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The world of photography is not just limited to family portraits and nude
women ya' know. It also has worked its way into toy collecting over the
years! Just take a gander at any toy related publication or web site and
you'll see what I mean.

But the road to taking good pictures of your favorite playthings could be
quite rocky! Believe me, I know, which is why you won't see any of mine
appear on this page. But, after discussing the subject with a professional
photographer friend of mine (who also happens to be a collector himself),
he offered the suggestions listed below.

So, don't get discourraged since I will be learning with you, and maybe
some day we will both be good enough to post them here for examples...
whadda' ya' say, shall we give it a go?


1. Use a seamless grey-colored cloth backdrop, preferably without wrinkles to avoid distraction from the main subject. Try to use the same backdrop for all of the photos to keep them consistant. Don't use backgrounds that have a texture (such as carpet) which will detract from the toy.
2. Be sure the backdrop is big enough to fill the entire frame of the picture. When looking through the camera, you should not be able to see the edge of the backdrop or the area beyond it.


1. For the best results, position your lights slightly above the object at 45° angles to the subject's front. The key here is to avoid as many shadows as you can.
2. A good alternative to expensive lighting is to take your subject outside on a cloudy (but bright) day and shoot the photos with the available light. Use a white cardboard reflector (poster board or the like will do) to fill in the shadows. This way, you'll be able to see the results before taking the photo.


1. For most purposes, a straight on shot from the front will yeild the best photos of the subject. Simply place the camera at the level of the toy or just slightly above it. Taking shots at odd angles will usually detract form the focal point of your photos if you lack the experience to make it work.
2. But what beter way to gain this knowledge than to experiment! Try shooting your subject from a variety of angles to see what works best for you. For instance, if the toy has a "nose" (like a car, boat, or action figure), take an angle shot from each side of the subject.


1. Get close to your subject, but be sure its entirity is inside the frame of the picture and not touching the edge of the photo. For example, if a toy has a tail or antenna, be sure it is also well within the frame. Give your photos a little room to "breathe"!
2. When taking group shots, make sure they aren't cluttered and every item is completely in the frame of the camera. You may need to experiment a bit, especially with "point and shoot" cameras. I've noticed that my point-and-shoot tends to cut the head off of my subjects when taking vertical shots, so I had to compensate for this... of course.


1. Usually 3200K films are best. They able to shoot subjects lit with regular lightbulbs without producing a warm or goldish hue to the photos. The film is bluer than more common films and as a result compensates for softer lighting Such films are Fujichrome 64, made by Fuji Photo and Ektachrome 50, made by Kodak. But be advised that these films require refrigeration until used and have a special processing system called "E6 processing". They should be sent to a major processor for development.


1. Get the entire object in focus. If you have a point-and-shoot camera, read the manual to see how close you can get to an object and have it remain in focus Experiment and take a number of pictures at varying distances and exposure lengths. Cloudy day lighting works best for these types of cameras.
2. If you have a more advanced camera, a 55mm close-up lens will produce the best results. To get the entire toy in focus, use an aperture of F16 or less, if possible.
3. Use a tripod if you have one available to you.
4. If you have some experience in this field and want the best photos possible, use a "single-lens reflex" camera. When looking through the viewfinder of one of these cameras, you're actually looking through the lens that is taking the photo. It takes the guess-work out of what will be displayed in the final photo.

Back to the Beginner's Guide To Collecting Action Figures

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