Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Foldio Lightbox - Better pictures here we come...

One of the frustrations I have with my blog is the quality of the pictures of painted miniatures I present on it, in short they are often not that good - taken in poor conditions with bad lighting.

It isn't as if better lighting would improve the look of all my models that much, but it would do a lot for some of them.  I'd long been looking for a solution, and have used cobbled together white boxes over the years to try and get the best from a standard camera, but generally it was only back when I had a flat with huge 9 foot windows that I had enough light to really get things to look okay.  The other obvious down side to such jerry-rigged solutions is you can only really use them at home

Quite by chance I came across Foldio on Kickstarter, a product that had long since funded but looked like it could be the very thing.  I was able to pick one up on Amazon, from South Korea no less for a price I accept seems steep for something you might make yourself, but I was never going to do that, and if I did, it would not be of the same quality.  It's fair to say you could get one from other sources too.

So what is it and does it work?

Well first of all, it comes in a small neat package:

Not 6 Pink Floyd records...
For the 'dads' out there the whole thing is about the size of an LP boxed set, and weighs very little.  Inside as the name implies is a folding reflective box , made from a pre shaped plastic and held together with rare earth magnets.  You also get a strip of high intensity LED lights (for an extra ten bucks you can get it with two strips) and  a set of three foam inlays - white, grey and black - that give the background a seamless transition:

Roomy, I've had smaller apartments...
 The whole thing then packs back up into a neat bag, as well as going in the box for as long as that lasts.

And the effect?  Well I only had time to test it with whatever was to hand, so the closest to finished on the paint desk today was a reaper miniature of shall we say, a lady of negotiable virtue! Unprepared for her moment as she may - uncharacteristically - be, it is her time in the spot light.  Firstly with the light array alone and no flash, but with standard post production colour correction:
Coming out the gloom
 And then with the flash on my camera, from the same position, and with the same correction applied:

Hello boys!
I think that makes an enormous difference, notice in particular how the rear shadowing is relatively slight, the detail is crisp and the colours, vibrant.  I should add that I don't use a complicated camera, just a Samsung ST77 point and click, whose only real benefits are a good optical lens and a decent range of options.

Obviously I need to work on the technique, but I think this will improve my pictures no end, and moreover it's portable, so I can hopefully get better pictures of other peoples masterpieces with their permission.

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