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What settings do you generally shoot your models

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  • Member since
    February 2011
  • From: Ontario, Canada
What settings do you generally shoot your models
Posted by gunner_chris on Monday, December 16, 2013 8:24 PM

I'd like to improve my model photography so I'm curious what settings you guys shoot your completed builds.

Do you shoot manual, a certain aperture, the preset for closeup/macro etc etc

please share your FSM quality photo tips here

  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Tuesday, December 17, 2013 9:35 AM

I use aperture priority with the highest f/# the lens can get at the focal length I am using. I like to use a somewhat wide angle focal length.

I use manual focus, focusing about 1/3 of the way from the front of the model to the back.  This is a common macro photo trick.

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    April 2006
  • From: ON, Canada
Posted by jgeratic on Tuesday, December 17, 2013 12:12 PM

Same here, aperture on manual setting so you get the highest f-stop.  This is the largest number, but is also the smallest opening of the lens.  Most times other settings will be left on automatic, but Don's one third distance into the subject is the rule of thumb if you go manual.

Sometimes I will adjust the white balance setting to adjust for artificial lighting, but daytime shooting works well with auto.

Photo editing with decent software is also important to achieve a bit more sharpness and contrast.

regards,

Jack

  • Member since
    November 2013
Posted by MRME on Wednesday, December 18, 2013 3:24 PM

it all depends on the subject matter ie diorama, etc some of the dirt track cars i used an actual track (used to work there) as a backdrop bright sunnyday I find it easier to go manual and then use the preview button to get an idea what photo will look like. For aouto/air shows i use my Olympus 570uz set on auto, and focus, and use available light setting .  while on here I have a question  does anyone Know of a program etc to digitize film photos tanks alot

anyone needing/wanting info about me contact me a richduddy@gmail.com. I only give info about myself on a need to know basis.

  • Member since
    February 2011
  • From: Ontario, Canada
Posted by gunner_chris on Wednesday, December 18, 2013 7:59 PM

Are you all shooting with tripods or handheld?

  • Member since
    November 2013
Posted by MRME on Wednesday, December 18, 2013 8:34 PM

again sir for me it depends on the situation, if shooting with a long lens then definately, a tripod. when shooting indoors sometimes both depending on which camera im using, again then which lens

anyone needing/wanting info about me contact me a richduddy@gmail.com. I only give info about myself on a need to know basis.

  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Thursday, December 19, 2013 8:53 AM

Since the lens I use for model shots is not IS, and at f/32 my shots, even in sunlight, take about two seconds exposure, a tripod is always needed.

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    March 2014
Posted by Tarasdad on Tuesday, April 8, 2014 6:35 PM

An old trick used by model railroad photographers is to back away from the subject and use a zoom lens on as small an aperture as possible to get good depth of field. Of course, that all depends on the effect you're trying to achieve, whether you want the entire subject and background to be in focus, just the subject or only part of the subject. All impacts which lens, aperture and f-stop you use. And yes, a tripod is a must.

Tarasdad

On the Bench:

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  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 9:13 AM

While backing away does improve depth of field, it also has a detrimental effect on depth/perspective.  This is the old telephoto vs wide angle effect.  Long distances and telephoto focal lengths condense depth, close up and wider angle expands depth (old car advertising ad trick).  So I shoot as close as possible within capabilities of macro lens.  Place yourself at a scale distance (and height) as if you were photographing real thing instead of model.  Scale distance is actual distance you would stand at divided by scale of model.  For instance- scale height, say a bit over five feet to your eye (sixty inches), divided by 48 for 1:48 model means center of lens should be about one and a quarter inches above surface.

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    March 2014
Posted by Tarasdad on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 5:13 PM

Great pointers, Don! Combine those with proper lighting and you can achieve results that are hard to tell from reality, especially with a little post-processing in PhotoShop or similar.

Tarasdad

On the Bench:

  • Revell 1/48 F-15 Strike Eagle
  • Revell 1/48 A-10 Warthog
  • Revell 1/426 USS Arizona
  • Member since
    November 2004
Posted by snapdragonxxx on Thursday, September 18, 2014 6:10 PM

I use a Nikon D700 and 24-70 2,8 zoom lens for photographing my WIP and finished stuff, as well as many other things. I do have more lenses but this one is my workhorse as it is fast and pin sharp (expensive too, but so worth it!)

Now the D700 is one of Nikon's professional range (now superseded by the D800 and D810) but it is an excellent body with a full frame FX sensor and god knows how many Megapixels.

I spent lots of time when I got it reading the manual, going through all the functions, modes, menus etc, eventually when my eyes glazed over and my brain screamed and then went and hid I just picked it up, switched it on and in "Programmable" mode (it thinks for itself) started shooting!

Ever since that day it has stayed on that. I spend £2500 on a camera body with lots of expensive hardware, firmware and software inside it...... let it earn it's money!

And it has done. I just leave it to think for itself and it has not let me down.

I do lot's of re-enactment photos and shows when my health allows me to and I see people messing with buttons and menus only to moan that they've missed the shot.

Me? Let the beast think for itself and use the focus system. That's what you paid the money for....

Some photos from recent re-enactments

Point and shoot with £3000 of kit? Why not.... Let the thing think..... the results are worth it and I don't spend hours messing with stops, light or anything else. The results show!

 

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Thursday, September 18, 2014 9:26 PM

Probably because I'm not really much of a photographer, I tend to treat model photos as documentary rather than artistic. So I want as much as possible to be in focus. The way to do that is to set the mode dial on Aperture Priority and the aperture as tight as possible (usually f22). I let the shutter speed take care of itself - and it may be well over a second. I instinctively use the lowest ISO possible (I.e., ISO 100), though in truth a modern digital camera can take perfectly good pictures at 200 or even 400.

I have a Pentax K-10 (a few years old now, but a fine camera), with a 16-45 zoom lens.

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Friday, September 19, 2014 9:16 AM

My Nikon D40X is getting long in the tooth too, as contemporary cameras go.  I suppose a more modern camera would have more pixels, but on a recent trip I used my wife's fairly new camera with 16 Megapixels.  Boy, that sure slowed down my computer in my image editor!  The extra 6Mp makes it work a lot harder on some functions.

Actually, the most important thing I need is a new tripod.  My 20 buck one is okay when I use the small lens I usually use for model shots, but sure shakes and sags with my heavier lenses!

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Saturday, September 20, 2014 10:32 AM

I've always been reluctant to spend big money on a tripod, because I don't use it very often. It looks to me like the big primarily buy two things: hi-tech, light weight materials and speed of operation. I use a tripod mostly for model photography, neither of those makes much difference to me. If I were lugging the tripod over mountains and through jungles, I'd feel differently.

I'm happy with my current Sunpak tripod, which I bought for about $35 at Best Buy. When I check out a tripod, the first thing I do is extend the legs, lock them, and lean on them. If the locks slip (lots of cheap ones do), forget it. This Sunpak passed the test, and it has a pistol-grip head. I find that more comfortable to use when I've got my ugly mug jammed against the camera.

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Sunday, September 21, 2014 11:43 AM

I need the tripod for two reasons.  At the high f/# needed for depth of field, exposure time even in sunlight can be a second or two.

And, focus is so critical if you are really up close that moving the camera back or forth even a fraction of an inch can change plane of best focus.

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Sunday, September 21, 2014 2:41 PM

In those respects my little Sunpak is fine. If I ever go hiking in the Amazon Valley I'll need something lighter, stronger, and more compact when it's folded. But the chances of my doing such a thing are zero.

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    September 2013
Posted by Les.61 on Sunday, September 21, 2014 6:16 PM

If you do not want to buy a tripod an option is to put a cushion on a stool and place the camera on the cushion. Then using the self timer set up the shot and press the self timer. As it is a model it should not move while the self timer is working. If a cushion does not give you enough flexibility then get a bag (preferably cloth) and fill with rice or foam marbles (like from bean bags). You can then nestle the camera better in this.There is also these tripods would would be fine for model photos. http://joby.com/

  • Member since
    November 2003
  • From: Virginia
Posted by Mike F6F on Wednesday, November 26, 2014 10:20 AM

Sorry I'm getting to this late, but I've just starting posting again.

As a near-40 year pro photographer there are a few hints I'd add to this discussion.

First of all NEVER use automatic settings on your camera if you have manual override settings!  

Far too many folks shoot a model on a white background.  The white fools the camera and quite often results in under exposure of the subject matter and the model in the photo is too dark.  Of course imaging software can lighten the image, but often at a considerable loss of quality.  By using manual settings you can bracket your exposures insuring a good photo.

With the camera on manual and shooting at the lens aperture of your choice, shoot a frame at the "correct" exposure as indicated by the camera.  Then, particularly if you have a white background, shoot an additional frame at the next slowest shutter speed setting.  Often this will result in a better image of the model.

Another way to make things easier is to use a gray background.  That will help keep exposure settings easier.  If you don't have a manual exposure setting, this will keep the automatic settings better in line too.

Be cautious in digital photography using the absolute minimum aperature lens setting.  While this does give you the best depth of field (deepest range of the image rendered in apparent focus) many  small sensor digital cameras suffer noticeable image degradation at the minimum settings. A good rule of thumb is not to exceed f8 if possible.  You won't notice it at web page image sizes, but if you are using JPEG files as your original capture format, shoot at minimum aperture and then try to print your file to a decent size, you'll notice the poorer quality.  This isn't usually a problem if you're using a DSLR and lenses designed for film, but compact cameras use smaller sized sensors and it can sneak up on you.  If all you are doing is producing files to post to the forum, don't worry about it.

Lastly, a good tripod is a requirement for any serious model photography.  Cheap department store units might serve for compact cameras, but if you use anything heavier, they often won't do.  A good tripod can allow you to quickly change shooting angles and get everything just right.  If you have a tripod now and when using your normal camera, the camera shifts after you tighten everything down, you need something more sturdy.

Like modeling, photography can quickly become another "gotta have that latest piece of gear" additional hobby.  It doesn't have to be, but having decent gear, like having the right tools on the bench adds to the satisfaction of the hobby.

Mike

 

"Grumman on a Navy Airplane is like Sterling on Silver."

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