Moto Magazine

Photographing the Whole Collection

Posted on the 13 September 2012 by Gardenamateur

Over the last month or so I have been slowly chipping away at a little project of photographing all my model cars in a nicer way. It has been fun to do, time-consuming for sure, but now the project is complete, very satisfying indeed. And best of all it has been very inexpensive, which suits my budget. And so I thought I'd share a couple of tips on how I've done it (and show you the results of course), in the hope it helps you to photograph your own collection on a super-low budget.

Photographing the whole collection

Here's the cheap set-up. My little Ricoh digital camera is set
to take macro shots. I sit it on a pile of books to keep it steady.
If I need a higher angle shot, add more books! The lightbox
itself is just a plastic storage bin with a sheet of A3 paper
stuck down with stickytape. Total cost $8. The lightbox is
pointed at the window where the natural light streams in,
but the clear plastic sides let in a bit of valuable light, too.

Instead of paying a fortune in artificial lamps to light the shots, I have simply been waiting for the right, bright, time of day, when natural light streams into my study. The natural light here is at its best for a couple of hours in the afternoon, so on weekends and other times when I can find a bit of time to take a couple more shots, I've been banging off photos of my little model cars and bikes this way.

Now, the results vary using natural light, so I do use Photoshop to tidy up the dark bits, should they occur. Here's an stark (ie, really bad) example of what I mean about 'dark bits'.

Photographing the whole collection

This one went really badly – the usual results are a lot, lot
better than this – but this shows what I mean very clearly.

Photographing the whole collection

By using the 'Dodge' tool in Photoshop, with a big 300 pixel
brush, it takes about 10 seconds to get rid of the muddy
bits and come up with a clean, crisp result such as I now
have here with this very lovely Peugeot 404 Wagon.

Photographing the whole collection

By comparison, this photo of two Lancia Asturas hardly
needed any attention at all in Photoshop.

So, in dealing with natural light while photographing indoors (I turn off all other indoor lights when photographing, of course) the results can be a bit variable, and they are not as good as a studio set-up with the control of lighting available there. However, for my humble, amateur, collector purposes, they are fine and most importantly the cost is minimal.

I'm so happy with the results of the photography project that I have uploaded them all to Photobucket, and now at the end of this blog (below the diorama slideshow, and below the 'blogs I visit' lists) I have set up yet another slideshow filled with my whole diecast collection, a bit more than 300 photos in all. Let me know what you think!
Big tip: the slideshow here on the blog only shows a small selection, so simply click on the bit saying "view all": this will take you to Photobucket and my albums there, and in there click on the "view as slideshow" and you can then enjoy the whole show as a nice presentation.

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