Photography for





Selecting the Subjects

The advantage of high-contrast lighting is its revealing ability of physical features due to its prominent shadows. But it will supress painted features and colors. An intricate details or physical marks will benefit from this type of lighting. Engine grill, tracks of armoured vehicle, expression of figures, etc. The high-contrast light will show their textures and intricate details.
But this technique has its downside; painted weathering, such as paint chip, rust, etc. will simply disappear under this lighting. An armoured vehicle which looks "dirty" on a brightly-lit photo, may look clean and shining under the high-contrast light. So you have to select the subjects of your photo carefully. Adjust the angle of the camera and the light, then see carefully from the same point as the camera.

Below are several examples:

These are pictures of a SdKfz.251's bonnet, 1/35 scale model, taken using two different lighting. The photo on the left was taken using high contrast lighting, while the right photo was taken normally under diffused light. The left photo clearly shows the welding marks on its upper end of side wall. This photo also shows the coarse, grain-textured skin. Try to compare with the photo on the right; the welding marks disappear, and the skin seems as smooth without texture. But the right photo shows the camouflage colors better.



The high contrast photo can be used to enhance the picture of textured surface, intricate details, or some delicate parts, whereas a brightly-lit photo will not be able to show.

This is another comparison. The subject is a gunner's window on a Flak 88 (1/35 scale). The high contrast lighting is good to enhance intricate detail like this. It makes the hex-bolts more pronounce, altough the color may not register properly. The high contrast lighting is not meant to show colors, its main goal is to show physical attributes.

The above pictures were taken from the same model, but with different lighting method.
It shows a fuel tank on a 1/35 scale T-34 tank. The photo under diffused light shows all of the colors, including the paint splatters, while the high contrast photo showing less colors, but revealing its physical attributes. See the dented fuel drum, the engine grille, and the tracks' pattern.



Further attention must also be taken on decal, if any. Since the photo will emphasize texture, therefore it will also emphasize the decal's thickness and reflectance. The decal will look like a thick sticker pasted on the model, which is not desirable. To prevent this happening, the photographer shall adjust the light and camera position.

Decal is considered as a sensitive part on a model, especially military models. Modellers spends time and effort to make the decal blend naturally into the paintwork. But whatever they do, the decal will still bear its thickness. It will not be an issue under common lighting, as shown on the photo above, at right. This decal on a model of Bf-109, had been treated with decal softener and coated. It blends naturally in that photo.
However, if the lighting was changed to high contrast, the thickness of the decal may appear, as can be seen on the photo at left. This is undesirable condition. The photographer shall alter the camera or light source angle to prevent this situation.

Junkers Ju-52
in 1/72 scale
The corrugated skin
make it an ideal subject
for high contrast lighting

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