Because 6mm figures are so small, to show any detail you have to get in close and that either means using a macro lens or a zoom from further back at a high magnification.
Both of these techniques have their problems. Macro lenses have a very small depth of focus at any range and zoom lenses suffer the same problems. The only way to combat this is to use a very high f stop, f22 and above. Unfortunately this generally results in a crap picture due to long exposure times and defraction.
Recently I have come across a technique that has solved most of my problems for taking pictures of my figures. Focus stacking.
This involves taking multiple photos in focus steps from front to back of the subject and then blending them back into one image using some clever software. A bit like HDR but using focus instead of exposure.
A couple of examples:
From the front of this column to the tree line at the back is about 12 inches, to keep the lot in focus at this scale is virtually impossible with any lens. With focus stacking it is easy.
This photo was taken with a standard 18-55 zoom on my Canon 600D.
This one is up close and personal with a 60mm dedicated macro lens. By using focus stacking in about 7 steps, I can get the Colonel in sharp focus from front to back but by not applying it to the front of the column it is nicely out of focus to give a nice ‘portrait’ feel.
Next subject to be tackled will be lighting.
Watch this space 🙂
One thing you need for taking pictures at this scale is light and plenty of it!
Here is my basic lighting setup, a couple of daylight balanced studio lamps mounted on desktop stands.
I also have plenty of daylight balanced flourescent lighting in my wargames room and may even put in more. The cellar (basement for our American cousins) seems to soak up light and there is no natural daylight of course.
I bit of advice, try not to mix light sources, I stick to daylight balanced lights. A mix of lights like normal flourescents and tungsten is asking for unwanted colour casts on your piccies which may be hard to correct later on.
A quick demo on how focus stacking works.
Here is a series of 5 photos taken with different focusing steps:
At this point the photos are transferred to your computer and put into the focus stacking software for processing. I use Zerene Stacker but there are a few programmes that will do this out there in internet land.
The software will then do it’s magic and combine all your shots together to produce one final shot where everything is in focus from front to back.
This final shot was actually made up of 22 different focusing steps but I just selected a few as I would hate to cause any one reading this to fall asleep 🙂
One thing I must stress is that the camera must not move at all during the individual shots, so use a tripod, bean bag or some other method. Movement between any of the shots will cause a blur in the final rendering.