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Light
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 Post subject: Light
PostPosted: January 2nd, 2012, 2:56 pm 
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Location: Mid Glamorgan, South Wales
The most basic issue many of us have with photographing our models is with getting the lighting correct. Naturally, using daylight is the best method so taking your photographs on a shelf, sill our table next to a window is always an option. Unfortunately, given the vagiaries of the weather this is seldom possible or practical.

Most modern cameras have an integral flash and feature a number of functions allowing this to be used in a variety of ways. These functions are very helpful but they have their limitations, particularly when it comes to model photography. The biggest limitation is that most people aren't interested enough in photography to learn the functions of their camera and just leave it on the "auto" setting. This is a poor choice for photographing models as the camera is unlikely to be able to decide exactly what you want to do. There are, however, ways to improve your chances of getting a good picture using this setting. Digital cameras have a mode called a "macro" setting. This is represented by a symbol that resembles a flower and should be found either on one of the internal menus or, often, via a dedicated button on the camera. If you can use it in natural daylight all the better as macro isn't too fond of flash (just like modellers). This will allow a good level of close up under the right circumstances but all camera shake must be eliminated. If you must hold the camera, rest your arms against something steady. If possible, put the camera down on something or find a way to prop it so it doesn't move. You could always invest in a tripod but, for basic model photography, this shouldn't be necessary.

Electric light, as found in the home, is the enemy of good picture taking. It's far too yellow and plays havoc with the settings on a digital camera. You can stick with the principle of taking lots of pictures using different settings and hoping for the best but this can be a very hit and miss affair. The best way to get a good result is to use a good, bright daylight lamp which throws out pure white light that will not effect colours and will show up the close up details we modellers so often desire in our photographs. This will often fool the camera into not using flash for close ups in artificial light so you could still use an auto/macro setting without either a model/part completely in shadow or lit up like Christmas tree highlighting detail that is invisible to the naked eye. There's nothing more off-putting than taking a photograph of a cockpit that you have worked on for a week and think is perfect only to have every invisible dustmote and blemish shining out at you in a picture. A daylight lamp is also an excellent tool to have on the bench anyway, as I'm sure most of us are aware.

The best thing to improve picture taking is, of course, to learn how your camera works. Explore the modes on the camera. Experiment with taking pictures with the flash deactivated or covered up. Note down what works. In the "scene" menu on a digital camera you will find a number of options for picture taking. "close up" is the equivalent of macro. There are a number of other useful modes including some , which I use a lot, like "night portrait", good in household light; "self-portrait", another good close up feature for when infill flash is required; "manner/museum, better than auto but requires a very steady camera; and "text", which isn't just for printed pages but gets good results on most things with a bright background. Experiment for yourself and find out what works for you under given circumstances.

The last thing to mention is backgrounds. Make sure your subject is on a neutral background as far as possible. I use some sheets of white card with a mirror backing. Sometimes I use the white side, sometimes the mirrored. A good alternative would be a sheet or curtain remembering that the backing should make the model stand out. A white model on a white background isn't always a good idea but a white model against a grey or black background immediately becomes the focus of attention. This can lead to lots of fun when photographing dioramas, but that's for another post. Finally, with backgrounds, always remember that they will either reflect or absorb light, so try to consider this when taking your picture. Don't, for instance, take a picture directly into (at 90 degrees) a white/shiny background using flash, as this will lead to a bright spot on the finished picture. Similarly, consider the position of any artificial lights and try to eliminate shadows unless you aim to use a little shadow to emphasise detail. With a darker background you have a little more leeway, but don't overlight it as this will cause the subject to become overexposed and eliminate any detail.

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Light
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 Post subject: Re: Light
PostPosted: January 5th, 2012, 3:32 am 
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Joined: December 26th, 2011, 2:09 am
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Location: Wagga, Australia
Thanks for the tips Dazzled, I'll try and remember them on my next picture session. ;-)

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