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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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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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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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Roadkill,

Thanks for the link! I bought the camera for the 12x zoom, I might be going to Sebring 12 hours at the end of the month, but it's pretty good a macro too. Although it doesn't seem to have aperature priority! I haven't read the manual either - always a last resort!


Slot-dad, the photos are much better (I like Herbie's new look as well!)
. Have you tried locking the focusing at the front middle of the car (aim the camera at the middle of the car, even if this doesn't give you the compositon you want), partially depress the shutter release to lock the focus, and then turn the camera slightly to get the composition you want. This sometimes can bring more of a close in subject into focus, instead of giving you in focus coverage of the area immediately in front or behind you subject (car).

JT
 
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