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Model Photography - A guide to essential do's & dont's


SeanyG
07-01-2012, 08:32 AM
Ok, this photography lark has been a constant pain in the neck for me ever since I started building models. I would really like to just find a default setting which gives me a good level of quality in terms of light and overall focus etc

About 3 years ago my good lady treated me to a Sony A350 DSLR, not the best in the world I know but still a high quality bit of kit. I'm delighted with it for taking shots out & about for landscape & wildlife photography. However I also thought it would vastly improve my pics of my builds... sadly it's not the case.

So, I know there are few guys on here who achieve beautiful pics of their work and I just wondered if we can get a thread together of some basic but essential what to do & what not to do hints & tips, Macro settings, background, adjusting Depth of Field manually etc etc.

Really want to get this sorted once & for all with my camera so I don't have to accept poor quality pics in future.

Sean

360spider
07-01-2012, 09:21 AM
No setup is hte same. As such, it is very hard to suggest something in particular. It all depends on your lighting, background, equipment, lens, even the subject being photographed. Learn the basics - what does this and that means in photography - how to adjust manual settings on your camera, and most importantly, how they affect the eventual picture. Once you figure this out, you will be able to adjust these settings to fit any shooting scenario, really.

PS: It takes practice. In some cases, a lot of it.

F1-Fan
07-01-2012, 09:30 AM
And also take notes of the changes you did so you will be able to use the best setup next time around.

portalus
07-01-2012, 01:07 PM
A quite nice tutorial is there:
sariel.pl - photo-processing-tutorial (http://sariel.pl/2011/07/photo-processing-tutorial/)

hirofkd
07-01-2012, 02:15 PM
So many things can go wrong with photography, so without knowing the exact problem, it's hard to solve it. What's wrong with your pictures, and how do you want to change/improve?

SeanyG
07-01-2012, 02:44 PM
thanks guys... I was hoping for a rock solid 'do this, do that and bob's your uncle' type of thing ha-ha, ! That's a very good link too, very interesting.

My setup is as follows... Sony A350 DSPR, a Sony 18-70 Wide Angle Lens, I have a small white tent and two daylight lamps. I use Photoshop 6 to do any manipulation stuff.

I'm ok at the photo manipulation aspect of things, I think my biggest hurdle is to figure out the depth of field for my pictures. I'm only getting a real small area of focus and losing focus on the anything that is out of the centre of the picture.

I was just hoping to to try and establish a reasonably common setting that I can rely on as I use the same tent, background and lamps each time. I guess it's simply gonna have to be a case of more trial and error.

thanks for your comments all the same :smile:

portalus
07-01-2012, 03:44 PM
Settings preferred by my friend
• aperture - F8 (I prefer F18-F22),
• ISO 100
• WB - auto or manual
• time 1/4 - 1/6s (for higher aperture much longer)
• focus - 130 - 350 mm distance app. 1-1,2m from model,
• photometric - multi-segment
• AF - central
• AF-S (focusing) - point
• size - 16M 4:3 (4608x3456) (I have 6M)
• quality - fine
• sharpness, noise reduction - standard
• light and background - 2 lamps 30W 5500K + white paper (for mirror effect plexi) (I'm using 2x150W halogens)
• light from both sides a little bit up
• tripod +self-timer or pilot
My camera is old Dynax 5D + kit 18-70 and sometimes Sony DSC-H70.

SeanyG
07-02-2012, 01:47 AM
That's really helpful, thank you! Time for some practice today I think :-)

hsmed
07-02-2012, 05:33 AM
The most important thing is a good tripod. This will allow you to use very slow shutter speeds (I usually set the shutter speed at 1 second) and thus you can set the aperture at a high value (F16 or even higher). This should give you a good depth of focus.
When operating with such slow shutter speed you must also be careful not to shake the camera by pressing the release button. A remote control or timed release is to be preferred.

SeanyG
07-02-2012, 07:07 AM
The most important thing is a good tripod. This will allow you to use very slow shutter speeds (I usually set the shutter speed at 1 second) and thus you can set the aperture at a high value (F16 or even higher). This should give you a good depth of focus.
When operating with such slow shutter speed you must also be careful not to shake the camera by pressing the release button. A remote control or timed release is to be preferred.

Thanks mate, I absolutely agree. I use a Velbon 540CX Tripod and have a wired remote control for the camera which I use everytime. Great advice though!

Helico
07-02-2012, 10:09 AM
Sean,

You need a macro lens or a teleophoto zoom. Tripod or not, make sure you have plenty of light. You don't need professional lights. Any house-hold lights will work, but try to use the same type of bulb. I usually use 2-3 desktop lights, and bring them close. You should try to adjust the white balance manually based on the bulb you use.

UKPonchoMan
07-02-2012, 03:45 PM
One thing I would suggest is investing in more light. I have 3x150W ceiling bulbs and 4x 525W photography-spec bulbs on tripods, and they're still not enough to get consistent lighting (these are all fluorescent bulbs). Light is definitely your friend...

Shelby 427 1965
07-02-2012, 03:56 PM
You people are all so fancy... I set mine on the ground outside and use a normal digital camera with either macro setting or normal setting :lol:
- Tomo

drunken monkey
07-02-2012, 03:57 PM
Personally, I favour using a narrower angle over a close up macro shot.
Granted that some close up macro shots can look more dynamic but if you get the lens angle right and the lens height right, you can begin to blur the scale/reality of the model more.

And yes, good lighting and diffusers are always useful.

UKPonchoMan
07-02-2012, 03:58 PM
I'm in England...most of which is currently under several inches of water ;)

Helico
07-02-2012, 09:22 PM
Sean,

Depth of field is determined by aperture (F). The higher the F, the smaller the aperture, and the greater the depth of field. However, small aperture means less light entering the sensor. To compensate this, you need to use slow shutter speed and hence a tripod for stability. If you want a blurry background, open up aperture.

Some compact cameras do not allow adjustment of aperture. To get around this, change zoom. Telephoto zoom mechanically narrows the aperture.

Regarding lighting using household lights, you can cover the bulb with a sheet of paper or tissue to "soften" the light. Same trick can also be used on camera flash, especially when flashing directly to people's faces.

360spider
07-02-2012, 10:44 PM
Wide angle lens is one of your problems. You need a good zoom lens.

CFarias
07-04-2012, 01:44 AM
Also, look to see if you have a setting that allows you to "bracket" your shots. This option will take a picture at your current settings, then almost simultaneously take one a little brighter and one a little darker. This gives you three pictures of the same thing, but at three different exposure levels in the hopes that one of them will be at exactly the right light level you wanted.

When adjusting your camera setting try to only adjust one setting at a time so that you can see how that change affects your pictures. If you change more than one thing at a time it can be hard to figure out quickly what setting is causing you grief. Make notes of all your settings as you take the picture and once you get the right combination of settings, see if your camera can save them, and do so.

Also, expect that the setting for indoor photography may be very different from the settings for outdoor photography and if you are making notes for outdoor pictures write down the time of day and weather conditions (sunny, partly cloudy, etc) too.

Monkfish
07-04-2012, 08:31 AM
Hey Sean,

Did you read the photography article in the latest Racecraft Mag? Go and have a read and start off with the basics, and get them sorted out first.

http://www.racecraftmag.co.uk/racecraft-issue-three/

If you get the basics right - you can take a fine looking image with a phone camera. No need for all the "kit". The article might give you some good ideas, or help you to address simple issues you are having.

The second installment will be in the next issue of the mag and will look at using compact camera with more facility.

Let me know what you think!

SeanyG
07-05-2012, 03:40 PM
Hey Sean,

Did you read the photography article in the latest Racecraft Mag? Go and have a read and start off with the basics, and get them sorted out first.

http://www.racecraftmag.co.uk/racecraft-issue-three/

If you get the basics right - you can take a fine looking image with a phone camera. No need for all the "kit". The article might give you some good ideas, or help you to address simple issues you are having.

The second installment will be in the next issue of the mag and will look at using compact camera with more facility.

Let me know what you think!

Very nicely done and helpful too, especially the composition aspect and use of backgrounds too. Looking forward to reading more definately.

On a side note, I got it wrong about my smal lens, (you can tell how much of a pro I am eh!!!) It is actually a Telephone/Macro Lens (at least thats what it says on the front of it.
I'm a bit confused by the idea of using a large zoom lens though, I though they were only for shooting things at a distance etc.

SeanyG
07-05-2012, 03:43 PM
Also, look to see if you have a setting that allows you to "bracket" your shots. This option will take a picture at your current settings, then almost simultaneously take one a little brighter and one a little darker. This gives you three pictures of the same thing, but at three different exposure levels in the hopes that one of them will be at exactly the right light level you wanted.

When adjusting your camera setting try to only adjust one setting at a time so that you can see how that change affects your pictures. If you change more than one thing at a time it can be hard to figure out quickly what setting is causing you grief. Make notes of all your settings as you take the picture and once you get the right combination of settings, see if your camera can save them, and do so.

Also, expect that the setting for indoor photography may be very different from the settings for outdoor photography and if you are making notes for outdoor pictures write down the time of day and weather conditions (sunny, partly cloudy, etc) too.

Very, very interesting and helpful thankyou. I aim to have a good photo session soon and will definately follow the great advice on the thread thus far, I dont have any 'bracket' option on the camera so will have to as you say do some major and trial and error work, writing down the settings each time.

Monkfish
07-05-2012, 04:30 PM
Hey Sean,

Your more than welcome - I'm glad you like the article. It just covers the basics, but as i say, it should help give you some ideas and a bit more understanding to help with your photos.

On a side note, I got it wrong about my small lens, (you can tell how much of a pro I am eh!!!) It is actually a Telephone/Macro Lens (at least that's what it says on the front of it.
I'm a bit confused by the idea of using a large zoom lens though, I though they were only for shooting things at a distance etc.

Yes a zoom or telephoto lens can be used for close up photography...essentially, that is exactly what it's doing, magnifying things. Your camera most probably has a multifunction lens on it, engineered to offer both capabilities, but this will effect the quality if compared to a more costly set up.

But as with any subject, the trick is to get your subject under a good light source.

If you are close to a subject, getting too close with the camera ( like you will have to in MACRO mode) may block out light that will help to make the image clearer.

Using a zoom lens, you can stand back from a subject, allowing plenty of light to get to it, and then zoom in to the area you are trying to photograph. This technique can also be used to achieve better depth in your shots.

You might find that you need to use a tripod to stop camera shake, especially if you shooting in lower light situations.

Don't worry to much about bracketing. This is getting quite technical, and shouldn't be needed if you are working the camera correctly and your lighting is good.

Besides, if you can use photoshop or some other photo editing software you can also make small exposure adjustments of any images that are underexposed (too dark).

There will be a guide to all the technicalities in the mag in the future..but that is a few issues away yet :D

Hope that helps.
Rich

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