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Tuto : Photographing your models on a diorama


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Hi !

Some days ago, Mixup_1 asked a tutorial about "How to photograph a model on a diorama".

In spite of my poor English (sorry) I will try to answer to Mixup_1.

Warning : This is my personal method - It's certainly not the best ever and i'm sure that there is a lot of other way to do... (if you have a different procedure, feel free to share it with us !)

Well... Let's go... :

Step 1 : The ground :

My parking area is made from 6 sheets of paper on which I printed an image of concrete runway.

These 6 sheets of paper are simply stuck on a correx pannel cut at the good size (Correx is a polypropylene "double wall" sheet used for packaging, you can also find it with printed commercial advertisements and hung at the ceilings in many supermakets - Correx is also know as : Akylux)

This is the result :


Step 2 : The landscape

My landscape is also printed on a couple of sheets of paper.

I used some screenshots taken from the mission editor of a combat flight simulator, but if you have the chance to have a lovely real landscape near you, you can use some pictures of it, it will look much more real

The two sheets of paper are stuck on a simple foam piece that must be thick enough to be stable once put "on the ground" (i used a 50 mm thick styrofoam bar and i stuck the landscape with adhesive tape)

The important thing is that the bottom part of printed landscape must overtake the styrofoam just like this :


and allows the background to be slightly bent


Why ? That's rather simple : I want the junction between the runway and the landscape to be as least visible as possible so i will "bend" the bottom of the lanscape and put the overtaking part under the correx sheet and it will allows you to set the horizon line's height just by moving the foam block back and forth.4.jpg

A smooth transition between the background ant the runway is also created by the bent background and allows it to become invisible


Step 3 : The model and the photographer

a - Put the model near the back ground but not to close (try to avoid any visible drop shadows of the model on the landscape.)

b - Always put your camera on a tripod if the shutter speed decrease under 1/60 second


Step 4 : The camera settings

a - Except in a few rare cases, i never use the embeded camera's flash light - i better use a high ISO value - Caution : i recommand to perform some tests to see how your camera is able to handle the "high iso". Most of the standard camera don't like iso value higher than 800. Keep in mind that the most the ISO value will be high, the most your picture will be covered with film grain.

b - Because all the wide angle lens deform the image, I always try to use the camera zoom to frame the picture

(For those who use a reflex camera : I often set my zoom from 50mm to 170mm and even, when needed, i increase the zoom up to 250mm)

c - I want a sharp focused image from the foreground to the background (i.e. a long Depth of field) so i set my camera on the "aperture mode" (A Mode) and i set the value on the higher number available. (The more this value is high, the longer will be the depth of field, the longer will be the exposure time - That's why the use of a tripod is compulsory.)

For example : Here, the zoom is set on 44mm, iso is set on : 2500, Aperture is set at the max allowed value : F22 and the camera processor calculated an exposure time of : 2 seconds


This is the result - picture taken indoor with incandecent light. Not very good, a bit blurry, not so realistic colors...


The same subject but this picture was taken outdoor (in the garden) under a late afternoon warm sun light : i managed to use a bigger zoom value,

The light is better as the picture's sharpness


Keep in mind few things :

- The most you will zoom, the most you will loose light and so the longer will be the exposure time

- The light quality or setting are very important :

* Always try to shoot picture under the sun light

* Always take your pictures with the sun in your back or on your side

* Choose the hours that will allow the smaller droped shadows

* Try to frame your picture to simulate a realistic point of view on the model

* Practice, practice, practice....

I hope that can help some of you and that my explanations was understandable....

Best regards


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Excellent tutorial Pascal. I learnt some new ideas from that.

The only thing that I did with my background photo was drop it into some photo-editing software to make it slightly blurry to start with.

Thank you for posting this.

Kind regards,


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Hi friends,

I'm happy to see this little tutorial can help some of you.

If other people have some different methods, i would be happy to learn new things too :-)

@ : Stix, your runway / parking area are wonderfuly made too, i think you might make a little tuto if one day you will paint some new concrete paving stone and how you add your so realistic grass on it

Best regards


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Hello Pascal

Very informative, i will try it out next time, coz i have ever problems with the white balance, as one can see on my yellow F-86 Sabre of Montana ANG. The background is not really white but greyish.

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Lighting is the most important (and often overlooked) part of any sort of studio photography. Anyone planning to do this on a regular basis should consider some form of studio lighting. You can get a kit with strobes, stands reflectors for under £200 (and you may well find for much less used), though these days some prefer continuous LED light panels. Either way, what you get is strong, colour corrected light of a set level allowing you to easily produce consistent results. For the small set ups modellers typically use, big powerful pro lights aren't necessary (I use mine at about 1/8th of their power and can still stop down to f16).







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