Figure Photography Lighting Guide, Part 7 – Putting It All Together

Having looked at the physical properties of light and at some of the tools commonly used to shape and control light, we’ll now put everything together in some simple, easily-performed shoots. The objective here is to demonstrate how you can take nice pictures of figures using some fairly basic setups. To that end, the lighting equipment for all of these shoots is composed of two ordinary desk lamps and a simple homemade softbox. Obviously this post and the preceding posts don’t cover every aspect of anime figure photography – we haven’t talked much about composition or post-processing – but I hope that these posts have given aspiring figure photographers some ideas and insight on how to creatively control light.
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Figure Photography Lighting Guide, Part 6 – Light Modifiers

In the previous sections, we talked about the basic properties of light. In this post, we’ll discuss light modifiers – that is, devices that are used to shape and control light. Light modifiers are extremely useful, to the point of being nearly a necessity, particularly when shooting indoors but also even when shooting in sunlight. We’ll talk about some of the different types of modifiers and what they can be used for. In the next post, we’ll look at some practical ways that they can be used.
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Figure Photography Lighting Guide, Part 5 – Distance of Light and the Inverse-Square Law

Previously, we looked at how the direction and size of a light source affects the appearance of your photographic subject. Today we’ll look at how the distance between the light source and your subject impacts your photographs and how you can creatively take advantage of this factor. We’ll start off our exploration with the most friendly and accessible method that anyone could ask for: with a mathematical formula!
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Figure Photography Lighting Guide, Part 4 – The Quality of Light: Soft and Hard Light

When we speak of the quality of light, we’re not talking about whether it’s good or bad; rather, we are referring to whether the light is hard or soft. Softness is one of the aspects of light that many people learn about early on in their exploration of photography, and it is perhaps the element of light that beginning photographers most readily fixate on.

Controlling the quality of light is, in theory, not difficult, as it depends on a single variable: the relative size of the light source. Put another way, if you desire a softer light, make your light source larger, and if you want a harder light, make your light source smaller.

There is, of course, a universe of nuance between these two precepts.
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Figure Photography Lighting Guide, Part 3 – Direction of Light

Perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of figure photography, at least when starting out, is the direction of light. Speaking for myself, when I was beginning, my only concern was achieving soft light, and the extent of my concern for direction was that I vaguely pointed the light at my figure without really paying attention to what I was seeing. That, of course, was a mistake; direction of light plays an enormous role in the character of a figure photograph. Let’s take a look at some of the considerations involved when aiming a light at your figure.
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Figure Photography Lighting Guide, Part 2 – Components of a Lighting Setup

Photographic lighting is often compared to cooking. That might seem to be a strange analogy, but they actually have a lot in common, and while lighting is not something that everyone is proficient with, most people know something about cooking (or at least, most people know something about eating). The lights you use are like the ingredients to a meal, and how you prepare and use them will have a critical impact on how attractive the final result is. Let’s take a quick look at the individual components that make up a lighting setup.
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Figure Photography Lighting Guide, Part 1 – Getting Started with Creative Lighting

The anime figure hobby has come a long way since I started my collection. The number of manufacturers has greatly increased, the quality of the products has been improved dramatically, and the variety of characters to pick from is now very impressive. However, the most remarkable aspect of the hobby has been the growth of the collecting community. All across the internet, throughout the entire world, there are discussion boards where members can converse with one another, news sites where fans can get glimpses of upcoming releases, review sites where prospective buyers can visit to judge whether a certain figure is worth the cost, and image sharing sites where collectors can make their photos available for viewing.

Photos indeed; the popularity of photography has exploded with the advancement of digital imaging technology. Almost every contemporary phone has a camera built in. Professional-grade DSLR cameras are nearly ubiquitous. It may be that photography is now the most widely-practiced creative activity in the world.

Figures are, of course, designed primarily for visual appeal and thus it readily follows that they make for good photographic subjects. However, despite the increase in the number of collectors interested in photographing their collection, there is remarkably little guidance on the internet on this subject. On the surface, it might seem that getting a good picture should be easy; after all, one need only to press a button. However, as anyone who has seriously attempted to pursue an interest in photography, getting a good picture can seem positively arcane.

In reality, it’s not actually that hard, and this post is the first in a series that I hope will help figure collectors learn more about photography and make better pictures of their favorite figures. This particular set of posts will focus on creative lighting – which sort of lights to use, positioning lights, and altering light quality for tone and impact. We’ll look at each of these aspects in detail, in turn.
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Fate Testarossa from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha the Movie 1st (Gift Swimsuit Version)

Fate Testarossa figure

Back when Gift released their 1/4 scale figure of Nanoha Takamachi, it seemed inevitable that Fate Testarossa was destined to join her. And so she has; a little less than a year later, Gift’s Fate is here, and while a figure of Fate in a swimsuit is hardly novel, she does have the virtue of being relatively big – and as anyone who has visited this site knows, bigness is an exalted virtue here. Let’s take a look at the famous lightning mage, Nanoha’s best friend, and everyone’s favorite whipping girl.
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Cryska Barchenowa from Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse (Eishi Strengthening Equipment Version)

Cryska Barchenowa figure from Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse

Kotobukiya has followed up their Yui Takamura figure with one of Cryska Barchenowa, one half of Total Eclipse’s Soviet duo. This is the third Cryska figure that I own and that Yui figure is the third one that I own of her, as well. When it comes to figures, it seems like these two girls plus Inia Sestina are the only ones to exist; one wonders if Stella and Cui Yifei will ever get their turn to shine. Oh, and Tarisa too, I guess. It’d be nice to see them get some love from figure makers, but for now, let’s take a look at our favorite commie mech driver.
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Mai Shiranui from The King of Fighters XIII (Black Version)

Mai Shiranui from King of Fighters XIII

When it comes to fighting game girls, Mai Shiranui is amongst the genre’s best-loved characters. And why not? Her history is impressive and her visual appeal is obvious. She’s a favorite of fighting game fans and cosplayers alike. And of course, she’s quite popular with figure makers as well, being that we have another figure of SNK’s bouncy ninja here for our consideration.
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