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Hi everyone,

Have been reading through many of these topics with interest, particularly with regard to close up images, and staging scenes, so thought I would try my hand at it. I would greatly appreciate any feedback or advice.

I recently bought some cheap 1/32 scale figures, so I set up a starting grid scenario, with pit crews, drivers and cameramen, and took some ditance as well as close up shots.

The interesting thing is the way different eras of cars photgraphed. The newer cars came up much better in close ups, I think because of the extra detail, as can be see in these two pics of an M1 and a Ferrari GTO.





Whereas the pics I took of older GT cars did not have the same impact. The best of them are:



On the other hand, when it came to distance shots, the older vintage cars looked much better. Perhaps the scalextric pitstops and scenery suited that era of car more than it did the modern cars, as a similar shot with some F40's did not have the same impact, as can be seen below:




So, what do you think?


Graeme
 

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Graeme,

That's quite a bit of action! Seeing those older cars makes a relative newcomer like myself appreciate the detail and precision of the newer cars so much.

You're certainly right that your newer cars look more realistic. Here's my thoughts:

From a photographic perspective:

- Set your camera to macro or close up mode (often the "flower" icon) if not done already.
- Turn off flash and use a powerful light source/sources or photograph outside.
- Rotate track/display/or lights to yeild the best shading (chiaruscuro for you art majors!) for your subject. Is the light straight overhead, to one side, etc.?
- Pre-focus by partially pressing your shutter release and aim the camera at a middle distance section of your subject, then while still holding the shutter partway, rotate camera back to compose photo and press shutter all the way. This will cause the camera autofocus to set an averaged focus that will give you better depth of field. In other words, not only the front of the car will be in focus as some of your extreme close ups are.
- I also vary the light intensity and background color. This causes my Canon S200 to give me better close focus and depth of field sometimes. I can't explain why!

Don't be afraid to take many shots. I recently took 50 shots of my newest project. Some were very good, some poor. Only about 12 met my approval. Try different lighting for the same viewing angle. Review the photo on the viewscreen before continuing: is it up to snuff? What composition changes would improve the shot?

From a composition perspective (how you composed subject/framed shot/etc.)

- Perhaps more distance between elements would be better? At least give yourself some clear foreground, don't let clutter extend to the front of the shot.

- Try to set up a focal point in the action. Either by special position of a certain car, attention getting color, etc. Why would the photographer have taken the photo?

- Move the camera while looking at the view screen or viewfinder. What don't you want to see? Bad decal reflection? Lint? Elements blocking other elements? You are composing the shot, move the camera and the elements to suit you.

- Use your background elements to frame foreground subjects.

- If you're taking a low angle of a slot car I don't want to see the guide! Set up the shot from a quartering angle so the guide is behind the front wheel or in shadow (remember light position here!). Color the sides and front of the braid with a black Sharpie to camoflage.

- Crop for best effect. The Dunlop bridge in the third to last photo is incomplete and leads the viewers eye off the page. Better to crop it. The second to last photo would be better framed by moving back the pit buildings, lowering the camera angle a bit and positioning the Dunlop bridge as a full "halo" arch at the top of the photo to close off the receding perspective. Try it!

- Use your zoom if you have one to try for different focus and compostion effects.

- I think your last two shots are the best, especially the last one. Yellow and red Ferrari in foreground. Staggered and mimiced by the similar colored pit buildings. No clutter in front of the two Ferraris. Other cars (supporting cast) are downplayed by position and foreground details. Make it even better by losing the partial orange car between the pit buildings and crop or move the Dunlop bridge so no "D" is visible. The human eye wants to read all signs/text. This is incomplete, leading off the page and a distraction.

- Because of the minimal detail and bright colors these models and figures look best from a distance. Let's call them Impressionistic: up close you see garish color and crude plastic, but from afar these bright colors work together to create the exciting scene of a race.

- Details. Fix flags flying different directions. Arrange traffic cones in a more rigourous pattern. Move pit buildings back to give some middle ground

Here's some examples:

Note entire major sign in photo. Used as contrast to car in foreground. Semi focus of background sign keeps attention on car. Note guide pin behind wheel (and painted black). Could be cropped a bit from right. Note strong overhead light yields shadow below car and highlight on car details.



This image isn't as good. Too soft focus in middle ground and foreground (although foreground softfocus okay to emphashise car). Rear sign in too sharp focus is distracting. Since I don't read Japanese, partial graphics are not a distraction, it is more pattern to me. Glare on rear window hides bracket numbers.
On the good side the white pitwall, foreground sign set up a nice diagonal energy for the race direction.



This shot has much different lighting and resultant mood. Middle ground focus is sharp, fore and background is softer to emphasize model. Glare a bit better on windshield. Nice exhaust shadow on ground. A bit of out of focus rear tailight. Could be cropped a bit on right, add a bit on left to show race direction.



I included this because it has nice composition. Red car, lower left, track extends diagonally across frame and swings back behind snow field. Car subject is not "locked" in middle of photo, but shows action. Just enough shadow on the snow wall above the car to show it as three dimensional.



Sometimes what you see...



Is not what you've got:



It's all lighting and composition.

Whew, that was a long one. I feel like I'm back at art school!

So Graeme, let's see some more shots!

JT
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks JT,


Wow! That was quite a reply! I appreciate the feedback and advice.

I did take many more photos, but these were the pick of the crop. I am going to post up quite a few more on my website shortly (GT's Webpage).

I am very much a novice when it comes to photography, and I must admit I tend to only "focus" on the subject, in these cars one or a group of cars, and don't concern myself too much with the details of the setting. In these cases, I set up a basic race grid scenario, and then just focussed my attention on each car, rather than taking the surrounds into much account. I will try to absorb what you have said and give a little more attention to the scene from now on, and not just the subject.

I did find it very dificult though, to come up with the best angle for each car, and because I had already "set the scene", I didn't worry too much how the background changed as I changed the angle of the camera to the subject. I can see now that I will need to put a lot more thought into the setting up of each car, instead of trying to set up a single "scene", and making each car fit into it.

It will be quite a while before I get the time to have another crack at setting up scenes and taking such a large number of shots. I hope other forum readers are willing to come forward and add their advice and/or opinion to this rather interesting topic.

Graeme
 

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Nice photos all round, and some good advice from JT. I prefer the first 2 pics, but it also depends what you are aiming for in the photos.

If it is realism, then the difficulty is in what you are taking pics of; the small elvis figure with the baseball glove should be hidden in the background, as should the red faced martians!
 

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Scott Brownlee
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I can't add any photographic advice, but can I say that I (and I am sure countless others) really love seeing pictures like all the above.

To the experts, please continue and offer advice if you can, to all others please, please do not be put off by thinking your pictures might not be good enough. Every picture of a slot car is worth looking at.
 

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Graeme,

Great website, I'll have to spend some time learning my history. In the Commonweatlth countries, Scalextric seems to occupy a position similar to Lionel here in the US, a childhood right of passage, very interesting special tracks and accessories.

I had forgotten how difficult it must be to get those figures to stand so close with 1:1 fingers working between them
I bet a lot tipped over, domino style!

Regarding comosition, I realized after posting that I make it pretty easy on myself: one car at a time!

Astro, your comments about the figures are true. I thought the baseball mitt wearing figure looked like Niki Lauda after his Nurburgring accident!

And Scott, I agree looking at pictures of slot cars is one of the best part of these forums. So here's another one:



Not the best shot. Fuzzy front fender, engine intake detail in shadow, and the Tamiya Red looks orange! I've read that red is tough for digital cameras, this proves it.

JT
 

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Anthony Bartlett
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JT - thanks for that great description - I have been struggling with my digital camera and was about to resort to my trusty Nikon 35mm........

Will try some or all of the suggestions you make....... and see what happens....
 

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QUOTE (graemet @ 29 Dec 2004, 02:11)Hi everyone,

Have been reading through many of these topics with interest, particularly with regard to close up images, and staging scenes, so thought I would try my hand at it. I would greatly appreciate any feedback or advice.

I recently bought some cheap 1/32 scale figures, so I set up a starting grid scenario, with pit crews, drivers and cameramen, and took some ditance as well as close up shots.

The interesting thing is the way different eras of cars photgraphed. The newer cars came up much better in close ups, I think because of the extra detail, as can be see in these two pics of an M1 and a Ferrari GTO.





Whereas the pics I took of older GT cars did not have the same impact. The best of them are:



On the other hand, when it came to distance shots, the older vintage cars looked much better. Perhaps the scalextric pitstops and scenery suited that era of car more than it did the modern cars, as a similar shot with some F40's did not have the same impact, as can be seen below:




So, what do you think?


Graeme
<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

JT is giving you some good advice. I would say keep it simple and practice makes perfect. The only way to become a good photographer is to take a million or so pix. Keep snapping. Best wishes, gto junior.
 

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QUOTE (JT Previa @ 29 Dec 2004, 12:23)Graeme,

Great website, I'll have to spend some time learning my history. In the Commonweatlth countries, Scalextric seems to occupy a position similar to Lionel here in the US, a childhood right of passage, very interesting special tracks and accessories.

I had forgotten how difficult it must be to get those figures to stand so close with 1:1 fingers working between them
I bet a lot tipped over, domino style!

Regarding comosition, I realized after posting that I make it pretty easy on myself: one car at a time!

Astro, your comments about the figures are true. I thought the baseball mitt wearing figure looked like Niki Lauda after his Nurburgring accident!

And Scott, I agree looking at pictures of slot cars is one of the best part of these forums. So here's another one:



Not the best shot. Fuzzy front fender, engine intake detail in shadow, and the Tamiya Red looks orange! I've read that red is tough for digital cameras, this proves it.

JT
<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

tip: if your digicam has a white balance function set it by selecting "white balance" hold a piece of white card under light source you are using point camera at it and "set". as digicams have different methods check handbook for details. you should find that strong colours then register more naturally. colour temperature changes throughout the day and mixed light sources can be a nightmare(neon, tungsten etc) bright overcast daylight is really the best but 2 or 3 cheapo 12v lamps from ikea do the job nicely. this will allow you to create basic 3 point lighting (key light, fill light, background light but be careful with those shadows) good luck. gto junior.
 

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I too say thanks for the tips JT, I've had real problems getting the whole car inot focus as you can see so I'll have to try again. By the way what is that qwaint little car in the first few photos?
 

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QUOTE I've had real problems getting the whole car inot focus as you can see so I'll have to try again.

I'm still learning about these things myself, but to take the picture further away from the object, and then crop the image might help.
Using a tripod, or resting the camera on something, is useful when doing this since any blurring will be more noticeable on a cropped picture than a resized one.

Another possibility to get a larger focus area is to decrease the aperture size on your camera (by using a larger F-number).
From what I can see the picture was taken with an aperture size of F2.8, and I assume the DiMage Z2 has the possibility of setting aperture manually (check the manual if you don't know what I'm talking about).
The downside of using a larger aperture is that you will need more light or a longer shutter speed.

André
 

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QUOTE (Roadkill @ 3 Mar 2005, 15:11)QUOTE I've had real problems getting the whole car inot focus as you can see so I'll have to try again.

I'm still learning about these things myself, but to take the picture further away from the object, and then crop the image might help.
Using a tripod, or resting the camera on something, is useful when doing this since any blurring will be more noticeable on a cropped picture than a resized one.

Another possibility to get a larger focus area is to decrease the aperture size on your camera (by using a larger F-number).
From what I can see the picture was taken with an aperture size of F2.8, and I assume the DiMage Z2 has the possibility of setting aperture manually (check the manual if you don't know what I'm talking about).
The downside of using a larger aperture is that you will need more light or a longer shutter speed.

André
<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Spooky
the Dimage Z2 is the camera I use how did you know that
 

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Heh, there is nothing spooky or magical about it at all.
When you resized the picture with an imaging program the so-called EXIF information was preserved.
Among this information is the camera that you used and the F-number the picture was taken with.

I use a plug-in for Internet Explorer called ViewEXIF to see this information when it has been included.

André
 

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QUOTE (Roadkill @ 3 Mar 2005, 16:52)Heh, there is nothing spooky or magical about it at all.
When you resized the picture with an imaging program the so-called EXIF information was preserved.
Among this information is the camera that you used and the F-number the picture was taken with.

I use a plug-in for Internet Explorer called ViewEXIF to see this information when it has been included.

André
<{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thanks for the tips Roadkill
I'll try and take the same photo again tomorrow "and try" to use the tips you've given me. I'll keep you posted.
Cheers!
 

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Slot-dad,

I agree with Roadkill's suggestion, setting your F-stop to yield a smaller aperature. 2.8 might be the largest opening on your camera, try for F16 or F22 if you can. (In the model railroad field, the pinhole camera rules for extreme close up focus) The smaller the aperature of the lens, the deeper the depth of field (sharp focus area in foreground and background). Your camera might call this setting Aperature priority. You'll probably need more light then, or a longer shutter speed (to let in light) so you might need a tripod if shutter speed drops below 1/60 second.

If you can't set aperature manually, try blasting the subject with light (500 watts plus if a close up) to force camera to reduce aperture to reduce light (although your camera might try to do it all with a faster shutter speed)!

I've also found that different background boards (foamcore, posterboard, etc.) can dramatically affect how your camera sees the car. Try black, white, grey etc. depending on car color or light direction. I've been keeping a black poster board on a spare bench in my basement curved to yield a continuous ground, curved up the wall to a background. You can see it here with shape of the light reflection on the upper left:



(The foreground is a bit out of focus!
)

If you do succeed in getting deeper depth of field all the junk in the background of a low angle photo will now be in focus, distracting the viewer from the main subject. That's another reason to have a few poster boards of various colors around to block out the clutter.

Here's a photo that shows how shallow depth of field can help. I wanted the interior detail in the foreground sharp, the car it came from to be less sharp and deemphasized, and the junk on the bench less so:



(Roadkill, my new camera - what is it and what F stop?
)

Slot dad, thanks also for the good words, that little grey car is a modified ARII Mazda 360 on an Artin 1/43 chassis. Here's part of the story:

Doni's Dream

GTO thanks for the white balance tip, I'll have to try it. (And I now have a new digital camera to figure out) I'm sure using a combination of fluorescent and quartz lights isn't helping me.

JT
 

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Okay the wifes out with the youngest so I've had a little time to try a few shots I'm still having trouble getting the whole car in focus when taking pictures with depth plus I've not worked how to change the F settings, although I haven't looked in the manual yet so I hope to be wiser after a look there.

As you can see this one with the side angle is a bit better.

 
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