your craftsmanship and work on a model, for years and generations
to come is important. Photographs are a great way to create
images to share your projects, both online and off.
I'm not a photographer per se', I do like to take photos of my
models, and it's neccessary when I write my
books and magazines. I moved onto digital many years ago.
I now use a camera that has the ability to take images as low
as one centimeter away.
not an expert on cameras or even taking pictures, but I know what
has worked for me, especially when trying to photograph a model.
I build all kinds of models, large and small, from cars to spaceships,
and through trial and error, I've come to use what's familiar
Table Top Lights - The smaller tabletop LED lights are what
I usually use today. I use2, 3, or 4 of them at a time. They produce
a very bright light which highlights all the areas of the models.
Positioning these lights around the model helps keep the shadows
at a minimum. This is what you want because a dark shadow will
obscure any details on the model. I typically use one on the left
and right, and I have another that shines down from an elevated
point (from atop a cardboard box in my case).
kinds of models and paint colors may require different positions,
so they are easy to move around and try different ways. If you
have any glass, a car windshield or aircraft cockpit canopy, you
want to try and minimize the lights reflecting off those when
you can in a photo.
Lights - I do use a pair of these now and then, especially
if the model is large. I still use the Tabletop lights, but to
get a softer and more even light across the model, I use them
Tripods - A tripod helps steady a camera so you get a clear
shot. The closer you get to a model to take a photo, the more
likely there will be even the slightest hand movemnet. This gets
amplified in an image and you end up with a fuzzy picture. A tripod
keeps the camera steady, much better than holding it in your hand
freely. Tripods come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. I use a
small cheap one, nothing fancy.
many smart phones take very high resolution images, better than
many digital cameras on the market. But you still want to use
a tripod when you can. A steady phone will give you better results.
Backgrounds - I've tried many types of backgrounds, from many
types of materials. Today I use a simple photography white cloth
background sheet. It was originally around 6 x 9 feet. but I cut
it in half, and use a bench table to lay it on and prop it in
the back to have a seamless horizon. There really aren't any small
sheets, and the larger ones can easily be cut with scissors. Plus,
if you cut it in half, you have an extra one in case someting
happens to the first half you're using. They are inexpensive,
so you mght as well get the large ones.
you get any wrinkles in the cloth (and you will if you move it
around a lot), a common clothing
iron and some misted
water will take of those.
you will see "photography booths". With the internet
and eCommerce everywhere, these are very common for photographing
small objects to put on a website. I have never tried one, but
my feeling is they are to small for models (unless you're building
only 28mm Warcraft figures), and they are limited when it comes
to lighting possibilities. I feel that one light position doesn't
work on all models. So, these might be great for web shots of
a watch or jewelry, but not really models. I'm sure there are
modelers that use them, you'll have to judge if they fit your
photo needs or not.
use white as a background for most photos. However, I occasionally
photograph spaceships (and some white painted models) that require
a black background. I've tried many things over the years, but
I've had the best resuts with black
velvet cloth. I doesn't reflect any light, unless you get
a wrinkle in it, and it's easy to remove any artifacts in a photo
with Photoshop (but that's rarely needed).
and White Display Boards - These are very handy, especially
for quick photos. I just lay them on the white cloth, position
the model, setup my lights, and take a picture. For the white
one it provides a wrinkle free base to work from. The black one
has a matte side, and the other side is glossy, almost like a
black mirror. These are especially useful for very close up photos
of model parts, or images of aircraft cockpits or a car model
engine bay. Lighting can be tricky on the gloss black side because
it will reflect your lighting just like a mirror, so you have
to position the model and your camera angle to avoid that, but
it's easily done.
about it for the basics for taking images of your models. You
don't need to spend thousands of dollars to get good photos. You
can do that of course, but there's nothing wrong with saving a
few dollars here and there as well.
- I'm not a camera expert. But if you buy a new camera, you need
to make sure it can take close-up photos. Always check the technical
details. How close can you get to take a clear photo?
you already take images with your cell phone, just take a few
minutes to try different distances and see what works.
Photos Look Better on your Computer - There's no doubt that
software to enhance a photo is great. There are many kinds of
software to help, and most people use whatever they are comfortable
with. Obviously Photoshop is the best and well known choice. That
doesn't mean you have to spend hundreds of dollars for Photoshop.
There are two kinds. The full blown expensive Photoshop,
which usually requires a subscription, and the smaller version,
which is Photoshop Elements.
major difference? Photoshop Elements doesn't do CMYK, which is
what printers need (to make posters, magazines, etc). It will
do RGB which is digital and web based graphics. So if you're not
going to be picky about printing graphics, and most of your photos
will be digital and on a computer / cell phone, ie. digital, then
go for the (much) less expensive version. I have Elements and
have never had an issue with it, and it hasn't been much different
than the full blown versions I've used for years (since verson
4.0!), so it's something to think about.
is what I typically use above most of the time. If a model is
bigger, I use a larger box for the rear light and the horizon,
and unfold the cloth sheet wider to accomodate the larger / longer
model. The umbrella lights are behind me (when I took this photo)
, and I just turn them on and bring them forward when they are
is conveniant for me, as it doesn't take up much space, and when
I want to take a photo I can do it right away. I leave it set
up all the time as it is.