I have been experimenting with miniature photography over the past couple of weeks, which I imagine a lot of you would have done at some point or another (if you haven't, it's a riot). In the past I have set up any models I want to photograph on my gaming board and taken shots in natural light, as the light is quite diffuse already. When that hasn't been possible, I have taken shots on my display shelf, but every time I do that I have to shift about 2000 points worth of Dark Angels out of the way. It was time to make a light box.
There are many, many DIY lightbox tutorials available on the net. This is the one I read before starting: Create an Inexpensive Photography Lightbox. You can also order them online, though prices can vary from "value-for-money" to "time-to-sell-kidney". I needed a big one, big enough to fit a Fortress of Redemption, so I started with a lawn mower box.
I cut the top off completely to create an open side for me to take shots through. I then cut windows into the sides and top for the light sources, leaving a two inch frame. I covered the windows with translucent material, which we had left over from an Elsa costume my wife made for the little one. In case you are new to lightboxes, this material is designed diffuse the light from any source that you direct at it. The material was taped in position with gaffa tape (because it fixes everything). Here is a candid shot my wife took while I was working on it.
I bought two desk lamps that clamp to my table for use with the lightbox, but I am still open to experimenting with other light sources. In particular, the ones that I have seem to cast particularly green light around the edges of their beam, which complicates photography by requiring digital editting (-11% green and blue). I would also like to get a light that I can direct through the top of the box to eliminate any final shadows. I may end up attaching another layer of the translucent material so that the lights can be aimed more directly at the model. I also created a background sheet made from cardboard that has been stained with tea-bags (!) and tan/black paint that I applied using a sponge. I think the colour combination suits the scheme of my blog well, but if you have any other feedback let me know. I need to make a smaller background sheet for small miniatures, but that is tomorrow Marc's problem!
Here are some test shots of my Scythed Hierodule. Over the next couple of days I am going to experiment more with the lighting and internal structure of the box, to try and get even more light bouncing randomly around in there. If you have any advice, let me know in the comments.
See you across the table,