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Author Topic: How To Photograph Models  (Read 35848 times)
finescalerr
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« on: May 06, 2008, 02:44:33 AM »

Marc thought it might be a good idea to post my instructions for how to photograph models. So here it is:

MODEL PHOTOS

1. Shoot outdoors in daylight, but in full shade (such as under a covered patio) on a table, with a seamless backdrop (a roll of paper) taped to the wall or window or sliding glass door onto the table. The backdrop MUST be paper (not cloth), white, no folds, wrinkles, or creases. One piece of paper on the table and a second piece of paper hanging from the wall is NOT acceptable because it will create a ?horizon? line.

2. ALWAYS use a tripod.

3. Use a 100mm lens or the equivalent zoom (e.g., 35-135, 70-200 at approximately the 100mm setting). Shoot at f/22 or f/32 and take additional exposures +/- one and/or two stop(s) on either side of ?correct?. On a typical digital camera, use ?Aperture Priority? and shoot at the biggest f-stop number such as f/11 or f/8. If you can't adjust things manually, shoot where there is a LOT of light so the lens will automatically stop down.

4. Before attaching the camera to the tripod, take it right up to the model and expose on the side of the model (but from the same angle at which the camera will point). DO NOT ALLOW THE LENS TO ?SEE? ANY OF THE BACKGROUND OR YOUR MODEL WILL END UP LOOKING LIKE A SHADOW. You also may expose on the palm of your hand. It will create a fairly accurate starting point.

5. With the camera on the tripod, get as much of the model in the viewfinder as you can while still allowing a little room around the image. Again, use a 100mm lens or the equivalent. A 35 or 50mm lens is inadequate. With a digital camera, zoom the lens between three-quarters and all the way out (telephoto).

6. Shoot from as close to a ?scale man?s eye level? as possible unless, of course, you are showing the roof or underbody.

7. Use at least a 3 megapixel digital camera. Use the digital camera?s finest setting (biggest file size). Remember to set the digital camera?s color balance for outdoor, incandescent, or fluorescent depending on the kind of lighting. Usually, the "auto" color balance is best for outdoors and often very good indoors, too. If you can shoot in RAW mode, send those files instead of JPEGs.

8. Shoot 3/4 front, 3/4 rear (opposite side), side view and, if necessary, bottom view, top view, and details. You must have enough views for a modeler to recreate your work.

9. Do not omit or compromise on any of the above ?rules? or you will lower the quality of your photos.

Russ
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jacq01
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« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2008, 03:35:45 AM »


   Russ,

   thanks for these instructions. They are a great help, at least to me, as I struggled to get good light effects.

   Jacq
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finescalerr
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« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2008, 06:43:09 PM »

Jacq, anytime you (or somebody else) has a question about how to photograph a diorama, layout, or model, I will be happy to try to answer it.

Russ
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RoughboyModelworks
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« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2008, 12:02:04 PM »

Excellent list of tips and suggestions Russ. Perhaps you should make it a sticky topic so it's always easy for viewers for find?

Paul
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marc_reusser
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« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2008, 05:55:36 PM »

Good info:

For those that don't know why/understand the benefits/use/purpose of the .RAW format that Russ mentioned in his original post, here are two links with an explanation:

http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/article_pages/why_use_raw.html

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/RAW-file-format.htm




Marc
« Last Edit: May 07, 2008, 05:59:04 PM by marc_reusser » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2008, 01:28:41 AM »

I wrote this up in regards to a question on another forum, of what set-ups I use to shoot my models...and since it was such a long winded thing to type/compile, I figured I would put it to some use and post it here as well.  Wink Grin Grin Grin


Please note that this is all just "improvised" and I claim no real factual knowledge about photography whatsoever. I am completely ignorant when it comes to photography. Everything I do has come as a result of trial and error, and on tips
I have picked up along the way, I wouldn't know the difference between F-stop and apperature if it fell on me. I probably do things that make a real photographer cringe and shake his head....but fortunately with some luck and a bit of post-production work, I seem to be able to produce an acceptable result.  Grin


The camera I am using is an older model Nikon "CoolPix 8400", 8 mega-pixel digital (not a digital SLR). It has digital "lense adjustment" from 28-85mm. It shoots in all formats JPG/TIFF/RAW, and can be set to automatic or fully manual, (and many places in between).

_______________________________________

In all my set-ups, I use/suggest using, the following "Basic" principles:

Always shoot with a Tri-pod.

Always use the "auto-timer" or a remote shutter release.

Shoot in .TIFF or RAW format. These produce a far superior image (due to the way the data is handled), that can be better worked//adjusted/corrected with photo editing programs such as Photoshop. These formats are also better for use by magazines in publications. If your camera does not shoot TIFF or RAW, use the highest possible quality/pixel size when shooting JPEG's. Be aware TIFF and RAW images will take up a large amount of space on your card and will need to be converted to JPEGs for use on the web, or for e-mailing.

Shoot on neutral "seamless" photo backdrop paper, (or other "proper" photographic background). These types of backgrounds are specifically made and color adjusted for photography.

My preference is white (any color you use on the backdrop will affect the color balance of the image, as well as "throw" color into/onto the model). A roll of "seamless" from a photography supply store will last you a long time.

For shooting, set your camera to "manual" settings. Adjust for the greatest depth of field you can. 

For shooting models up close it is advisable to use the Macro setting on your camera.Beware of using the "digital zoom" function of the camera, as this affects the final picture quality. it is better to move the camera closer or further from the subject, or shoot the whole thing at a higher resolution, and later "crop" to the desired portion of the image in a photo editing program.

NEVER use a flash to shoot a model.

Once you have the photo/shoot set up, remove the model from the scene, and adjust your "white balance" setting. If you are shooting on a non-whit background use a piece of white seamless or heavy-weight white Strathmore at the models location, to set your white balance against. If you move the lighting or camera during a shoot, it is advisable to re-check/re-set the white balance after the move/adjustment.

When shooting, "bracket" your photos. (IE. take at least three shots of the same view with different exposures; one lighter, one medium, and one darker), this way you will have a choice when they are transferred to the PC or sending for publication.

When shooting with artificial lighting, I shoot only at night (as I do not have drapes or shutters) so that no sunlight/natural-light,  from the windows in my workroom, will throw off the color balance.

_______________________

My most basic and common setup (lets call it #1) is the following:



I use this set-up for quick photos when I am in hurry, or am shooting photos that are only meant to be "progress photos" of a project to share on the web in groups/forums/e-mail or for showing SBS's.

I use my standard all purpose backdrop, which is made of an 18" x 20" piece of white "seamless" taped at the ends to a piece of bent/folded piece of corrugated cardboard. The ends of the seamless are taped smooth and flat to the cardboard with double-sided tape. The angle of the back of the seamless is supported /adjusted with a bottle of drinking water (anything heavy enough  to support/hold the cardboard will work.)

For lighting I merely use my workbench lights, which are two "Luxo" drafting lamps. These lamps each have two bulbs. (One 60w 'A' lamp, and a 'cool' (standard) fluorescent 8" ring bulb. This gives the light a pretty good/accurate color balance.) These lights are then moved/adjusted as needed to get the desired lighting and shadows.

I then merely rotate the model on the seamless, adjust the lighting, and adjust the camera height/angle as needed for the different shots.
_________________________________

My second setup (lets call it #2) is this one:





I use this set-up for finished model photos, or for photos of paint finishes.

I use the same seamless backdrop as Set-Up #1.

For lighting this I utilize (3) 500/1000w halogen work lights.

Light #1 is used as "bounced" light, and is aimed up to the ceiling.

Light #2 and #3 are used to light the subject/model, an are generally set at the distances shown in the photo. Whether and which ones to set to 500 or 1000 watts really depends on the effect I am after, or what is needed to properly show the model and detail.

A note of warning: this set-up produces a lot of heat, and it is advisable to turn off, or turn down the lights during breaks/pauses in shooting.

_________________________________________

My third set-up is outside in the shade (this is one I learned from Russ Reinberg of Finescale Railroader) I will do the same seamless set-up (no lights though) as the other shots, and on a sunny day, shoot in the shade of my porch, or in the garage near the open door.

When shooting outside in the shade make absolutely sure that no sunlight shows on the seamless, model, or any object/background that can be seen in the camera's viewfinder; as this will cause color balance distortion in the image.

__________________________________________

My fourth set-up is very basic, in direct sunlight.

__________________________________________

Which set-up I use depends on what is most suitable for the model or effect I am trying to get, and at times what is the most expedient for me. The most common one I use is Set-Up #1, as I can very quickly set-up and break it down, and since I am mostly at the workbench at night it works well in regards to lighting.


I hope this is helpful.

Marc
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« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2008, 03:08:06 PM »

Here is another page showing a good simple photo setup. This belongs to Michael Rinaldi, who IMO is one opf the best armor modelers out there today. He uses this setup to shoot his models, for web and magazine publication.

http://tiny.cc/Tjip3

If interested his work along with tips and such, can be seen here:


http://tiny.cc/jrERM


Marc
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« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2010, 03:28:15 AM »

I was tired of dealing with my photo booth thingy, or  my larger seam-less set-up, for doing some of the detail/small-part SBS shots...especially since I tend often to shoot the SBS shots right on my workbench as I am going along. What I needed was a small cove that I could easily fit into the only uncluttered space on my work surface.....so that means something with about a 6"x6" footprint.

I built this little thing out of some scrap Foam-core board for the frame, and a piece of 3-ply Strathmore fore the cove surface, the whole thing was done primarily by eye, and glued with yellow glue. Took no time at all to build...and esily supported a 5-lb weight without any deformation. (hot glue would have been even quicker, but I was out of the sticks)

The photos shows the final cove with a piece of white photo seamless clamped/mounted over the Strathmore. This piece of seamless can be quickly changed-out to grey or black (or replaced when it gets marred) depending on what the photo calls for.



* 6x6 Photo Cove 1.jpg (110.6 KB, 548x584 - viewed 764 times.)

* 6x6 Photo Cove 2.jpg (104.24 KB, 550x555 - viewed 717 times.)
« Last Edit: April 29, 2010, 03:34:37 AM by marc_reusser » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2010, 06:32:27 AM »

Marc,

thanks for this- just what I need- just re-read through to find out the bulb types you are using too- I'll have to have a play with the various bulbs I have here and maybe order some new ones.

James
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jacq01
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« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2010, 07:11:33 AM »


  Now that I get more space in my workshop, this definitely gets a place,
  thanks for the idea and sbs.

  Jacq
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« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2010, 01:13:39 PM »

Marc, Russ -

How about some tips for those of us who have only a simple digital point-n-shoot camera (mine is a Nikon Coolpix, 5 megapixels), and can't afford an SLR or anything else fancy.

Russ said "With a digital camera, zoom the lens between three-quarters and all the way out (telephoto)" does this mean 3/4 of the way from "normal" toward full telephoto?

I have a tripod and delay timer, but no f-stop or shutter controls.
I can make a backdrop like Marc mentions.

As you can tell, I'm a photo-dummie/virgin. Is there any hope for me to take "publication quality" images?

Carlo
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finescalerr
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« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2010, 01:31:17 PM »

Carlo, with a point and shoot camera, you need as much light as possible. Since you can't manually stop down the shutter, bright light will force the camera to do it automatically. That will establish the f/stop with the greatest depth of field. Shooting outdoors in the middle of the day is a good way to get a lot of light but use "bright shade" to avoid shadows and a lot of contrast.

Typically, a digicam zoom lens is somewhere around the equivalent of a 35mm camera's 28-135mm zoom. As you probably know, 28mm would be wide angle. You want something like 100-135mm so the lens should be sticking almost all the way out (as you would use for shooting something far away, i.e., with a telephoto lens). You could shoot with the lens zoomed all the way out but sometimes that triggers a macro feature that may affect your depth of field. Try it both ways and use whatever looks best.

Remember to fill most of the viewfinder with the subject. Too close and you lose depth of field. Too far and you lose resolution. So leave just a little "air" around the subject.

At least in theory you should be able to achieve publication quality results using those tips.

Russ

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« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2010, 09:23:32 PM »

Why the zoom instead of wide angle? I'm guessing less distortion, but I'd like to know for sure.

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« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2010, 10:01:33 PM »

Carlo,

I don't have an SLR either. I have an old/last generation, 8-megapixel camera, just before the SLR's hit the market.

I don't use the zoom to shoot my models, but I do always use the "Macro" setting.....which most 'point-and-shoot' cameras tend to have as well.

Interestingly....my wifes small inexpensive Nikon 'point and shoot' camera takes better "general photos" than my camera.....I have not tried shooting models with it...but it might make for an interesting experiment.

Marc
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« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2010, 01:57:55 AM »

Wide angle lenses tend to distort subjects, especially if you shoot close to them. Most cameras shoot with least distortion between 70 and 100mm. That's why I suggest shooting with the lens zoomed out part of the way.

As for the newest point and shoot cameras, for typical snapshot photography they are really terrific now. The color and exposures are first rate. They usually are lousy for action photos because of the slow autofocus but they may work okay for closeups. I haven't tried any post 2005 models.

Russ
« Last Edit: May 03, 2010, 01:57:10 AM by finescalerr » Logged
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