Cameras and Photography

Page: 1

Lighting and Photography: I'd recommend you get a book on lighting for studio photography. From what little I've learned from classes, the amount of light reaching the object drops off very quickly as you move the light source away from the object. A logarithmic scale, I believe. So with weaker lights, you'll probably need them much closer than your stronger ones. You might not be able to get enough light and still handle the heat problem. You could try a fan, or shooting for a while and letting your little "set" cool down from time to time. I could try to look up formulas, but there's only so far you can get with calculations anyway. Having a light meter, so you can measure the amount of light getting to the object and the f-stop you'll need to use to get a good exposure can make things faster. But if you are using a digital camera for your pictures, you can just keep trying until you get what you want. It's going to be different if the object's darker or lighter, etc. People doing product photography do end up creating a whole theater of lights and reflectors around the object, and shooting their camera through some space in between. If you're finding the stuff gets in the way, set up the camera first (on a tripod or stand), and then arrange the lights and reflectors to get the best light on the object. So experimentation is probably what you'll have to keep doing. To make things more efficient, you might try shooting objects of close to the same size and lightness/darkness, to minimize the amount of adjustments you have to do for each individual object.

Trish in Sunnyvale, CA

Photography: I realize many people won't agree with this, but I had the best luck photographing miniatures by using a plain neutral background and taking them outside on a bright day but IN THE SHADE. This produces almost no shadows. I used lightweight poster board and curved it gently so one piece formed both the floor and wall with no sharp corner. This is the system I used for my brochures in B/W and later in color. Even with professional lighting equipment, indoor shots never worked for me. By using a light colored background, the photo background was 'blank' making it easy for print shop to get just the miniature with no background. Later when I changed to color and printed on computer, the 'blank' background was easy to eliminate on the computer.

Dean Jenson

Flaws: I know every flaw in my dollhouse and nobody has ever spotted them. If you want to see if a flaw is obvious, take a photo. That's how I find out what looks bad and what doesn't. I don't know why a photo works better than seeing it in person but for me it does.


Camera/Software: I found Adobe's PhotoDeluxe 2.0 on my machine, there is a much later version now. It is simple enough for an idiot like me who had never used such software, with simple on screen prompts as to what to do next, but it trims, crops, color corrects, lots of stuff. I use it for every photo that I put on eBay (toy trains, so they are small like minis), and it is really easy and rather inexpensive. My camera is a Sony Mavica 91. I love it when I am using it, it stores pix on floppies, of which I had hundreds. However, at high resolution I only get 12-14 pix per floppy, so I usually carry about 24 with me. However, last July and again last month it refused to turn on. It cost me $90 repairs the first time and $165 this time, and they will not even tell me what was wrong (it went to Sony here locally). I would look at an Olympus next time, I think.

Barb Jones

Digital Pics and Printables: I have noticed since joining this illustrious group that many people make comments about the poor quality of their digital pictures. Others are looking for sites with printables. Maybe some of the programs that I use on the computer would help to make life a bit easier or more interesting for these folks. Here are a couple of free programs, one to improve the quality of certain digital camera pics, like those taken with inexpensive cameras with no flash, and one to help you make your own printables. All the originators of the programs, Media Chance, ask is that you let friends know about their site and/or put a link to it on your site. Since many of you have web sites, that would be a nice gesture if you use and like either of the programs. No, I don't work for these guys, I just like their free stuff!

The first is called "Digital Camera Enhancer":

The second is called "Oscar's JPEG Thumb-Maker":

I have used the enhancer on a few pics and liked the way it brightened them up with one quick pass. I can get more controllable results from Adobe Photoshop, but this one is free and so simple to use for those who are not digital picture editing experts.

The thumb-maker allows you to scale .jpg photo files to any size that you want. I use it to reduce the size of some of my scanned files to make them more compact and all the same screen size for emailing, or even just for archiving. I have also reduced some scanned photos to 1:12 doll house size, using the scale of 100 pixels to the real inch. (Thanks to Jim's Dollhouse Pages for that incredibly useful tidbit). Using that scale factor, the possibilities are endless. I have some examples of a type of artisan product that is common here in Chile, one of which I would like to duplicate in 1:144 scale in a match box. I have scanned it already, and plan to print it out at the exact finished size to use as a guide for making the miniature. Anyone with a scanner and a calculator could copy magazines, pictures or anything else their little heart desires and easily scale them to whatever scale they work in.

David in Santiago

CAMERA ADVICE : You can't go wrong with the Pentax brand especially if you can get your hands on a Pentax K-1000 body and a 50 mm lens. Add a set of Nikon close up screw on lens in +1,+2,+3 and you can do most anything you need done in close up for your miniatures. I suggest looking for an older model K-1000 body and lens though..........Mine is over 23 years old and "still ticking and taking a licking!" Have thought on occasion of selling it but even with a fancy electronic "does it all Olympus model camera" I still keep going back to "my old war horse". Oh!! and a good sturdy heavy duty tripod! Don't skimp on this with a lightweight, cheap Wal-Mart or KMart one. Those items and Fuji film [personal preference over Kodak] and you'll be set.

Patricia / Redwood City,CA

A suggestion for mini stores:       I have been having an idea exchange with a mini store about the qualities I look for in a resale shop from an artist/buyer viewpoint. They liked one of those ideas and suggested I pass it along here on SSD. Soooooo- - - - -

A service that would be very nice at local miniature stores (or shows in towns without mini stores) would be a mini photo studio complete with good lighting, backdrops and/or settings, a quality (macro) camera, knowledgeable photographer, and PC with Internet access.

Keep in mind that many miniers do NOT have all the facilities at home to take top quality photographs. I, for one, simply have not yet learned how to download pics from my camera and put them out to the net. I picture this service as being a free service for customers if pics are limited to digital format. A reasonable charge world be appropriate if film were used in a film camera to generate negs and prints for potential publication. Customer provides own disc or CD blank if digital copy wanted.

       Potential advantages to the shop could be- - - -

  1. Good will
  2. Get customers to bring in their projects for pic (shop while there?)
  3. Encourage increased enthusiasm to complete projects
  4. Generate a rogues gallery of local talent achievements
  5. Help establish or encourage loyalty. ("Would you take free pics of this mini I made with materials from Michael's?")

       Benefits to customers could be - - -

  1. Top quality photographs for records, scrap books, snail and e-mail letters
  2. Pics of achievements on display for friends and neighbors to see
  3. A way for the PC illiterate to get their projects out to galleries, lists, or auction sites.
  4. Increased traffic (& hopefully business) to assure the longevity of the local mini emporium.
  5. Print quality photographs for articles submitted to publications (with appropriate credits to mini shop/photographer) (You pay for film/processing but not necessarily a full 24 exposure roll of portrait quality film)

Mel K. In Las Vegas

Mini Photos: I think that's a great idea... but there should be a charge.   The photographer has to be paid... the camera has to be purchased ... the picture taking area does use up room (that could otherwise display merchandise for sale)... and I think that mini shops are having a very hard time making ends meet without additional expenses.  

But which one of us wouldn't be willing to pay for a very good picture when we need one??   I love the idea!   Or... just offer a free picture for every $100 purchase made at the shop... or in some other way to help the shop to cover the expense of providing that service.


Scanners: It may well be that you get what you pay for, but I suspect it is not in proportion. By that I mean that the very expensive ones possibly don't give that much better performance than the cheaper ones. The main things to look for are:

  1. The resolution, 1200 dpi (dots per inch) seems about normal now but it may be that you can still find some "end of range" types with lower resolution very cheap.
  2. What is the resolution of your printer? If it isn't as good as the scanner, you won't get much more from it unless you upgrade the printer at some future date.
  3. What do you want it for? If it is only for putting pictures on the web, then 75 dpi is good enough! Don't attempt anything better because a) it will take up a lot of memory, b) it will take a long time to down load, c) computer screens only have that resolution.
  4. For making miniatures, then look at the 1200 dpi, but where are you getting your originals? If it is from your photographs, the results will be fine and scaling can be applied to get the printout just what you want. If your source is magazine pictures, picture post cards, prints, etc. then you may be disappointed. These sources use a dot printing method although the dots are too small to be seen by the eye. However, when scanning, which is also a dot process, the two sets of dots don't match up and you get what is call aliasing. You will find the picture looks streaky on the computer screen. Some photo software has various dither techniques that are supposed to overcome this effect, but I haven't found them to work very satisfactorily.


Macromax camera: The Macromax camera costs $149.00. It uses 35mm film. It is suitable for photographing a single mini object, or a room or room box. Gary had sample photos which were taken with the camera, one of a 1/2" scale room, and another of 1" scale minis. The photos were very clear. The quality of the shots really showed up in the room scene--foreground, mid-ground and background were all in focus. The only drawback I saw is the fact that this a range finder camera, not a reflex camera. In a reflex camera, the image passes through the lens, is bounced off a mirror and appears in your viewfinder. In other words, when you look through the viewfinder, you see what the lens sees. In a range finder camera (most instant 35mm cameras are range finders) The viewfinder is not connected to the lens, so you see a little bit different image than the lens is seeing. For midrange and distance shots in a regular camera, this does not make any real difference. It can make a difference close up in small scale. The Macromax does have a solution for this. It comes with a framing attachment. I must say this is one of the strangest camera attachments I have seen, but it seems to do the trick. The attachment is a flat piece of plastic. At one end it holds a thick wire frame upright. The opposite end inserts into the bottom front of the camera. It may take some practice getting used to looking through the wire to frame your shot instead of the viewfinder. Gary did use the wire to frame his shots, and it does work. I would say that if you have a serious need to photograph your minis, this is a nice mid priced camera that could do the job.


Close Up Rings: Those "close up rings" (3) come in what is called diopters of ;+1;+2;+3. If all 3 are screwed together and put on the camera lens, you can focus down to about 3" from the subject. BUT the depth of field, everything in front of and everything behind the subject will be out of focus. You are correct in that they cost a heck of a lot less than a new camera. These close up lenses come in various diameters to fit a particular diameter lens, I.E. 42 mm 49 mm, etc. There are rings called adapter rings which permits you to use close up lenses that do not have the same diameter as your particular camera. I.E. if your camera lens is 42 mm and your close up lens is 49 mm. You use an adapter ring for 42 mm that permits 45 mm lenses to be used, then you put a 45 mm adapter into that one and go up to 47 mm and so on. So all you need is one set of close up lenses and adapter rings (which are very inexpensive) and you can use the lenses on just about any camera. This way I use my polarizing lens and special effects lenses on my telephoto lens. Buy the close up lenses for the largest diameter lens you own and use the adapter rings to get them onto the smaller diameter lenses. That way you can use any and all your lenses with the close up rings or any other special effects lenses you may have.

Dr. Bob

Photo Reduction and framing service

Jane in Arkansas

No Camera or Scanner?? We to would like to see your work and you don't need a scanner or digital camera to show them to us! Use any camera, even a disposable one, to take pictures of your miniatures. When you bring the film in for developing check the box on the envelope that requests that prints be developed to disk. Once you have done this you will be able to load them to a photo site and we will all be able to view them. Ask us again when you have gotten your disks and are ready to load them and I'm sure we will be able to assist you.Marilyn, MI

photo/web site: For the person trying to link pictures to eBay: Some sites just do not allow remote hosting to other sites. Photopoint (pay site now) does, but the mirror free Epson site does not. I don't believe picture trail will accept remote hosting either.

I considered Picturetrail when I was thinking of switching photo sites, but I have decided I like other sites better. Frankly, the music option really bothers me. At least you can turn it off, on web sites where there is music and you can't turn it off immediately, I LEAVE. I find sites with all these extras to be annoying and they take too long to load.

I have been posting all three of my photosites on my signature to see which ones get viewed the most. So far, people still look at the photopoint site more than any of the others. I am fairly happy with Webshots, but have had several complaints about how Zing works - I may abandon that one. As far as Photopoint goes, Rose said she has trouble getting in and needs to use the owners email address. Has anyone ever had problems viewing my albums on photopoint? I wonder if I should be doing something different with my link to make it work for some of you? Let me know if you have had this problem with my link and I will try to fix it.

Bonnie Gibson - Tucson, Arizona

Reduction with scanner: What I would do to reduce a text is first I would scan it at regular size and keep it as a file. I would then import that file to any of my photo management programs. These programs permit one to increase (+) or decrease(-) the size of an image. In my Adobe Photodelux software when I elect to increase or decrease an image it gives me the percentage of increase or decrease from the original file.


Reducing using scanner: It depends on your scanner or drawing program software. If the software allows you to scan in at a custom percentage, I'd use 8% (1 divided by 12 works out to 8.33 percent, but my scanner doesn't get that precise). It's probably under some kind of "advanced" or "custom" button or tab. The other thing you can do is acquire the scan through your graphics program, and then reduce the object to either 8.33%, or make the height be what you want (say, 1 inch for a 12 inch high letter) and be sure the reduction is proportional--that way the graphics program has to figure out the width.

Trish in Sunnyvale, CA

Shrinking a letter: I believe Lisa Volrath's miniature site on had a tutorial on reducing and enlarging. Just click on the link below.


Connie's Miniature Inventory Form: Connie gave me permission to convert her form to an Adobe pdf file and you can download it from here:

Thanks again, Connie!

Anne Gerdes

Connie's Miniature Inventory Form: Connie gave me permission to convert her form to an Adobe pdf file and you can download it from here:

Thanks again, Connie!

Anne Gerdes

Digital Camera: We have one, the Intel pocket camera that is 'pretty good' for close up work, and it didn't cost a fortune. If you look at...ahem...a little publicity here.. my brand new web page ... (and, be sure to drag your cursor through the "Kaye's Garden" sign), you will see close ups taken with the camera of quarter scale plants. Not bad pictures for a cheap digital camera!

Kaye in L.A.

This category has 101 tips of 10312 tips in the archives.

Previous 20 | Next 20

Page 1 of 6.

Search for:

Browse the database (all entries)