Mikuru Goes Sightseeing?

An yong Haseyo!Note: all photos in this post are linked to my flickr. Click on the images to see larger views

It’s Silver Week in Japan and Mikuru decided that it’s a good time to go sightseeing — and it seems that she has set her sights on Korea!

Well… no, actually, Mikuru’s just practicing her “Tourist mode” if she does go on a vacation. This is another photoshoot experiment. This time, I’ve taken in most of what has been suggested to me from my previous photoshoot experiment. The backdrop isn’t an LCD monitor this time around — found some nice looking paper fans my dad brought home from… Korea XD

For my lighting setup, I mimicked what has been done in Happy Soda‘s figure lighting tutorial — it’s a pretty great tutorial for figure photography. ^^ I’ve also read about white balance from this tutorial — which is also great and very much in-depth, this tutorial is quite technical though — and so I skipped some parts of it ^^;. I dug out my brother’s giant tripod from the depths of his stuff — but I need to find a smaller tripod, as it is quite impossible to take close-up photos with the tripod attached.

I just realized after post processing the photos that I forgot to take photos of my actual setup! *fails* but basically, it’s similar to what is shown in Happy Soda’s tutorial. I did, however, take “step-by-step” (they’re not really step-by-step… but moving on…) photos so you can see the differences — and they’re quite noticeable if you compare the photos.

Lighting Setup Step 1

Lighting Setup Step 1: Desk lamp #1

In this photo, I turned on one of my desk lamps (which is on the left). The shadows are pretty obvious here and they have quite sharp edges too. The light hits quite hard on our cute subject and it looks like she’s blinded by the light.

Lighting Setup Step 2

Lighting Setup Step 2: Diffuser

I then placed a makeshift diffuser — in a form of a cardboard box with a huge rectangle cut out in the middle, that’s covered in tracing paper — in front of the desk lamp. The shadows now have soft edges, and the light is “softer” as well.

Lighting Setup Step 3

Lighting Setup Step 3: Reflector

Placed a makeshift reflector — a normal white folder — on the right side of the setup. Now the shadows and the highlights have softened a bit more.

Lighting Setup Step 4

Lighting Setup Step 4: Desk Lamp #2

This photo was taken after I turned on the other desk lamp where the light was placed directly above the ‘photo studio’.

White Balance adjustment

Changed from AWB to Custom White Balance

After finishing the lighting setup, I tweaked the white balance. I used Auto White Balance when I was setting up the lighting, and starting from the above photo, I changed the white balance to custom white balance — using the folder (in the background). The colors became more vivid when I switched the white balance! ^^

Please come and visit!

Please visit Korea! ;D

Moar photos! ^_^ I particularly liked how Mikuru seems to be promoting Seoul Tower here. XD



The motorcycles that are in the shoot were just lying around in the room. I thought they’d be big enough for Mikuru to ride on, but they’re not, so I just had them as props XD


Mikuru is such a cutie. Don't you think so?

Last photo of the set. ^^ Is there any improvement? Please don’t hesitate to give comments and critiques about this shoot!

TLDR; version of the details equipment in this photoshoot:

Subject: figma Asahina Mikuru (fighting maid ver.)
Camera: Canon IXUS 750


Backdrop: White folder and Seoul Tower cardboard fan (straight from Korea! LOL)
Props: scale Motorcycle replicas lying around the room
Lighting: Two desklamps
Diffuser: Cardboard box with tracing paper
Reflector: Another white folder

Camera Settings:

Manual; Macro; ISO 50 (lowest there is); Auto White Balance (and custom white balance in the later photos); No flash; Used zoom in most (if not all) of the photos

17 Responses to “Mikuru Goes Sightseeing?”

  1. 1 Ederuferuto September 24, 2009 at 12:54 AM

    Wow.. O_O”

    I don’t know anything about lighting setups =P

  2. 2 anonymous_object September 24, 2009 at 2:57 AM

    Hey, nice work on the lighting set up. It definitely helps ^^. Isn’t figure photography fun? :)

  3. 3 Iced September 24, 2009 at 3:35 AM

    Oh, man… I never thought about lighting or anything either, but you’re doing a really nice job! I love the Custom White Balance switch. It just looks so colorful and bright and happy and I love it! <3
    The peace sign is so cute, too. Mikuru~! x3

  4. 4 Guy September 24, 2009 at 7:45 AM

    In the second step, with the “diffuser”, Mikuru seems lighter on her right side. I wonder if it’s just because the camera didn’t have to compensate as much for the other side?

    I am not always a fan for photos with “vivid colours”, some level of more sharpness and mutedness is necessary for it not to look comical, IMO. Especially with reds.

    As for close-ups, that’s why people with DSLRs buy zoom lens which cost more than the camera does :D Also, the tripod is partially there so you could program the aperture and everything to take photos with a wider depth, so you would have quite a distance all in focus.

    • 5 zh3us September 24, 2009 at 11:04 AM

      i always wanted to get another study lamp to try out the setup! Nice work going over there! ^^;

    • 7 zh3us September 24, 2009 at 11:07 AM

      yeah. i have to agree with @Guy, for studio shots, a large aperture is normally used, and for that to be used, the shutter speed must be low => Tripod must be used.

      • 8 Ninjovee September 24, 2009 at 11:28 AM


        I’m using a tripod in this shoot… but I don’t think I can exactly program aperture since I’m using an ordinary digital camera ^^;

        as for the comment thing, you probably clicked reply under Guy’s comment instead of posting your reply on the bottom part of the page ^^;

  5. 9 LEon September 24, 2009 at 9:36 AM

    Nice photos! Thanks for sharing the lighting tips. Seeing your mikuku reminded me to open my Mikuku also. LOL I love the photos when she do the Peace sign.

  6. 10 Ninjovee September 24, 2009 at 11:20 AM

    @Ederu: You can check out Happy Soda’s tutorial ^_^ It’s great and easy to follow!

    @anonymous_object: Thank you! :3 Yes, figure photography is fun! X3 I’m kinda sad I don’t know any good nearby locations for outdoor photoshoots. Dx

    Also, what other names can I call you? Your handle is a bit long for me ^^;

    @Iced: Thank you! :3 I love the custom white balance too! And yes, Mikuru is just so cute! X3

    @Guy: I hadn’t noticed that much until you told me about it… I think it’s because the diffuser technically “spread” the light. See, my desk lamp has a round housing so without the diffuser, the light spreads out less. I think I should do another shoot WITH photos of the setup

    Well, I think everyone has their preferences. I like the photos of figures to have vivid colors. Muted photos are okay too, depending on what mood you’re trying to set in. If I looked at the dull colored photos in this shoot too long… well… it’s just meh.

    Actually, I could get a little more close-up shots (that are not blurry) if I get my hands on a mini-tripod (my brother’s got lost >>;). The expensive zoom lenses are usually for the zetta macro shots (i.e.: those popular water droplet shots) and I don’t think I’ll get there — yet. I also have a normal digital cam, and not a DSLR, so I can’t really change the settings much ^^;

    @LEon: Thank you :3 They’re all actually from a tutorial — I suggest you go see it as well! Haha. You remind me that I have yet to open my figma Shana… should do that soon.

  7. 11 Iced September 26, 2009 at 10:33 AM

    @Vee: Mind if I call you that? Heheh, I’ve always liked to make up nicknames. ^^
    I know what you mean~ I have a similar effect on my camera, that makes everything super vibrant. It’s my favorite of all the switches. <3

  8. 12 thetsundere September 26, 2009 at 5:18 PM

    Impressive! Never thought about trying professional lighting for shooting my figures… Will definitely give it a go next time! ^^

  9. 13 Tommy September 27, 2009 at 4:29 AM

    Nicely done. Good lighting really helps a lot with taking photos. ^^ I’ll look forward to seeing more of your work.

  10. 14 Ninjovee September 27, 2009 at 9:15 PM

    @Iced-san: Nope, I don’t mind at all XD Yes, the super vibrant effect is my new favorite thing now! :3 it even looks better when tweaked with Photoshop! X3

    @thetsundere: it’s actually not professional lighting ^^; it’s just a mundane household lighting setup XD can’t wait to see what you come up with!

    @Tommy: Yes, it really does! Thank you very much! :3

  11. 15 ecko00920 April 16, 2010 at 1:21 PM

    hi..uhmm..i have linked you ..hope it’s okay..can you link me back?

  12. 17 eckotaku April 17, 2010 at 11:38 PM

    uhmm..sorry..i gave a wrong link..here: http://otaneko.wordpress.com that’s the right link ^^,

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