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 Mini Seamless backdrop for Model Photography
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Author Previous Topic: The Gallery: February 2009 Yards & Sidings Topic Next Topic: Real Antique Photography
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railphotog
Fireman



Posted - 02/22/2009 :  5:52:32 PM  Show Profile  Visit railphotog's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Offering a suggestion for tabletop model photography. In case I have to make some corrections or edits, I'll continue in thr following message.

Bob Boudreau
My model railroad photography website:
http://sites.google.com/site/railphotog/

Country: Canada | Posts: 4027

railphotog
Fireman



Posted - 02/22/2009 :  6:13:04 PM  Show Profile  Visit railphotog's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Back again!

For "serious" model photography and larger items, I have a setup just for it - a posing table, wall painted dark blue with clouds, incandescent and quartz halogen photo lights:



But this setup has some drawbacks - have to set up the lights, heat from the lights, etc., and is often way more than I need/want.

A while ago needing a quick photo I set up a sheet of white bristol board on my workbench (in another room), and used my desk lamp, a circular fluorescent one with a magnifying lens:




I used my two home made reflector panels - crinkled up aluminum foil glued to cardboard to direct light into the models. The circular lamp works great for smaller models, it wraps around them and provides a nice soft light. As a bonus, I don't have to adjust the white balance on my digital camera, it works fine on auto.

At times when I want a quick photo using this setup poses a problem, due to all of the stuff on my workbench at the time. It often took more time to clean up the workbench than it dit to take the photos!

My recent solution -



A smaller seamless backdrop with a permanent curved back section:



I made it with a 15" wide piece of white bristol board, and some corrugated plastic I had. Held together with hot melt glue, with some horizontal supports to keep it straight. I still have to clean off my workbench to use it, but not as much as before. And the built in curve of the back makes it convenient to use anywhere.

Here's as sample of what can be taken using this thingie:







Bob Boudreau
My model railroad photography website:
http://sites.google.com/site/railphotog/

Edited by - railphotog on 02/22/2009 6:41:59 PM

Country: Canada | Posts: 4027 Go to Top of Page

time2play
Fireman



Posted - 02/22/2009 :  7:32:24 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
That works real slick Bob. Thanks for sharing. It was getting too much of a bother with the lights and expensive bulbs and the time to set up and tear down. So, many shots for the forum are "hope for the best". With digital it is easier and near perfect once time is taken to adjust the settings accordingly.
Again, thanks for the tip.

Bob



Country: Canada | Posts: 1141 Go to Top of Page

BigLars
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 02/22/2009 :  7:43:46 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks Bob I have been fighting with lighting I will give this a try.

My current build:
http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=50375

Country: USA | Posts: 11361 Go to Top of Page

Frederic Testard
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 02/22/2009 :  7:45:45 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It's simple and efficient, Bob. I've been using A3 sheets of paper (about 12" x 17") for quite awhile, but your method looks better since there is a permanent shape. I think it could be easily adapted to provide a higher backdrop to shoot some higher models. Thanks for the idea.


Country: France | Posts: 17652 Go to Top of Page

northern6400
Fireman



Posted - 02/22/2009 :  8:22:04 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks Bob for those great tips.

Chuck Faist
Burlington, Ontario
Enjoy yourself it is later than you think!

Country: Canada | Posts: 3489 Go to Top of Page

Danny Head
Fireman

Posted - 02/25/2009 :  09:39:13 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Bob, what lens are using (in the photo)? Danny


Country: USA | Posts: 1889 Go to Top of Page

railphotog
Fireman



Posted - 02/25/2009 :  11:08:29 AM  Show Profile  Visit railphotog's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Danny Head

Bob, what lens are using (in the photo)? Danny



Danny: I was using the 18-55mm IS "kit" lens that came with my Canon XSi DSLR.





Bob Boudreau
My model railroad photography website:
http://sites.google.com/site/railphotog/

Country: Canada | Posts: 4027 Go to Top of Page

MikeC
Administrator

Premium Member


Posted - 02/27/2009 :  09:54:38 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Bob, thanks for the 'tutorial' and some easy-to-use ideas. When I get a chance, I'll place a copy of this in the forums' "Classroom" area for easy reference.




Country: USA | Posts: 21584 Go to Top of Page

TrainClown
Fireman



Posted - 02/27/2009 :  4:37:20 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
That is brilliant, Bob! I will make one of those for sure.

While I have your attention, have you ever used a rig like the one pictured below for taking photos from a scale eye level?

I got this from an old MRC. Here is a diagram of the rig.



Here is a picture of the rig.



Here it is in use.



Here are some photos taken with this rig.





You are the master of model train photography so I thought I would see if you have ever used a rig like this, and if so, would you be so kind as to post some of your photos. I would be very interested.

Christopher


Clowning around with trains.


Country: Canada | Posts: 1584 Go to Top of Page

railphotog
Fireman



Posted - 02/27/2009 :  5:59:49 PM  Show Profile  Visit railphotog's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Christopher: I remember seeing the article in RMC and gave it some thought way back when, but never did make one of the down low devices. It needed a front surface mirror to work properly. I priced the mirror material at a local glass shop decades ago and it was around $28.00 per square foot. Never did inquire if I could buy a small piece, but was concerned whether I could cut the small piece by myself without breaking it.

It would be easier to shoot with the device these days with digital, as the mirror image could be reversed with an imaging program. Since I don't have a layout, my modeling is done on modules and dioramas, there would have been very few places where I could have placed the device anyway.

To get shots like that, I use my generic photo bases made from Styrofoam and just place the camera down low, like this one:







Bob Boudreau
My model railroad photography website:
http://sites.google.com/site/railphotog/

Edited by - railphotog on 02/27/2009 6:02:00 PM

Country: Canada | Posts: 4027 Go to Top of Page

Frederic Testard
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 02/27/2009 :  6:39:05 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It's an interesting rig, Christopher. But with the advent of smaller cameras and the possibility to shoot hundreds of photos at no cost, isn't it simpler today to simply put the camera on the rail to take this kind of picture?


Country: France | Posts: 17652 Go to Top of Page

railphotog
Fireman



Posted - 02/27/2009 :  7:42:46 PM  Show Profile  Visit railphotog's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Frederic Testard

It's an interesting rig, Christopher. But with the advent of smaller cameras and the possibility to shoot hundreds of photos at no cost, isn't it simpler today to simply put the camera on the rail to take this kind of picture?



Sounds like a good idea, Frederic, but the small cameras don't really have the ability to take photos like in the RMC illustration. They mostly only stop down to f/8, which is decent for general model shots, but not for the "trackside" shot with its great depth of field. Also to get that close the model their close up mode would probably need to be on, which reduces the depth of field. You don't get something for nothing!





Bob Boudreau
My model railroad photography website:
http://sites.google.com/site/railphotog/

Country: Canada | Posts: 4027 Go to Top of Page

MikeC
Administrator

Premium Member


Posted - 02/27/2009 :  8:26:40 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I also saw that RMC article when it was first published (and still have it - October 85). Several years later, I finally built the 'mirror device' and bought a small first-surface mirror for it. As it turned out, the mirror (2" X 2") was too small to work well with the 'device' and my camera. Several months later, I found another supplier of first-surface mirrors who had a variety of sizes available - the fellow's main customers were folks who build their own telescopes - and bought one from him for about $20. The mirror I got (4" X 5") is a good size for the device, but to be honest, I have never used it. I bought a new camera about the same time and needed to build a new box to accommodate the larger size of the body. I never got the new box built, and the mirror is still in its sleeve and packing material.

The biggest problem with using an ordinary mirror as opposed to using a first-surface mirror is "ghosting." An ordinary mirror (silvered-back glass) will reflect some of the subject light back through the glass and can create a 'ghost' image. First surface mirrors eliminate this problem because the silvering is literally on the front surface. And therein lies the biggest problem with first (front)-surface mirrors: they are very easily scratched, so a great deal of caution needs to be taken when using one. (You can't just spritz it with Windex and wipe it like you can an ordinary glass mirror. )

Another thing to remember is that you really need to use a fixed focal length macro lens. Even a modern wide-angle 'zoom' lens will extend too much into the box and create problems.

One of these days, when I have nothing better to do , I might try building another box to accommodate my camera and the larger mirror.





Country: USA | Posts: 21584 Go to Top of Page

TrainClown
Fireman



Posted - 02/27/2009 :  9:55:33 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks so much for the replies.

Mike, I never caught on to the fact it is supposed to use a first-surface mirror. Makes sense though. I think I have some Mylar that might work the same.

Great photo of that track-born shovel, Bob. It must be a real trick to get the front of the shovel and the rest of the scene in focus. Cool stuff!

Always learning.

Christopher


Clowning around with trains.


Country: Canada | Posts: 1584 Go to Top of Page

Peterpools
Engineer



Posted - 02/28/2009 :  02:08:36 AM  Show Profile  Visit Peterpools's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Bob
Thanks for the idea - a mini photo studio, looks easy to build and a hundred and one uses.
Peter
BCT



Country: USA | Posts: 12335 Go to Top of Page
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