Tutorial - How to build a photo setup

by Roman aka jar

posted by Roman, Jarhead, kong


this time it is all about how to build a place where you can easily take good photos of your painted miniatures without having too many trouble. This is for sure not the best way, it is more the McGyver guy in me. Please know that there are different settings on how you can do this and please know too that this version here is far from perfect.

I write this article because i did a new setup to my own place as i am still having a lot of trouble. I will show you on the following photo how my past photo place did look like. I had 2 frames from cardbox where i did put aluminum foil at it to reflect the light from the lamps. Using daylight bulbs helps you get the photos you want: natural colours and not made wronb by for example a yellowish bulb. For example, Raffa and myself, we use a lamp from the well known company "Ikea", putting in a "Osram DULUX S 11W/865 (860) G23 LUMILUX Daylight" - Link!

I was used to bring up some bread wrap paper around these lamps while making a photo to get a nonpoint, diffuse work space of light to show the miniature as it is painted and not influanced by the lights. Believe me taking a good photo of a miniature is the hardest thing to do on this planet. It is way more joyful to have a miniatue in your hand where you can move it, view it from different angles and see the complete beauty of something so small being painted up. It is hard, yes... but always up for improvement i choose to switch something in at my photoplace to maybe get better results. Here you can see the "before" workspace":

 As a background i did use black or sometimes grey carton pape, sometimes i even try my luck with some cloth. Remember that your background should always have an easy look, not too much to irritate the viewer from the miniature shown.

I did change this place for several reasons. First the lamps always made everything too bright. Using 2 day lamps, but whatever i tried i never managed to get my light coming in as defuse as i want it to in that way. The third lamp on this picture is a normal yellow light one which i sometimes switch on while i try to get a good photo of a miniature and test around. Nothing really special about that. Try this for your own, sometimes it helps me, sometimes not. I could go mad at taking photos. So let's get it on to the future...

What you need:

- lamps as decribed above
- a plastic bucket from matt clear plastic (bought at IKEA for 1,99 €)
- a saw
- some muscles, or eating a banana

- patience and attention to not hurt yourself
- a printed background, which has been made by Raffa with some strange but soft marginal changes in it, i guess you can do such things on your own, if not get a move on to your local printer shop and ask for help. They mostly can do such things very easy without much costs for you.

Building up the Photo Setup

First of all i want to say that you really should pay attention while doing any of our articles. You try them at your own risk, so please always keep an eye out to your own safety and health.

I took the bucket and tried to get a area open where i could position my camera to the inside later on. First i tried this with the pure strength of my hands - it didn't work, in fact the plastic only broke. No need for you to try this at home. Secone and third, i tried to do this with a box cutter, a scissor and my muscle power - it didn't work, so you know, no need to try this at home. Again, no need to use these:

To get a clear cut through the plastic i did use a saw.

I went out on the balcony to cut it on the left side, followed by the right seize in place where i want the open area to be. Take attention not to make it too bright, because you will need the buckets body later on. You can make this as high as the bucket goes to have the option to get some photos of big models.

Now i prepared everything for a hopefully better photo result. I ripped everything off from my lamps to make them shine bright as the plastic bucket really brings a good light absorbation, and positioned them around the bucket. I positioned the printed background i got from Raffaele into the bucket with using a tape. Make sure the lamps hit the sides of the bucket, not the open frame you did cut in (if so the light would not fall in diffuse). I only have two daylamps, maybe a third from the top would be a good idea someday. All in all it looks like this now:

The results

I guess everyone reading here knows my photo results until now. In my eyes the most important thing has happened that i wished for. The bucket made the light coming in more diffuse for a better result. And it is easy to take it away if you want to clean up your workbench or don't plan to make photos the next days.

This is the result which comes from the camera. A bit too bright, i hope you may see the difference to the photo i did before of Carlos.

Another shot done, not so bright from the adjustment of the camera from my actual workbench Work in Progress - Denise, bust by Pegaso:

Final word

I hope this article helps or inspires the one or the other. There will be some other articles talking about photography and things you should take care of while doing. Sooner or later in the article section.

If any questions may appear or if you just want to tell me what you think (if this is better than before?), please feel invited to drop a comment here.

Keep on happy painting!
Best Regards


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