Information: Please take a moment and visit your profile to choose a flag.

Methods of small scale model photography

Frequently Asked Questions on any topic relating to 1/144 modelling.
Russ

Methods of small scale model photography

#1

Post by Russ »

Methods of small scale models photography, to include darkroom/photoshop techniques, printing, editing, and archiving.

Basics-

Most modelers today seem to be using digital cameras versus the older 35mm or medium format emulsion film SLR type cameras, so we'll cover digital first.

Common question - how to take close - up photographs of models? The first is to find and activate the MACRO setting on your camera. On Nikon, this is a symbol of a flower, have seen also picture symbols of a coin with a circle drawn through it. Others may be used, consult your manual. In a digital camera with a fixed single lens, macro is limited in depth, but usually can be brought in as close to the edge of a subject as 4 inches before the focus cannot be kept. For interchangeable lens cameras, you will find that a specific macro lens is available. Using this lens, you can zoom the frame and point of view closer to the subject without having to physically move closer with the camera body , thus being able to use a tripod for more of your shots and having less distortion in macro images. Some macro lenses will have a facility to stack extra lens adaptors to get in even closer. In the old SLR cameras, these were called +1 , +2 and +3 adaptors and they could also be stacked by threading onto the outside end of the macro lens or the standard lens of 50mm. These adaptors can also be stacked on each other to give as much as +6 but there is a lot of glass in the optical train doing this and you may find pictures not at critical sharpest focus doing this. Usually the +3 is enough for basic close-up photos.

Tips on macro shooting:

You are trying to basically get a magnified image. Sometimes it is easier to take a standard distance but very dense pixels image (highest definition - but uses lots of camera memory) and doing the magnification with your windows photo editor or Adobe photoshop or other editing tools.

Be sure besides setting the macro setting which is an exposure setting, also try the paddle zoom in and out control to control the frame size and the distance point of view. Try this instead of moving the camera closer to the models.

Get as much stability as you can. Photo tripod if possible, Or try resting the camera on the table with the model versus hand holding it. If you want a higher view perspective versus a ground level one, place some books on the table to rest your hands and the camera while shooting.

Try all kinds of lighting. Use the camera flash in some of the pictures, also try direct or bounced / reflected sunlight. Try incandescent ( the colors can be corrected later in the photo editor) light or even flourescent. Try a mix. I get good results with both direct and bounced sunlight and also with indirect sun and incandescent and flourescent fill lights. Fill lights are used from angles other than the main brightest lighting to cut the harshness of shadows, especially when using sunlight. The harshness of sunlight can be a good effect but remember that on a model the angles produced by the shadows will be a bit more truncated than on a real aircraft, so if looking for a realism picture, you may want to go outdoors and use overhead sunlight or a 60 degree angle early afternoon sun as your first try.

Compose the frame. Don't cut the wings off, you can always crop the image smaller later. Also don't physically get yourself tooclose to the model, as even in indirect lighting conditions , you can throw a soft shadow over the model, but leaving the background fully lit, the effect is really not very useful.

User avatar
moresby
JV144 2 Star
JV144 2 Star
Posts: 743
Joined: Thu Apr 15, 2010 16:17
1/144 Interest: No
Location: Roma ,Italy
Contact:
Italy

My contribution

#2

Post by moresby »

I hope these notes will help you getting the best pictures of your models: getting photos well focused, exposed and, especially, having your model looking like the real thing.

(I had to break my post in four sections due to photo size)

All models are, of course, 1/144 scale (SHADO Mobiles included, I suppose - even if exact scale wasn't mentioned on the box)

Picture framing and composition

The model is in front of you and your camera is on: this is the usual result:

Image

it is a good angle if you want to show your model details but you’ll never find a real WWII airplane photo like this one (except maybe a few US Navy planes' pics taken from their carrier's island). It almost shouts ‘scale model '!!!

Try instead to take your pictures positioning your camera where the eyes of a 1/144 onlooker might be.

Image

Yes, you’ll have to put something behind your model if you don’t want your room’s posters to appear behind that b-17 sitting on the tarmac. You can easily form a screen, maybe a cloud-painted one, using a large (A3 should be enough) drawing paper rigged behind your set.

Image

I prefer using a blank sheet (here the light has a blue dominant and a white paper sheet has turned into an azure sky without editing!) and eventually add clouds later in photoediting : this way I won’t have the same sky behind every model I photograph. Exploit the perspective: you can put the occasional tree or house behind your model to add variety without actually building a diorama.

Image
Last edited by moresby on Tue Jun 02, 2015 15:31, edited 17 times in total.

User avatar
moresby
JV144 2 Star
JV144 2 Star
Posts: 743
Joined: Thu Apr 15, 2010 16:17
1/144 Interest: No
Location: Roma ,Italy
Contact:
Italy

My contribution (II)

#3

Post by moresby »

Lightning

With digital cameras (or digital photo-editing) managing light is easy: keep in mind that neon lights are greenish, incandescent lights are orange and that natural light in your room may look blueish. Your camera will try to balance light temperature but won’t be able to do miracles! So, if you your model is in your room, maybe close to the window to get as much light as possible and you have the lights on to ease exposition and reduce shadows, your camera won’t be able to contrast both dominants. Of course, you may exploit this; with the right balance, you could have an evening or sunset effect (orange-tinted model on a blue background).

If you take pictures in direct sunlight (better outdoors), you must soften shadows: use a reflective surface (hold a white sheet or board close to your diorama: you might also use one of those suntanning screens or exploit a whitewashed wall).

Image
(direct sunlight, hard shadows)

Image
(direct sunlight, white screen rigged left of my camera)

About use of flash: don’t!
I mean: flash is great if you want show assembly steps or your model's details but it will always spoil any attempt at getting a reality effect.

Image
(direct sunlight, flash: Unnatural lightning, bad shadows, flat images...)

Of course, there may be exceptions where you want hard shadows...
Image
edited background

Tip: outdoors pics are great when you are in the right place; if you find the right spot (a suitable landscape without advertising signs, parabolic antemnae on roofs or unsuitable vegetation -like palm trees showing behind a Russian Front setup) it’s amazing how real your pictures may look if you manage to get BOTH model and background landscape in focus. Which leads to our next topics...
Last edited by moresby on Tue Jun 02, 2015 15:45, edited 14 times in total.

User avatar
moresby
JV144 2 Star
JV144 2 Star
Posts: 743
Joined: Thu Apr 15, 2010 16:17
1/144 Interest: No
Location: Roma ,Italy
Contact:
Italy

My contribution (III)

#4

Post by moresby »

Depth of Field:

Your camera measures its distance from a certain point (usually the center spot) of the image and adjust focus on it. So, you have a well-exposed pic of your B-26: the propeller is correctly focused, details sharp and clear.

Image

Yet the tail looks fuzzy and if you had put a jeep behind your model it would have been ever more blurred. You have insufficent Depth Of Field (DOF)!
To say it in very simple words (any professional or amateur photographer will laugh at this) the smaller the hole through which your camera ‘sees’, the wider (in depth) the area of your picture which stays in focus. Or, in more technical words, the higher diaphragm opening (F-Stops) settings will yeld the best field depth results ; diaphragm setting allows you to control your camera lens aperture: from wider (lower numbers) to narrower (higher numbers): it’s that series on the side of your lens: 2.8, 4, 8, 11, 22, 32....

Image

If your camera is one of those new all-automatic contraptions there isn’t very much to do about this except being DOF-problem conscious (and you won’t even find F-numbers on your lens side):

Image

the best you can do is to have as much light as possible (your camera will have to select her exposure setting between those with minimum lens aperture). If you have a choice of exposition modes, don’t choose those tagged like ‘sports’, ‘pets’ or ‘children’; these are programs optimized for subjects in motion (racing cars) or hard to get still and posing for you (your kids playing around -or any kitten when you try to get that cute look just right), so they usually feature minimum exposure times –and, out of necessity, correspondingly wider openings.
If instead your camera allows this option (here we are escalating from light, easy-to-use -all-automatic cameras to semi-professional reflex cameras like this:),

Image

choose ‘diaphragm’ priority, and select the highest stop number: this may force you to use long or VERY long exposure times -and you may need to use a support for your camera- but even a close-up will show all - or as much of your model as possible- in focus.

Image

Another easy option, if your camera allows it, is to set the virtual film sensitivity to higher ISO numbers: your camera will have its sensor working overtime and you'll be able to choose narrower F-Stop settings and shorter shutter times. Be careful, you can easy get overxposed pictures in full daylight.
Last edited by moresby on Tue Jun 02, 2015 15:46, edited 20 times in total.

User avatar
moresby
JV144 2 Star
JV144 2 Star
Posts: 743
Joined: Thu Apr 15, 2010 16:17
1/144 Interest: No
Location: Roma ,Italy
Contact:
Italy

My contribution (IV)

#5

Post by moresby »

Choice of lenses:

Most model pictures are taken with ‘normal’ or ‘tele’ lens setting; you’ll be surprised at what you can get choosing a wide angle for your camera zoom.

Image
See the difference: match this photo with the second one in my first post.

Bonuses: 1) reality effect: your picture seems taken ‘closer’ to your model. 2) easier exposition: wider lens settings usually yeld more ‘light’ to your picture, allowing you to chose higher diaphragms and/or shorter exposure times. 3) phocusing is also easier and field depth is much enhanced by wider angle lenses. 4) macro: usually you'll be able to get very close to your subject.
On the malus side: there is so much more in the picture you’ll almost always include something you don’t want in your photo: window frames, electric wires in the backround or, simply, your diorama corners.

Image

Try to be creative, find the right position for your subject and your camera and/or reframe your image afterwards when photo-editing.

Image
Last edited by moresby on Tue Jun 02, 2015 15:33, edited 7 times in total.

User avatar
moresby
JV144 2 Star
JV144 2 Star
Posts: 743
Joined: Thu Apr 15, 2010 16:17
1/144 Interest: No
Location: Roma ,Italy
Contact:
Italy

My contribution (V)

#6

Post by moresby »

About digital photo-editing:

As I said before, I usually ‘paint’ a few clouds behind my models. Besides reframing your pictures, you can also use it to vary or adjust colour balance (correcting artificial lights dominants), enhancing contrast or ‘extending’ a bit your diorama corners (just use the ‘clone’ tool like this).

Editors Note: (Russ)

This very problem, of filling areas that are not imaged in the original, and in many photographs besides scale models - has led Adobe to put a feature called "Content-Aware-Fill" into all versions of PS from Creative Suite 5 onwards. The wonderful feature is not well displayed but is in fact a little check-box in the options menu pop-up that is part of the edit - fill tools. This feature is not perfect, but for basic practically monotone areas like the sturmovik diorama below, it operates almost flawlessly. It can work well on repeatable textures like water, rocks, bricks, grass and sky, a bit more tricky with complex things like mechanisms and human bodies. But there are options in the content aware fill that will allow you to mask out these and other unwanted items by overbrushing them with a selection mask before starting the content aware filling! Sometimes just a little touch up with a brush or clone stamp - as Moresby has done very well in his example here - is all that is needed to finish up a content aware fill. Look for this feature to make its way to other photo editor tools created or updated post-2010.

Back to the original post:


Image

Image
photo edited: cloned image corners, adjusted color balance

Don’t cheat! Cheating (for us modellers) is having your models looking better built or painted than they are: it’s so easy having a perfect model with Photoshop (now, look at that damn propeller! Am I allowed to just one little exception to the rule?).

And be honest: if you post your picture, add a note about what and where you photo-edited it.
Last edited by moresby on Tue Jun 02, 2015 15:33, edited 9 times in total.

User avatar
bluedonkey99
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 3122
Joined: Thu Apr 01, 2010 18:53
1/144 Interest: No
Location: UK
Contact:
Great Britain

Re: Methods of small scale model photography

#7

Post by bluedonkey99 »

great series of posts, very imformative!

kazama
JV 144
JV 144
Posts: 479
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:18
1/144 Interest: No
Contact:

Re: Methods of small scale model photography

#8

Post by kazama »

Thanks for your helpful posts!
My CHT web,articles and pics http://blog.udn.com/kazama1974
My ENG web http://kazama1974.blogspot.com/

Pro Stock John
Rookie
Rookie
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Mar 12, 2011 3:02
1/144 Interest: No
Contact:

Re: Methods of small scale model photography

#9

Post by Pro Stock John »

Newb here, hi. Researching small scale photography... What DSLR lenses are folks using? 18-55, 50mm, ?

Thanks.

User avatar
moresby
JV144 2 Star
JV144 2 Star
Posts: 743
Joined: Thu Apr 15, 2010 16:17
1/144 Interest: No
Location: Roma ,Italy
Contact:
Italy

Re: Methods of small scale model photography

#10

Post by moresby »

I use two zooms: a Nikkor 18-55mm and a Nikkor 55-200mm.
I also have a small casio Exilim with a 5,8mm-17,4mm zoom
Last edited by moresby on Wed Feb 28, 2018 13:13, edited 2 times in total.

Post Reply

Return to “1/144 Model and Collecting F.A.Q's”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests