Author Topic: Need the perfect photo for backdrop  (Read 5716 times)

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Chris333

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Need the perfect photo for backdrop
« on: April 04, 2013, 06:39:14 PM »
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Working on the background in the city area of my layout:


I have 2 places where the road runs into the backdrop:



As you can see I have the old Detail Asso. printed sheets mocked up, but I want to use a photo of a real street.

I model 1948 so the photo can't really have cars in it, unless I get lucky and find a perfect color photo from that period.

Any ideas? Anyone know where some nice photos are?

Dave Schneider

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Re: Need the perfect photo for backdrop
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2013, 06:52:51 PM »
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Chris,

I have this exact same problem at present, as I am sure many others have as well. One thought I have had is to photograph some 3-d models and/or a modeled street to force the perspective. They don't have to be super detailed, and the colors could be muted a bit (maybe with a  blue tinge to convey distance).  That might ease the problem with blending colors, lighting, textures, and details. Just a thought.

By the way, this looks like a great scene. Have you shown us a track plan somewhere?

Best wishes, Dave
If you lend someone $20, and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

bc6

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Re: Need the perfect photo for backdrop
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2013, 06:56:38 PM »
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Try the link below, its an excellent resource for pictures.
http://www.nyc.gov/html/records/html/collections/collections_photographs.shtml

Dave Schneider

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Re: Need the perfect photo for backdrop
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2013, 08:49:25 PM »
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Chris,

I realized that I did something that drives me crazy. Instead of answering your question I suggested you do something different.  Sorry.  :facepalm:

Anyhow, have you thought about using Bing Maps streetview? It is a little different than Google, and has some nice perspective views. Might take a while to find the perfect place, but it might work. Here is an example I was playing around with from Milwaukee.



Best wishes, Dave
If you lend someone $20, and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

wcfn100

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Re: Need the perfect photo for backdrop
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2013, 08:54:09 PM »
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Nice one Dave.  If you do find something like that Chris, I think most cars could be photo shopped out and replaced with street walkers - or whatever you had in mind.

Jason

MichaelWinicki

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Re: Need the perfect photo for backdrop
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2013, 09:04:10 PM »
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Brilliant Dave!


Chris, maybe you'll consider some sort of sky background behind the buildings.  Not only do you get the right sky coloring, you get some clouds in there too.

Chris333

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Re: Need the perfect photo for backdrop
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2013, 09:37:20 PM »
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Chris,

I realized that I did something that drives me crazy. Instead of answering your question I suggested you do something different.  Sorry.  :facepalm:

Anyhow, have you thought about using Bing Maps streetview? It is a little different than Google, and has some nice perspective views. Might take a while to find the perfect place, but it might work. Here is an example I was playing around with from Milwaukee.



Best wishes, Dave

The photos of models idea isn't bad, but I'd have to do modeling just for a pic.

I didn't know Bing had street views and Google maps doesn't work on my computer. I'd like something like the view you came up with. I'll have to look around.



I might still airbrush in some clouds, just worried to mess it up.  :P

VonRyan

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Re: Need the perfect photo for backdrop
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2013, 10:48:18 PM »
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That's quite a bit of urban hotness you have going on there Chris. I'm actually contemplating using a black-and-white photo as my HCD layout's backdrop.

-Cody F.
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timwatson

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Re: Need the perfect photo for backdrop
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2013, 12:06:29 AM »
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Some great stuff here: http://www.businessinsider.com/new-york-city-1940s-photos-2011-7?op=1
This one on that page: South Street teems with trucks along East River, New York City (1941)
This one as well: Looking up Fulton St. from South St (1941)
And this: Peter Minuit Plaza, Lower Manhattan (1960)

There are also the Jack Delano series of pictures (these can also be found on http://loc.gov).
http://www.shorpy.com/node/3350?size=_original#caption

And another one of my favorites: Vintage postcards (street side)
https://www.google.com/search?q=vintage+postcard+street&hl=en&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X
Some vintage postcard goodness here:
http://www.etsy.com/listing/100588552/vintage-florida-postcard-miami-flagler


I would be happy to help ya Photoshop something up when you find some good pics.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2013, 12:08:49 AM by timwatson »
Tim Watson

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timwatson

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Re: Need the perfect photo for backdrop
« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2013, 12:11:47 AM »
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More vintage postcards.
http://www.oldplaces.org/vintage_images/il_chicago.html

Something like this might work so the street terminates in the photo.
http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Whitehall-Street-Atlanta-Georgia-Posters_i6080421_.htm

Then if you do choose a real photo you can use a tilt-shift look to make it look more model like. http://tiltshiftmaker.com/
« Last Edit: April 05, 2013, 12:17:22 AM by timwatson »
Tim Watson

My pics: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nscalerail/sets/

Modeling a version of the Jay Street Connecting RR. in Brooklyn.

jimmo

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Re: Need the perfect photo for backdrop
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2013, 02:21:46 AM »
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No matter how carefully Photoshopped a background is, as long as there is perspective, you are only going to have one sweet spot. The rest of the viewing angles will be distorted. Flats are the only way to avoid the perspective trap. Running scenery straight into a wall will always be a challenge, especially street scenes. I'm interested in what you guys come up with because I have only seen a few scenes similar to these that worked. They required a low viewing angle and a fair amount of overlapping structures.

Clouds are another issue that have to be handled with care. Unless you're always going to be viewing them straight on, it gets tricky as the angle gets more oblique. The cloud image compresses and appears to be on a flat surface instead of floating in the distant sky. The backgrounds I have seen that work the best are less busy. Drama always comes at a price, whether it's street scenes or storm clouds.

BTW Chris, your finished structures are really nice--very realistic.
James R. Will

Chris333

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Re: Need the perfect photo for backdrop
« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2013, 04:05:50 AM »
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Have you shown us a track plan somewhere?


Just whipped one up, not set in stone.

4x11.5' Erie race track  :)

DKS

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Re: Need the perfect photo for backdrop
« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2013, 06:21:32 AM »
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Chris, here's a little trick you can try. It doesn't always work, but it's worth some experimentation. It all depends on what you have planned for the foreground, between the edge of the layout and the track. Place a mirror in the opening that's about two stories high. Disguise the top of it with a skywalk* between the adjacent buildings right at the background. In order for the mirror to work right, you'll then need to be sure there are low buildings in the foreground that are just high enough that you can't get an eye-level view of the mirror; in other words, you want to make sure there is no way for you to see yourself in the mirror, and that there are enough foreground view blocks that you can't see anyone else from side angles, either.

If this scenario is possible, then there are additional tricks to enhance the mirror effect. Make the backs of the foreground buildings different from the fronts; in other words, if a building is brick on the front, make the back wood, or at least a different color. Also, cut a few automobiles in half, and assemble two fronts and two rears for use in the street just in front of the mirror; this will create the effect of cars following one another on the correct side of the street.

Use a small piece of ordinary mirror for your tests. If the mirror trick works, then replace it with first-surface mirror. You can buy this from most any stained glass supplier; it's sold to make kaleidoscopes and other optical toys, and doesn't cost much.

Now, if you really want to get fancy, you can try a different trick: assemble two small mirrors at exactly 90 degrees, then place them at the back end of the street (you will need to cut a hole in the backdrop to accommodate the mirrors). This will create the effect of an intersection. You won't need to make special double-ended vehicles because the mirrors reverse the image.

EDIT: Here's a picture of what I'm describing:



Foreground buildings would be just tall enough to block direct line of sight to the mirrors. An alternative view block could also be trees, or a rise in the scenery. The V-shaped lines, upper right, are the 90-degree angled ones that create an intersection. Mirrors may not work in all circumstances--indeed, they may not work at all, but it ought to be worth a try.

*An alternative to a skywalk would be perhaps a banner announcing a town event, a large steam pipe running between two industrial buildings, or a bridge for a road or elevated rail line.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2013, 06:44:33 AM by David K. Smith »
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rogergperkins

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Re: Need the perfect photo for backdrop
« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2013, 06:54:41 AM »
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Take a look on YouTube at the videos posted by Mike Fifer of Fifer Hobby Supply.  Mike is a contributor on this forum.
He has some clever, creative methods for back drops that you may find helpful.

I do think some of these issues can be solved by placing the streets that would run into a back drop at an angle, so the street disappears between two
buildings instead of the more standard approach of streets intersecting at 90 degrees with the back drop area.

Chris333

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Re: Need the perfect photo for backdrop
« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2013, 07:16:30 AM »
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Here is a mock up of the 2 roads.

The road to the left will be more of a main road and head straight off the layout. These buildings aren't done, but they are what I'm using.


And off to the right. This is more of a back street. This road angles to match up with the freight station.

The PAX station will not go there. And the water tower may disappear too. In front of the freight house will be a cobblestone area with a team track crane.