How to Photograph Your Models at little cost to you

John W Reid Sep 1, 2011

  1. John W Reid

    John W Reid TrainBoard Member

    551
    14
    15
  2. John W Reid

    John W Reid TrainBoard Member

    551
    14
    15
    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:
     
  3. John W Reid

    John W Reid TrainBoard Member

    551
    14
    15
  4. John W Reid

    John W Reid TrainBoard Member

    551
    14
    15
  5. John W Reid

    John W Reid TrainBoard Member

    551
    14
    15
  6. John W Reid

    John W Reid TrainBoard Member

    551
    14
    15
    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.
     
  7. John W Reid

    John W Reid TrainBoard Member

    551
    14
    15
  8. John W Reid

    John W Reid TrainBoard Member

    551
    14
    15
    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 ?
     
  9. John W Reid

    John W Reid TrainBoard Member

    551
    14
    15
    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.
     
  10. John W Reid

    John W Reid TrainBoard Member

    551
    14
    15
    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 !
     
  11. John W Reid

    John W Reid TrainBoard Member

    551
    14
    15
    [​IMG]
    Sample pic.
     
  12. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    63,476
    10,468
    652
    I sure can recall working in yellow shop lighting such as this, many years ago.
     
  13. John W Reid

    John W Reid TrainBoard Member

    551
    14
    15
    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 !
     
  14. John W Reid

    John W Reid TrainBoard Member

    551
    14
    15
    I was wondering has anyone here had a problem with allergies and super glue ? I have had some problems in the past with the fumes but lately it seems to be getting worse.I am very careful about exiting the fumes outdoors but just handling the stuff now seems to be a problem and of course there is always some fume residue lurking around.I have been using it for years but lately the symptoms seem to be getting more troublesome with even some skin reactions involved.Filters and masks don't work either.
    I love my hobby but I don't want to croak because of it.
    Is there a good substitute for ca ? something that sets up quickly but is not too toxic ?
     
  15. John W Reid

    John W Reid TrainBoard Member

    551
    14
    15
    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.
     
  16. John W Reid

    John W Reid TrainBoard Member

    551
    14
    15
  17. John W Reid

    John W Reid TrainBoard Member

    551
    14
    15
    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.
     
  18. John W Reid

    John W Reid TrainBoard Member

    551
    14
    15
    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.Cheers ! John.
     
  19. John W Reid

    John W Reid TrainBoard Member

    551
    14
    15
    [​IMG]
    Lest We Forget
     
  20. John W Reid

    John W Reid TrainBoard Member

    551
    14
    15
    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.
     

Share This Page