Presenting your LEGO creations on-line, and doing it well,
is a challenging problem.
Having built your super-duper new MOC, you want to show
it off to the world.
You've snapped off a couple of photos, but you're not happy
with them ... what do you do ?
are all sorts of obstacles to taking good photos of your
LEGO creations, but hopefully this page will help you get
started and overcome the basic problems. It's a combination
of general photography guidance, tailored to taking photos
of small things, plus some more LEGO-specific issues.
a simple 6-step process for taking good photos &
getting them onto the web in a way that will do them justice.
Follow any links for more detailed information.
these simple steps & you should start get admiring
comments on your photography skills
straight away ... or after a
little practice anyway. I can't do much about you MOC
building skills though ...
you've mastered the basics you might want to take things
a little further; check out the Hints, Tips &
Techniques pages for more info.
Preparing your "studio"
or make, a clear area with a neutral background for posing
your MOCs in - you don't want a cluttered background
from your MOCs. Try drapping a bedsheet or large
piece of paper or card make over a desk; a solid, pattern-less
neutral color works well - white or pale grey is usually
a good start. Try attaching it to the wall behind, or
hang it over some boxes, then
it gently onto the table
or floor, creating a smooth transition from upright to
try to avoid creating any ridges, or obvious edges. Or
you could try building a partial box from LEGO base-plates,
or by cutting open a cereal box.
2. Knowing your equipment
can be complex pieces of equipment. The first thing you
need to do is read the manual. Seriously. Then take lots
of photos & look at them critically; try to work out
why they don't look like you expected ... then take some
more photos. Don't be affraid to experiment.
things you want to try to work out are:
to switch off the flash
to switch "macro mode" on & off (for close focussing)
of "shooting modes" to control the look of the photos
(creative focussing effects, compensating for dark
ISO settings, and the trafe-off between low-light performance
& image noise
- how the
shutter release works, and how to use it to control
focus & exposure settings (e.g. the "half press" to
lock focus & exposure, followed by recomposing the
shot before pushing all the way)
3. Preparing & posing your model
about what you want it is about your MOC you want to show,
and how you want to show it.
about how the MOC looks - obvious dust & finger prints
can ruin the look of a model. Try to remove as much as
as you can before you start taking any photos.
about interesting angles you can photograph your MOC from
- if it's got distinctive features, how can you best show
them off ? If it's a mini-fig compatible MOC, think about
using a "mini-fig eye view" for some of the shots.
about how to support your MOC if you want to get
an "in flight" shot - a clear drinking glass,
or a thin column of transparent bricks work well.
For underside shots, simply turn it over !
about what the purpose of the shot is - are you trying to
record the MOC for posterity, demonstrate a clever building
technique, or tell a story ? Or something else ? This should
guide you on how best to photograph your MOC.
4. Lighting & Camera Support
two most important things to get right are lighting your
MOC & supporting your camera - it's all about getting
as sharp a photo as possible. You are looking for an
even, natural, difuse lighting effect - the MOC should
without any hard/harsh shadows. Outside on a bright, but
overcast, day shot outside, or if indoors, use several
lights, boucing them off nearby walls or ceilings to
get a diffuse look(no sharp shadows). A
bright room light and an angle-poise lamp or two should
do. If you haven't got a nearby wall, try using the side
of a light coloured box as a reflector.
how to get the lighting right can take time & experience
- if it doesn't work first time, don't give up. Experiment.
Try lots of different combinations until you get a look
that works for you.
usually best to avoid using the cameras flash if you
can - they are usually set up for a target at +10ft,
so it'll be too bright on your MOC, plus your MOC is
shiny - never a good combination ...
a decent camera support is really important
- camera shake can ruin an otherwise excellent shot.
Get the best tripod you can afford - a simple
around $10 and will be fine for most small cameras. Check
you don't have one already
- many webcams come with a small
you can't get a tripod, there are alternatives. Basically,
you want to be able to put the camera somewhere where
won't move when you take your hands away - a small bean-bag
toy could make a good substitute, or a bag stuffed with
tissue, anything that you can deform to a shape then
your camera on while you take the photos. You could even
build a camera support out of LEGO ... if
you really can't get a tripod or any other support, become the
camera support - sit down, hold the camera in two hands,
and rest your elbows on the work top. If you have to stand
up, place your feet slightly apart, again holding the camera
in both hands, but brace your upper arms against your body & think
like a tree ...
5. Taking the shots
it's time to take some shots ... first, set the camera
to the highest resolution & highest quality settings.
going to fill up your memory card quickly, but you're
at home and can clear the card/camera regularly. The final
shots will end up much smaller, but start with the best
quality you can.
about composition - what of the MOC
is actually going to be in the frame for this particular
about the use of zoom
(if you camera has one) - wide angle & close
to the subject, or further away but zoomed in close ?
The effects are different, so have a play & work out
what works for you.
about exposure -
the camera has two controls, aperture and shutter
speed, which are related but have different
effects. If you can control them directly experiment
to find out what they do; if you can't control them
directly, try the pcicture modes, which
allow you indirect control ... again, experiment
to find out what effect they have.
your ISO top the lowest setting (usually '50' or '100')
as this will give you the highest quality results. Only
increase it if you have to because the lighting level
is too low. Higher ISO settings mean moe image noise &
softer looking images.
you need to get close to the MOC, switch on 'macro mode',
which allows the camera to focus closer. If you haven't
got a 'macro mode', step back from the MOC but zoom right
in. If you can't zoom, crop the image in post-processing.
Remember to switch off the macro settting afterwards.
point the camera at the point on you MOC you want to
be in the centre of focus (the sharpest point) - now
press the shutter release button half-way. This will
focus the lens & take an exposure reading. Now re-compose
the shot (without moving further away) to achieve the
"look" you want & press all the way.
Prepare it for on-line & posting
got your photos. Now get them off the camera and onto
your computer. Stick them in a folder with a name that
means something to you, so that you can easily find them
you need to think
about workflow - how to go from a big bunch of
large photos of mixed quality, to a small number of small
images of high quality ...
of it in four steps:
(a) Selection - organise the images, then
pick a few that are the best, the ones that are in focus,
reasonably well exposed and that
(b) Correction - fix any major, image-wide
flaws (e.g. cropping to recompose, color balance, exposure,
(c) Spot fixing - remove dust specks,
unwanted elements, general
(d) Export - prepare the images for the
web (resizing, sharpening, jpeg compression, etc.). Shrink
them down to a reasonable size (800x600 maximum), then
save as "jpeg" with a medium to high quality setting (if
you've got an output preview use it to check when the compression
becomes visible; if in doubt start around the "60%" setting).
Upload to your favourite hosting site (Brickshelf should
be your first choice). Wait until it's available (or work
out how to post "deep links") and then post a "check out
my cool new MOC !" message and link on your
luck & don't forget to check out the detailed sections
over in the Hints, Tips & Techniques section.