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Model Train Photography
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Nov 9, 2019 17:50:08   #
tnste Loc: New Westminster, BC
 
I am attending a model train show tomorrow as part of my photography club outing. The show will be indoors but I understand the lighting is not bright so either you need to crank up the ISO or use a tripod (was planning on using the manfrotto beefree if necessary). I checked some tutorials on taking photos of model train layouts and it is strongly recommended to use a tripod. Some opinions recommend using manual settings (shutter speed and aperture) and to use a high aperture setting (f32, f22). Others say AF is okay. I have three cameras and wondering the best camera and lens combination; either of the following: Canon 7DII with a 15-85 mm lens or 24-105 f4 L lens; Canon 6DII with a 24-105 f4 L lens or Lumix FZ1000 24-400 mm lens. I thought going with my 6DII full frame camera would be the best choice but I read not necessarily so for layout photography. My FZ1000 is the lightest and that of using that but the highest aperture setting is one f8. Is that aperture small enough to get the depth of field required? One tutorial suggested to use an off camera flash but others said no on camera flash did not mention about external flash. It was suggested to use a low ISO (100), f22-32 (for full frame especially), but nothing said about what metering to use (evaluative, spot, partial, center weight average). Is my Manfrotto beefee tripod okay for the 6DII and 7DII? I have two other tripods but they are heavier and since I am taking transit to go to the show I want to take the lightest tripod I can. I am not even sure if tripods are allowed at the show. If not then I would probably go with the 6DII as I believe it has the best low light capability. Would appreciate comments and suggestions from the UHH forum.

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Nov 9, 2019 17:56:09   #
Bill_de Loc: US
 
Try our train section which includes posts on full size and model trains.

https://www.uglyhedgehog.com/s-131-1.html

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Nov 9, 2019 18:02:13   #
tnste Loc: New Westminster, BC
 
[quote=Bill_de]Try our train section which includes posts on full size and model trains.

https://www.uglyhedgehog.com/s-131-1.html


Thanks but that is not much help; does not answer any of my questions or concerns.

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Nov 9, 2019 18:10:20   #
Bill_de Loc: US
 
[quote=tnste]
Bill_de wrote:
Try our train section which includes posts on full size and model trains.

https://www.uglyhedgehog.com/s-131-1.html


Thanks but that is not much help; does not answer any of my questions or concerns.


Did you ask your questions there so folks interested in the topic have a chance to answer your concerns?

--

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Nov 9, 2019 19:00:57   #
Rongnongno Loc: FL, FR
 
tnste wrote:

Thanks but that is not much help; does not answer any of my questions or concerns.


No, it does not but if you ask your questions there you will deal with folks who know the heck they are talking about... One can hope.

Bill_de gave you the best answer.

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Nov 9, 2019 19:29:17   #
tnste Loc: New Westminster, BC
 
Bill_de wrote:
Did you ask your questions there so folks interested in the topic have a chance to answer your concerns?

--

I did not mean to offend you and am very sorry I did. Perhaps I missed something in the info you provided but I just could not find information that was related to my concerns I have not done this type of photography before so I just want to be prepared to take some decent photos.

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Nov 9, 2019 19:32:47   #
Bill_de Loc: US
 
tnste wrote:
I did not mean to offend you and am very sorry I did. Perhaps I missed something in the info you provided but I just could not find information that was related to my concerns I have not done this type of photography before so I just want to be prepared to take some decent photos.


You did not offend me at all, no worries there. I just didn't want you to miss out on what should be a good source of information,

Good Luck.

--

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Nov 9, 2019 20:14:56   #
larryepage
 
tnste wrote:
I am attending a model train show tomorrow as part of my photography club outing. The show will be indoors but I understand the lighting is not bright so either you need to crank up the ISO or use a tripod (was planning on using the manfrotto beefree if necessary). I checked some tutorials on taking photos of model train layouts and it is strongly recommended to use a tripod. Some opinions recommend using manual settings (shutter speed and aperture) and to use a high aperture setting (f32, f22). Others say AF is okay. I have three cameras and wondering the best camera and lens combination; either of the following: Canon 7DII with a 15-85 mm lens or 24-105 f4 L lens; Canon 6DII with a 24-105 f4 L lens or Lumix FZ1000 24-400 mm lens. I thought going with my 6DII full frame camera would be the best choice but I read not necessarily so for layout photography. My FZ1000 is the lightest and that of using that but the highest aperture setting is one f8. Is that aperture small enough to get the depth of field required? One tutorial suggested to use an off camera flash but others said no on camera flash did not mention about external flash. It was suggested to use a low ISO (100), f22-32 (for full frame especially), but nothing said about what metering to use (evaluative, spot, partial, center weight average). Is my Manfrotto beefee tripod okay for the 6DII and 7DII? I have two other tripods but they are heavier and since I am taking transit to go to the show I want to take the lightest tripod I can. I am not even sure if tripods are allowed at the show. If not then I would probably go with the 6DII as I believe it has the best low light capability. Would appreciate comments and suggestions from the UHH forum.
I am attending a model train show tomorrow as part... (show quote)


Hi. I am a model railroader and have attempted photography of model trains on layouts. The big problem is that you are photographing the models at a very close distance. This creates both a depth of field problem and (usually) several lighting challenges.

Most head-on or quartering views of models nowadays are done using focus stacking, hence the need for a tripod. The ratios of the distances to the closest and most distant parts of your subjects are so great that it is essentially impossible to capture everything in focus with a single exposure. In the past, view cameras were used with various front and rear "swings" to manipulate the plane of focus and get acceptable results. Nowadays, the preferred method is to use focus stacking to capture a number of exposures which are in focus at different distances from the camers, then combine the "in focus" parts of the various images to produce a single picture that is in focus at all distances from the camera. This is usually not feasible in a crowded environment like a model railroad meet. The alternative is to take wide side views of the modela, which probably favors a full frame camera.

The second problem is lighting. Again because of your working distances, you are going to be dealing with bright foregrounds and with backgrounds that are too dark. Bounce would help, but I have yet to attend a train meet where there is anything available overhead to bounce off of. Shooting side views is an alternative, as is using the available light, maybe with a tiny bit of fill. Just know that you may be mixing lighting with dissimilar color temperatures which will likely have to be fixed later.

A final problem, which can be hardest to deal with, is that you will probably be forced to shoot any layouts from locations that result in awkward perspectives in your photographs. The likelihood is that your camera angle will be too high to produce pleasing results, and you may be viewing at an awkward angle.

When you put all this together, my suggestion is to shoot from a greater distance than you would first prefer, and plan on cropping pretty heavily for your final composition, rather than using a long focal length lens. This will help immensely with both depth of field and perspective. You may be able to use those who go with you to help some with crowd control in sort of a clandestine manner.

Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

| Reply
Nov 9, 2019 20:24:11   #
rjaywallace Loc: Wisconsin
 
[quote=tnste]
Bill_de wrote:
Try our train section which includes posts on full size and model trains.
https://www.uglyhedgehog.com/s-131-1.html
Thanks but that is not much help; does not answer any of my questions or concerns.

Tnste - It is unlikely that UHH members are just going to hand you the perfect photo. Some of the best model railroad photos I ever saw in the U.S. were published by amateur hobbyists in Model Railroader Magazine. And some were spectacularly amazing. I was a member of the NMRA and hosted the model railroad club at my high school. If this may be an on-going interest for you, I strongly encourage you to set up a dialogue with subscribers to the UHH Trains section. You might enjoy the comradery and learn things along the way.

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Nov 9, 2019 20:31:14   #
Gene51 Loc: Yonkers, NY, now in LSD (LowerSlowerDelaware)
 
tnste wrote:
I am attending a model train show tomorrow as part of my photography club outing. The show will be indoors but I understand the lighting is not bright so either you need to crank up the ISO or use a tripod (was planning on using the manfrotto beefree if necessary). I checked some tutorials on taking photos of model train layouts and it is strongly recommended to use a tripod. Some opinions recommend using manual settings (shutter speed and aperture) and to use a high aperture setting (f32, f22). Others say AF is okay. I have three cameras and wondering the best camera and lens combination; either of the following: Canon 7DII with a 15-85 mm lens or 24-105 f4 L lens; Canon 6DII with a 24-105 f4 L lens or Lumix FZ1000 24-400 mm lens. I thought going with my 6DII full frame camera would be the best choice but I read not necessarily so for layout photography. My FZ1000 is the lightest and that of using that but the highest aperture setting is one f8. Is that aperture small enough to get the depth of field required? One tutorial suggested to use an off camera flash but others said no on camera flash did not mention about external flash. It was suggested to use a low ISO (100), f22-32 (for full frame especially), but nothing said about what metering to use (evaluative, spot, partial, center weight average). Is my Manfrotto beefee tripod okay for the 6DII and 7DII? I have two other tripods but they are heavier and since I am taking transit to go to the show I want to take the lightest tripod I can. I am not even sure if tripods are allowed at the show. If not then I would probably go with the 6DII as I believe it has the best low light capability. Would appreciate comments and suggestions from the UHH forum.
I am attending a model train show tomorrow as part... (show quote)


Sometimes shallower depth of field provides a nice perspective. Though I do realize that sometimes documentary style photography may require extremely deep DoF. Here are some samples of shallower DoF taken with a Sony RX10M4:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gene_lugo/albums/72157705234321622

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Nov 9, 2019 20:44:06   #
svo84 Loc: Moline,IL
 
Try this article. It is comprehensive and should be a good help

https://mrr.trains.com/-/media/Files/PDF/2013/MODELERSGUIDETODIGITALPHOTOGRAPHY1.pdf

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Nov 9, 2019 20:53:55   #
mwsilvers Loc: Central New Jersey
 
tnste wrote:
I am attending a model train show tomorrow as part of my photography club outing. The show will be indoors but I understand the lighting is not bright so either you need to crank up the ISO or use a tripod (was planning on using the manfrotto beefree if necessary). I checked some tutorials on taking photos of model train layouts and it is strongly recommended to use a tripod. Some opinions recommend using manual settings (shutter speed and aperture) and to use a high aperture setting (f32, f22). Others say AF is okay. I have three cameras and wondering the best camera and lens combination; either of the following: Canon 7DII with a 15-85 mm lens or 24-105 f4 L lens; Canon 6DII with a 24-105 f4 L lens or Lumix FZ1000 24-400 mm lens. I thought going with my 6DII full frame camera would be the best choice but I read not necessarily so for layout photography. My FZ1000 is the lightest and that of using that but the highest aperture setting is one f8. Is that aperture small enough to get the depth of field required? One tutorial suggested to use an off camera flash but others said no on camera flash did not mention about external flash. It was suggested to use a low ISO (100), f22-32 (for full frame especially), but nothing said about what metering to use (evaluative, spot, partial, center weight average). Is my Manfrotto beefee tripod okay for the 6DII and 7DII? I have two other tripods but they are heavier and since I am taking transit to go to the show I want to take the lightest tripod I can. I am not even sure if tripods are allowed at the show. If not then I would probably go with the 6DII as I believe it has the best low light capability. Would appreciate comments and suggestions from the UHH forum.
I am attending a model train show tomorrow as part... (show quote)


If you are even thinking about the suggestion of ISO 100 and f/22-32 with your slow lenses and expect to get decent exposures in low light, forget it. If you are going to really crank up the ISO, than you should probably shoot in raw which will allow for better recovery of shadow details with less noise. What flash do you have? What post processing software are you planing on using. For low light without flash you really need faster lenses like f/1.4 or f/2.8. Of course faster lenses used wide open will also limit your depth of field.

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Nov 9, 2019 21:47:21   #
tnste Loc: New Westminster, BC
 
mwsilvers wrote:
If you are even thinking about the suggestion of ISO 100 and f/22-32 with your slow lenses and expect to get decent exposures in low light, forget it. If you are going to really crank up the ISO, than you should probably shoot in raw which will allow for better recovery of shadow details with less noise. What flash do you have? What post processing software are you planing on using. For low light without flash you really need faster lenses like f/1.4 or f/2.8. Of course faster lenses used wide open will also limit your depth of field.
If you are even thinking about the suggestion of I... (show quote)


Thank your comments. I have a Canon 580 EXII flash and a Canon 430 EX flash unit. I use (still) Aperture 3 and Affinity Photo for editing. I did not mention but I also have a Sigma 14-24 f2.8 ART wide angle lens that I bought recently. I was not planning to use that lens but then I read where wide angle lenses are used because of the deep depth of field at high apertures. But then you have issues with distortion. Looks like this is going to be a real challenge for me. It looks like I will probably take my 6D II with the 24-105 lens but may also take my wide angle lens as well.

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Nov 9, 2019 21:56:10   #
E.L.. Shapiro Loc: Ottawa, Ontario Canada
 
svo84 wrote:
Try this article. It is comprehensive and should be a good help

https://mrr.trains.com/-/m
edia/Files/PDF/2013/MODELERSGUIDETODIGITALPHOTOGRAPHY1.pdf



This is the best article I have ever read on this particular subject. So much so that I download it for future reference. It is very comprehensive. At a show, it may not be possible to effect all the lighting and camera angles as shown but I am certain you can adapt some of the techniques that are explained and superbly illustrated in the photographs.

| Reply
Nov 9, 2019 21:59:00   #
tnste Loc: New Westminster, BC
 
larryepage wrote:
Hi. I am a model railroader and have attempted photography of model trains on layouts. The big problem is that you are photographing the models at a very close distance. This creates both a depth of field problem and (usually) several lighting challenges.

Most head-on or quartering views of models nowadays are done using focus stacking, hence the need for a tripod. The ratios of the distances to the closest and most distant parts of your subjects are so great that it is essentially impossible to capture everything in focus with a single exposure. In the past, view cameras were used with various front and rear "swings" to manipulate the plane of focus and get acceptable results. Nowadays, the preferred method is to use focus stacking to capture a number of exposures which are in focus at different distances from the camers, then combine the "in focus" parts of the various images to produce a single picture that is in focus at all distances from the camera. This is usually not feasible in a crowded environment like a model railroad meet. The alternative is to take wide side views of the modela, which probably favors a full frame camera.

The second problem is lighting. Again because of your working distances, you are going to be dealing with bright foregrounds and with backgrounds that are too dark. Bounce would help, but I have yet to attend a train meet where there is anything available overhead to bounce off of. Shooting side views is an alternative, as is using the available light, maybe with a tiny bit of fill. Just know that you may be mixing lighting with dissimilar color temperatures which will likely have to be fixed later.

A final problem, which can be hardest to deal with, is that you will probably be forced to shoot any layouts from locations that result in awkward perspectives in your photographs. The likelihood is that your camera angle will be too high to produce pleasing results, and you may be viewing at an awkward angle.

When you put all this together, my suggestion is to shoot from a greater distance than you would first prefer, and plan on cropping pretty heavily for your final composition, rather than using a long focal length lens. This will help immensely with both depth of field and perspective. You may be able to use those who go with you to help some with crowd control in sort of a clandestine manner.

Good luck. Let us know how it goes.
Hi. I am a model railroader and have attempted pho... (show quote)


You gave me lots to think about. Thank you for the information. I have heard a lot about focus stacking but have not tried it as yet and really dont know how to apply that technique. You suggested to shoot from a greater distance. What lens do you suggest I use.? I would guess not a wide angle. I am thinking of my 24-105L lens with the 6DII body. I read if you use flash to use it overhead off camera and set the camera white balance for flash or tungsten. I was planning to take a tripod but that may not work if there are large crowds.

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