Model Photography

Taking pictures

The lighting is set up. The lens is mounted on the camera. The camera is loaded with the right film and attached to the tripod. Now, you've got to place the camera at the right place to take the "right" picture, taking advantage of all what's been said before.

First, you have to decide for the scene you want to shoot. It will, of course, depends on your layout and the various scenes that are ready to be photographed. It is generally not a good idea to shoot general views of the layout, or even parts of it, as these views are not really interesting and hide many of the details. Rather, it's better to concentrate on small scenes where all details will show up as they will make your layout look larger that it really is. Look at the two pictures on this page which have been shot in the same area of my layout. Which one is the most realistic ?

Since it's all about trains, we want to show trains and the general flaw is to fill up the scene with lots of trains, too many trains..., making the picture confused. It's best to show a single train (or even a single engine that is partially visible) which will be the main subject of the scene (unless you have something else to show !). Position the camera at about rail height (or an inch or so higher) so that the scene be more realistic (in real life it would be where you would stand to take a picture of a train). At last, make the final framing of the scene by looking in the viewfinder and observing all details, so that they take their place in the scene. Avoid having the main subject in the center, for a better picture.

Now is the time to adjust the camera settings, taking into consideration all the rules stated above (minimum aperture, shutter speed to match and focus slightly in front of the main subject), and to trigger the camera. Don't forget to take several photos of each scene, with various shutter speeds (nominal value, one notch above and one notch below). This is what's called "bracketing" and ensures that you get the perfect exposure on one of the pictures.

You may not get the "photo of the century" at the first time. But it's easy to improve yourself : just watch the pictures, after processing, and note what's wrong with them so that you don't do the same mistakes again, the next time. Your technique should improve quickly. At the beginning, it is a good idea to take a few notes on the condition of each shot so that you can determine which mistake you made, when you look at the pictures later, and improve your technique.

Good model photography...

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Page created by Jean-Louis Simonet
Last update : 03/07/2000
© 2000, Jean-Louis Simonet