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"Hell's kitchen" or: what to do with an oven if not for cooking ;) | by dizzyfugu
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"Hell's kitchen" or: what to do with an oven if not for cooking ;)

Here's a view at a typical setup for a "home shooting" of mine. Place is the kitchen, but any table with a vertical and even wall behind it will do, too. Any of the digital model kit pictures in my albums has been shot this way, more or less, so it might be a guideline (or inspiration) for other hobby photographers.


As a camera, I use a simple "tourist style" Kodak CX 7330 pocket camera. It has an optical zoom, though, and offers a macro program for small objects/close-ups, and I turn off the flash light manually. Anything else is "craftsmanship", for which I use...


1) A fixed background light.

In this case, and hidden behind the file drawer which acts as a glare barrier for the camera, is a 150 Watt halogen light from the DIY market. It produces a bright, white and rather diffuse light, but in many cases a weaker light source (I frequently use a 50 Watt Halogen reading lamp which shines from above onto the background) will suffice. The backgorund will definitievyl need some lighting, though, and sometimes this extra light behind the model will blend out shadows on the background, too.


2) A nice background poster.

Be creative! Just make sure that both perspective and scale are O.K., and if in doubt better use a bigger backgorund which fills area around the kit on the picture.

I use DIN A3 color printouts, and simply tape them to the wall. Just make sure that this background carrier is even and vertical (best is to use tape on all 4 egdes!), because the background light easily reveals ripples and curves, and sometimes you just see them on the final picture. Additionally, always check for reflections from the other light sources, therefore use shallow angles for the lights on both background and model, pointing away from the camera or block it with a glare barrier.


3) A reflector for counter-lighting.

A valuable tool and light trick. This is simple white cardboard on a self-made wooden frame. In many cases you can use this device to indirectly light up the dark side of a kit, esp. when more than a single light source would be needed but the combined light would just be too much or look totally unrealistic. Instead, cast back the main light with such a white panel, it looks very natural!

You can also use it to indirectly put light onto the whole kit, using a strong, pointed light source directly onto this reflector and have its light reflected onto the kit. It creates a warm and soft effect, much less bright but still illuminating the whole kit.

The whole thing is also handy as a glare blocker.


4) A tripod.

One thing I really recommend for macro pictures. You can easily build such a device by yourself, but buying one does not cost the world and it makes photo shooting easy and professional.

I use a small telescopic device which allows free camera positioning, and you will need it for crisp pictures in the makro mode of the camera and its slow shutter speeds!


5) One or two main light sources for the model.

I use 50 Watt Halogen lamps - again for their clean and concentrated light. When positioning this subject lights, check the background picture, the light should come from similar directions, otherwise the picture can look wacky!

Depending on the oveerall light level and perspective, I use two of these lamps from left and right, or one fixed spot (like here in the picture) and another one in free hand to light certain areas, e. g. from above. Finding a good light compromise this way is a delicate work, and normally I make picture series with slightly varying light conditions, chosing the best results for fine tuning and publishing.


6) A highlighter

This is a 20 Watt halogen reading lamp with a snake mount - I frequently use it free-hand to illuminate dark areas on a kit when the directional fixed light #5 casts too much shadows.

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Taken on March 5, 2010