Podcast 31 – Toy Photography Lighting with Shelly, Brett, and Sunny Ang

Our coverage of the Lume Cube and their toy photography contest continues on the podcast this week, with another roundtable discussion! This time Shelly, Brett and I are joined by our good friend Sunny Ang, aka @zekezachzoom.

Let There Be Light

Lighting is one of the most important aspects of photography – but is often overlooked. Perhaps there are too many options out there. Should you go with constant light or a flash? Umbrella lights or compact LEDs? A light box, or natural lighting? The list of questions goes on and on, and like most things – the answers are elusive. It really all depends on the photographer, and how you plan to use the light. It may also differ from photograph to photograph!

Shelly told me that lighting tips are one of the most requested topics here on the blog, but we have yet to really embrace the challenge. We discussed why on this podcast, and tried sharing some tips from our own experience. We also discussed our thoughts on the Lume Cube, a solution we gushed about on the blog earlier this week.

The episode is live now on the podcast apps across the internet, and of course embedded here for your convenience! I hope you have as much fun listening and we had recording.

Ultimate Toy Photography Contest

Have you had a chance to enter Lume Cube’s toy photography contest yet? You have until September 26th to enter, so try out your best lighting and enter to win some sweet Lume Cube swag and a gift card to Big Bad Toy Store! There is no limit to the number of entries – you need simply…

  1. Upload your shot to social media (to qualify, your entries must have been uploaded after September 12th)
  2. Tag both @lumecube and @sgtbanans
  3. Use the hashtag #ultimatetoyphotocontest
  4. Submit your entries via the Lume Cube website.

You can also hear more about the details in my interview with Lume Cube’s head of marketing, Trevor Farrow.

Thanks for Listening!

Big thanks to Shelly, Brett, and Sunny for joining me for this roundtable podcast. It was fun doing this project together, and chatting about our experience was enlightening and entertaining. I’m a big fan of this roundtable podcast format, and hope you’re all enjoying it as well! And thanks to Lume Cube for sending us the product to review and test.


How has your lighting experience been as a toy photographer? What is your typical light setup? We’d love to hear your thoughts (and questions!) in the comments below.

If you’ve made it this far, come continue the discussion over at our G+ community! While you’re at it, subscribe to our weekly email round up so that you never miss a post, and subscribe to the podcast!


  1. Demarcation Media

    Lighting is something I constantly have to think about and fight with, due to my current camera and all its auto settings. It’s a HUGE relief to find that there are these amazing little lights that can replace the big, bulky, super expensive studio lights. Like you guys said in the podcast, the studio lights are kinda too much when working with Minifigures or something close to that scale. Great show, as always! Thanks for all your hard work James!

    • Thanks for listening! And what would we do without James? His podcast is such a great addition to the blog and our community! Yeah for James!!

      Lighting is a struggle, Ive been looking for years for a good solution. In fact I was rummaging through a drawer and found yet another set of small lights that I had purchased a few years back. The struggle is real!! I think that while LUME cube isn’t the most cost effective method, it does solve many of the lighting problems faced by miniature photographers. I would add them to your tool box with small LED’s, torches and even a large over head light. When lighting set ups, dont forget to maximize your lighting by bouncing your light with small bounce cards set up. This will help with shadows and reflections. Lighting is another photo skill to learn. 😀

        • You can have several kinds of bounce cards. I used a plastic material since Im often around water, but Ive seen business cards used to great effect as well. You can use matt boar or any stiff paper only because it will take the wear and tear better. You can also buy ones that fold up on line; these often have a silver or gold side so you can maximize the bounce or alter the color. But you can do the same thing with gold or silver foil added to your home made ones. If you want to stop the light from bouncing you can use black paper. As you can see there are no easy answers, simply play around and see what works best for you. As a general rule you want your card to be bigger than your subject. Thats why you often see these large white panels on film and photo sets – they are large bounce cards to control the light. When they are bigger than the subject you don’t see them reflected in the subject. Hows that for more info than you need to know? 😀

          • You are both too kind! I’m still just thankful to have the opportunity to talk to so many photographers I admire on a weekly basis. It’s worth any effort and time that goes into producing the show.

            Shelly would laugh if she saw what I use for a bounce card… A big white poster board! I find it very effective in reflecting tons of light and eliminating pesky reflections on minifigure heads. I also sometimes use a lightbox which is great, but often there’s a big black square reflected right in the middle of my subject – because that’s the open side of the lightbox. So I cut out a hole the size of my camera lens, place that right up against my ligthbox, and stick the camera lens into it. Works like a charm, most of the time.

  2. I envy you guys being able to use the sun as your favorite light source. I guess I’m either too shy to shoot outdoors or too impatient looking for the perfect spot to shoot. I prefer shooting in my room and I just use household lights: 2 desk lamps, and a couple of loose circular and t3 bulbs that I can hang from a mic stand or just lay on the table. I just use cellophane for color gels. I also use some scrap white foam boards for some bounce. I saw the Lume Cube a couple of times in a lot of posts, and I was very intrigued but found them to be too expensive for this hobby (I’d rather spend on toys, ha!). That’s why I’m excited about this contest and crossing my fingers.

    • You HAVE to try to shoot outdoors. It’s a totally different experience and half the time, the results are pretty amazing. I was once very shy to go out too, but these days, my shots are more important than the stares I get. Most of the time, people are very curious and will stop to chat . When I let them view the photos from the camera, they are always very amazed. And I have picked up quite a few followers after I shared with them the photos!

    • Alan, It sounds like you have a great set up! Photographing outside isn’t for everyone. But I will have to chime in with Sunny and say you should give it a try. Sometimes you have to put yourself out there – it’s not nearly as awkward as you might think. Take some friends or a kid for cover if you want to be subtle. In the mean time, don’t apologize for the set up you have. It sounds like you’re covering all the bases and not investing a lot of money. One of the reasons I’ve never reviewed lighting is that there are many great options for macro photographers that doesn’t involve a huge investment in money. The import thing is to get your photo, realize your vision and have fun!

    • As someone who refused to shoot outdoors for a long time, I definitely can sympathize with you, Alan. Though as Shelly and Sunny both have suggested, it’s definitely worth giving a try and can lead to some amazing photographs. Like all things, it just takes trial and error to figure out what works best for you in terms of location, time of day, etc. I still haven’t quite figured it all out but the experimenting is part of the fun!

      As for your indoor lighting setup, I think that’s awesome. I’ve used desk lamps and such in the past as well. I’ve spent too much time, energy, and money over the years trying to find the “right” lighting solution, when it turns out it’s really just about how YOU use what you have and what you’re comfortable using in your workflow. I think it can be easy to forget that really lighting is just a tool, and it’s all about how you use it.

  3. Okay, so question about the contest: they say the pictures have to be uploaded after the 12th. Since I just started an IG account, all of my photos will have been uploaded after the 12th even though some of them have been up on G+ for awhile. Are those ones on G+ still eligible for the contest??

    • From what I understand G+ isn’t even on their radar so don’t worry about any older images posted their. I would enter your recently posted photos useing the widget on Lume Cube’s web site. Use both tags and feel free to tag @LumeCube and @SgtBananas. If you ahem any questions reach out to Brett or James, both have uploaded images to the widget to test how it works.

  4. JP

    Love the round-table Podcast, I don;t always catch them, but when i do they;re great. Alot of you guys share such great stories of how you work with photography and toys. Inspire the hell out of me…. now I just need to find the time to put theory into practice.

    • Thanks JP! I’m glad to hear you like the roundtable format. They’re fun to record, and I think a good bit of variety from the traditional one-on-one interviews. I’m happy to hear you’re inspired, and can’t wait to see what that leads to!

  5. I definitly have to try them some time. Maybe I’ll ask Santa to bring me some this year ^^ (unless I win the contest XD)

    As for shooting outside, I don’t know why but I only do it when in holiday or travelling. I really have to force myself to go out more.

    • I’ve already made sure to add the LumeCube to my wishlist for the holidays. For now I’m just doing what I can with the one that I have and using it alongside natural light or the studio lights I already have.

      Isn’t it funny how holidays and traveling can inspire outdoor photography? I often find when traveling that I *want* to shoot more, but just don’t have the time. Perhaps I need to add a few extra days to my trips to make sure I get some good shooting in!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.