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View Full Version : Requesting a photography lesson, PLEASE!?!



MooseID
4th Feb 2009, 02:41 PM
...but here are some things to consider:

A tripod is an absolute must have and use for model photography.

Set your camera for aperature priority, if it is capable. Then select the highest aperature number. (That is the smallest aperature) This will give you the greatest depth of field. (Depth of field is the region that is in focus.)

Use a pair of cheap goose neck desk lamps with photoflood bulbs or 'daylight' type*bulbs.* Experiment with the shadows until you get what you want.

Try some back lighting. In most cases more light is better unless you want to make some 'mood' shots.

Always compose the picture in the view finder before taking the shot. Use manual focus. Autofocus cameras sometime select the wrong spot to focus on.

Use a macro lense or the macro function of your camera. Extension rings will also work well.

When you are ready to take the picture do not manually trip the shutter. Use the timed release function and take your hands off the camera. If your camera does not have an auto-exposure function use a good light meter to set the exposure time for the aperature selected.

If you have problems with glare or reflected light, use a polarizing filter and rotate it eliminate the glare while looking through the view finder.

In general 'point and shoot' cameras do not do well for model photography. Single Lense Reflex (SLR) cameras with removeable interchangeable lenses are the best way to go.

Pay attention to the entire picture including the background. No one wants to see your kid in the background picking his nose.

Gargoyle
4th Feb 2009, 07:36 PM
Great tips Moose and every one a necessity.Paddy don't worry about taking 10 to get 4. Actually that would make you a world class photographer. Many still photographers shoot extremely high numbers of shots to get the 'one'. Last week I was on a shoot with a print photographer that took 1000 shots to get one picture. Filmmakers usually shoot ratios of from 30:1 to 200:1. Meaning shooting 200 minutes of film to get one minute of screen time.One of our Mods, RailOhio aka Brian, happens to be a really gifted and talented photographer. He is a bit of a young curmudgeon but his picture taking skills are beyond reproach. Maybe he can chime in with a top ten things to consider when taking N Scale Model Railroad photos.

NH2006
4th Feb 2009, 11:30 PM
Give Moose an A+++. I always find small details that I later grumble about, like a tree tipped ever so slightly or a small crack where I didn't expect it. But as long as it looks pretty good, I am happy enough. It usually takes me 20 to get 2 OK ones.

taz-n-rr
5th Feb 2009, 12:38 AM
cs1) Generally, unless you have some other compelling reason, you should get the subject to fill the frame as much as you can. Though sometimes you may have reasons to allow some extra to be trimmed off the edges in photo editing. Many times I have had to rotate the image in editing to align vertical lines to the vertical, and this requires cropping to tidy things up afterwards.
cs2) I would not recommend anything less than about 9 Mpixels for detailed photography. And go through your camera's menu to be sure the photos are set to maximum resolution and quality
cs3) do not use digital zoom in the camera, only optical zoom. You can do the equivalent of digital zoom in your computer by cropping the image.
cs4) keep a separate (master) directory in your computer with all the photos from your camera, and maybe keep it read only, also keep the full memory cards (providing two copies reducing the likelihood you will loose something). Use the same sub-directory structure your camera uses in the memory cards. When you need to process a photo copy it from the master directory, and do what you want.
cs5) piecing together multiple photos for a panorama shot can allow you to record things you cant get without special lenses.

That's all for now,
Charles

railohio
5th Feb 2009, 12:54 AM
The reason I haven't chimed in about N scale photography is that I simply don't do it. I haven't invested the time or the money to get it right for myself because, frankly, I don't have models worth photographing. (When was the last time I even posted about my modeling on here?)When researching N scale photography one is realy looking for macro photography. Basically, you want to make something small big. There was a tutorial on model photography in Model Railroader magazine in the late 1990s that still holds true today. The only difference is that we're now mostly using digital cameras. Otherwise, all the motions are the same.

paddy78
5th Feb 2009, 01:03 AM
Wow, you guys all made me feel a lot better. I thought I was the only one struggling with this. Thanks for the tips Moose, I appreciate all of them. I've had a chance to poke around my camera a little bit and see what it can do. It does have a macro mode (the little flower) but I cannot turn off the auto-focus. Alas, this is one of those point and shoot cameras you warned me about and honestly, I cannot afford a SLR for how little I would use it. I do know someone who has one, so maybe (if that fiery, subterranean lair does freeze over someday since this someone is my father in law) I could borrow it to see the difference. Or maybe I will just invite him over...that might work better. But back to my camera, it has a HIGH ISO mode, is that what you are referring to when you mentioned high aperture? I do have an old tripod that was recently salvaged from the basement; I will put that to good use and see how things come out. Thanks again for the help guys! regards, Pat

ranulf
5th Feb 2009, 01:13 AM
I just happened across this site the other day, lots of good stuff here:http://sites.google.com/site/railphotog/ ("http://sites.google.com/site/railphotog/")Good luck!

NH2006
5th Feb 2009, 01:54 AM
cs2) I would not recommend anything less than about 9 Mpixels for detailed photography. I disagree, 7 megapixels is just fine and actually I've done good stuff with just 4 megapixels on a regular inexpensive ($100!) FUJI mega-zoom S5100. Also, a SLR is not necessary, you can get good results with less expensive models like the Fuji S5200. They will certainly be very adequate for internet publishing. Most of us will never publish in a magazine where very high resolution is needed.http://members.trainorders.com/nh2006/DRGWPhantomValleyMailnumber18c.jpg
cs4) keep a separate (master) directory in your computer with all the photos from your camera, and maybe keep it read only, also keep the full memory cards (providing two copies reducing the likelihood you will loose something). Use the same sub-directory structure your camera uses in the memory cards. When you need to process a photo copy it from the master directory, and do what you want. I disagree, in part, here. Burn your images onto CDs or DVDs. Save a library onto the inexpensive external hard drives they have available (I paid $60 for a 360 GB Seagate) Unless you are wealthy, there is no reason to save all the images on a memory card. 2-4GB cards run $20+ each. 1 DVD is about $1.  Label it well with the date, or if you use a Mac and iPhoto, the library will be dated. Some of the software that comes with the cameras can do the same and will do the job of setting up the directory that you will need.

NH2006
5th Feb 2009, 02:13 AM
Wow, you guys all made me feel a lot better. I thought I was the only one struggling with this. Thanks for the tips Moose, I appreciate all of them. I've had a chance to poke around my camera a little bit and see what it can do. It does have a macro mode (the little flower) but I cannot turn off the auto-focus. Alas, this is one of those point and shoot cameras you warned me about and honestly, I cannot afford a SLR for how little I would use it. I do know someone who has one, so maybe (if that fiery, subterranean lair does freeze over someday since this someone is my father in law) I could borrow it to see the difference. Or maybe I will just invite him over...that might work better. But back to my camera, it has a HIGH ISO mode, is that what you are referring to when you mentioned high aperture? I do have an old tripod that was recently salvaged from the basement; I will put that to good use and see how things come out. Thanks again for the help guys! regards, PatISO isn't the same as an aperture, in fact high ISO (400 and above) actually will cause graininess in your image. Read up a bit in your manual, you may or may have the capability to adjust your aperture. An expensive SLR is not necessary, some cameras like the Fuji S5200 and the similar ultra zooms like the Canons and Nikons Or Panasonic Lumix line<span style="line-height: normal; font-family: 'Lucida Grande'; color: #333333" class="Apple-style-span"> <span style="line-height: 20px; font-family: Verdana; color: #393939" class="Apple-style-span">have nearly all the features you'll need for around $200-300.</span></span>

MooseID
5th Feb 2009, 02:06 PM
...the solution is simply more light. This will cause the camera to select higher aperature settings automatically. The easy way to add more light on the subject is to use reflectors as shown in the above mentioned article posted by Ranulf.

BryanC (RIP)
5th Feb 2009, 06:14 PM
Here's another site that might be of interest: <u><span style="color: #669966">Notes on Model Railroad Photography</span></u> ("http://s145079212.onlinehome.us/rr/howto/photography/index.html"). Note however, it is pretty old; the last update was November 2005 but it still looks pretty good!

paddy78
6th Feb 2009, 08:13 PM
Ah, the manual....about that.....well, lets just say I don't have access to it!But I have been trying out some of the suggestions here, particularly the macro option, the tripod, and I did police up a couple of under-utilized desk lamps around my house and they are making a world of difference. My layout lighting isn't wonderful, but it is more than adequate for viewing and working. With the new lights, I am getting several good snaps per shoot rather than the usual 1 per 15 ratio. As you guys said, that might be fine for pros; but for me it takes a while to get the pics off my camera and into picture viewer just to find out they are awful. Sometimes they look fine on the camera viewer, but once you put it on the computer you see that you were very, very wrong to keep that one! Thanks for the technical lesson on ISO and thanks for all the links as well. Everything helps and it is beginning to come together for me a little bit. I am gearing up to split my blog into 2 parts, and one of the things that was holding me up was spending an excessive amount of time trying to get some decent pics put together. I really hope this thread has helped some of our more shy members or guests as much as it has helped me.cheers,Pat

taz-n-rr
6th Feb 2009, 09:07 PM
Pat,

Maybe a bit more technical discussion for fun. The ISO is a measure of sensitivity to light (or from my younger days film speed in ASA). There are two more items that are related to this, that is: aperture and shutter speed.

A high ISO means that you can take pictures in lower light. And as NH2006 pointed out high ISO results in more graininess (both in digital and film cameras interestingly enough).

Aperture is measured in "f stop" (like f 22, or f 1.4) and operates in a way similar to the iris of your eye. (You will note that depending on how much light there is; the iris expands and reduces and the pupil grows and shrinks. The pupil is a hole in the iris and is the black spot in the center front of your eye.) The higher the f stop the smaller the opening (and the more things are in focus).

Shutter speed or exposure time is how long the shutter is open allowing light to reach the film or electronic sensor; shorter time is less light, longer time is more light to the film or electronic sensor.

As Moose pointed out, more light on the subject being photographed helps with all these; lower ISO, higher aperture, and faster shutter speed. If you go through your manual you may discover that the camera has a couple options that will give more preference to high shutter speed or high f stop (high depth of field of focus). Picking the high depth of field will give a preference for smaller aperture and lower shutter speed which might help improve focus.

Charles

taz-n-rr
16th Feb 2009, 08:33 PM
Just a couple more thoughts (if I can get this to post, here is the first one):

On cs2: NH2006's comments are good, though there is a little more behind my point about 9 Mpixels. Part of what I was saying is:
a) The way prices and technology are now, I would look at 9 Mpixels as reasonable entry level for a digital camera.
b) I use my pictures for prototype documentation too, and you would be amazed at the details you can find while examining the pictures in your computer. After you have the photo in your computer you can always reduce the detail, but you will never be able to add detail.

Charles

taz-n-rr
16th Feb 2009, 08:56 PM
<p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 9pt; color: #393939; font-family: 'Verdana','sans-serif'">On cs4: The external disk drive and CD-DVD's NH2006 recommends are good options (external disk a drag with a laptop).
<span> </span>
The 2GB SD memory cards are compact and can be viewed in the camera, and other devices without a computer.<span> </span>A DVD stores about 2.5 memory cards but the DVD takes up more shelf space.<span> </span>You don't need to be wealthy even if the memory cards were 20 dollars each.<span> </span>The one I just filled up and took from the camera has 417 files on it which is the same as about 18 rolls of 24 shot film.<span> </span>The 2 GB cards I just bought were 5 dollar each which is the equivalent to 27 cents per roll of undeveloped film.<span> </span>A 20 dollar memory card is half the cost of a roll of film.
<span> </span>
Charles</span>

paddy78
20th Feb 2009, 01:22 AM
Charles, thanks for all the help here. I finally worked through all the options on my camera, and alas, there is no way to adjust the f-stop directly. There are some ways to change shutter speed through the light settings, but nothing more precise than that. It is still a very nice point n shoot camera, and I am getting better with it. I had a very nice discussion with my father-in-law last week re. digital photography. He has really picked up the hobby over the last few years and is thinking of upgrading his SLR so he can do some professional work with his church. I may be able to "borrow" the old one if I have some lenses for it. By happenstance, I have some Honeywell lenses for an old 35mm Pentax that might fit his camera. I am going to lure him over here sometime soon and see if they will work.... And my brother is an IT guy, he straightened me out on transfering the pics from the camera to the computer; turns out I was doing it the long way (figures... /modules/tinymce/tinymce/jscripts/tiny_mce/plugins/emotions/images/smiley-undecided.gif)regards, Pat

NH2006
20th Feb 2009, 01:54 AM
<span> </span>The 2 GB cards I just bought were 5 dollar each which is the equivalent to 27 cents per roll of undeveloped film.<span> </span>A 20 dollar memory card is half the cost of a roll of film.<p style="margin-top: 0in; margin-right: 0in; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-left: 0in" class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 9pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; color: #393939"><span> </span>
Charles</span> $5 for a 2 GB card? Where? What kind? That's an awesome deal... Also, at least in the US, print film is not $20 for purchase and processing combined. Maybe closer to $10 tops...although slide film is becoming vanishingly rare and hard to get processed.

taz-n-rr
20th Feb 2009, 12:15 PM
NH2006,

The 2GB cards came from Sams Club in a 2 pack for $9.86 (or something like that). They are "PNY Optima SD 60X 2GB" cards.

And oops on the second item, I was referring to relative terms where the 2GB SD card is equivalent to about 18 rolls of film in my camera. I was referring to the price of the film only, leaving the developing and printing out of it, since that is a little like putting the pictures on the computer and printing them.

Pat,

My camera is currently point-and-shoot type but it does work well. I do plan to eventually get an SLR or whatever the changeable lens cameras are at the time for the additional control over focus etc.

Enjoy the photography and post some for us too!
Charles

PS, in the old days SLR was critical to be able to control framing the shot and stuff, with live images available from the photo sensor in the camera is this changing? Or is SLR just being redefined?

MooseID
20th Feb 2009, 01:09 PM
...still refers to the way you view what the camera sees. That means you are viewing the picture through the main lense of the camera, not through a separate view port. This makes it easier to compose a photo right in the camera, since what you view is exactly what the camers sees.Another term that is used often is TLR, Twin Lense Reflex. This refers to camers that have two identical lenses, one for the camers and the other for the view finder. These are also generally excellent cameras. However, for macro-photography there is a slight parallax error between the lenses on close up work. The more complex and expensive TLR cameras have some built-in parallax correction for better macro-photography.