How to Take Wargame Photos

20121103-FOW_Tournament-Round-3-IMG_1115.JPG After a few wargame tournaments (Flames of War, Warhammer Fantasy Battles, Bolt Action), I ask myself: How to Take Wargame Photos? What works? What doesn’t? While I am still a student on the topic, I will share some Do’s and Don’ts:

Do

  • Ask for permission to take pictures.  Some people are bothered by you taking pictures of the battle.  Others don’t like cameras to take pictures of them (you can always crop the person out – see below).
  • Take pictures of the armies before the tournament or during breaks. Overall, details. Ask owners for permission, if possible (most people will feel flattered). Get close to the miniatures, as if you were another one of the miniatures with the camera. You will gain a better perspective on what details and what painting techniques matter. This will also help you to research common tournament armies in the future as well (see it as intelligence gathering).  Also, it will help you understand why the best painter army won the best painter award.  Even if you are not a painter / hobbist, many tournaments give points for appearance / painting.  You can try to get a middle of the road painting score, even if not the Best Painted Army. That point difference could be the difference from winning the Best Overall vs just the Best General.
  • Take pictures of the terrain before the battle.  Take pictures of all of the tables.  This will help you study possible battle situations, even if you didn’t played on that table – see it as tactical training for future tournaments.   It will help you avoid likely terrain situations that you haven’t practiced on.  Those pictures of your own table will help you understand what helped you and what didn’t.
  • Take pictures at the beginning of every turn, each side. Take pictures from the top. And take picture of important conflict areas to analyze angles and movement to understand how to repeat success or avoid a mistake on movement and positioning  Then take pictures from the miniature level for dramatic effect.
  • Take picture from the four sides of the table.  Pictures lengthwise are the easier to understand where everything was.  Wide pictures (standing on the long edges) are best to remember what you were thinking at that time.  Said that, ask your opponent to help you with pictures from his side.  That will help you understand what he was thinking.
  • Try a mini-tripod. Will help you photograph from miniature level. May also allow you to avoid using flash.
  • If you have two pocket cameras, bring them! Or use your phone and the camera.  You can use one from below and one from above.
  • Use a visual turn counter.  Get a big dice or buy / build some kind of turn counter that you can place on the table.  That way the pictures will tell you what turn you were on.  Try to use one that counts your turns as well as your opponent turns.
  • Exchange contact information, especially if both of you are taking pictures.  You will be able to exchange pictures and ask strategy questions.
  • Use Large, Visible Action Markers – If you use large, differently shaped markers next to units (such as “Charge”, “Bogged Down”, “Animosity”, Wound Counters) it will be easier to remember what happened at that time of the battle.
  • Post-Process – rotate / straighten / crop.   Edit the pictures so that they serve a purpose – at a minimum so that they serve as prettier reminders of a pleasurable experience.  Rotate / straighten to help you in your battle analysis (don’t tax your brain with straightening the picture – use your brain cycles to analyze the battle).  Crop some to highlight the important part of the battle.  Crop out distractions – that border of the table with the ruler, books, backpacks serve no purpose.  Crop out partial people as well: I do not like to see the midsection of my opponent next to the battle pictures I take.
  • Take Picture of Score Sheets, Opponent Army List – Or better yet, keep an actual copy.  Will also help you remember why you won or lost and how.

Don’t

  • Don’t Let the camera interfere with your fun. Have it ready for action, and snap the pictures. Don’t be too fussy with the settings.  If you missed a great photo opportunity, let it go – it was probably because you enjoyed a great battle opportunity.
  • Don’t bring the SLR if you are playing. You are concentrating on the game. If you pay too much attention to camera settings or on avoiding your camera from accidentally falling, you will not be able to concentrate on the game. Said that, if you are not participating, by all means, bring the whole studio and have fun with the camera.
  • Remember Your Camera Minimum Focus Distance (Macro) – Use Zoom if needed.
  • Phone Cameras – Try to use a real camera, with real flash as your primary camera.  Phone is good as the backup or 2nd camera.  Cameras are so cheap these days that you can surely ask a friend or family member for the camera they are about to throw away.
  • Don’t forget the batteries, memory cards, etc.

Things to Try

I am not an expert in battle reports.  Haven’t written a proper one yet.  But I am thinking of using Battle Chronicler.  Looks very cool and very easy to use for the purpose of documenting and analyzing battles.  Have you used something like that yet?

What do you think?

There you have it.  Those are my suggestions so far.  Do you have any suggestions?

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