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Used to be when you wanted to put a background with a model you had to use a slide projector, projection screen, 35mm camera, black velvet light trap, photo floods, and a beam splitter. It took a lot of trial and error to get just the right shot, not to mention a lot of film. It definitely helped to have your own darkroom to develop the film.

The next best thing was to run an r/c boat in an area to where you could make the background look in perspective with the model, but then again you have a problem if the boat is a display only model.

With today's digital cameras and the array of photo editing software you can print photos of your model that is hard to discern between what's real and what's a model. I use Corel Photo Paint for all my photo editing. A popular software used by a lot of individuals today is Adobe's Photoshop. With the right backdrop and angle, the model can be made to look like the real thing.

A good photo can be taken with a good digital or an instamatic because it's all in the angle of the shot and paying attention to the background. Here are some tips to remember.....

1. Try to get down at ground level with the model. Imagine yourself as being the height of the crew aboard the vessel. It gives a more realistic perspective to the photo.

2. Pay attention to the background. Try to make the background un-busy as possible. If there is something going on in the background it draws attention away from the model being photographed. Sometimes this is where you may want to shoot from a higher angle as to crop out the background.

3. When shooting, know where you're at. Always be aware of your surroundings when around models and especially public exhibits. While you're engrossed in getting that perfect shot, you may step back into a child or worse in the middle of a highly detailed model someone is getting ready to launch. A guy was getting so entranced with video taping an event one time he literally stepped off the end of the dock.

4. Shooting display models. Always try to photograph a display model on a blank background. A plain sheet works well. Try to use one with pastel colors. If you use a white sheet the hull will look great, but if your cabins are white they'll wash out into the background. Same thing for using a dark sheet. The hull will blend into the background. At times I have used the couch with a sheet draped over it so it will cover bottom and back and I have somewhere to sit the model. Using a plain background makes it easier when you go to play with photo editing and pasting your model into a background photo.


Here's a photo of the model of mv. G L FURR that I pasted into a background photo taken while on a trip aboard the prototype vessel in Oct '05. I'm not an expert by no means with photo editing (I spent about a half hour on this photo), but with patience and experimenting you too can have fun after the model is finished and put up for the winter.

For those of you who like to dabble in photo editing, here are some photos I took that you can try editing and adding your model into.

passing07.jpg (101535 bytes) Got a shot of you model from the stern? Try a passing shot

How about a shot from the pilot house deck like your looking across at the other vessel.


locks-greenup5.jpg (149065 bytes) How about cropping your model down and place it coming out of the locks.

loadingdock11.jpg (133259 bytes) Here's a background shot of a loading dock.

sunrise23.jpg (107119 bytes) Here's a sunrise shot

paducah1.jpg (88116 bytes) Paducah, Kentucky riverfront

riverfront1.jpg (92240 bytes) Another riverfront with casino boat

scenery03.jpg (115705 bytes) Evening sun

scenery08.jpg (110749 bytes) Fall foliage

scenery26.jpg (141441 bytes) This is the one I used in photo above

scenery31.jpg (148808 bytes) Another Paducah photo

scenery32.jpg (147948 bytes) Tree line

scenery63.jpg (109816 bytes) A good shot for an approaching model vessel.

scenery33.jpg (79086 bytes) Here's one with a power plant in the background

wave.jpg (173631 bytes) Here's one for you tug enthusiasts. See if you can have your tug riding over the wave.

Or use it for a bow wave.


If you use any of my photos for your model shots send them to me and I'll post them here.