Table Top Photography
For some years now I have photographed my own and other people's miniature wargames figures. I have also had the good fortune to have had them published. I am sure that others have had the same urge. Let's be fare, wargaming is only part of the fun!
To help a friend, a well known copper etcher, painted a 4' x 2' water colour backdrop for me, the figures were set out on two pieces of polystyrene, which were raised at the back, and scattered railway flock and lichen was used to hide the bases. I first used my trusty Canon A1, a second hand macro lens coupled to my 50mm standard lens, and an old Weston Master 5 with Invercone. Using natural light, this produced good close up shots but with no depth of field. I also had a terrible time with exposure, even using 400 ASA film.
Trial and error resulted in the use two photographic lights, with a boom extension, and some photo flood bulbs - 150 and 500 watt. (Be careful when using these lights they get very hot, and only last about 10 hours). This was used with the 500 as the main light and the 150 as the fill in. I found the need for a special filter (80B) to convert the tungsten light to daylight. Not wishing to do this I converted to tungsten film, Fuji TRP 64 ASA, this gives a 32 second exposure without reciprocity failure. A more sturdy tripod and a cable release was purchased to eliminate movement and I was almost there.
Finally, I am equipped with a Plaubel Peco Universal, 10" x 8" view camera, reduced to 5" x 4", a Symmar 5.6 180mm lens, which stops down to f45, and my old Weston exposure meter. The Set Up is now lit from behind my right shoulder using a 500 watt photoflood, the boom keeping the stand out of my way. The harshness of this is reduced by two 2' x 2' pieces of polystyrene, slightly angled towards the camera on both sides of the set up.
Visiting shows allows me to cheat a little at times. With gentle persuasion makers of dioramas are usually willing to let me borrow their masterpieces. All this now needs is the right back drop and some work building it into your set up, which can sometimes take hours.
A view camera allows you to change virtually every aspect of the lens/film relationship to the subject matter. If used properly this type of camera is unbeatable for table top photography.