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General Information => General Discussion => Topic started by: JohnReid on September 01, 2011, 06:46:50 AM



Title: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 01, 2011, 06:46:50 AM
Photography on the cheap.

Lights,Camera,Action !
All of the pics that I have taken over the last five years or so and published in my photobucket ,were taken for the cost of the camera alone and that I got on sale ! The rest is just stuff that I had laying around the house.No expensive tripods,special lighting or other equipment is required.The modern day camera does it all for you,the only thing that you have to do is a simple setup.Put it on "Auto" and off you go ! You can experiment to your hearts content (no more film cost to worry about) If only one pic in fifty turns out so what ! Have fun.

First the camera. I will take a pic of it in the mirror for your info.Point and shot,how simple can it be.Prior to the digital era I knew nothing about cameras and it is still that way today.
All the technical stuff leaves me cold and I haven't even read the manual for the digital I am using now ! (some would say it shows LOL) If I can take reasonable pics anyone can do it.
The only real secret to good pic taking is using your creativity to set the scene up, in other words, arranging the stuff in a nice way (composition).This will come with experience.Just start shooting ! Here's how I do it....


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: cigar joe on September 01, 2011, 07:17:47 AM
Photography on the cheap.

Lights,Camera,Action !
All of the pics that I have taken over the last five years or so and published in my photobucket ,were taken for the cost of the camera alone and that I got on sale ! The rest is just stuff that I had laying around the house.No expensive tripods,special lighting or other equipment is required.The modern day camera does it all for you,the only thing that you have to do is a simple setup.Put it on "Auto" and off you go ! You can experiment to your hearts content (no more film cost to worry about) If only one pic in fifty turns out so what ! Have fun.

First the camera. I will take a pic of it in the mirror for your info.Point and shot,how simple can it be.Prior to the digital era I knew nothing about cameras and it is still that way today.
All the technical stuff leaves me cold and I haven't even read the manual for the digital I am using now ! (some would say it shows LOL) If I can take reasonable pics anyone can do it.
The only real secret to good pic taking is using your creativity to set the scene up, in other words, arranging the stuff in a nice way (composition).This will come with experience.Just start shooting ! Here's how I do it....

I photograph models/dioramas also, so I can contribute a bit to this subject. One big plus I've found is using natural light whenever possible, that means taking it outside and using sunlight to cast realistic shadows. Below is a scratch built 1:112 scale model of Fort Duquesne a Vabaun Style fortification circa 1755 actual dimensions are 4'x4' image was Photoshoped to create background mountains and foreground water.

Below is the image. This model can be viewed at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Canada.

(http://i841.photobucket.com/albums/zz337/cigarjoe/bbhcFtD.jpg)

In this image the actual model size is roughly delineated by the red lines, all the background mountains most of the clearing and some of the foreground water is all created in Photoshop.

(http://i841.photobucket.com/albums/zz337/cigarjoe/bbhcFtDlines.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 02, 2011, 04:11:01 AM
My style of photography depends on 3 things
Hand held mobile lighting
Hand held camera with a stabilizer
creative thinking, and breaking the rules

Here is the camera that I use for all my shots,very simple but it must have lens stabilizer as I move it a lot seeking different shooting angles.I use my still camera  like a movie or stage director would if he were taking a one frame movie.My first digital camera didn't have this function so a lot of my early shots were more traditional.The lens stabilizer is really the basis for my style(if you can call it that)
The camera body should be black so it doesn't get reflected by glass or other shiny surfaces.
And that is about it camera wise !

Lighting. I use a hand held clip on with easily changeable ordinary household bulbs and experiment with different types,  wattages and color.The key here is to try everything.
I also use my white ceiling and one of those cheap car maintenance lights from the garage for bouncing light off the ceiling.On occasion when I want a nice moonlight scene I will use just an overhead florescent light.I have even used candles.Experiment and have fun !

And finally use your creativity there are really no wrong ways of doing things just new ways waiting to be discovered.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: cigar joe on September 02, 2011, 05:47:26 AM
Occasionally like John mentioned you can get some great results purely by accident. Below is an interior shot of a model of Ft. Sinclair circa 1765 that was located where present day St. Clair, Michigan is today.

The model in this image was lit by overhead incandescent but the realistic water sun glare and shadows came from light from a nearby shop window.

(http://i841.photobucket.com/albums/zz337/cigarjoe/ftsin_bb.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 02, 2011, 06:34:55 AM
Cool cigar joe,love it ! O0


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 02, 2011, 04:18:00 PM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Aerodrome%20Gallery%20pics/Engshoplighting003-1-1.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 02, 2011, 04:47:08 PM
Here is a pic I took and then fancied it up using photobucket.
It is a pic of a 1/16th scale engine shop from the 1920's.It could be RR ,marine,auto or whatever.Everything here is scratchbuilt except the engine which was from a highly modified kit.Most of this is built with coffee stir stiks,tongue depressors,plywood or card.The lighting is from a dollhouse and the shades are modified brass Christmas bells.The clear glass is plexiglass savaged from an old parts container.
This is a low angle shot as if your were backing up a truck to pick up a load,probably what you might see in a rear view mirror late on a summers evening.The lights reflected in the window glass adds depth to the scene.The doors act as a frame for the scene and also help to add depth as well.
I took this pic with my old digital camera that didn't have a stabilizer,so all the lighting here is internal not hand held.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: cigar joe on September 02, 2011, 06:54:56 PM
Nice shot.

One thing to mention at this point is that models that are/were intended to be used for film sets were usually constructed in 1/4 scale. As you can see from John's image much more detail is possible in these larger scales.  For instance, on one of my 1:112 scale models a dot of paint suffices for a door knob while in a 1/16 or 1/4 scale model you can actually model the door knob in three dimensions.   


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 03, 2011, 06:28:40 AM
Nice shot.

One thing to mention at this point is that models that are/were intended to be used for film sets were usually constructed in 1/4 scale. As you can see from John's image much more detail is possible in these larger scales.  For instance, on one of my 1:112 scale models a dot of paint suffices for a door knob while in a 1/16 or 1/4 scale model you can actually model the door knob in three dimensions.   

You are exactly right a lot depends on the scale.I like lots of detail that tell stories.I find that it is a lot easier to capture your viewers imagination this way.I admire anyone that can to it small ,I have tried but with little success. any tips?


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 03, 2011, 06:30:24 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Cheap%20shots/Jennylastpics039-1-1-1.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 03, 2011, 06:38:37 AM
This shot was taken using my hand held light and hand held camera technique.
I simply used my clip on light and shone it through the window to see what I could come up with.I am looking to set a mood with a little drama built in.Technically there are probably a thousand things wrong with the pic but I like it and I don't try to please anyone else.
I am a great admirer of Sergio Leone the Italian movie director,who is my self appointed creative mentor and this is the way he operated too.
In this pic I have used the open door at the rear and the shadows across the floor to create a more 3D effect.
The foreground is out of focus for a reason, as it tends to put the figures in the limelight.The bar through the middle guys face was a compromise between his face (which was really not all that well painted) and the meds box over his shoulder.The box in my mind represents the great cost in injury and lives in the early days of aviation and I wanted it in.Sometimes with my hand held camera I am very restricted in movement when I am actually reaching into the diorama itself.
What does this scene tell us ? We are inside an old building made of wood,the clothing styles are from early in the last century,the flag indicates it is air force military.The airplane is a biplane although it would work just a well with a car ,truck,boat whatever.It is probably early morning with the sun low on the horizon and the environment is a little dusty with even some smoke in the air.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: cigar joe on September 03, 2011, 05:55:30 PM
Quote
I am a great admirer of Sergio Leone the Italian movie director,who is my self appointed creative mentor and this is the way he operated too.
In this pic I have used the open door at the rear and the shadows across the floor to create a more 3D effect.
The foreground is out of focus for a reason, as it tends to put the figures in the limelight

John you are also using a Leone styling technique by shooting a scene through an object in the foreground, in this case the biplane wing.  O0 O0 O0


You are exactly right a lot depends on the scale. I like lots of detail that tell stories.I find that it is a lot easier to capture your viewers imagination this way.I admire anyone that can to it small ,I have tried but with little success. any tips?

I have two reasons for settling on the odd ball 1:112 scale the first is the availability of 15mm model figures in a wide range of military eras. My expertise is in military fortifications particularly for the Vauban (defense in depth) style prevalent during the Seven Years War (French & Indian War) & The American Revolution, up to the American Civil War.

The availability of these figures, cannon, wagons, horses, etc., etc.,  for the models dictates the scale, the small scale works well for depicting the landscape and to the understanding of how the fortifications fit into the landscape and as to how they were designed to actually work. In this respect these fortification models are more closely related to to model railroads than to large scale dioramas such as John builds.

The 15mm designation for size in military figurines is the eye height,  measured from the base to the eye of the figure this equates to 15mm = 5.5 +/- scale feet. So if you have 25.4 mm to an inch, then 25.4 x 12 inches (1 foot) gives you 304.8 mm to the foot, divide that by 15mm will give you 20.32, multiply 20.32 by 5.5 scale feet gives you 111.76 scale feet to a foot, or round up to 1:112.

There is also available a wide range of 12mm figurines which would equate to a 1:140 scale which I may take advantage of on my next project to be able to cover more territory.

The image below is a Photoshoped "balloon's eye" view of Confederate Fort Hindman at Arkansas Post on the Arkansas River (Photoshop was used to extend the landscape out in all directions from the fort). It was an earthwork fort of 4 bastions and two large underground ammunition magazines (the two rectangular mounds in the forts center) built on the floodplain with two iron plated casemated naval cannon built into the earthwork to defend the Arkansas River from Union Ironclads. Again the scale is 1:112. and this model can be viewed at the Arkansas Post National Memorial.

(http://i841.photobucket.com/albums/zz337/cigarjoe/Arkansas_Post-1.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 04, 2011, 02:56:25 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Cheap%20shots/Picture1084-1-1.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 04, 2011, 03:39:36 AM
Here is the same group of figures under different lighting.The sun is bright and almost overhead maybe shining down through some windows high on the hangar doors.I used the same hand help camera and lights.The biplanes wings and struts help to frame the pic.By using the shadows on the floor it helps to enhance the 3D effect.
The old sheet in the carpenters shop window has been pulled back to let some light in and also allows us to see the far wall for the same reason.The windows on the back wall open into a darkened storage area.
The idea here is to get the viewer wondering about what they could be talking about.I have left a space in the grouping to allow the viewer's imagination access to the conversion.Here again the era is around the 1920's when smuggling booze across the border was a popular thing to do.In my mind the mobster is trying to convince the barnstormer to bring some stuff in for him while the corrupt official looks on.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 05, 2011, 02:31:10 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Aerodrome%20Gallery%20pics/Timwestpics3.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 05, 2011, 03:05:25 AM
Here is another pic that I played a bit with in photobucket.Originally in color I wanted to see what it would look like in B&W.
I have used the carpenter's shop as the main source of light and a little overhead light to create shadows on the figures.Depth is achieved by the floorboards with a little added interest created by the light patterns on the floor.
The carpenter's shop is a self-contained unit heated in winter with a wood/coal stove.The door at the far end leads to the dispatch/airmail office.
This downshot was taken when the roof was removed from the main hangar.A lot of my shots are taken while the diorama is underway as it  would be impossible to take them now.
The title of this piece is "Keepers of the Flame" 1918-1927" an era when aviation was struggling to survive commercially.
It is in honor of the risk takers,entrepreneurs&barnstormers,air show men,airmail providers etc...A period in aviation not well known today to the public.
Here the emphasis is on the guy with the tie,a large imposing figure trying to get his point across in a rather intimidating way.He could be the owner,the airport manager or a mobster but he definitely is being listened to.What is he saying? Well that is left up to the viewers imagination.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 06, 2011, 04:38:47 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Aerodrome%20Gallery%20pics/Picture194-1.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 06, 2011, 05:07:29 AM
Here I have mixed a 1/18th scale car with  1/16th figures.I took the pic at a low angle,an upshot, to help conceal the difference.I wanted to see how close I could bring the background figures to the car and still be believable.
The figures are only underpainted and I just let the shadows do the rest.By keeping it slightly out of focus helps a lot too.
The car is a diecast and the figures were only slightly modified.It could be  nighttime but this garage  is very well lit or it could be daytime with the windows facing a dark storage area or in wartime even blacked out.
You could build many stories into this scene but here again it is pretty much left to the viewers imagination.The title is really not necessary.
The secret here is in the composition and sometimes just a slightly cocked head on one figure gives you the impression that the other figure is saying something interesting.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 06, 2011, 05:55:51 PM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Aerodrome%20Gallery%20pics/IMG_2692-1-1-4.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 06, 2011, 06:50:26 PM
Here is a pic that I played with using photobucket.The description of the scene in the pic itself is not really necessary but I thought that I would throw it in.
This is an eye-level 3/4 shot that is probably the easiest to set up.I included a little of the foreground to help add depth to the piece.I wanted the airplane to be the center of attention so I focused on it and left the rest a little blurry.I used overhead artificial mobile lighting in this shot depicting late fall or early winter here in Canada where it can be dark by 4 or 5 in the afternoon.
This airplane is a barnstormer and airshow type  Jenny Canuck being rebuilt after an accident, that is why I painted one wheel red and the other wheel green.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 07, 2011, 03:04:28 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Aerodrome%20Gallery%20pics/Nieuport28June09045-1.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 07, 2011, 03:27:39 AM
I have always loved the "Old Barn" look with the light filtering between the boards.Here I have set up a light outside representing the rising sun.The subject matter could be anything from any era.It is the overall look that I am after,a mood,an atmosphere.
The boards are tongue depressors which are quite thin birch wood so I had to paint the opposite side black.The buildings structure is clear pine which I bought at the local wood store and painted using my "Barnwood Technique".The weathering is acrylics and pastels.
The story in this piece is from WW1,probably somewhere in France around 1917.It is an American temporary summer type hanger with lots of nice fresh air.The "Hat in the Ring" symbol hung on the wall confirms this to a knowledgeable viewer.The ripped out piece of canvas with the bullet holes is an Iron Cross  souvenir tacked to the wall.The aircraft is a Nieuport of French manufacture that was supplied to the Americans during the hostilities.
Depth has been achieved here by the converging lines on the walls ending in a corner of the barn and the tail of the aircraft also resting in the corner.The aircraft wing set up at an angle also helps with this illusion.The light on the wing would indicate where  the barn doors are located or they could be  non existent with just a canvas opening used for protection.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 07, 2011, 03:18:47 PM

The picture that I have titled "Sunrise" is from my 1/16th scale diorama that is now on permanent display in the lobby of the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa Canada.My other three 1/16th dioramas will be on display on the main floor of that same museum some time before Christmas.I hope that you enjoy them. Cheers ! John.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 08, 2011, 01:06:55 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Aerodrome%20Gallery%20pics/Picture412-2.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 08, 2011, 01:58:21 AM
This group of figures was photographed using just the overhead doll house type lighting.This lighting was installed specifically by me for pic taking purposes only as the museum has no way to replace the burnt bulbs.The fixtures themselves look good and I am sure their experts will find another way to light it.From a normal viewing distance and inside a case the figures themselves look OK even in natural light.
As you can see I am no great figure painter but I compensate for this by using the shadows to bring them alive.The faces here were underpainted only and just a small amount of pastels were used for a little shading.Models in a diorama can in my opinion be overpainted. Unlike the stand alone figure that will be picked up and examined very closely my figures are different.They are there to primary help tell a story , mood , atmosphere and composition are of primary importance to me.Here again I have left a space for the viewer to join into the conversation.
The second group of figures are there to add depth to the piece.

A funny thing about eyes,most modelers have trouble painting them ,myself included.My solution ?,don't bother. A strange thing happens when it comes to shadows and eyes.The human eye is so used to seeing eyes on a face that the brain automatically puts them in there for you when you leave them in shadow and at a certain distance.
The keen observer will also notice that I left a little joke in there stuck to the heel of a boot.Could that be what they are laughing about ?

I grew up around fighter pilots from WW2 and flew co-pilot with many of them during their later years.My dad was one of them.The piece is called "Buds" because of the unbreakable bond that exists between fighter pilots of any era.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 09, 2011, 04:16:11 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/IMG_3620-2-1-1.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 09, 2011, 04:37:18 AM
Here is one for the ship modeler guys ! I have included it here for two reasons.One to show what can be done with an ordinary flash light and two making a poster of your work.
This model is in 1/72 scale and it was my first storyboard diorama.It didn't start out that way but the idea developed over time and I had lots of it as this piece took twenty years to build,on and off between woodcarving teaching sessions.
The light is placed low because it is supposed to be sunrise,in harbor and under bare poles.
I won't bore you guys with the storyline ,it is available on the web for those interested.The point here is the lighting.There was absolutely no set up ,the pic was taken with my hand held camera through a plexiglass case in my own darkened living room.
There is a slight tilt to the pic as I wanted the ship to be in a gentle roll.I used the figurehead to put one side of the ship in shadow.The lighted rigging helps to keep things interesting.
The poster was created in photobucket and is very easy to do,just follow the instructions.Believe me if I can do it you can too. O0


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 10, 2011, 04:33:55 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Aerodrome%20Gallery%20pics/Picture090-1-1.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 10, 2011, 04:47:59 AM
Waitin'For The Five-fifteen.
Meet Harley the stationmasters(RR,Airport,Marine ?)faithful buddy as he patiently awaits for some action.
This shot was taken while the office module was under construction.It is a simple shot with the corner of the room used to add a little depth to the scene.Natural light is shining through the windows making some interesting shadows.The ceiling and desk lights are dollhouse fixtures which although they are the wrong scale really doesn't matter a lot because these fixtures come in all sizes in real life.Keep this in mind when mixing scales and you will be surprised how much is available to the diorama maker in any scale.
A good storyboard diorama or vignette does not really require a title,in  fact it is always best to let the views imagination fill in the rest.You can hint at an historical era with a few accessories like the clipboards ,door hardware or the old oil lamp sitting on the table.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 11, 2011, 05:36:43 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Auto%20fixed%20pics/Autofixedpics-1.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 16, 2011, 05:39:05 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Aerodrome%20Gallery%20pics/Picture213-1-1.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 16, 2011, 05:54:20 AM
Here is a very simple composition that anyone could do,you don't even have to be a good face painter.A title,for the average viewer is in this case is not even required.I added it for the very young viewer who might be confused as to what he is looking at.He has enough to take in with  the present to give much time to thinking about the future.
Most of this is made with coffee stiks and ordinary cardboard from the back of writing pads.The cans are the metal part of old pencil erasers.The spark plug sign gives us a rough idea of the era involved.The human's thinking is ageless.The disappearing horizon is the key to this storyboard vignette.
Even if your model looks like a model as in this case it is not important as the story itself and the emotion of the viewer is what we are after here .Anyone who walks into a movie house or live theater expects to suspend their disbelief for awhile,same thing for scale models.Just think story first ! O0


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 21, 2011, 04:20:57 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Aerodrome%20Gallery%20pics/Picture746-1-1-1.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 21, 2011, 05:44:30 AM
I enjoy taking shots from outside a room which leads to another room.It is an easy way to engage your viewers imagination in what may be just beyond the door.Framing your shot using a window or doorway is a nice Sergio technique that I picked up from watching his movies.
In this scene there are no figures and none are really required,in fact figures would actually spoil it.Here again let your viewer fill in the blanks for him or herself.If you were standing at this doorway what would come to mind ? It makes me think that someone has just stepped out of the shop for a minute and you can expect his return at any time.You are almost tempted to say "hey Slim ! where are you ?" The shop is warm and inviting but outside it is dark and slightly mysterious.This stark contrast is what I am looking for here to emotionally connect the viewer with the piece.
Being slightly out of focus gives the piece added atmosphere of dust ,haze or smoke in the air.I have used the corner of the room to give depth to the piece.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 22, 2011, 05:58:32 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Aerodrome%20Gallery%20pics/Picture691-1.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 22, 2011, 06:26:59 AM
This is something a little different ,a birds eye view of the same area that I dressed up a bit in photobucket.
The floor makes for an interesting background.I left it a little clean for a shop floor because I liked the pattern and ah what the hell they may have just changed it recently anyway(artistic license)You will notice with this composition that I have not lined up anything in rows or 90 deg to one another .This is a good general rule but in this case almost an necessity because of the uniform floor pattern.
The theme is common to any engine shop or genre of modeling and the era could be old or modern,unless you can read the newspapers on the floor ! ;)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 23, 2011, 05:45:42 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Aerodrome%20Gallery%20pics/107-0710_IMG-2.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 23, 2011, 06:31:45 AM
In this pic I used just the interior lighting of the doll house bulbs which was installed especially for my own picture taking purposes.This is a vignette taken from a much larger diorama while it was under construction.It is a good idea to arrange small vignettes like this while you still have easy access to the shot that you are after.
There is no doubt here what the main subject matter is,the airplane under construction.Here is enough here to keep the viewer interested without using a strong storyline.I like my figures in relaxed poses where the viewer really doesn't expect a lot of movement.The only thing moving here would be their mouths in conversation about something which is left up to the viewers imagination.

The airplane is purposely off center and here again I have used the left wall and corner to add a third dimension.The colors are selected for harmony red,green,gray and earth tones.I make it easy on myself and use tube colors rather than mixing my own like I did when painting birds.Various tones can be achieved later using pastels if you like.
It is not always necessary to complete everything for example I wanted the viewer to know what type of construction was used on the fuselage, so I showed only one plywood panel being installed on the far side and out of the way of the framing.
For those unfamiliar with old aircraft construction it was normal practice to put the open structure together for fitting and preliminary rigging purposes,disassemble it and then it would be reassembled after the fabric and plywood was installed on each mayor component.Finally it would be re-rigged and adjusted for flight.It is depicted here in flying position and the tail is resting on a stand.
The important thing here is not the subject matter but the composition.Anything that you could build in an old barn ship,car,stagecoach whatever could be the center of attention.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 24, 2011, 06:33:04 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Cheap%20shots/Cheapshots001.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 24, 2011, 06:54:07 AM
Just about all of my shots that create a lot of shadows and other dramatic effects were taken in a darkened room using this simple hand held light.I hold my camera in one hand and move this light around until I get the shot I am looking for.I experiment with different watts and types,soft cool etc....You could put it on a simple rheostat of course but I just change bulbs.Don't be afraid to break all the so-called rules of picture taking,there really are none just new ways waiting to be discovered .Point and shoot ,erase,point and shoot again the only cost to you is your time.
Because my dioramas are large and heavy natural lighting in most cases has not been possible for me so I have had to find a way around the problem and create my own style which is kind of an artificial stage type lighting.I experiment with everything and mix all types of lighting together and see what I can come up with.Try bouncing light off the ceiling or walls or use card.A simple Kleenex type paper( in various layers )over a flashlight can make a nice filter for pin point shots.Etc..etc
Try whatever comes to mind and you may surprise yourself with your own creativity.
I will post some shots and try to remember what I used to light them as I go along.Some shots are pure luck and even I couldn't duplicate them if I wanted to.Bottom line is to have fun and please yourself,it is your hobby and there are really no wrong ways of doing things anyway.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 25, 2011, 03:50:57 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Aerodrome%20Gallery%20pics/Picture356-1.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 25, 2011, 04:46:57 AM
Here is a little vignette that I set up while the larger diorama was under construction.I wanted to capture the look of fear in the face of the figure yet at the same time project a kind of defiant pose of bravado against the unknown.
Overhead lighting can be used very effectively to your advantage.The face has been underpainted a flesh color only with no other detail painted on ,it is  the lighting alone that is used to bring it to life.
I used one overhead doll house bulb to light the doorway and another inside the office.The pic was taken in a darkened room with the camera on auto.Except for the face I wanted the rest to be out of focus.The sign above the door has been cut off as I didn't want it to become a center of attention.An old classic car with its drivers side door left open was used in the foreground.The rest of the story is left up to the viewers imagination.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 26, 2011, 04:52:10 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Aerodrome%20Gallery%20pics/Albcrashedinbackyard010-1.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 26, 2011, 05:19:46 AM
This is very unusual subject matter but interesting nonetheless.Even wreckage and junk can be interesting to look at.This pic was taken outdoors in natural light and converted to B&W.The title comes from an old pilots saying "any landing is a good landing as long as you can walk away from it".
I blurred the edges of the pic to concentrate the viewers attention on the cockpit area.It is an upshot of an upside down WW1 biplane fuselage with trees from my backyard in the background.The camera was hand held and set at auto with a little magnification.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 27, 2011, 06:13:06 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Aerodrome%20Gallery%20pics/IMG_2553-1.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on September 27, 2011, 12:14:44 PM
The car in the weeds is a 1/16th scale plastic kit that I weathered and stuck in the corner of a building.An interesting feature here is the brush.It is something my Huskey dog chewed on years ago and was left outside in the mud.The bristles weathered as you see them here and look quite natural as old dead grass.Nothing has been airbrushed,it is flat acrylics and pastels only.Here again I used a corner to add depth to the piece.The siding is called board and batten and is painted like barn siding.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on October 01, 2011, 07:03:09 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Aerodrome%20Gallery%20pics/Galleryspycam.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on October 01, 2011, 07:53:53 AM
Here is a fun shot through one of the windows.The lighting is dollhouse from fixtures in the rafters above.Unfortunately these shots will never be available again and were taken during construction of the larger diorama.The interior lighting will be impossible to maintain in a museum setting which is too bad but at least I have the pics.
This downshot uses the flooring to advantage for a 3D effect.There are a lot of square shapes in this piece so I took the pic at an angle to make it more interesting.I got lucky with the depth of field as my camera set this up automatically.Each pane of glass has its own reflective surface and is quite clear considering the problems usually involved when shooting through glass.It is high quality plexiglass with little or no distortion.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on October 02, 2011, 03:37:00 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Aerodrome%20Gallery%20pics/Engshoplighting005-1-1.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on October 02, 2011, 04:12:02 AM
Smoky and dusty with filtered light,your typical 1920's workshop.The pin up girl is Mary Pickford,a Canadian girl that went on to fame and fortune in Hollywood.Under the other light is Harley the company mascot sitting in the cockpit of a Jenny Canuck biplane.The darkened area beyond could lead to another room or to an outside porch.
If I knew how to do it I would tone down the shiny hinge on the door as it attracts too much attention for my liking.This is another shot that I took when the diorama was under construction,there is an exterior wall where the camera is now positioned.I have again used the rooms corner and the open door and slanted window for increased depth.The lighting is again dollhouse with real bulbs screwed into in a modified Christmas bell type fixture.In this case out of focus is a good thing.The open window  set at an angle adds a little interest and suggests maybe a hot and humid summer evening..


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on October 02, 2011, 10:35:15 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Victory%20book/Victorybowsprit001-1.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on October 02, 2011, 11:01:08 AM
I took a series of pics of my 1/72 scale HMS Victory as it sits in a case in my home.These pics were taken in a darkened room through a plexiglass case using nothing more than my camera on auto,a flashlight on a stand and  a sheet of  kleenex for a filter.By playing with the light and camera angles I could get specific shots of areas of the ship that I could get no other way.Here is my fancy set up:


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on October 02, 2011, 11:32:47 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Victory%20book/Vicpic003.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on October 02, 2011, 03:42:47 PM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Carpenters%20Shop%20dio3/Jennyunpub484.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on October 04, 2011, 04:00:00 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Aerodrome%20Gallery%20pics/IMG_2916-1.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on October 04, 2011, 05:13:43 AM
Here is another little composition that was made up of different elements temporarily brought together.The Model T on the left is actually a diecast and the one on the right a plastic kit.
I enjoy doing relaxed poses where a lot of movement is not really expected.A driver catching a few rays of spring sunshine while waiting for the mail to arrive.The signs above the window gives us only a few hints about the storyline.
The open door into another room ,the corner,the car pointing inwards all help to add depth to the piece.The colors of green,red , gray and various earth tones harmonize well with each other.

The pic before this one is of the various parts required for one overhead light assembly.I had to make about 30 of them for this one diorama and wire them all together just for my own picture taking purposes.It will never be lit this way again.
I will however send a copy of the pics to the museum to show them how it was originally intended to look when I built it.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on October 04, 2011, 05:39:30 AM
Deleted


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on October 04, 2011, 12:59:31 PM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Aerodrome%20Gallery%20pics/Albatrosfinalassembly043-1.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on October 05, 2011, 07:12:33 AM
Sometimes I just enjoy taking pics of just nothing in particular such as this shot.The lines and shapes themselves can be interesting.Yes sawdust can create floors but it can also create airplanes.I wonder what this next board on the pile will become ?


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on October 08, 2011, 03:37:20 AM
Lighting my way.
I believe that if you want old style lighting that looks like old style lighting in miniature, then that is exactly what you must try to reproduce, old style lighting in a miniature setting.Yes wiring,bulbs and fixtures just like they used to be.For my own work I have gone far out of my way to try to reproduce that look even though  if as it turns out now it was only for my camera.My dioramas were never built for museum purposes although in the end it turned out that way.
I have always had a thing for creating moods or atmosphere using lighting ,I don't  know why but it has always been there for as long as I can remember.
About fifteen years ago when I first looked into the subject for lighting my first diorama I relied upon the RR guys at my hobby store for basic information so I used RR type locomotive headlights for bulbs.I had no idea about the doll house scene at that time and their much easier ways of doing things,so I came up with my own handmade wiring plan.It was a nightmare but suffice it to say I did get it working using a train transformer as a rheostat.
I never took many pics back then so I won't even bother trying to explain how it worked.

The next diorama was simplicity itself .I took two five watt Christmas lights for internal lighting and lit the rest from outside using my hand held ,handy dandy reading light to create a barn like type setting.(see pic)

The third diorama I went back to overhead lighting using fixtures,about 35 or so in all.Each one hand made using  Radio
Shack type wiring and doll house type bulbs this time but again using a train transformer which of course was overloaded so it had the nasty habit of turning all  the lights  out after about ten minutes.For my picture taking purposes I really didn't need them all on at once anyway.

The fourth diorama,an outdoor scene has no lighting at all so far although I am planning  a little lighting in the individual rooms behind the brick facade probably using LEDs.

For the most part I am happy with the way it turned out for my own  picture taking purposes, which is really why I did it this way in the first place.If I had used todays more modern ways of doing things I just don't think that it would have ended up looking the same somehow.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on October 08, 2011, 08:27:10 AM
In the spirit of "a picture is worth a thousand words"I have started a new album in my photobucket site titled "Lighting" for those interested in how easy it is to obtain different lighting effects when using my method for taking pictures.Remember all it takes is a hand held camera with a stabilized lens and set on auto , a hand held light with changeable bulbs and
most importantly your own individual creativity.Have fun !


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on October 08, 2011, 08:48:54 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Lighting/Albatrosfinalpics031-1-1-1-1.jpg)
sample pic


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on October 10, 2011, 03:40:34 AM
You know sometimes ignorance can serve you well in the end.Looking back now I realize that I would never have gone to all the trouble of using RR or old dollhouse lighting methods if I had known at the time that there were a lot easier ways of doing things.But I am convinced that LED's etc... just wouldn't have given me the same results.I would have lit my stuff for the museum and not for the camera, no question about it.It is a lot like film making once it is shot and in the can that's it.It is the image that is important not the diorama or movie set.It is all about capturing a moment in time.Things may constantly change but( for awhile )the camera has stopped time.Sure in time the image will get old and deteriorate and go the way of all things but for  a brief instant time appears to have stopped.Therein lies the magic !


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on October 29, 2011, 04:00:18 PM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/The%20General/th_281011039.jpg) (http://s6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/The%20General/?action=view&current=281011039.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on October 29, 2011, 04:09:22 PM
Finding good camera angles is always a challenge when trying to compose a great shot.Sergio was famous for his integrate compositions that looked very simple but were actually planned down to the smallest detail.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on November 05, 2011, 02:49:43 AM
I was out shopping yesterday and was very impressed with all the various types of LED's now on the market.Because these lights run cool and most acrylic paint is transparent to varying degrees ,it may be worth experimenting a bit with creating mood lighting using a painted bulb technique.The only problem I can foresee is getting the paint to stick to the bulb permanently.
I will try experimenting with a transparent undercoat or maybe even a little fine sanding of the bulb itself and see what happens.
Man,if it works,I wish that I had this option ten years ago when lighting the inside of my structures.
The other option would be to borrow them back from the museum and re-wire them here at home using LED's, as I really would like to have them displayed as they were intended to be when I built them.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on November 08, 2011, 11:00:47 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/The%20General/th_281011018-1.jpg) (http://s6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/The%20General/?action=view&current=281011018-1.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on November 08, 2011, 02:13:41 PM
This pic was taken using the facade of my latest airplane diorama.By positioning the camera just right (no tracks) I can create a whole different scene and use different subject matter as the primary subject,in this case a locomotive that I am building for a "Far West" diorama that I have underway at this time.The locomotive is 1/24 scale and the facade is 1/16th.

For those who may be interested,I was told yesterday the the cases were already built and are awaiting their glass tops and all three should be on display before Christmas.The fourth one is finished but as you can see but I am using it now for photography purposes before sending it along too. O0


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on November 08, 2011, 05:18:23 PM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/B%20and%20W%20Pics/281011018-1-1-1-1.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on November 11, 2011, 06:43:06 AM
Building your own facades or backdrops are really easy  things to do using materials that are usually  available to most of us.They are quite cheap to build and require only hand tools to make.

Glue,cardboard,tongue depressors , coffee stir sticks or small scale scale  lumber is all you need.The core could be plywood ,cardboard or foamboard or whatever, as long as it is easy to cut,and does not warp with the use of water based materials like carpenters glue(white or yellow) and acrylic paint.

You will need a flat surface to work on and lots of #11 Xacto blades (changed on a regular basis) and your basic core material to start with.You will want to be able to easily change your design as you go along ,if you wish to.Save all cutouts from doors or windows etc... to use as perfect patches if required.I just usually tape any mistakes over using the patches,because these  basic shapes only act as a easily worked flexible core for any brick or wood sheathing.The actual strength will be in the sheathing material you put on or your basic framing.

Before starting I will usually make a small scale complete structure,walls and roof etc ,using cardboard or thick paper.It doesn't have to be to any exact scale as it is only something that is used to stimulate your imagination or work out a final composition.If you want to build it to scale then that is OK too as you then will be able to take direct measurements for the scaled up version.

I will be using lots of pics to illustrate how I do things and as little text as possible ,I find long texts can be boring .

Well here goes ! I hope that you guys enjoy it.The thread will probably end up a little long so please just bypass it if you don't want to read it.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on November 11, 2011, 02:52:44 PM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Diorama%20%205%20%20Backyard%20Flyer/Backyard%20Flyer%20page%202/Backyardflyer816-2.jpg)
"Lest we Forget"


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on November 12, 2011, 03:41:20 AM

Note: first a little of that boring text that I talked about !
Saving Picture References.

For those who may want to permanently  save pics or text ,what I have done in the past is just simply save it to my camera.Simply darken the room,set the camera on auto and use a little of the telescopic function to remove any distortion .The quality of the pic will suffer a bit but for our purposes here it will be sufficient. You could of course always save it to your computer the normal way.
Why bother ? you may want it for future reference and I often lose my pics on photobucket when I change anything.Example,whole albums can be lost if I change album names or when switching pics between albums.It is also easy to do and cheap and saves room on your computer.I have in the past copied whole books this way.
It is also sometimes nice to have a hard copy of an example of what you  are trying to do right there at your workbench.Sometimes changing them to B & W also helps to get away from all the color distraction as well,especially when looking for shapes and patterns.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on January 22, 2012, 08:35:53 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Old%20farts%20like%20me/th_Stayinalive-1.jpg) (http://s6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Old%20farts%20like%20me/?action=view&current=Stayinalive-1.jpg)
Click on thumbnail ! Sorry guys I just couldn't resist.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on May 24, 2012, 04:26:31 AM
Hi guys ! I haven't been posting much recently as I am trying to finish up my fourth and final diorama commitment that I made to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum to have it finished before October of this year.Thing are going so well that I should be finished earlier than I planned.
I am getting anxious to get back to the RR diorama for a much needed change then on to the Bleriot/Falcon sculpture after that.
Right now I want to post a few pictures of a neat way of taking pictures of water scenes involving any type of modeling .It could be used for any model that passes on,by,over or through a water environment.I will post a few pictures I took the other day as examples,and later I will explain how it was done.


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on May 25, 2012, 06:05:43 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Diorama%20%205%20%20The%20Homecoming/The%20Homecoming%20page%203/TheHomecoming097.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on May 26, 2012, 05:50:32 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Diorama%20%205%20%20The%20Homecoming/The%20Homecoming%20page%203/TheHomecoming118.jpg)


Title: Re: How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you.
Post by: JohnReid on May 27, 2012, 05:05:19 AM
(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y250/JohnReid/Diorama%20%205%20%20The%20Homecoming/The%20Homecoming%20page%203/TheHomecoming119.jpg)