How to photograph awkward corners of your layout...

TwinDad Apr 16, 2010

  1. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Member

    Step 1: Insert trained octopus...


    OK, seriously. The realization that the nicely modeled back side of my layout is going to be hard to reach for photographs unless I pull the darn thing off the shelf and remove the backdrop every time has me wondering...

    What techniques or tools do you use to get those shots where it's difficult to get the camera into position?
  2. ratled

    ratled TrainBoard Supporter

    I remember an article years ago, unknown which magazine, might have been Lou Sassi, and he used a mirror. About 12" x 12" and adjust the angle as needed. Just remember to "flip" the digital image since it will backwards
  3. COverton

    COverton TrainBoard Member

    I use blocks of styrofoam, often topped by shims or a small bag of fine ground foam scenery material. I'll use small boxes, the kind that a wall wart might come in. I use thin blocks of wood. Or just the bag of ground foam itself. The auto-timer is set to 10 seconds, I do the auto-focus depressing the shutter button halfway, and then set the camera in place. I trip the shutter and the camera settles onto the bag over the next several seconds. By the time 10 seconds are up, the camera is largely still, and the shutter speed and light combination takes care of any movement.
  4. river_eagle

    river_eagle TrainBoard Member

    a quick, easy one;
    fill a ziploc sandwich bag just over 3/4 full with cheerios..., dry beans, granola, nuts, rice, or any other small, smooth, roundish item, seal and use it like a bean bag to support camera. it will support camera in almost any angle and mold over almost any terrain.
    I tend to go for the cereal, nuts, granola ready to eat stuff because it doubles as a snack when done with pics, especially when rail fanning in remote locations
  5. Wolfgang Dudler

    Wolfgang Dudler Passed away August 25, 2012 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

  6. Benny

    Benny TrainBoard Member

    I've learned a bit about this on my last I start by thinking about the scenes as they will apper while I'm in the paper phase - it makes design a little trickier, but that's my favorite part of the layout building process - the Logic Puzzle process of designing a layout!
  7. maxairedale

    maxairedale TrainBoard Member

    I've got a 6 inch or so tripod.


    as well as other techniques that have been already stated. But most of the time I set the camera on the layout and use the delayed exposure feature, or use the remote so that camera movement is to the minimum.

    Please note that camera in the photo is just a prop for this photo.[​IMG]

    Attached Files:

  8. patrickrea

    patrickrea TrainBoard Member

    As a remote for my Pentax ist-DL, I converted a Kodak slide projector remote ( you know the one with forward, reverse and focus buttons on a cord). I use the forward button for the autofocus, the back button as the shutter release. I converted the Kodak connector to a 1/8" connector which I can then extend easily. Pop the camera onto a Gorilla Pod and it'll go anywhere.
  9. Fotheringill

    Fotheringill Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    All of the above. The mirror works, but it is tricky to get the right angle.

    There are many, many commercial tripods available, from bean bag to mini tripods. I have them, and I have to say, the beanbag type seems to suit my needs better than the mini tripod. Of course, it still must be angled and secured with shims of wood or foam and that brings us back to the above posters who do that for the camera without the commercial products.

    For the tripod, depending on how busy your layout is, most of the time only two of the three legs will be in use. The tripod spread out on all three legs always seems to hit a structure or a hill or something that will not give me a squared frame for the shot.
  10. Powersteamguy1790

    Powersteamguy1790 Permanently dispatched

    I just use a tripod with a macro lens on my Nikon DSLR.
  11. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    What Hollywood does is build houses with easily removable walls.
  12. Mike Sheridan

    Mike Sheridan TrainBoard Member

    and has me wondering ... why you nicely modeled the back side at all? :)
    Extending Kenneth's post above, Hollywood certainly doesn't build the bits out of sight ...
  13. Benny

    Benny TrainBoard Member

    We all do it the first couple of times, mike! ;)
  14. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Member

    Very good point. Seriously, why? It's a really tiny layout, and I wanted to cram every square inch of scenery practice I could out of it.

    Plus, it will spend part of its time as a display layout where those "back side" parts will be easily visible to humans. But still tricky to get "trackside" photos with the camera.

    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!
  15. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Here is a mirror photo. First is the mirror in place and tilted toward you to get the apparent lower angle. Then the same photo after being cropped and rotated to give the apparent near ground level appearance.

    Mirror in place.

    Cropped and slightly rotated photo.

    BTW, this is H0 scale and this portion of the layout is about 12 inches deep.
  16. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Member


    Thanks, Flash.

    In two shots you show both the "how to" and the end effect. I appreciate it.

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