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Hints and tips on photographing your models and dioramas.
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Photographs - How do YOU take yours?

January 27th, 2013, 9:52 am

I have a Fuji Finepix S5800 Digital camera.

It comes with a 46mm lens. The only importance this detail has is that the following numbers info takes this into account.

My ISO is currently set at 800. This figure dates back to film, when film was graded in high grain, or low grain. (Similar to High Resolution or Low Resolution today). The higher the number, the greater the resolution of the final image. However, this will reduce the storage capacity of your camera. That said, magazine editors need high resolution images, so that small pictures can be successfully expanded to fit on a magazine page.
At an ISO of 800, my camera can hold upto 1947 images. This last point is usually irrelevent, as I always delete my images, once I've uploaded them to the computer.

It has a Macro setting. This is always on.

It has a telephoto. My subjects are usually some 6" away, or a little more. Once focussed, I zoom in with the telephoto.
Some photographs are then extensively cropped, using image manipulation software on my PC.

Focus is always Manual.

I can set it to Aperture Priority. This is always on, set to ensure maximum depth of field. My maximum setting is F13.6. Some cameras can go higher. The bigger the F number, the smaller the aperture is and the less light allowed into the camera. (Hence my tripod use). Also, the bigger the F number, the greater the depth of field.
NOTE, however, that the depth of field decreases, the closer the subject is to the camera.

It has a timer. This is usually set to two seconds and avoids me having to hold the camera whilst clicking the shutter.
It has a flash. See above.

I also have a tripod, which I use.

My 'studio' is a dining room chair, with a large sheet of dark blue cardboard, acting as base and backdrop.

Light is usually natural daylight, although I will use a Forced Flash if pressed.

Regards,
Bruce

Re: Photographs - How do YOU take yours?

January 27th, 2013, 10:49 am

Hi Bruce!

Nikon D5100 DSLR with 18-55mm lens and a 3x close-focus lens (filter) screwed to the front
Daylight
tripod
Aperture priority set to f29
ASA 100 (hence the tripod - its about a 3-5 second exposure)
IR remote shutter release with 2 second delay
white card as a reflector

Once focussed, I set the lens to manual otherwise when the remote is triggered, it tries to focus again. This removes any vibration from the focussing motor. I also use 'live view' as the mirror is flipped up out of the way in this mode.

Regards,
Adrian

Re: Photographs - How do YOU take yours?

January 27th, 2013, 11:45 am

Thanks for the input, Adrian.
I've edited my own info to include those important extra details.

Of course, if anyone out there wishes to advise us numpties re our info, I'm always happy to be re-educated. ;-)

Regards,
Bruce

Re: Photographs - How do YOU take yours?

January 27th, 2013, 11:53 am

Time for the other end of the spectrum! I have a Apple I 4s cellphone, very limited, I take the shot when it appears to be in focus, done. Not trying to be smart or anything here, but since my Kodak digital camera stopped working the other year this is what I have and what I use. At the end of the day as long as the photo is in focus and is a good shot of the subject (ie not too far away etc) then that is all that counts.

Re: Photographs - How do YOU take yours?

January 27th, 2013, 11:55 am

I have a Canon Powershot with a Macro setting. I leave it in full automatic mode for aperture and exposure.

I never use the telephoto setting -- a sure way to get grainy photos, IMHO. For bench shots I usually keep it 12-18" away from the subject, though it will go down to about 2-3" away in the macro mode for real detail, at the cost of depth of field (amount of the image in focus). I light the bench shots with my daylight desk lamp, and try to make sure that there's something neutral grey or white in view for fine tuning any colour corrections. I make sure the camera is firmly propped on something solid (small box, paint jar...anything that comes to hand that's the right height) for real detail shots, because the exposure starts to be longer than 1/30 sec when I'm shooting something close up on the bench of an evening.

For "beauty shots", when the thing is finished, I shoot outdoors, under bright but overcast skies for even light distribution. I have a sheet of neutral grey card bought from the art shop which I clip to the deck rail and curve gently along the ground -- photographers call it an "infinity wall". I prefer the neutral grey card because as soon as you introduce any large area of flat colour, the camera starts trying to compensate with the "white balance" so there's a good chance that the colours of your subject will get messed up.

Again, outdoors, I tend to take the pictures from about 12" away, which will fill the middle 1/3 -- 1/2 of the frame, but all of the model will be in focus.

Once I've got my pictures, out comes Photoshop. (Other image editors are available -- GIMP is free, for example, and does everything Photoshop does).

The neutral grey card or element in the bench shots is used to correct the colour cast (or at least make sure there isn't any -- there almost never is in the outdoor shots). I use the "levels" tool to make sure I have a full range of brightness (this compensates for those days when the sky is really gloomy) Then I crop the image close to the subject. For posting, you want images 800 pixels wide. My camera takes pictures that are 2500 pixels wide, so even when cropping from the middle of the frame there are plenty of pixels in hand. Finally I resize the remaining image to 800 pixels, however big it has ended up.

For me, the keys to successful model photography are: macro mode, plenty of (natural) light, and Photoshop (or something similar).

bestest,
M.

Re: Photographs - How do YOU take yours?

October 16th, 2017, 11:42 pm

I have a Nikon D80 DSLR that I use with a 35-105mm Nikkor lens that has a macro setting. I set the camera on a tripod and attach a remote release. I use aperture priority with the aperture set to F22 to maximize the depth of field, and focus manually using macro to take a first picture - the shutter generally opens for about 2 seconds. I then set the camera to Bulb (aperture remains at F22) and take two more pictures manually, holding the shutter open for a second longer each time. Lighting is daylight balanced fluorescent lights in my basement, for which I created a custom white balance setting on the D80 using a grey card. The results can still be a bit green though...

The key to me, is to try and take pictures of AFV from the same perspective as if they were real, meaning from the approximate height of an in-scale photographer. This helps give the impression of size and weight like this 1/76 Hummel SPG:
Image

Versus a real one:
Image
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