Anyone who’s followed this column from its humble beginnings to its equally humble present has likely noticed a stark improvement in the quality of my photographs. I’m still by no means a photographer, but this week I thought I’d share some advice from the things that helped me take a few steps forward to better figure photos.
The background of the photo is one of the most important parts of a picture, and it’s probably the area I struggled the most. (Shout out to Karina for the help here). I started with a white piece of paper and the painted white wall of my old apartment.
It wouldn’t have been totally awful if it hadn’t been for that crack in the wall. I graduated to using two pieces of white printer paper.
That led to another weird crack, the one between the two pieces of paper, getting into all my photographs. Sometimes I’d manage to hide the cracks, but most the time I couldn’t.
Around that same time, and you can see it in the above photo, I had some serious lighting troubles. (Shout out to Nick for the help here). I was using a yellow lamp bulb, because I honestly had no idea different bulb colors existed outside of Christmas lights. The white looks better.
Even better than those though, is natural lighting, which I started using and saw immediate improvement.
It took me another while longer to find the right backdrop though. I got into my head, somehow, that a t-shirt or pillow case would be great, and it would’ve been if I’d had an iron, and a way to stretch the background, so it wouldn’t be wrinkled in my photos. Instead, I got months of photos with pictures like this.
It got a little better when I switched to a black t-shirt. The wrinkles didn’t show, but neither did darker figures. (Although, lighter color did pop. See Freddy’s legs versus his upper-half).
Once I saw this article Nick wrote, I made this here light box and things really started taking off. I keep it under the window for the most natural lighting.
And here’s a figure in the lightbox:
I’ve been using the phone on my iPhone 4 the whole (Shout out to Nancy and Katy for the help here), and there’re also two things that I’ve found that really help. (Although, it may be better to check out the article I got them from, which has ten things instead of two).
Taking photos from below is really important, especially when it comes to action figures. They’re small, much smaller than the larger than life characters they’re modeled after. Taking a photo from below can lend them some size through perspective though.
The last piece of advice I’ll offer is to try to get symmetry in the photos. A lot of action figures come with doubles of a weapon, so I like to have them hold it the same way in both hands. I think it makes for a more dynamic photo.
These are the things that have helped me, and I hope they help you too.
A Call to Action (Figures) is a weekly column published on Wednesdays, chronicling my rants and raves about all things action figure. Next week I’ll be talking about how to identify used figures.