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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Preorder Outlook XXVIII

It is time for the pre-Wonder Festival preorder post. Doubtless we will see all sorts of cool new goodies there – hopefully more than just the usual Miku, Tamaki, and Super Sonico stuff (no offense to fans of Miku, Tamaki, and Super Sonico) – but in the meantime, let’s take a look at figures that are already available for order.
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Dakimakura Review – Momoka from Suteki na Imouto (NSFW)

Momoka dakimakura from Evening Call

It’s dakimakura cover show-and-tell time. This particular pillowcase comes from Evening Call and is part of their “Puredise” line, which I think is their series of dakimakura covers featuring original characters. The girl presented here is Momoka and she’s listed as coming from “Suteki na Imouto,” which means something like “Wonderful Little Sister.” The artist goes by the name Chikura; I don’t know if he (I’m assuming it’s a he) has a website, and his Pixiv site is sparsely-populated. I wasn’t at all familiar with the artist before seeing his work here, but it didn’t take too long for me to decide I liked the art on this pillowcase.
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Shot Breakdown – Tomo Asama

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. That’s partly due to me not being satisfied with a lot of my photos, and it’s also because I’ve used a lot of the same techniques over and over and I didn’t think the shoots were interesting enough to write about. However, I used a new set for Tomo Asama and I figure that even a basic setup can be interesting to talk about. Here’s how I shot Tomo.
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Nymph from Sora no Otoshimono (Swimsuit Version)

Nymph swimsuit figure by Plum

In anime, certain physical attributes are frequently associated with particular character archetypes. Female American characters are often blonde, blue-eyed and buxom; quiet or smart characters often wear eyeglasses (or in Rei Ayanami’s case, have an attachment to spectacles). Another common juxtaposition involves the loli tsundere personality type. Being a loli implies certain physical qualities, of course: it necessitates short stature and an undeveloped chest, for a certainty, but many such characters also wear twintails, to the point that if I see any loli-looking character with twintails, I usually assume that she is a tsundere type. (Though I would have been better served had I made that presumption while watching Date-A-Live’s first episode, whose cheerful, frisky little sister character swiftly turned into a repugnant, poisonous little bitch.)

Sora no Otoshimono’s Nymph checks all those marks, but this particular figure breaks from orthodoxy in an unusual manner: loli characters are generally not known for the magnitude of their backsides but this figure gives Nymph a sizeable ass. It’s an unusual decision, one that doesn’t really respect the usual forms, but regardless, it looks great.
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Kuroko Shirai from A Certain Scientific Railgun (Bunny Version)

Kuroko Shirai figure by FREEing

Last time, we looked at some monstrously large breasts; today, we’ll flip it one hundred and eighty degrees and look at a far more modest rack. However, while the previous character exemplified purity, grace, and tact, Kuroko Shirai embodies … well, none of those things.
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