Sunday, January 15, 2017

Photographing miniatures, Part I; tools and set-up

Since I started blogging, my bane has always been Photographing miniatures. I hate it because it takes forever to set-up, and that means spare time not used to painting; I hate it because it always end costing money, from tri-pod to cameras to light-box, etc. (and again that means money not spent towards my hobby), and mostly I hate it because I'm not very good at it, and my pictures always end up too dark and I have to take 50 pictures to get two "good enough" picture. It has, in the past, played a role in irregular blogging posting habits. I would often wait until I had enough figures painted to spend an entire afternoon taking pics. But this way of doing thing really didn't work well with regular blog posts, and it's especially problematic during the Analogue Hobby Challenge, as I find it important to try to get a good rhythm and post every week or at least every two weeks.

So when I moved this Spring to a new house, I decided I needed to fix this issue once and for all, especially since I had the room needed; i'm indeed lucky enough to have an office (which also serves as my toys/comics collection room) upstairs to myself, as does Laurie. There were a number of things I wanted to adress, and it took me a long time to all put it together, mostly because I had to wait a few months because I was broke after the house move! So I wanted the following :
  • Permanent photography set-up. In the past I tried everything, from taking my pictures outside (not so good when summer is basically 3 months a year in Montréal), to setting up a table corner with terrain, to try to take pictures in front of a simple white paper sheet. All these would take time to install; bringing the terrain needed, getting the tri-pod, etc. I wanted something which would always be easily accessible, no set-up required.
  • A lightbox or something similar. I like to use my terrain for gaming, not taking pics, so I decided to go for a lightbox, with a permanent backgroup. Now, I like my house and my office to look nice, so not only did I wanted the box to be efficient and if possible cheap, I also wanted it to look smart in my office. So no home-made cheap looking cardboard box! 
  • A set-up right next to my computer; when taking pics outside or in the basement, you always have to go up and down the stairs to download your pics, and to double-check they are ok, etc. It's a lot of time wasted, and moreover not the best idea for my knees. 
So now lets look at the solution, which is fairly simple really. I already had a tri-pod (which I think is a must to take proper pics of minis) and a good camera. I needed a lightbox!

While perusing an Oldhammer blog, I found a review for the Foldio lightbox; it's a cheap lightbox, incredibly easy to assemble, small enough to fit on an office desk. And it was available through Amazon! And finally, it looks quite good and fits very well with the aesthetics of my Mac computer and office in general. I actually bought the Foldio 2, which is bigger and has more light than the Foldio 1, two problems mentioned by Matthew in his blog

However, lighting was still an issue, and indeed you don't have enough. I fixed this by buying two desk lamps and equipped them with daylight bulbs; faster and easier than buying more lights of the Foldio guys in Korea!

Here's a picture of the (permanent) set-up. 

To take pictures, I just roll my chair a bit to the left, get in front of the tri-pod, open all the lights and I'm done. 30 seconds and I'm in photography mode.

And then, to download the pics, I move the tri-pod with the camera still attached to it a few centimeters, and connect the USB cable straight from my usb multiple port adapter to the camera.

20 seconds later pics are uploaded, and I know if they are good. Yes, the whole point of this is to minimize as much as humanly possible all time devoted to photographing miniatures, while still getting great results. Toyota would call it "the lean method".

Of course, nothing is easy about Photographing miniatures, so I quickly realized that, while the set-up was great, my pictures still weren' stay tune for Part II!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, Part VII

Yes, the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge is back for it's 7th year (I know, time flies). Better and bigger than ever, with 100 participants! While the Fantasy and Sci-Fi side of the Challenge will occupy the vast majority of my time, I do intend on working on a few things for this place.

So what's in store for this blog? Well two small projects, really.

  1. Napoleonic skirmishes. I've got the skirmish bug recently, for both Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and I've been thinking of doing something similar for Naps. Really, it's an excuse to paint some of the many great skirmishing Napoleonic figures on the market. One of the things I like about skirmishes is the ability to spend more time on each figures, and it's something I especially never do with Naps. So I got myself Songs of Drums & Shakos, because I love the engine, and would like to create small 10-20 men forces. Eventually maybe I'll be able to use them in bigger skirmish games like Sharpe's Practice, although it is not my goal per se. What do we start with? Well some Poles from Murawski Miniatures, of course! Roger sent me this summer some of the new "Retreat from Moscow" skirmishers and they are really good looking. I'll use them for the 1809 Danube campaign to create a wonderfully ragged bunch. 
  2. I'm having a side-duel (well two actually, you can read about the other one on my Marauders and Citadels blog) with Sander Van Straeten, who I met on a Facebook page. The duel is for "80s Military and Sci-Fi Pulp" and consists of a single entry, between 25 and 50 pts worth of infantry, along with one mandatory vehicle piece. Now, you may ask yourself "And what exactly is 80s Military Sci-Fi Pulp?". Well you'll find out! It's not the type of thing usually seen in this blog, but it should be a fun entry. Also, my very first 28mm vehicle. Wish me luck.
  3. There's a 3...kinda. I reserve the right to work on anything else I feel like! It might be historical, it might be Pulp...heck it might be Zombies! If it's not strictly Sci-Fi or Fantasy, I'll post it here! 
Of course, the above doesn't include the bonus theme rounds, and my plan is to participate in all of them but one (I don't do terrain).

My goal for this Challenge is to hit 550pts, although I hope for more.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

A few Indian chiefs

A small return to the French Indian War this week. I always enjoy this era for skirmishes and we had two fun games this summer with John  and Rusti (from Crossover Miniatures)

I painted a few Indian Chiefs for the Sharpe's practice game. I had all the Indians needed but no "Big Men" so I went to work on 3 Conquest Miniatures figures. I especially like the "Last of the Mohican" Magua figure (middle figure), although I did not paint it as Magua but rather as a generic Indian Chief. Before anyone comment, no, the war paints are not historical per se, I just went with what I though would look good on the battlefield and what would be easily identifiable as big men. 

I quite like my blue war paint, even though it's not very historical!
I juggled with the idea of using differently sized based to identify the Big Men, but in the end figured it might be a problem in other rulesets, so went with my traditional 25mm slim round bases from Litko, which I use for all my skirmish historicals.  

These pics were taken just last week with my new Foldio lightbox, so its still very much a work in progress. I need more light and probably another background. I'll discuss this further in a future post.

Anyways, hope you like them! 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Another hobby this summer...

Been quite busy this summer working on the new house (I moved late May). The house contains both a painting room and a gaming room for yours truly in the basement (yes, I'm very lucky Laurie loves me...and is afraid of spiders, thus abandonning the basement to me!) and I've been working on both. Being a completionnist I'm not showing pics of the house...yet, as there is still much to do. 

But I did start a new hobby; gardening! My previous townhouse had but a small patch of land, which allowed me to learn the trade with few consequences, but this place has a big backyard! The previous owners did a truly great job with the garden, so I just improved on it. It was a lot of fun and, dare I say so myself, it looks freaking spectacular! If you had told me just 10 years ago I'd spend many week-ends gardening...

So yeah, I'm showing off!

Probably heresy to my american friends, but not a patch of grass to be seen!
Blue Hibiscus
Our Cherry tree

Pink roses in full bloom

Very little painting done this summer, although I did spend the little free time I had on prepping miniatures. I should be ready for the Analogue challenge and the cold, bleak, garden-less Canadian winter!