Saturday, July 28, 2007


I have had a request for some details of how I take my photographs.

I said before that I’m not a photography enthusiast. I’m happy if I can do what I need to do. So when I realized a couple of years ago that it was becoming difficult to get film for my 25-year-old Pentax 110 camera I started to think about digital photography. I noticed a camera on offer at a good price, with 3.1 Megapixels (not bad at the time), and with a “macro” setting for close-ups as I’d seen recommended on the 2mm Yahoo group.

It has reassuringly clunky moving parts and I’ve never had a problem with it to date. I’ve starting using 2500mAh batteries and with a spare set on charge find these quite adequate for my needs. My only gripe is that the optical zoom doesn’t work well with the macro setting so I can’t get good images of very small parts.

Other equipment is a tungsten lamp, a fluorescent lamp, plain white paper for background and a ball-and-socket mount that clips to the edge of my table.

I like to keep things simple so I always use the same settings - “macro” and “no flash”. I set the model on white paper to avoid any background distraction. I make sure it’s well-lit with the lamps (this involved some trial and error when I started). I use the clamp to keep the camera steady.

Focusing is the main concern. I use the auto-focus facility and sometimes find it focuses on the wrong area. I can usually force it by focusing on a solid object at the required distance, then removing it before taking the photo.

I take perhaps 5 or 6 shots in slightly different positions. I’ll choose the image that looks best on the computer screen, then with simple software (I use Goldberg for Mac) trim the image and if necessary resize it to less than 1000 pixels width as I like to have the whole image on the screen at once.

It does take time. But this blog would be pointless without illustrations. And for me a well-focused close-up image is a valuable tool - I often notice things on screen that I missed under the magnifying glass. OK that’s a double-edged sword, but you know what I mean.

Afterthought: I have been subscribing to Colin Marsden's Railway Photography magazine as I like looking at photographs of real railways. There are often comments about individual photographs. Although not directly relevant to the modeller, this seems to me a painless way of learning how to take better photographs.

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