WELCOME! This website was designed for those new to model railroad photography and also for modelers who would like to expand their creative abilities in taking photos of their layouts. Much of what is presented here has been learned in my 40+ years of amateur photography, from techniques and ideas presented by others and various sites as noted. Please read through and see if there are some ideas that may be useful to you!
1. RTFM! RTFM! - Read the Friggin Manual! Yes there is a lot of information in most camera manuals for all kinds of photography. Manufacturers want you to make the most out of your camera and usually include way more information than the average user might ever use. Whenever you have a question or problem, check the manual first. You will not be able to absorb all of the info in the manual and probably will not need much of it, but you should have an idea of the camera’s capabilities by reading the manual.
2. TURN OFF THE FLASH. Unless you want only “snapshots” to show a model or scene quickly. Any camera that I’ve seen has this option.
3. LIGHTING. Provide lighting on the scene in any other method - existing room lights, work lights, lights on extension cords, desk lamps, daylight from a window, etc. The more light you can place on the scene the better.
4. USE A TRIPOD. If you turn off the flash, the shutter will have to stay open for a relatively long time. During this time ANY camera movement will make the image blurry. With film cameras the idea has always been to have a good sturdy tripod, because film cameras are usually heavy. Most digital cameras are small and light, so can get by with lighter tripods, although heavier ones can be the best choice. Flimsy tripods can vibrate if the shutter is pushed too hard.
5. USE THE CAMERA SELF-TIMER. Most cameras have a self-timer; use it when taking photos even if the camera is on a tripod. The timer is usually shown with a clock symbol, see above. Pressing the shutter button can sometimes cause minute vibrations or movement of the camera, resulting in blurry photos. Some cameras have infrared remotes or the ability to accept remote control cords. These are better than using the self-timer as they take less time to trip the shutter.
6. Set the color balance in the camera for the type of light you are using. Better cameras will allow you to choose between daylight, fluorescent, incandescent, etc. Improper color balance can be corrected in the computer after shooting if you have a decent graphics program.
7. CLOSE UP SETTING. Most digital cameras have a close up setting; it is often shown as a flower icon on the camera body or screen, see above. You should know what the distance range is in this mode; check the manual. Some will focus down to a few inches, others may be farther back. Most overall model railroad photos may not require the close up setting unless you want to get in really close like in the front of an engine, or a shot of a particular detail. For a small scene you will probably be shooting about two feet or so away, so the close up mode will probably not be needed too much. There are so many differences between camera capabilities that it is best to make some tests yourself to determine when the close up setting will be useful.
Updated 24 February 2017