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General Ship Modeling
Discuss modeling techniques, experiences, and ship modeling in general.
Photography Basics for Modeling
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Pennsylvania, United States
Joined: July 13, 2004
KitMaker: 6,705 posts
Armorama: 713 posts
Posted: Monday, June 02, 2008 - 09:46 PM UTC
Ahoy mates!

MSW Associate Editor Frank Portela (Clanky44) gives us a "Photography 101" course with this MSW look at how to take better photos of your models!

For the members who are participating in the "MSW Community Build" contest, this will be utmost to your benefit, as your entry will be judged by your images, so the better the image, the better chance of getting your maximum monthly scores...


Link to Item

If you have comments or questions please post them here.

Thanks Frank!
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Joined: July 03, 2007
KitMaker: 3,529 posts
Armorama: 588 posts
Posted: Tuesday, June 03, 2008 - 01:03 AM UTC
Great job Frank.

Now if I only had my camera here to give it a try.

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New Jersey, United States
Joined: October 18, 2007
KitMaker: 1,698 posts
Armorama: 45 posts
Posted: Tuesday, June 03, 2008 - 06:37 AM UTC
very useful for the MSW COMM build contest (and in general!). Thanks for posting!
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Louisiana, United States
Joined: April 13, 2005
KitMaker: 5,422 posts
Armorama: 25 posts
Posted: Tuesday, June 03, 2008 - 12:16 PM UTC
Very educational Frank. Thank you very much.

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South Australia, Australia
Joined: March 28, 2005
KitMaker: 353 posts
Armorama: 5 posts
Posted: Wednesday, June 04, 2008 - 01:29 AM UTC
Nice article. I often fall into the trap (in many subjects) of "yeah-yeah, i know the basics" but don't always apply them!

I tried shooting something outside, and my first set, against the brick of the garage, worked well for the model - nice overcast day, shots good, background terrible! Next time I used a sheet, but it was so reflective it caused all pix to be dark! Lighting is so important!

Nice shots, nice models, and nice camera! Thanks for the great info.
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Missouri, United States
Joined: March 30, 2002
KitMaker: 2,605 posts
Armorama: 1,814 posts
Posted: Wednesday, June 04, 2008 - 01:53 AM UTC
What an absolutely fabulous article. Thank you for taking the time to do this. I just submitted some photos a few days ago and after reading your article I now know what I had done wrong.

You have answered many questions I had and filled in some blanks for me.

Thank you again..... Now, I have to reshoot all of my pictures.
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Ontario, Canada
Joined: September 15, 2005
KitMaker: 1,901 posts
Armorama: 553 posts
Posted: Wednesday, June 04, 2008 - 09:12 AM UTC
Thanks for the comments,

Please do not get the idea that I'm camera savy, I myself had to reshoot at least a third of the photos I took for this article! and I'm constantly fighting to get good lighting conditions in my little studio, it's a constant struggle taking photos. This is one of the joys of the digital era, if it doesn't work the first time, delete and try again.


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United States
Joined: May 05, 2003
KitMaker: 50 posts
Armorama: 34 posts
Posted: Monday, June 09, 2008 - 01:55 AM UTC
Hey Frank,

Thanks for taking the time to write & illustrate your article! It's always good to get someone's experiences distilled down to an easy-to-read story.

I was wondering about two things, mainly with regard to the photos: In your section about lighting, you have the 2 photos, but could you tell us with which kind of lighting each was taken with? In my past, I've taken slide pictures under fluorescent lighting, and they had a decidedly green tint to them!

The other thing, with regard to the photos about using some colored sheeting for a background: the 2 photos of the Zero (it is a Zero, isn't it?) have such different colors with the use of different colored sheets - is that just my perception that the colors are that different, or were some different settings used on your camera to cause that?

Ok, I'm done with the nit-picky stuff!!!!

A thing that I find helpful in framing the photo, is to set-up the model, and set-up the camera, then just study the picture that I see in the viewfinder. This way, I can see if anything unwanted is within the frame, or if the background "works", or even if the whole "look" captures the feeling I'm trying to convey. I find the extra minutes taken to do this is very worthwhile.

And you're right about reading your owner's manual - there is a wealth of info in there! One should study the book, and then study it some more.

Again, thanks for the write-up.

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Ontario, Canada
Joined: September 15, 2005
KitMaker: 1,901 posts
Armorama: 553 posts
Posted: Monday, June 09, 2008 - 12:44 PM UTC
Welcome to Model Shipwrights Timothy,

I'm glad you found the article of use. Regarding the lighting used, I use my flash unit with two flourescent bulbs to either side to diminish the shadows. The flourescent bulbs are 5000K true daylight 26W/110-130V, Lumen:1600. As far as the Zero photos, the colours are the same, it's the background that gives the different colour perception.


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Scotland, United Kingdom
Joined: May 25, 2005
KitMaker: 2,218 posts
Armorama: 1,050 posts
Posted: Monday, June 09, 2008 - 01:01 PM UTC
Thank you Frank!

Two completely seperate hobbies that complement each other and can make or break!

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South Australia, Australia
Joined: March 28, 2005
KitMaker: 353 posts
Armorama: 5 posts
Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2008 - 02:30 AM UTC
I'm just gonna throw this in as a general comment - I've noticed that digital cameras have excellent (EXCELLENT!!!) color repro (if bright light). Kodak film was always magenta, esp in dark, Fuji Green, Agfa orange, but digital, with be enough light, is "spot on."

Interesting comments about bgs, I used a white sheet and it threw the light meter way out, everything came out dark, a blue sheet a little better but not much, and I can see too much and it would start to throw color.
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Texas, United States
Joined: February 18, 2008
KitMaker: 11 posts
Armorama: 0 posts
Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2008 - 10:40 AM UTC
That was a very informative article. Many thanks for posting it. Hopefully mine and other's photos can improve using some of your information in mind.

Raul Guzman Jr.
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Lisboa, Portugal
Joined: February 28, 2002
KitMaker: 5,182 posts
Armorama: 761 posts
Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2008 - 04:27 AM UTC
Hi Frank

You know my thoughts about this feature, but I'll share it with the rest of the crew: Excellent!
Thanks for taking your time to do it!


To Wink

The background color you use will have influence on the model own color... as is the lighting.
A medium blue works for me, but I also like to see (some) models over white background - but depends on the model: a single airplane or a AFV without a base - not a ship