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Model Photography

I’ve been putting serious effort into building detailed plastic models for my book covers. This is an excellent way to bridge two hobbies, writing and modeling. However, I dropped the ball on actually photographing them. So this year I’m getting serious and ordering some real photography tools to get the job done.

What is needed is a way to cleanly separate the model from the background. What I have been using is a black sheet or black felt background. The trouble with that is you loose the shadowed bits of the model to the background. The proper solution is to use Blue Screen materiel and light it so that it glows. Then light your model with a single high key source that is color balanced to outside or blue tint. Unless the nearest star is a red dwarf or something.

The glowing blue background from the  specially treated screen materiel used in Hollywood makes this separation process much easier. So I went to the source and ordered a 5×8 roll from the Eefx company. I found this company from this post by Kuhn Global. I would love to order those special blue 500 watt bulbs that he uses, but the lighting kit for that is a bit pricey and I worry about only being able to stand using them in the winter. It gets pretty darn hot in my garage during the summer months in Idaho.

So my intention is to get some cheaper fluorescent floods with stands and just gel them with blue filters or not worry about the blue coloring. I have two problems after purchasing the lights. Hanging the blue screen materiel and building a mount for the models.

You can see in this X-Wing model image how well defined the shadowed areas of the model are. This makes cutting them out in Photoshop much easier.

Hanging the screen will be easy enough in my garage. If need be, I could build a frame out of PVC, but I think it will be heavy enough materiel to just hang.

Building a secure mount for the models will be more involved. I’ve standardized on 1/2 inch PVC for the newer models and the trick will be to mount the pipe to a sturdy base that can be adjusted for height. I’ll have to noodle on that for a while.

Eventually I’ll also be getting a digital SLR to take some decent pictures with but in the meantime I’ll be recruiting a friend with such a camera.


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