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Taking pictures of your model kits

OK, so you have been working long hours on that model and finally you can declare it, finished! No comes the part that I’ve seen many times. A photo session of your finished model kit (or work in progress for that matter) where not a hint of justice is made to your hard work. Due to the nature of my work, I have the proper equipment for high quality pictures of my finished model kits. Now, don’t think that every model is glamorized in my studio. 99% of the pictures here are taken on a simple set up and you can too!

Note: The pictures below are watermarked with n URL I no longer host.

First let me say that you don’t need the latest and the greatest DSLR camera to get good pictures of your finished model kits. First thing first, you need a background. I’ve seen plenty of model kits being photographed with all the clutter of the workbench on the background and a less than clean cutting board. That in my opinion is OK if your showing your work in progress. But please, do your model and yourself a favor, don’t take the pictures of your finished model under such circumstances.

Flash: Whatever you do amigo, don’t point your point and shoot camera with the flash ON onto your model. It washes out the colors and your hard weathering work. So using a direct flash on your models is a big no-no.

Background: Lets see the first big circle picture below. It is quite self explanatory.  The measurements are there but feel free to use yours. That’s 1/2” PVC pipe from the hardware store. You won’t need to glue the pipes, in fact, use them without glue and when you’re done, it’ll be easy to store it because you’ll be able to break it down. I did not spend more than $12 and that included the paper. The paper can be found in the post cards and gift bags section in your mega store.

If you are using a regular point and shoot camera, your light source can be obtained with 2 of those cheap table top lamps from the mega store. One lamp on each side will help minimeze harsh shadows.

There are also table top mini tripods. You’re going to need one, because your exposure will be longer than usual and chances are that you will get camera shake resulting in blurry pictures. Frame your picture and use your camera’s self-timer for razor sharp pictures.

All of the above applies if you own a DSLR. However if you have a flash for your DSLR, you can skip the table top lamps. A white painted ceiling (if you have it) is your best friend. Point your flash up instead of to the front and the light will bounce down beautifully.

I hope this is of some help to our fellow model builders. Should you have any questions, feel free to leave them in comments section below. That way your question and answer might benefit other visitors.

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George Collazo
George Collazo
George has been hosting review sites and blogging about toy collectibles, travel, digital photography and Nikon digital imaging since 1998. His first model kit build was a Testors 1/35 DODGE WC-54 in 1984.