I play with different educational manipulatives for a living. (Visit www.weirdrichard.com). This instructable will present tips and hints on taking a digital picture of fischertechnik models!
(Note and Reference: - I was inspired years ago by an essay about taking pictures using another system located at http://www.baylug.org/ninja/original/Photography.html ).
Step 1: Introduction
Taking good pictures of fischertechnik is difficult at best. Most of the pieces are either black or red, making for little contrast between sections of a model. fischertechnik blocks are shiny, and will reflect bright sources of light. *Ugh*! Usually I use a CAD package to create models because you can control lighting and reflectivity, but sometimes you have to take a picture.
Step 2: Tips and Hints
Here are my tips and hints:
(a) Use a good camera. Inexpensive digital cameras will produce dark and blurry images. Once I even tried to take pictures of models using a SLAMCAM WWF camera I purchased on clearance at TOYSRUS. Oh dear. Know your camera and develop a sense of how it works.
(b) Use good lighting. Use natural (outdoor) lighting whenever possible. Take the model outdoors if you have to. I am lucky to have an office with lots of windows! I use multiple points of diffuse lighting and overhead fluorescent lighting.
(c) Use a neutral background. Remove soda cans and pizza boxes. In the past I used a photo box that I made myself, constructed of white contruction paper. Unfortunately that makes the fishertechnik elements show up darker! Lately, I use a table top that the person I share my office with spraypainted blochy grey and silver. The office carpet is beige. It seems to work, but for clearer images, I use a professional photography backdrop.
(d) Use a tripod. Shaky handheld shots usually equal blurry images.
(e) Get as close as you can. Except for "action shots" (for example, demonstrating a robot running a course ), the idea is to document the model. Shots taken from 50 meters away rarely work. This lead us to...
(f) Identify (to yourself) exactly what you are photographing. If you are trying to show off a gear train, take a picture of it, and not the room in general. Also, an isometric viewpoint is usually more useful than a straight on shot.
(g) Take a lot of photos! To this day, I receive emails regarding two shots of a model ski lift on my website. The photos are awful! It would be very hard to duplicate the model looking at them. And they are the only two pictures I took of the model! *Argh*!