Back Modifications (7)
Views: 196 (74 Unique)  Award Shortlist   

What did I do wrong?

By Mozzytheboy
I'd really like some advice on this Hogwarts OO gauge train picture. The idea was to create a foggy atmosphere with the train light picking up the fog. It is a picture I am so pleased with but failed to get any real interest in terms of votes when I uploaded to the gallery. I used lighting as it was shot in my loft that has of course no natural lighting.

I intended for it to look dark because of the Harry Potter thing. Clearly though it did not appeal even though to me it was one of my best yet. I need to know therefore where I went wrong in terms of photography. Without your help I just cannot get better. I am learning all the time but something clearly was wrong. Can my peers help me out?

Tags: Train Transport Landscape and travel Flash and lighting Night and low light

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.

Comments


devlin 6 652 39 India
28 Oct 2010 8:19PM
Hi Mozzy, iam not too sure how one goes about photographing train models but to me i dont see much wrong with this image at all, it seems to be well exposed, the lighting seems just about right for what you were trying to achieve..though the misty effect doesnt come through very clearly, from a composition perspective traditionally you would want to see the subject entering the frame rather than going out of it though iam not too sure if this would apply to this. Have done a mod to try and see if it could be made better, by cropping it a bit from the bottom avoiding the cut off grass at the bottom gave it a contrast and a red boost increase to bring out the color of the train.

Thanks for posting this up though cause it generated enough interest for me to research this subject and i came across this site which spoke about techniques specific to train models, if you dont know about this already i hope it helps to further your efforts

Train Models Photography

Cheers and hope this helps

PS: - I also wouldnt worry too much about the votes, with so many images being uploaded its easy to get inundated Smile

Prabh

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Mozzytheboy 5 710 4 United Kingdom
28 Oct 2010 8:25PM
A huge thank you. And no I did not know of this site. Today I actually sold my entire OO collection which was significant. I wish now to move into O gauge which is essentially twice the size ... oh and up to ten times the price of course. It is the scale that Pete Waterman models in.

It may be a while but any tips I get now will help me for future model rail projects and thanks for the mod.

Mozzy
Jestertheclown 7 7.3k 249 England
28 Oct 2010 10:41PM
Hi Mozzy,
Not sure whether this is an improvement or not but I thought I'd give it a go!
I've simply applied a "darkness" to one side of the image using the "Gradient" tool set to "foreground to transparent" at 36% with the foreground colour set to black.
It took several attempts to get the darkness in roughly the right place and several applications to get the right amount (if that is the right amount!)
I also applied a few tweaks in shadows/highlights and added some contrast.
I got the cold grey look using auto tone and auto colour although I guess you could also make adjustments using curves.
The platform on the right and the low wall are probably lit as they should be but the wall on the end of the building, I think, needs to be in shadow for which I think I'd need to use another layer so I'll stop here, but you get the idea.

Al done in CS5.

Hope this helps an/or is OK.

Cheers,

Bren.

Edit: I think I should also have removed the coupling from the front of the loco as it looks like a shadow from a non-existent light source.
Mozzytheboy 5 710 4 United Kingdom
29 Oct 2010 6:35AM
Thank you Jester. That is certainly very different to my original. One is warm and the other cold. And with a foggy scene yours gets my vote. Thank you for taking so much time to explain what you did.

Mozzy
paulbroad 9 114 1045 United Kingdom
29 Oct 2010 8:27AM
Difficult one this. Quite a good idea and the attempt at fog is probably the cause of the problems. There are two for me - and even whilst fog destroys contrast, I think you could do with a bit more.

The other is the colour cast, which is very magenta and thus not natural. You need to remove the magenta and turn things a little more neutral. Try thee colour balance tool and see how things look at different settings.

Paul
Mozzytheboy 5 710 4 United Kingdom
29 Oct 2010 9:55AM
Thank you Frank, I'm learning a lot here from my peers.

Mozzy
DRicherby 7 269 725 United Kingdom
29 Oct 2010 1:34PM
First off, I wouldn't worry too much about the votes. This shot only got a few votes less than your average and that could just be random variation.

Second, it looks like you have a great model railway here, which must give you a lot of enjoyment. It's also a great subject for photography and the article by Charlie Comstock that Prabh linked to has lots of interesting tips. It suggests creating fog effects with dry ice but you should read up on safety before doing that in a confined space such as your loft. (Breathing out is a reflex action to increased levels of CO2 in your lungs, which is usually because of your body's metabolism. But, if the air you breathe in already contains elevated amounts of CO2, you can get into trouble, even if there's plenty of oxygen in it.)

On to the shot... To be honest, I find it rather flat and a bit boring. To me, aside from the glow of the engine's lamp, it doesn't look so much foggy as dark. In either case, I think the station would be lit, which would help to create atmosphere. You'd also likely see an orange glow from street lighting nearby. In terms of realism, there's also the rather obvious coupling, which should be easy to clone out, and the lack of steam, which would be harder to recreate, either in the model or in software. Unfortunately, though, much of the atmosphere of steam trains is that they spray steam and smoke all over the place.

One thing that the Comstock article doesn't cover so much is camera positioning. I think there are two main options: either position the camera to look like the photo was taken by somebody in the model itself (i.e., close to the ground) or position it to give an aerial shot, as if from a model helicopter. Again, these two options increase the realism of the shot and help to immerse the viewer in it. Your shot looks like it was taken from a second- or third-storey window across the tracks which is, of course, possible but feels a little detached — as soon as I have to think about how the photo was taken, I no longer feel a part of the scene.

The composition could be a bit more dramatic. It would be nice to allow more space in front of the engine, so we can see the light fade into the fog ahead of it. It might also be punchier shot closer to head-on — this viewpoint is fairly close to a side elevation, which is the stuff of engineering diagrams rather than dramatic stories. Smile
James_C 7 36 56 United Kingdom
29 Oct 2010 3:27PM
Hi Mike, I've taken a different approach to the rest. First of all used curves to correct the magenta cast. Then I've blued the sky - fuzzy select and then adjust in Hue & Saturation. Then I selected the light/white areas and toned them down using curves. All this was done uesing GIMP. I then used Picasa and used the Soft Focus, centered on the engine, to increase the foggyness. After uploading It looked a bit blue so had another slight tweek to correct.
Just an idea...

James
Eviscera 10 1.1k 149 United Kingdom
29 Oct 2010 4:15PM
Mozz ,

Id alter your white balance to suit the lighting source in the loft.

Or change the colour temperature in cam (mine defaults to 5500k , but up it to 9k for warmer or 2k for a colder effect.

Ive whacked a bit of steam in as an idea , but you could play with film grain or do a sepia version to "tie" the elements together.
Mozzytheboy 5 710 4 United Kingdom
29 Oct 2010 6:41PM
I'd like to thank you all sincerely for taking the time to post edit my picture and make suggestions to me. I am now beginning to see where i was going wrong, and it is your help that I am deeply grateful for.

Mozzy
Mozzytheboy 5 710 4 United Kingdom
29 Oct 2010 6:45PM

Quote:First off, I wouldn't worry too much about the votes. This shot only got a few votes less than your average and that could just be random variation.

Second, it looks like you have a great model railway here, which must give you a lot of enjoyment. It's also a great subject for photography and the article by Charlie Comstock that Prabh linked to has lots of interesting tips. It suggests creating fog effects with dry ice but you should read up on safety before doing that in a confined space such as your loft. (Breathing out is a reflex action to increased levels of CO2 in your lungs, which is usually because of your body's metabolism. But, if the air you breathe in already contains elevated amounts of CO2, you can get into trouble, even if there's plenty of oxygen in it.)

On to the shot... To be honest, I find it rather flat and a bit boring. To me, aside from the glow of the engine's lamp, it doesn't look so much foggy as dark. In either case, I think the station would be lit, which would help to create atmosphere. You'd also likely see an orange glow from street lighting nearby. In terms of realism, there's also the rather obvious coupling, which should be easy to clone out, and the lack of steam, which would be harder to recreate, either in the model or in software. Unfortunately, though, much of the atmosphere of steam trains is that they spray steam and smoke all over the place.

One thing that the Comstock article doesn't cover so much is camera positioning. I think there are two main options: either position the camera to look like the photo was taken by somebody in the model itself (i.e., close to the ground) or position it to give an aerial shot, as if from a model helicopter. Again, these two options increase the realism of the shot and help to immerse the viewer in it. Your shot looks like it was taken from a second- or third-storey window across the tracks which is, of course, possible but feels a little detached — as soon as I have to think about how the photo was taken, I no longer feel a part of the scene.

The composition could be a bit more dramatic. It would be nice to allow more space in front of the engine, so we can see the light fade into the fog ahead of it. It might also be punchier shot closer to head-on — this viewpoint is fairly close to a side elevation, which is the stuff of engineering diagrams rather than dramatic stories.



I had not considered that the shot would seem as if it had been taken from a third floor window, and of course you are absolutely right. I missed that completely along with many other things that have been mentioned and within your own thorough critique.

I am more grateful that you could ever really know!

Mozzy
Jestertheclown 7 7.3k 249 England
29 Oct 2010 7:38PM
Considering I didn't much like this shot Mozzy, it's turning out to be a great success in terms of input and advice.
You've really got us all going with this one!
Just glad to be able to help.

Bren.
Mozzytheboy 5 710 4 United Kingdom
29 Oct 2010 7:43PM
Bren

At the risk of sounding a bit of a dweed (of which I am NOT) I have been very fortunate indeed to find such a fantastic place to learn from. When I say how grateful I am I really DO mean itSmile

Mike
Tonksfest 8 5 1 United Kingdom
29 Oct 2010 10:15PM
Hi there , Mozzytheboy . WHAT the hell is DRricherby talking about. I think he likes typing
Grampy 6 507 71 England
20 Nov 2010 12:58PM
One of the most important things one has to think of when shooting models is how to solve the problem of angle of view.
I will try to explain, in your shot in relation to the buildings at the back the camera is around 5 meteres from the ground but looking at the rails in the front of the image it gives a completly different impression.
It's not a difficult thing to solve ,it all comes down to the lens to be used ,as the subject is reduced the lens must be as well everything must be in proportion.
I refer to a photo of 5 model Lancaster bombers used as a banner on my gallery page, this was shot with 120mm lens on 10x8 film that would be ultra wide on 35mm but of course on a plate camera I have the possibility to play with the perspective as well.
I hope this is clear and good luck in the future
phillip
Grampy 6 507 71 England
20 Nov 2010 1:06PM
Another thought is how to light the platform behind the train giving a little more relief behind the train, Well you would be surprised what you can do with a few small torches hiding out of shot,they can also be used to create light through windows etc. Have a look at some shots of architects models , that's the way we used to do them.
Don't forget a tiny torch would be equivelent to a 20kw light on the real thing. Keep everything in proportion and you can't go wrong.
Mozzytheboy 5 710 4 United Kingdom
20 Nov 2010 6:45PM
Thank you all, really appreciate the help.

Mozzy

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