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Model Photography – My Surprising Insight

October 5, 2017 in How-to

When I first took the pictures of this Corsair, I was about to leave for the Mosonmagyarovar model show to have her participating in the championship. I got her finished in the very last minute and before I left, I took her out in the garden for some shots with my old but trusted Canon SLR camera and a white A2 card board as a back ground. I was lucky to encounter sunny weather with soft diffuse light conditions and I invested quite a bit of software post processing to bring the pictures to a consistent and pleasing look.
That was 2,5 years ago.

These days, the model is about to relocate from her asylum in the family’s living room to the iModeler office in order to avoid someone saying “the Corsair or I”. As we all know, models in many cases don’t survive relocations and so I thought I’d better take some more pictures before she might be gone for good. I’m sharing these pictures with you today.

So what’s the story actually?
Please compare the original pictures that you can find here (http://imodeler.com/2016/04/tamiya-f4u-1-corsair-132/) with the ones published today. Unlike the old ones that took me a couple of hours, these are taken with a smart phone camera and some very limited software post processing, mainly increasing the exposure a bit. The big difference: I used a light box.

The moral of this story? If you are not a professional photographer like myself, but want to lift your model photography to some higher level, go and get some shelf space free, put a 40 dollar light box in and use your smart phone.

12 additional images. Click to enlarge

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29 responses to Model Photography – My Surprising Insight

  1. Of course a good model helps too! But all very sound advice. Thanks for posting!

  2. An outstanding result – both with the build AND the photography. Thanks.

  3. Much cleaner–though I notice the contrast between the two upper-surface blues is more distinct in the earlier photos. Post-production contrast?

    • Yes, that might to some extent be post-production related, Ryan. The more important point, however: the model actually was almost ruined by the Mr. Color flat coat I used. It destroyed much of the original contrast and darkened the whole paint job significantly. Only day light brings it a bit closer to the actual state. I’ve switched to other products afterwards and tried all my swearwords on this one.

  4. I like the look of that light box. I’d like to see a photo of the Corsair IN the box, so I can get some concept of the size of it, and then I’d love a link to where you purchased that particular box!

    • I’ve uploaded another picture, Greg. The model is the 1/48th Su that you know from the forum. This booth is actually too small for pictures of 1/48th jet aircraft. It does the job however for WW2 fighters in all scales and it works great for building reports.
      Wait a bit with buying one though. Martin (@editor) is currently evaluating booths and maybe there’ll be an iModeler branded product with a good pricing soon.

  5. Johannes, you had me at ‘corsair’.

  6. I think it works really well with “detail” pictures, not so sure about showing off the whole model though.

  7. Wow. Just wow. Light box is a big improvement, but the real advantage is it shows what you’ve done–incredible craftsmanship.

  8. I always admired your excellent photos and this is the magic behind.
    This is the most inspirative lightbox I have ever seen… I use almost the same type. Now i have to get my LEDS !
    Thank you so much for this!

  9. It is amazing just how good the cameras in the phones are today. My girlfriend has an iPhone and it takes spectacular pictures. It doesn’t matter what the light level is, somehow it knows what you’d like the intended result to be, does just that and the photos are crystal clear. The 1/32 corsair looks like a really fun build as well. I’ve heard good things…

  10. Hello Johannes,
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge on this extreme difficult issue.
    Regards, Dirk / The Netherlands.

  11. Great looking model. I love the choice of blues, the choice of markings and subject (a decidedly late-build -1 with the rear windows plated over) and i particularly like how the Eduard tyres with the cruciform tread pattern came out.

  12. Another way to go, if you already have a DSLR, is to invest in a backdrop and some cheap studio lights. Apart from the camera, tripod and remote trigger (which I already had and use for much more than photographing my models) my model photography set up including backdrop, lights with stands and umbrellas cost me about $150 Australian delivered from eBay sellers.
    http://p-two.net/Scale_Models/Camera%20set%20up/SAM_0399.JPG

  13. As a professional photographer with a high-end 35mm SLR, people who do this with their @#$%[email protected]!! smart phones are lucky they live on the other side of an ocean. 🙂

  14. I made the lights yesterday and it is a big change! All colors look natural and no further photo editing is necessary. I used 2 meters of 10W/m LED band only, still thinking of adding 0,5 meter to each side to get the light on bottom surface and to eliminate still visible shadows.
    However, there are no disturbing flashes on the surface, no color overburnings etc…
    And immediately I became an expert on all lights in the house, so next weekend I have to create LED lights in the kitchen 😀 …

  15. Great setup Johannes. But…. I would use two more lights one from each side (left and right) in order to diffuse shadows even more. 100W daylight bulbs would be more than enough.

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