• Welcome to Westlake Publishing Forums.


    REGARDING MEMBERSHIP ON THIS FORUM: Due to spam, our server has disabled the forum software to gain membership. The only way to become a new member is for you to send me a private e-mail with your preferred screen name (we prefer you use your real name, or some variant there-of), and email adress you would like to have associated with the account.  -- Send the information to:  Russ at finescalerr@msn.com

Main Menu

How To Photograph Models

Started by finescalerr, May 06, 2008, 01:44:33 AM

Previous topic - Next topic


Greetings Gentlemen,

I recommend the following website for some very "cool" perspective photography.

I only recently stumbled upon the work of Michael Paul Smith.

I believe the cars are stock standard Franklin Mint Limited Editions (1:24 scale) however the buildings are scratchbuilt and the photography is some of the best I have seen.
Unfortunately, he does not indicate to us the precise techniques deployed in his photography, suffice to say most is shot outdoors in daylight conditions, with suitable backdrop borrowed from mother-nature.

Regards, Harry.



I built one of Marc's quickie backdrops this weekend.
I made mine 8" x 8" and about 12" tall with an 8" radius.
Works great and is easy to stash by the workbench.

Fred H.

Well, I'm kinda out of patience. I need to be able to photograph inside for eBay purposes. (Can't lug stuff down three flights of stairs on the OFF CHANCE that the sun might stay out.) So, I went to Ritz and bought two nice 250 watt lights with the little umbrella diffusers. Bought a roll of white paper (48 in. wide) for a seamless backdrop. Spent THREE frickin' hours working with my Canon point-and-shoot digital trying to get acceptable photos. NOTHIN! best I cam seem to get, even at about 400 ASA, is 1/100 at f8. Wish I could set this baby manually, but I can't and the idea of FINDING, much less using, my old 35mm is a non-starter. I set the white balance manually and the colors are fine, just too dark!

Gave up last night at 11 pm and went to bed. Still stumped today.


Fred, give me a phone call. I'll get you going. -- Russ


One of the things I have found to work really well for the photographer with little gear  and a digital camera is a florescent light source. I did a lot of testing two years ago for a clinic I was doing on photographing models.

Would be happy to put together a tutorial. My background is in commercial photography since 1982. Have had my own studio since 1986 and have done everything from catalog in a production environment for Sears, The Hudson Bay co, Simpsons (Canucks may remember), Toys'R'Us. The nineties I spent shooting mostly jewellery and shoes, along with crystal, and electronics for clients like DeBeers, Royal Doulton, Sony, Bryston, Timex and countless others.

I found the challenge is to devise a method that is easily reproduced and affordable. Marc's previous post of a background system is great and works all the time. I keep it even simpler and use a piece of paper card stock (usually printer paper 13X19) super white and curved as per Marc's photos. I did also find that the sensors respond to florescent lights really well. In the early digital days there were several manufacturers that made florescent based professional lighting systems. With practice you can do a lot with a simple camera and there is no substitute for the SLR.  If you are serious about photographing your models and dioramas you need an SLR.  I do also recommend a macro or micro lens. Zooms are great and will do if you are on a budget, however nothing beats a purpose built lens. I use the 65mm and 105mm nikon micro lenses. They are sharper at macro distances and stop down to a minimum f stop of 36.  The other item that is a modellers must have is a tripod.  It will always be sharper with a tripod.   If there is interest I would be happy to share tips and tricks learnt along the way.
cheers Ferd
http://www.fbm-studios.com   is my work site.  Although it has not been updated for a while.   The pics below are from a recent shoot. The springs are under 3mm tall and the  other units are small enough to fit in your ear. Each unit in the second image is made up of multiple exposures. In the days of large format keeping them sharp from front to back was easy, digital sensors do not quite react like film and have a much shallower depth of field. So the digital medium is used to make the impossible possible.
Ferd Mels  Ontario Canada    eh!
SE Scale - all other scales pale by comparison.  7/8"=1'-0"


Quote from: marc_reusser on April 29, 2010, 02:28:15 AMWhat I needed was a small cove that I could easily fit into the only uncluttered space on my work surface

Great Idea! For pics needing a white BG I use a piece of white styrene and just lean it up against the fence and deck.
I set this up on an overcast day. I clean them up a bit in photoshop as needed.



I actually made one tonight. Pretty easy. Took about 10 minutes once I had the goods.

Ray Dunakin

What is the recommended method to photograph white styrene, such as for SBS pics of models under construction? I've been shooting it against a white background but I'm not really happy with the results. On the other hand, shooting against a darker background tends to wash out the surface details in the styrene.

Visit my website to see pics of the rugged and rocky In-ko-pah Railroad!

Ray Dunakin's World


Ed Traxler

Lugoff, Camden & Northern RR

Socrates: "I drank WHAT?"


White on white is easy. Try it with a boxcar or, worse, a black locomotive. If you follow his directions you'll end up with a black blob.

The solution? Take your exposure on ONLY the boxcar or loco. Set the camera to Aperture Priority and f/32. Remove the camera from the tripod, bring it up so it only sees the dark object, note the exposure time. Then put the camera back on the tripod and set the exposure time manually. Use that as the starting point for bracketing shots. Presto. Perfect exposure.



Happened to have this photo today so FWIW......

Because I need to, and like to, do quick SBS photos, I will frequently use my improvised spray enclosure, and/or a small cove base. Both built out of foam-core. The cove base has white photographic seamless paper on it, that can be easily changed out as it gets dirt/marked up, and the white from the spray enclosure provides a sufficient amount of bounced light when needed. The lamps are my workbench lights, simple 2-bulb drafting lights, with 100watt-equal, 5300K flourescent bulbs. This setup is quick and easy to set up and remove, to resume work.

I am an unreliable witness to my own existence.

In the corners of my mind there is a circus....



As simple and elegant as that is, do you actually think may here will take the trouble to emulate it? -- Russ

Gordon Ferguson

Guilty , as charged  .............. will try harder


Quote from: marc_reusser on February 20, 2012, 08:32:46 PM
Happened to have this photo today so FWIW......

The cove base has white photographic seamless paper on it, that can be easily changed out as it gets dirt/marked up,

Where can one procure this white photographic seamless paper?

I've just been using white posterboard. But, if there is something specifically suited for this purpose I'd like to try it.




Quote from: finescalerr on February 21, 2012, 01:22:27 AM
As simple and elegant as that is, do you actually think may here will take the trouble to emulate it? -- Russ

I spent part of my weekend building two softboxes to get better indoor lighting. I think the odds are good someone else around here will try something similar.

Bexley Andrajack