Diecast Photography Tutorial

For special skills and tip to make collecting better
David MG
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Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 8:27 am
Location: Babell, North Wales

Re: Diecast Photography Tutorial

Post by David MG »

My wife took this on her i pad air 2.
She no longer uses her Leica bridge. Takes the i pad everywhere.

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Cheers,
David
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protzenegger
Posts: 682
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2017 2:22 pm
Location: California

Re: Diecast Photography Tutorial

Post by protzenegger »

Just thought I'd add an observation of how much technology has progressed since Ian's post, as well.

These pics of my GT2 were all made with an iPhone SE :D I've never been enough of a photography buff to justify shelling out for a fancy camera - and with results like these, who needs one anyway :P
"It would be a waste of life to do nothing with one's ability." -Bruce McLaren

Tom
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Joined: Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:29 am
Location: The Netherlands

Re: Diecast Photography Tutorial

Post by Tom »

I agree. For car interior photography at work I use a Nikon DSLR. However, test shots with my -inexpensive- Samsung smartphone often work out better than the Nikon's.

Alex_W
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Re: Diecast Photography Tutorial

Post by Alex_W »

I just got around to reading this. Really good stuff here. I've been working on making my photos look more presentable and this will help a lot.

Tom
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Joined: Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:29 am
Location: The Netherlands

Re: Diecast Photography Tutorial

Post by Tom »

I recently got one of these

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It has a ring of LEDs in the top, it's made from light yet sturdy enough plastic that folds away when not in use. It comes with a storage bag and six different colour backdrops. The LED light gives the option of bright white and/or warm yellow light in four brightness settings. It's 5V USB-powered so a smartphone charger or power bank will work.

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This was shot with my Samsung smartphone. I used a basic editing app to crop and resize and turned up the contrast a little. Will post DSLR shots later.

You can also shoot through the hatch in the LED ring for a top view

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This works fine for smaller 1:43 models but you need to put the model well back into the tent because lighting from the front is lacking. For better results one of those 'blogging' ring lights would be a good idea.

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I had a diffuse 20x20 cm LED panel on order to fix this, but it seems that it got lost somewhere. :(

There's another type of light box available that might work better. It has two bars of LEDs, one in the back and one in front at a slight angle. As these were only EUR 6 each from China, I have the second type on order too. If and when it arrives, I will do a side by side test.

Why get these small light boxes? Well, our money-grubbing government has decided to levy import charges on anything above EUR 22 including shipping. Those charges start at EUR 25 or thereabouts, so importing anything over that sum would be cost prohibitive (and I have had a 95% bad luck rate with my shipments getting picked out for checks). The small tents are EUR 35 from local vendors, BTW.

Jager
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Location: Perth, Australia

Re: Diecast Photography Tutorial

Post by Jager »

I wonder if the LED lights are too bright Tom as they're creating a lot of reflection. The 'blogging' ring light looks like it might be softer light and hence better for photographing models with glossy paint.
“Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting.” - Steve McQueen

Tom
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Joined: Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:29 am
Location: The Netherlands

Re: Diecast Photography Tutorial

Post by Tom »

I quite like the reflections myself (they add a little 'life' to the pics) but if you don't, a sheet of semi-transparent paper would make an easy fix.

Tom
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Location: The Netherlands

Re: Diecast Photography Tutorial

Post by Tom »

Still working on a routine that makes photography easy and gives good results. I've found that switching to the white LED lights in my lightbox gives the most faithful results, you don't need to remove a yellow tinge and while the light is not as bright it still works fine. To have nice diffuse light on the entire model you need to place it as far back in the lightbox as possible (a little counterintuitive, as it does not allow the background cloth to make a subtle curve that gives a seamless appearance). To avoid having the edges of the back wall in your picture, move the model to the left or the right of the box depending on your perspective.

This is what the raw picture looks like
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Because I shoot the pictures on my Samsung Android smartphone, I use two (free) Android apps for editing. One (called Pixlr) is used for straightening, contrast and colour correction and the other (called Image Resizer) for cropping and resizing. Though Pixlr does cropping and resizing too, I've found that it makes your images lose all sharpness. In Pixlr I use the auto balance function to get rid of any colour cast and improve contrast and separately fix brightness and optionally shadows to get rid of the remaining background and to clear up the muddy darker parts of the image. Per picture, this takes about 30 seconds.

Cropping gets rid of unwanted parts of the background and puts the model right in the centre of the image, making it appear as large as possible. I do not keep any surplus information so I always scale back to 800x600 before uploading, makes them load faster.

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From setting up the lightbox to uploading a set of five images of one model takes about 10-15 minutes including unboxing and boxing the model, so this is a quick and easy way to get decent results. My DSLR is past its prime but I've tried a few shots anyway, will edit and compare later.

If anyone cares I could do a step-by-step tutorial for the editing apps. Also, if you have recommendations for Android image editing apps, I'd be interested to know. I tried three and this gave the best results, but that does not mean that it's the best around.

Paulius43
Posts: 2786
Joined: Sat May 09, 2009 9:42 am
Location: Valencia, Spain

Re: Diecast Photography Tutorial

Post by Paulius43 »

Useful info!
I actually got myself a huge light box from amazon (their own brand I guess), it was discounted and got it for some 70euros shipping included (I needed the big size for the business).
Their led lights are super powerful, and even shine through my semi transparent silk paper sheet and create reflections.

Haven't tried to shoot models (yet), this is a pending task.. It's been many years since I stopped taking photos of my models so there is a hell lot of work pending here :lol: :lol:
"A picture is worth a thousand words, but a model is worth a thousand pictures." Harley J. Earl
My concept car 1:43 collection: viewtopic.php?t=1096

Tom
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Location: The Netherlands

Re: Diecast Photography Tutorial

Post by Tom »

If you mess around with the position of the model you might be able to reduce the reflections... as said, I think they add a bit of life to the pictures.

Comparison of smartphone shot:
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and DSLR:
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The differences are not so great as I'd like them to be. Granted, this is a low-end DSLR (Canon 1100D) that saw some heavy use and was given to me as defective. It is about 10 years old. A good, recent DSLR should improve on this.
The model has some weird shapes that reflect the light in odd ways. This makes for strange differences in colour between the door and the wings, for instance. It even looks like the door is flat grey.

Tom
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Joined: Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:29 am
Location: The Netherlands

Re: Diecast Photography Tutorial

Post by Tom »

My second light box arrived.

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It seems to work fine but it lacks the control of the other one. Only white light (no problem with that), no dimmer (I generally use max setting anyway) and no hatch for photograpy from above. It also doesn't seem as solid and the sides tend to bow inwards. The single light strip is on the front flap which gives a pretty even light distribution and can easily be angled down. The USB lead is quite short and the attachment is not sturdy. Use an extension lead or a power bank as a power source. Also, no on/off switch. The background cloths (black and white only) are higher quality and seem to be rubbery which doesn't crease or get dirty easily. If like me you don't mind the wait you can pick this up for EUR 6 shipped from China or if you're in a hurry it's EUR 15 on Amazon and you'll have it next week.

So, what are the results like?

If you put the model in the rear of the box, the light won't reach and the picture will be dark beyond fixing

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There's clearly not as much power as the other box has.
Also, the openings in the rear corners are much larger and will show in the pictures unless you retouch. Pretty easy to get rid of though

This is straight out of the camera

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And this is a basic brightness adjustment. You can see the opening in the corner, a little moving around with the model and camera might avoid it but with larger models it's inconvenient.

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If you're on a budget and don't mind the downsides, this could be a nice way to photograph your collection. If you collect trucks, transporters or like to do group shots I'd advise you to get a larger light box.

For comparison, this was shot with the other light box (with yellow and white LEDs together)

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I hope someone benefits from this info. If I'd known earlier that these made my photography so much easier I'd have saved myself a lot of experimenting and the quality of my images would've been a lot better.

Tom
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Joined: Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:29 am
Location: The Netherlands

Re: Diecast Photography Tutorial

Post by Tom »

I have my day off today and after chores and shopping there was some time left to fiddle around with photography. I tried some lighter models against the black background

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The backgrounds for this light box are neoprene rubber. Unfortunately this shows a grainy structure in the background and it's more of a dark grey than deep black, but the models do show up a lot better against the black. These needed only minimal correction, they're pretty much straight from the camera. Not bad. The smearing on the right is a dirty lens, should've fixed that beforehand.

And with the white:

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There's still room for improvement but for an effort/result ratio this is by far the best I've achieved so far. For an EUR 6 light box, that is impressive.

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