Ok, here's the deal. I wanted to try to cover all the elements of what it takes to take good dio shots. Although I didn't hit them all, here's a pretty good "how to" for beginers. I Call it;
10 Commandments of taking Dio Pictures!
I. Thou shall not use figure stands!
II. Thou shall pose thy figures!
III. Thou shall use focus properly!
IV. Thou shall use Macro when necessary.
V. Thou shall not show the real world in the background.
VI. Lighting or lack thereof can make the mood of the picture!
VII. Thou shall only use photoshop if it improves the appearance of the photo!
VIII. Learn all the angles!
XI. Do not shoot too much!
X. Thou shall not light your action figures on FIRE!
Overall Tips on shooting dio’s. Well, before I get started let me say that I’m human. Every one of these rules I’ve violated blatantly at least once, and in many cases you can see it for yourself in some of the pictures I have taken.
Let’s start with Commandment #1. Never use figure stands unless you have to. I’ve gone over this a few times in threads and even written a “How-To” concerning ways to get around using them or ways to properly use them. Maybe I’m wrong, but the point of taking these pictures is to give our action figures a lifelike appearance, right? Well, when was the last time you had a 2.5ft x 3ft plate under you that had a peg that stuck in your heel? The only time I see it necessary to use stands is when you have “show of Force” pictures (In other words, when you line up your entire cobra Army for a Cobra rally and they are in a HUGE military formation). It gets to be a pain in the @$$ getting 90% done and having one stubborn night viper go domino effect on you and you end up starting over. Other than these pictures, please lose the stands or find a way to camouflage them. If you need help, here is what Outrider and I came up with;
Notice how the pictures are out of focus? (We’ll come back to that!)
Commandment #2: Pose your figures. In MasterCollector’s newsletters for August and September 2006, Justin Bell wrote an outstanding article entitled “Shooting Joe: A Photo Tutorial”. It included a lot of AWESOME tips that I took to heart and the one tip he had, and he had an AWESOME photo example of how to, and how NOT to pose figures. (BTW, he mentioned JoeDios in the Article!!!) Anyway, back to posing figures! LordRaven has an excellent example of how to pose figures in the following picture;
Notice how the figures look like they’re DOING something, not just sitting there, taking up space? Unlike this picture, taken by ME!
The figures are just standing there, waiting to have their pics taken. No action, not very interesting!!
Commandment #3; Focus!! USE IT! I’m guilty as any. I had a crappy Camera for a while and it took gritty pictures. (I managed to get that to work for me by taking Night pictures, but that’s later!!) One thing I do is when I set up a scene, I leave it set up until I download my pictures to the PC. If the Pictures look good on the PC, I can take down the set, if not, I have to go back and take more. This gets to be a problem if I’m taking pictures in a remote locale (away from your house). Just make sure if you’re gonna post pictures, ensure they are in focus, at least enough to illustrate what you are trying to convey. (My earlier shots in the “stands” tutorial WERE out of focus, but they were clear enough to illustrate my point!)
Commandment #4 goes along with #3, If you’re taking a close up of a figure, you’re picture will not focus properly unless you learn to use the “Macro” feature on your camera (Unless you have an ancient one like I used a while back) I’m not gonna beat a dead horse on this one, I’ll just turn it over to LordRaven and ToneGuns;
In that thread they cover focus and Macro fairly well!
Commandment #5; GI Joes are ROUGHLY 1:18 scale, keep human sized objects out of the picture! Ok, there are Exceptions! Like this hysterical picture by LordRaven;
Here the real world is used to make a humorous picture. But if you’re not going for laughs, keep the real word outta the pics! Here’s how NOT to do it;
Notice my Wheelbarrow and gas can in the background! That’s what I get for being in a hurry! Keep the real world out if you’re trying to be serious! ‘nuff said!
Commandment # 6; Lighting! This can be everything from the actual lighting, the flash on your camera or using the adjust brightness setting in photoshop (or paintshop pro for you thrifty (read:cheap) people,like me!) The lighting can set a mood. I usually don’t use a flash. The glare kills a lot of the tiny details I like to have in my pictures. I prefer to make my own lighting using a myriad of tools, everything from tiny holiday lights to neon car lamps. Experiment. It’s fun! Trust me. I’ve had more fun screwing around with lighting than I do with any other aspect of the shots! Here are some good links on how to use lighting;
Flash too close to figures can smudge the details and ruin a pic. See how the glare in this pic makes it look nasty and unprofessional;
Here’s how to do it right;
Commandment #7 ; Use photoshop sparingly. Don’t use it just to use it. If you don’t know how to use Photo editing software, there are literally THOUSANDS of sites out there that have tutorials that can help you. I’m gonna risk getting flamed for this one, but here is an example of “WTF?” when it comes to photoshop;
I think this user was banned for using others work. So, no harm done(I hope!) But what the hell is that circle in the middle of nowhere for? Ungh!?! Ok, now, here’s the RIGHT way to do it;
Great use of special effects and perfect use of blurring.And another AWESOME ONE;
Commandment #8 Learn all the angles! Don’t just take pictures from one point of view. You don’t know how many pictures I’ve seen where someone set up Joes in the backyard and just stood over them and took the pics. Is it an Aerial picture? I’m not too good to get on my fat gut lying flat to get a good picture. See, this isn’t a bad picture, but if they are all taken as I stand over the figures, it’ll get boring;
Here’s how I “Spice it up”. Get close. Use a different Point of View/ Angle;
Another good example of getting in close and getting a shot from a different angle;
Commandment #9, don’t bite off more than you can chew! If you’re gonna take a pic of a large group of figures/vehicles, take the time to set them up properly and get the right angles so you can see what it looks like. Here’s how NOT to do it;
Believe it or not, there are a lot of things you don’t see in this picture that I set up (like the graveyard behind the 3-story building). I was in such a hurry to get the pics of my bridges posted, I violated Beau Coup rules that I have outlined here! Now…how to do it RIGHT! I Love this pic! The only bad thing about it is I DIDN’T TAKE it. Here’s what a large picture of forces properly done looks like;
Ok, and finally Commandment #10; Don’t set your figures on fire. (ok, I know this is a really WEAK commandment, but the first 9 were easy, then I got stuck, so I had to bust Craig’s Chops!) Cool picture, but even though I love the guy, Craig is gonna end up in hell for setting that poor BAT on fire;
Disclaimer; I am by no means perfect. Every rule here can be violated if it serves a purpose. For Example, it you’re showing Joes looking at a nuclear blast, get close and use the flash on full blast! I have violated all the rules here and learned from them (Except #10!). Sometimes time constraints or location make it necessary to violate these rules. I used my own pictures to illustrate how NOT to do it. (except #7 and #10). And I have used some of the awesome artists work here on Joe Dios to illustrate how doing it right can make awesome pictures. Hope this helped and remember, even if it’s not worthy to hang on an Art Gallery wall, if you had fun doing it, it’s all good!