enjoy a panoramic of our messy work space!

Darththomas -
Monday, January 31, 2011
You know, I wrote this on my phone and it all came out wrong (stupid predictive text) it should say the missus got it for me and I might try a Ludo one day .
jumbokaggra -
Monday, January 31, 2011
I promise the arse kissing will stop here; I got a set of those lights from Poundstretcher by your good advice. Works great!
Darththomas -
Saturday, January 29, 2011
It sure is, the kiddie got it me, they're fairly new so you shouldn't have a problem tracking them down. It's actually part of a two pack with jareth.......... Love me some labyrinth and I reckon I might try a lurk someday
jumbokaggra -
Saturday, January 29, 2011
[quote="darththomas81"]Here's my most recent photo setup

Is that a Hoggle figure?!Is that what it is? If so, where did you get it? My bird would go bananas for one of those.
"damn you, Jareth... and damn me too!"
Darththomas -
Friday, January 21, 2011
Here's my most recent photo setup

Pretty simple and easy to setup / dismantle also has a handy place to rest your arms whilst taking the photos. Obviously can be moved outside to get great daylight shots.

You could even change the colour of the sheet depending on your subject. Still not perfect but I reckon it works pretty well and gives much more freedom of angle than the box I used to use.

Another lamp on the other side would prolly make it better but I only have one.
Darththomas -
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Hey this stuff is really helpful, I'm gonna leave it here a couple o days then I'm gonna merge it into the sticky DIY photo stuff thread, just so it doesn't get lost.
bobtheodd -
Monday, December 27, 2010
I made my "photo tent" out of and old table I was going to scrap and some white sheets. Then a couple of desk lamps I picked up from Wal-mart
pock63 -
Monday, December 27, 2010
Thanks fore the info on taking pictures. My lack of skill with taking pictures really ruined my spiderman noir figure.
getsa -
Monday, December 27, 2010
yeah, those bendy arms on my lamps are really handy. you can put the lights in any position you want. and yes, they are LED lamps which have two settings. push the button once and 8 LEDs are on, push it again and 16 LEDs are on. the light it gives is pretty strong so I didn't remove the foam-like translucent white covering that comes from the packaging. (you can see in the pic that the lamp head is covered with something.) I just taped it in place so that it won't come off. it acts as a diffuser of some sort so that the light is not too bright.

I got those lamps at a wholesale store here in the philippines. they sell really affordable products. there are also stores in that area that sell both loose and sealed action figures. lots of them!

if only I have the money to burn...
blaynescott -
Monday, December 27, 2010
That was a great post. I created a phototent, using large sheets of tracing paper on the cut out ceiling/sides as diffusers, but you need powerful lights to shine through that. If you're using light-bulb based lights, make sure they're clear (not frosted, like most you find in homes). If they're rechargable lamps like those pictured (they use a fluorescent or LED light, I think), they typically emmit a more piercing, brighter light.

I think I'll actually look into getting some bendy-neck lights like the setup you have - it would certainly solve my needing to position bulb-lamps by hand.
getsa -
Monday, December 27, 2010
yeah, a direct flash would just drown/erase the details of the figure. you should just turn off the flash or cover it with white paper to diffuse it a little.

you can also make your own photo tent. it's easy. just take a large box (I used a television box) and put a white paper to cover the inside (it would serve as your background so you can use other colors if you want.)

for the lights, I'm using some cheap rechargeable lamps that I bought for Php150 each (approximately $3-$4).
having a well lighted photo tent would decrease the blurriness and graininess of the pics that your taking.

here's what the set up looks like:

yeah, I know... the lamps don't look very manly... but it works well! haha!
the black thing in front of the figure is a custom made tripod. it's made of a suction cup base, bendable metal wire arm, and three more bendable clasps that holds my cellphone (I only use my cellphone to take pics of my customs). I just put the cellphone in position, set it in auto timer, and let it take pictures on its own. having it on auto timer also decreases the blur. I have very shaky hands so it blurs when I'm holding the camera phone and taking pics.

the trick in having clear pics does not depend on having a hi-tech camera. you just have to find a decent one and have a well lighted surroundings so that it can take clear photos.
I use my nokia 5610 express music. the built in camera is 3.2 megapixels.
of course. having a dslr or a digicam with a macro setting would be great, but it won't matter if you don't know how to use it. so I suggest that you take that camera and abuse it! take dozens of pictures and practice with it! it's fun!

or if you really don't want to make a mini photo tent, you can just take the figures outside and use some natural light. and remember how to use the sunlight to your advantage.
don't take back lighted pics unless you are going for some silhouette effect for your pics. position your figure facing the sunlight so that the details would clearly be seen when you take pictures.

here's what the pics would look like:

outdoor light. (without the photo tent)

indoor set up (with photo tent)

I'm not a pro at this and sometimes the details still wash out when I'm using my lamps, and IMO, outdoor natural light still produces better pics compared to indoor artificial light.
so I'm thinking of making an open top photo tent so that I can take the set up outdoors and still have the white background. only problem with that is you always have to wait for the sun to shine, and there's a particular time in the day that the sunlight is perfect for a photo shoot. so time is very critical if you're going to take pictures outdoor.

well, hope that helps.
blaynescott -
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Hey everyone,

I was chatting with another forum member recently, and figured this bit of advice might be helpful to others submitting pictures to the 'Realm of their custom figure works:

I do find that if you shoot with a direct-on flash, most figures (including factory ones) look like garbage. Just like how people, which you shoot them with a flash close up - look *horrible*. In photography you're rarely suppose to shoot a flash directly AT someone/something. You're suppose to 'bounce' it off the ceiling, or a wall, so the subject takes on the lighting tones of the room around them. Near-impossible with built in pocket cameras, but with SLR's you can.

When I photograph my figures, I use either a Nikon or Canon point-and-shoot pocket camera, and 2 or more lamps close by. The figures sit on a piece of bristol board, curved against a wall (or a tall lamp) like a half-pipe. In one hand, I have a lamp with no shade on it. The other (left hand) I have the camera with no-flash settings and MACRO enabled. It's a flower-icon, telling the camera to focus on your figure, not the wall behind it. It's hard to shoot pics one-handed, but having a mobile light source makes things look really dynamic/amazing. Even the WiP shots I do for customers look good now that I'm working this way.

While I don't advocate photoshopping your custom figures to correct painting mistakes, etc.: I do use photoshop to brighten/adjust the lighting. This can be done by using the magic-wand tool to select the grey/white background, feather by 1 or 2 pixels, desaturate and increase the brightness/contract +100. It's possible to get this effect with a nice SLR/flash and a light-reflecting "lightbox" (usually used for shooting jewelry) -- but for everyone else whose on a budget, similar results are achievable.

Hope this helps.

somebody1 -
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Good news is walmart has cheap full size telescopic tripods.
Metaluna Mutant -
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
This might also be helpful.
ARAHfan32 -
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Thanks for the tips! I'm going to have to try some of them out. I'm currently using a type of drop-light that you see in auto shops, with the clamp on the end and the round reflective shield. I get a lot of shadows though, so I'll have to try some of the ideas here to see if they help me out.
Darththomas -
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Really I've found a stack of books, dvds or games work just as well.
BKZ718 -
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
So it would be best to get one that extends from the floor up I assume?
somebody1 -
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I have one that extends to like 1' tall. I got it for a buck at the dollar store once. Not the greatest but beggers can't be choosers. Walmart sometimes has full sized ones on sale for like 25.00
BKZ718 -
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Thanks bro, I could really use help with taking photos. I also need to buy a friggin tripod.
somebody1 -
Friday, December 18, 2009
You see those lights at the dollar stores all the time.
Top-notch comix -
Monday, December 14, 2009
NICE! I might have to make one of those... I know I have some of those lights hangin around somewhere!
Darththomas -
Monday, December 14, 2009
Thought I'd add to this with my home made photo set up. It's really cheap to make and I feel it gets pretty good results so here goes.

Start off with a box big enough to fit your subject in. As you can see I used a dog treat box,

Cover the inside with paper colour of your choice, I used A4 sized white as it's quite neutral and about the same size as the box. I stuck it all down with a pritt stick, trying to keep it all as straight as possible.

Get some stick on LED lights, these ones cost £3, less than $5. I used three but you could probably get better results with 4 or even 6. Stick them to one end of the box, I used superglue but you may be able to use the sticky pads that come on them.

Make a "diffuser". I used another cardboard box and cut out the middle. I then taped another piece of paper around the frame.

Tape the "diffuser" to the outside edge of the box so it can be hinged on and off. Switch on the LEDs and hinge the diffuser over the LED lights.

Here's the finished article all lit up

I then use a pile of Xbox games to rest my camera on, you can use anything though. A pile of books, magazines, another box or maybe even a camera stand but this adds extra cost. Over all anything that keeps your camera more steady than your hands do. I use games because I can easily lower or higher the level of the camera.

That's it, decent results with a total spend of £3, here's the results.

Hope this helps.
somebody1 -
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I have enough cardboard laying around to make about 30 of them. the lamps are gonna be expensive.
Top-notch comix -
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
that's pretty helpful
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