Cameras and Photography

Page: 3

How I photograph my minis:

1. If I am photographing a house, or roombox it goes right outside and sits on the beauty bark. The scenes in the yard are slightly fuzzy thus not too distracting but allow for good light and a Puget sound/mountain backdrop.

2. if I am photographing a set of room furniture, There is this little spot right off the yard... it is a raccoon trail (I am sure you have those in Puyallup) and the ground is solid. The indentation they made in the greens gives a gentle shading of direct sun and looks just like those adds for Ethan Allen furniture (you know the ones... beautiful bedroom suites in the woods)

3. Individual pieces can also be shown this way, or If the weather is icky (like it is today) I put it on a piece of fabric (I never worry about wrinkles) or paper. That velveteen paper from the scrapbooking store would be great. I am guilty of making sure the backdrop compliments the piece I am doing. White painted wood gets a dark forest/sage green backdrop... stained woods get pinks, lt blues, or peach depending on the finish color/upholstery... the other thing I do is use scaled wallpaper (on artist board from target) and a penny.

Do those things help? You can even head to your local state park and photograph there, they have great maintained trails and old forest that makes for great back drops.

The other thing that is a godsend is a digital camera. I would have spent thousands on film if I had actually had to print out before I knew what I was doing. Now I preview on the LCD panel and trash what I donít like right off, and it stores 300 pix (1280res) per smart card.

Sudie Parker

Mini Family pictures: Are the pictures in black and white? And, do you have a copy place like Kinko's near you? If so, all you need to do is take your pictures to a copy center and use the 'reduce' buttons on any copier until you get a picture that you can use in miniature. (If they are sepia toned, still use the black & white copier until you get the size right...color copies are much more expensive, and then use the color copier to take your copies.) If you want sepia toned pics, use the a parchment colored paper in the black & white copier.

Kaye in L.A.

Mini Family pictures: I have gotten my family photos miniaturized at Mail Boxes, Etc., but Kinkoís could do it, too.

I took in all of my old family pictures, told the guy how small I wanted the pictures and he did the work on the color copier, until it came out the size that I wanted. The photos came out about a half inch to 1 inch high and you could still make out who was in the photo, so I made my aunt a miniature photo album and she couldn't believe how small the pictures were.

There are probably other ways, but this is how I have to do it, because I don't have any other way.


Enlarging & Reducing Photos: I purchased a Proportional Scale from Dick Blick Art Supply, which will give you the exact percentage to enlarge or reduce a picture. It consist to two plastic circles joined in the center by a rivet. Both circles have numbers on them. You simply have to line up the size of your original with the size you want the print and the percentage you need to enlarge or reduce will appear in a small window on the scale. The scale comes in two sizes. I have the smaller one that I keep in my purse.

Louise from MI

To make sepia photos, for those of you who have (or use) the graphics programs on your computers:

1.Scan in your photo

2. Size it the way you want.

3. Somewhere in your program there will be a "color adjustment" option, just choose shades of brown and apply to your on screen photo.

4. Print it out!

Alice Zinn

Digital camera - some pros and some cons to think about:  The Mavica that uses floppy disks is probably most convenient but. . .floppy disks do not hold very much data and are gradually being phased out on some newercomputers.  Plus, they are subject to atmospheric conditions and they do deteriorate over time (at least in humid HI).  The memory stick is only used in one brand of camera (Cybershot?).  Compact flash cards are used by most of the other manufacturers and there is one other commonly used card (Memory card?).  There are a lot of excellent cameras out there and as memory increases prices have come down.  I got an Epson PhotoPC for $440 with 2.1Megapixels.  Am quite pleased with it although it is not rated among the top cameras.  It will print out a decent 8x10 if I ever want to do that.  The internet has a lot of info and reviews on all of the cameras out there - it is just a lot of work to do the research.

Jacqui in Hilo, HI

Digital camera Memory Sticks:  Sony's Cybershot uses a Memory Stick instead of a floppy; just think of the Stick as a mini-floppy. Sticks come in different capacities and the camera comes with a 8MB stick which is adequate for holding several .jpg shots before you get a "No Memory Available" warning. The Stick fits into a floppy adaptor and you transfer the images to your computer. Then, put the Stick back into the camera and re-format it to wipe it clean.

To take higher resolution Tiff images, you will need to spend an additional $160 or so to get a 64MB Stick which will hold 6 images before filling up. The tiffs are still only 72 dpi so to get printable quality images you will need to open them in a program like Adobe Photoshop or Corel Photo-Paint and "re-sample" them to a higher resolution and smaller size. The Cybershot also comes with a USB cable to directly transfer the images from the camera to your computer. Most of the newer computers have USB ports already built in. That's saves a lot of time -- copying from the floppy adaptor takes forever -- and you don't have to remove the Stick every time it gets full.

I know all this because one of my new job duties at HBS is shooting the catalog photography. I've been doing the web site photography with a Mavica since last year but the images were not good enough for the catalog. The Cybershot has enabled us to do our photography in-house and it's amazing. It took me a while to figure out the right combination of settings to get the best result so if anyone wants to know them, you can contact me directly. All the new images in the Winter 2001 catalog were done with the Cybershot and they are as good, if not better, than the old images that were shot with a digital camera system that costs $50,000!

Sally Cook-Thomas

Digital Cameras::   We owned the first version of the Sony Mavica and for ease of use and  battery life there is none better. (When we upgraded we bought the Olympus 3030 because we did 2 weeks of research to find the best camera to replace a 35mm. It is not the simplest camera to use but WOW! on the quality of pictures it takes. They rival the 35 very well.)

  I digress though. I highly recommend the Sony to you. Buy the best they have on the market though for resolution, get at least 2 megapixels.  The battery life is better than you'll get on any of the other cameras, the quality of the pictures is very good for the average person it would be great quality, (my hubby is just into graphics and needs the higher resolution), ease of use is probably second to none, you can easily carry several floppies in a shirt pocket. I could even figure out how to get them onto the computer myself without Gary's help, and you can get really close up pictures with no problem, great for mini's. You just save them onto your hardrive, and put the floppies back in the camera pack for next time. You can get a lot of pictures on a floppy, depends on resolution you use as to how many.

Kathy in E.TN

Cybershot: I don't know a lot about floppies and memory cards and memory sticks.  My digital camera takes the memory sticks.  It goes in the side of the camera and is maybe 1 x 2 inches.  When you want to put the pictures on the computer, you take the memory stick out of the camera and put it into some reader thing (I have it next to my computer).  You then go to the software and view the pictures.  For a novice computer person like myself, this has been very easy for me to do.  When I want to take more pictures, I just take it out of the little reader and pop it back into my camera.


Saving jpg graphics: I have the Sony Mavica with floppies. Love it for web images and mini printouts.  For larger sized print outs there are better higher resolution cameras which others have already mentioned.

But just wanted to add this:  Anytime you load a jpg image in an image editor and then do a "save as" you will degrade the quality of the image due to the jpg compressed format designed for web images.

To transfer the jpgs to another floppy or hard drive it is best to "copy" the file directly from floppy to other destination via the windows file manager process rather than using an image editor to "save as."

Also when editing jpgs, don't repeatedly load, edit, save, close out the program and then at a later date repeat because reloading and resaving previously "save as" jpgs causes the quality to decline.  It is ok to do multiple saves in one session as long as you're still "editing the original" not reloading and resaving previously saved jpg files.

For printed output saving the jpgs as tif files or the editors' native format like psp for paint shop pro will give better, clearer "printed" output. jpg was designed specially for compressed internet web images, and although it is the standard for the digital cameras, its compression format has its own set of challenges when doing a lot of re-editing and when using jpg for printed output.

Also... if your image editor allows you to individually set the jpg compression format....experiment...with each image.  I use Paint Shop Pro which allows you to see the actual quality at different compression levels and boy is there a big difference from each image to the next one. One image will be great with 40 percent compression, and the next one will be terrible and will need maybe a 25 percent or less compression to look good.

Wilma Kinder

Digital Cameras: I'd just like to add a few comments about digital cameras. I'm rather puzzled as to why everyone seems to think the Sony Mavica using a floppy disk is such an advantage. Remember you won't get many high resolution high quality pictures on a floppy disk. The Sony Mavica FD73 for example is only 640 x 480 resolution and this will give about 20 pictures on a floppy disk. 640 x 480 is fine for web use but if you're going to do any serious printing then you ideally need about 1600 x 1200 resolution. I have a Nikon CP700, and  I can get about 100 normal quality pictures on my 48 Mbytes compact flash card. I then download them on to my computer using a USB card reader in a few minutes, delete them from the card and use it again. My 48 Mbytes card is the same as over thirty floppy disks. I certainly don't fancy having to carry around thirty floppy disks whenever I take my camera out.

If you want to find the best digital camera to buy, do some research on the web. There are plenty of web sites with reviews and sample pictures. Epson, Fuji, Olympus, Nikon, Kodak all make good digital cameras. A good place to start is the newsgroup Your service provider should be able to give you instructions on accessing newsgroups if you don't know how to.

Another point, you don't necessarily need a zoom lens for miniatures, although I agree it is an advantage. And if you do get a zoom lens make sure it is just that, an optical zoom and not a digital zoom. I didn't get a zoom lens as I wanted a camera I could slip in my pocket and carry round with me.

Colin Bird

Sony Mavica:  My husband is an avid photographer and has bought and used 4 different Sony Mavica cameras.  We currently have the FD-91  and the CD-1000. He used to have the FD model that used the memory sticks (which were little chips that fit into a floppy disc carrier), but he likes his new one that takes them directly onto a mini CD disc better.  The nice thing about his CD Mavica is that it has a great lens which will take 0" macro photography all the way up to 24x zoom.  Priceythough.  We compress most of our pictures down to under 100kb for posting or attaching to emails.  We leave them as large files when they might be printed out.  There are lots of programs to use to crop, color correct, etc.  if you want to do stuff to the pics.  We save our compressed pics on the hardrive and wipe off floppies for reuse.  (The CDs are a one shot deal, they don't make them rewriteable for cameras yet.)

Bonnie Gibson - Tucson, Arizona

Nikon Cool Pix 990 Camera: I did quite a bit of research before giving my son my wish - a Nikon Cool Pix 990. This is a great "point and shoot" camera as well as one that can achieve incredible effects for the photographic artist. The images on my website are shot in macro mode, auto flash, auto focus, no special light just a reasonably steady hand. I adore this camera. Used it IN THE DARK to photo the rooms of the house we just bought. Was astonished that it corrected and showed the rooms in remarkable detail. I did replace the chip with the medium size one so I can take up to 60 pictures on one set of batteries. Purchased rechargeable batteries and a charger from Radio Shack and saved a ton on the cost of an adaptor and other accessories. Go to your local camera store and try the demo's they have. Use a Sony and see how it feels. I'm basically lazy and want the camera to do the work. Before you decide my son is magnificent (he is) you should know this is my "everything" for the next year.


Digital cameras: I just had to jump in on the digital camera discussion.  A week before  Christmas I took the plunge and bought one, a Nikon Coolpix 950.  Yes, I did the research -- I needed excellent quality and the ability to do extreme close-ups.  What it finally came down to was that I brought one of my quarter-scale dolls (carried by Shoestring Miniatures ) in to my neighbourhood camera store and said, "I have to be able to photograph this!"  The fellow laughed and said, "Show me something SMALL!" I can get within an inch of the subject with the camera, love the quality and the settings for different light.  The controls did take some figuring out but I just sat down with the instructions and tried things.

I must say, though, that I was only concerned with web quality, not print out.  I have an excellent regular camera and lens for that work.  Yes, my cheap bone did cause me some pain when I bought it, but in the past, I have been notoriously 'thrifty' about equipment...and always wound up spending more later to upgrade!  My last thought is this:  How much in life truly brings you joy?  Showing and sharing miniatures means more to me than a closet full of beautiful clothes.

The "A Doll is Born" album was shot entirely with the Nikon.

Diana in Canada

Digital Cameras: D.H. and I bought a  "Fuji Finepix4700 zoom"  a few months ago. I am not  the world's best photographer, but even I can get really good pics from  this camera.

The storage facility is a "smartmedia" card, which is very quick and easy to down load. I am a computer moron, and even I can do it!! This camera has 4.7,000,000 pixels, and the picture quality is fabulous. It has a 3X optical zoom and macro facility.

Margaret Stockbridge, Yorkshire

Olympus D-490 zoom.  it uses the memory cards rather than floppies or memory sticks, and it was the best purchase I made in the camera world.  It has oodles of features, has a great zoom (6x) range, and was under 400 dollars US.

I could buy the special attachments to swap the memory cards between the camera and the PC, but reality for me is I use the serial cable.  why the serial cable that came with the camera?  well, first it is free.  second, I am very forgetful, and it would be my luck that the time the bear is standing at my front door is the time I forgot to put the memory card back into the camera.  with the serial cable the card is always in the camera and I don't forget.

I also bought a 64MB memory card for the thing.  it holds 296 pictures that are 1280 res, and I take it on my trips so I never need extra film.

I bought the Olympus because I could get it for 380$ at Costco. It was rated high for it's class, and was pretty goof proof.

Sudie Parker

Photographing Mirrors: I watched a photography session a number of years ago at Kalmbach Publishing Co. (Nutshell News/Dollhouse Miniatures magazines). When photographing a scene with a mirror in it, they first used a squirt of dulling spray on the mirror. Krylon makes it (#1310) and it can be found at a craft store or wherever artists' supplies are found. The spray is temporary, and the label says it can be wiped off with a damp sponge or rubbing alcohol, if necessary.

Marilyn - Wisconsin

Digital Images: An excellent course of action where digital cameras are concerned is to get the biggest, baddest, most expensive piece of equipment you can possibly afford. Most of the decent cameras are relatively easy to use. If you want the convenience of digital photos, there is a learning curve that is important. The more you understand about digital images the better quality you will be able to produce.

I find that the Olympus line of cameras is quite good (I used to research and purchase all such equipment for the IT department I worked in), and they have several models that are well priced for what they can do.

The key to getting a good quality image is to use an appropriately high resolution. I know in the camera I have (Olympus 300d) I could choose to take and store 150 medium quality images or 40 high quality images. Superficially, the difference was that the medium quality image was 600 x 400 pixels and the high quality was 1024 x 760 (one was smaller than the other). It was hard to see the quality difference at first. That comes when you try to resize the image. Since the high quality file is storing more information about the image, you can manipulate the image with less loss of quality.

When taking photos to post on a web site, you can archive those large files and use a copy to make the image to post. There are lots of tricks to reduce file size (for faster loading time and stuff) but still maintain a standard of quality. If you want a good picture of a mini, take it at high resolution then open the file in an image editor and crop and resize to really feature the item. You may find that some gentle manipulation of the brightness and contrast can improve an image as well. You can also improve (to a limited extent)focus and color values.

Pardon the long winded post, but it is my absolute pet peeve to shop on a site with bad images of the goods. Nothing makes me close the browser faster.

Jeannette in San Jose

Digital Cameras: We bought an Olympus D 400 Zoom a year or so ago. It is a 1.3 megapixel which is small compared to some of the new cameras that are up to 2-3 megapixels. The comparable camera currently on sale is D 460 Zoom, and my husband recently found it for sale on the web for $295. This camera is a reasonably small camera, much smaller than the Sony's that use the floppy disks.

We have 3 sets of rechargeable batteries and a recharger. So, we have a set in the camera, a set in the camera bag, and a set in the charger. The Olympus uses a memory card and we do have the reader attached to the computer because it is so much faster to transfer pictures than using the memory card adapter that fits in the floppy drive. I transfer my pictures to the hard drive to edit them because it is much faster to work from the hard drive.

My husband "invented" a little tripod for me to use inside my dollhouse so I can take a time exposure and not have the flash reflection and flash shadowing in the pictures. It holds the camera steady for the time exposure. I have taken a lot of the pictures the regular way using the flash too. In the quot;macro" mode, you can put your camera lens about 10" away from the item you want to take, but then you can zoom in, so this gets you really close.

You can take a look at the pictures of my dollhouse Go to "my minis" then "dollhouse" and see the results. I've been really pleased with the pictures, although I really wanted the Olympus 3030, but the price was much better on the one we bought.

Fay in St. Louis

Natural Light for Digital Photos: I've had good results with the Ott Light sold in many office supply stores. Also, lately some health food stores have begun to carry the "natural spectrum" light bulbs that go into any regular light socket. A friend of mine said some WalMarts also carry this type of light bulb in the gardening section.

I get the best results by using the natural spectrum light and no flash. It seems to produce a good digital photo that shows the true colors in close-ups of minis. The photos have much more accurate color than regular home lights (fluorescent or incandescent)

Wilma Kinder

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