How to take a photo of an origami model

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How to take a photo of an origami model

Postby Fishgoth » June 22nd, 2010, 11:21 am

1) Visit a photography studio, and pay a professional lots of money. This will generate the best photos, but will cost a lot. Or, you can do it yourself...

2) Read the instruction manual for your digital camera. Seriously. You will need to figure out how to focus on a close, fine detailed object. Most cameras do not do this automatically! On my Sony camera, there is a 'close focus' button, which looks a little bit like a flower.

3) Switch the flash off. It usually makes the image look worse.

4) Use a tripod. I have a mini tripod that I sometimes use. At the very least, use a stable base to rest the camera on. A tiny bit of camera shake will spoil the final photo.

5) Choose your background. Your model should be the main focus of the photograph. Clear the background entirely of everything else. Having a Kamiya Satoshi book underneath your model won't impress anyone on this forum - We've all got it. Likewise, if a viewer can see something else in the background, then it probably will distract. So, don't have furniture, office equipment, computers, etc in the background UNLESS you specifically want them in the photo.

6) Use a background screen. I use a large sheet of A2 card, which I curve over softly, and place on a desk. This ensures that the floor and 'wall' behind the model are all the same colour, with no obvious angles or distractions. I use a neutral colour, such as blue, green or blue-grey. You can use any such background. Don't make it too bland, or your model will look bland. Don't make it too garish, or it will overpower your model. Try to keep it a single colour.

7) Get the lighting right. Your model will look rubbish if the photo is look dark. It will also be difficult to see if there is a bright light, such as a window, behind it. Try to use lighting. An anglepoise lamp or two are good for this. Position the lights so that the model is well illuminated, and there are not shadows everywhere. I usually position one lamp above, and one lamp above and to the side. I also take most of my photos on a bright day, in a room with lots of windows.

8) See what you've taken! The viewfinder doesn't show high detail - you will need to see what the images look like on a computer screen. If they don't look good, repeat them!

9) Use photoshop. Or another graphics program. Reduce the size to a maximum of 600 pixels across. Feel free to adjust brightness, use edge enhance, etc.

10) Get rid of dates and titles. There is little more infuriating that having a date splattered all over a photo, or an auto-generated title. Either set up your camera to get rid of them, or use photshop.

11) Be sensible with watermarks and titles. Tucking the model name, author and website address into a corner is sometimes sensible, so long as it doesn't obscure the model. Whacking a massive watermark across the middle just looks silly.

12) See what others have done, and copy them! Look at to see how Robert Lang arranges his photos. Look at Quentin Trollip's flickr stream to see how to arrange beautiful photos. Look on this forum or flickr. And then avoid repeating photos which look dreadful, and try to copy techniques which look great.

I hope that this all helps. I'll edit the list if anyone has any good suggestions. I may even add examples...
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Postby Fanatic » June 22nd, 2010, 4:44 pm

I haven't seen many people photograph things outside. Placing models outside, especially animals and insects, can add greatly to the final photograph.
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Re: How to take a photo of an origami model

Postby bethnor » June 22nd, 2010, 4:56 pm

Fishgoth wrote: Having a Kamiya Satoshi book underneath your model won't impress anyone on this forum - We've all got it.

haha. you presume too much.
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Postby Growlanator » June 22nd, 2010, 5:01 pm

Some very useful info, thankyou for the tips :) channel origami found it very useful, chatty ppl, tips advice etc in real time :D
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Postby crossbird » June 22nd, 2010, 8:02 pm

Here's a setup that i like to use when i take photos of my folded pieces.

1. Turn on the lights. Make sure the room is bright.
2. Take a roll of paper you want as the background and tape it onto something vertical like a wall. Reason being that you can create (to a certain extent) a gradient effect in your backdrop. Moreover, you can afford to photograph it at almost ground level without capturing snippets of other stuff such as your table, your room, etc.
3. Shoot
4. Keep in mind the nitty gritty aspects of photography that fishgoth mentioned (for example, focus)

Try to be more creative with your angles, because certain models look good from certain perspectives. Move around and take several shots. As far as possible, bring out the character of whatever your photographing (:


Here's an example of a shot using the technique i described
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Postby NoahRatcl » July 27th, 2010, 11:15 pm

That's actually a very nice photo. Is that your own model?
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Postby Trouble » July 28th, 2010, 3:38 am

i believe that is kamiyas coker spaniel sorry about spelling errors
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Postby Falcifer » November 28th, 2010, 6:31 pm

This is more of a general bump, because I was going to start a similar thread, but found this one.

However, I'll try to add some info that hasn't already been posted.

Definitely read what Fishgoth wrote in the opening post, there's some excellent advice there.

Some points that I think are important enough to reiterate include making sure that the focus is right. Use the macro function if you're shooting close-up - most consumer cameras can't focus closer than 0.5m without it.
Also, take care of the lighting. It's one thing to make sure that there is enough light, but also make sure there isn't TOO much, otherwise you may end up with reflections, especially with tissue-foil.
It's a good idea to apply the correct white-balance setting, too. Most cameras will do okay on "Auto", but incorrect white-balance can severely ruin the colours in your photos.

Another point that may be worth considering, is that different focal lengths affect perspective.
What this means is that shooting your models up-close with a wide-angle lens (in hats!) will cause distortion. Shooting further away with a longer lens will make things look more flat.

Also note that most cameras will have trouble focusing in low light. And make sure that you're not focusing on the background!

A couple of relevant threads:

Best Photo Site to showcase Origami (General consensus seems to be for Flickr)

3D Origami Photos
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Postby Origami middle east! » December 9th, 2010, 4:58 pm

Fanatic wrote:I haven't seen many people photograph things outside. Placing models outside, especially animals and insects, can add greatly to the final photograph.

Take a look at my pictures (
I have a collection of aquatic and animal models taken in front of the cactus field behind my house, to represent the sea that is unfortunately not in Damascus. I think they are pretty good pictures.
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