I really love photographing my layouts and my ultimate aim is to make the locos and settings as realistic as its possible in 00 Gauge. Getting as much as possible in focus has always been a bug bear of mine. The relationship between F-Stop, shutter speed and ISO is complex to understand and I should imagine professional photographers spend a long time to master it. I haven't quite managed this and have always found that the higher the F-Stop then the yellower the image simply because the more depth of field (or more in focus you want) then the smaller the aperture. In addition, my camera will only stop up to F8. A medium aperture but one that still restricts the amount of light you need. This always spoils the photo and no matter how long you keep open the shutter you can never get rid of the yellowing effect. Camera's therefore love loads of light where this is concerned so I decided to cobble together my own powerful lighting rig. It had to be on the cheap because professional lighting rigs are an astronomical cost.
The above shot under the rig. F8 at ISO 400. The camera sets the shutter speed itself and I set a two second timer delay to defeat any camera shake.
The 'Heath Robinson' style lighting rig. I found an old overhead projector at my local tip and took it apart. I put the fan and bulb assembly into a wooden box, created a reflective direction device out of hangers and mounting card and put the whole thing on top of a stand that I bought secondhand from a builder for a fiver. It was really cheap to construct and it works quite well. Mind you, despite the fan it gets very hot so I don't leave it on too long in case the whole thing falls apart!
The rig is about as good as it gets in creating artificial sunlight. It's either that or lug the layout down from the loft and wait for the sun to come out and you could wait a long time over here for that! Now to get rid of those pesky shadows on the backdrop!
This is my take on a smashing prototype picture in Hornby's latest mag regarding coloured light signalling on the Southern. The picture was of a Class 33 double heading with a BR Standard 5MT out of Waterloo in 1966.
A summer afternoon at Folgate Street. Note how the light rig casts realistic shadows under the signal box gantry.
Light and shade. Notice how the focus drops away and yet this is the best my Fuji Bridge can do. It's a lot better than my other smaller 'snap' Panasonic Lumix which has a much narrower field of focus. The only other route is photo stacking, but this seems like a magic trick far beyond my capabilities. I guess I'll always be an analogue fuddy duddy!