Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Photographing Model Vehicles

Anyone who has model vehicles (and a camera) has probably tried to photograph them at some time. To get a realistic background I have had it suggested that you snap them on the roof of a car with a rural setting behind.Using the roof of the car puts them at a convenient height and ensures there are no close objects in the background. Massive blades of grass look ridiculous behind a small car.
This method is great if you have a rural setting in your back garden, but I have found using a picture as a background can work very well. I have used pictures from old calendars, but any appropriate picture will do.
You need to find an appropriate surface for the vehicle to park on and I have found fine "wet and dry" sandpaper makes a good road surface. You also need to make sure that the light falling on your model is coming from the same direction and angle as the sun in the picture.
Taking a picture from the height you would be against the full sized vehicle can also look a bit more convincing.
This 1:76 scale Atkinson tanker is photographed with Mount Ruapehu as its background. The low camera angle emphasises the size of the truck. The lack of rear vision mirrors and the spotless cleanliness of the truck are probably the two things that spoil the realism of this photo.
The model is manufactured by E.F.E.
Mount Ruapehu is NZs North Island's highest mountain.

This 1:43 scale Mercedes is photographed with a river setting. this is a Minichamps model so is quite detailed.

The background of this picture has a very low sun angle so I had to use the same low angle for the light on the truck. Unfortunately this made the nearest side to the camera a bit dark. So I corrected this by using some white card to the left to reflect some light back on to the dark side of the truck. The truck is a 1:76 scale Guy big J8, by Corgi Trackside, and again has no mirrors which lets it down a little.

If you just want to photograph the model without a background, I have found using white paper or card with a curve from horizontal to verticle eliminates a division line between the horizontal and verticle.
In this shot I have used the reverse side of a large calendar.
The truch is a Ford H series Transcontinental by Matchbox.

This Ferrari in 1:36 scale by Corgi is parked by one of NZ's southern lakes. These Corgi models were not that detailed as can be seen in this shot.

Another Corgi 1:36 scale is this Toyota Supra with rocky coastline. In this picture can be seen another problem to be careful of. That is reflection off the background picture.

The master of photographing vehicle models has to be a guy by the name of Tim Ahlborn. I cannot include any of his photos here as they are protected, but take a look at his site at http://www.timstrucks.com/
Tim builds all his own models from kitsets and combinations thereof and as you will see from his photos he is also a superb model maker.

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