Moody Miniature Photography

A freshly painted miniature somewhere in the world is having its photograph taken right now, but not all photographs are created equal, and neither are their miniatures! 

Sure Angel Giraldez can stage his studio-commissions in white boxes and still end up with mind-blasting pictures. That doesn't mean we can't have fun setting up our toys in evocative environments for photo-shoots. 

The contributors over at the Iron Sleet blog produce some very unique miniatures, however the way that they photograph their awe-inspiring creations is truly different.

I set out to reverse-engineer their methods. Luckily they have blogged here and here about how they set up equipment and lighting. Unfortunately they didn't give away the real secret sauce. Both guides are missing a... je ne sais quoi

I am going to foolishly attempt to illustrate these missing elements that they generally implement in their photography. 

Books and Esoteric Trinkets 

Step one is to start collecting bric-à-brac that can make up the 'set design'. It is hard to say exactly what makes a nick-knack good for mini-photography. You'll also want to find some dusty-old-tome ideally with a tattered cover to set the 'scene' upon. 

 A half-dead boutonniere, a pin, and some blue-swede-baby-shoes. 

A half-dead boutonniere, a pin, and some blue-swede-baby-shoes. 

Mahogany things such as the cigar-box photographed above can act to class up the photos. In fact anything that could have been found on Churchill's desk can be transformed into set dressing.  

 That desk was made for wargaming. 

That desk was made for wargaming. 

The next step is to find your shooting location. Ask yourself how you want to block out the background. For instance with a dark wall. It is important to prevent the camera lens from capturing the messy laundry scattered throughout your filthy cave. 

Now it's time to build the 'set' using the creepy items you've collected. Then following the guides above take some pictures of your minis!  

Photoshop

Once you have your pictures it's time to sprinkle in some darkness. Boot up Photoshop and start messing with exposure, brightness and vibrancy. 

 Before: Too bright & possibly over-exposed

Before: Too bright & possibly over-exposed

 After: Less saturated & extra spooky

After: Less saturated & extra spooky

Certainly I have not perfectly recreated Iron Sleet badassery, but I feel I've made a shift in the right direction. It was a blast messing around and coming up with the following pictures (that's all that counts right?). 

If you've ever felt inspired to get after creating the same sort of ambiance I would love to hear about your efforts in the comments below! 

 Mahogony on mahogony 

Mahogony on mahogony 

 A game of cows

A game of cows

 Probably too much going on in this one 

Probably too much going on in this one 

 Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! 

Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!