DIY, Doll Photography, Tips and Tricks

Photo Comparisons

You might have noticed, very recently, that my pictures are a bit different, this is because I’ve decided to start taking pictures with my Nikon D5100, rather than my Samsung Galaxy S7 phone camera.  Not that the Galaxy S7 phone isn’t good, it is, and it’s worlds better than my retired smartphone, but it’s not quite as good as my Nikon.  While the phone is a lot easier to position in small spaces, and to carry around if I decide to do an outdoor shoot, so long as I’m taking pictures inside, with an open space, there’s really no reason not to use the Nikon.

The photos below have been “auto-corrected” by Photoshop for color, tone, and contrast; the same process for each of them.  I know the angles aren’t perfect, but I did what I could to make them as similar as possible for a fair comparison:

I like the background with the Nikon pictures much better; the blurrier it is, the less distracting it becomes, which means there’s more focus on Eve and whatever look she’s sporting.

My only complaint is that the Nikon seems to make Eve’s skin tone much darker than it actually is; the smartphone captures it perfectly.  This is undoubtedly user error, a setting on the camera that I just haven’t adjusted properly yet.

What kind of camera do you use?  Do you have any tips on how to improve doll photography, short of investing in a lighting kit?


  • My camera is a Nikon Coolpix L830 and so far it’s the best camera I’ve ever used : ). I tend to stand back a little while taking the pics and using the zoom. This helps to avoid strange perspectives with big heads and small bodies. To add light, I’m using a daylight lamp that I bought on the first hand for winter depression *lol*. Sometimes, I wished I had two extra daylight adjustable spots. I’m using photoshop and most of the time I’m just correcting the levels (I’m not using the auto function, it usually alters the colors too much), the size and use a photoshop action that sharpens the photo (got it with an action from deviantart called “sweet july”, but I’m using the sharpening effect mostly).
    On flickr, there’s a group called “how to make your doll stand alone” and there are many creative ways shown how to help getting the stand alone effect.
    My biggest issue still are natural poses. I try to look at photos from fellow doll photographers to improve, but overall, I’m more talented with my sewing machine…

    • I am ashamed to say, but I’m not even sure I can zoom on my camera with it’s current lens, I think it may be “fixed”. Even so, I’m about a foot away from the dolls when I take the full-body shots. Love the daylight lamp idea, I’ve been considering one for ages because I tend to get the winter blues as well. Thanks for the tip about the group on flickr, I’ll check them out and see if I can’t pick up some new tricks to make use of. Because most of the poses I use are similar to that of style bloggers (forward, three quarter, etc and they’re always aware of the camera), I’m not too worried about a natural pose, but I read on another blog (the name of which escapes me) you should always pose your doll as if they were in the middle of some sort of action, like about to take a drink or some such, that way it’s more “real”. I haven’t intentionally done this, other than for a few posts like the Valentine’s day post and the post about adding the family pet to the mix; honestly, I’m not even sure I did it right.

      I wish I were half as talented with a sewing machine as you are, I’d need a dozen more wardrobes.

  • I switched to a better camera – a Nikon D7200 – for the same reason: I just couldn’t get the depth of focus I wanted with my old camera. I suspect I vastly underuse the power of the new camera, but it’s worth it to me to not have to endlessly fuss with my photos in Photoshop.

    The downside of my new (heavier) camera is that it requires a tripod in all but the brightest lighting conditions. Since I love coming at my sets from odd angles, I often switch to my lighter Powershot for the added flexibility. But, for most shots, I use the Nikon and the tripod.

    • It’s the same for me. I tried blurring the background in one of my posts and it took a long time, and didn’t come out nearly as nice as I wanted it to. I, too, am guilty of not using the camera to it’s fullest potential – but at least the backdrop is blurry.

      I’m not using a tripod at all, but I have a really big window right next to me, so unless I block the light (which I occasionally do), it’s not an issue, even on overcast days there’s plenty streaming in (the window is about as tall as I am, we have high ceilings, impossible to clean unless I climb onto the desk). I’ve tried shooting in other rooms of the house, but without a big window right there, I’m just not getting the lighting I need/want.

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