Airwolf vs BMW - A Scale Model Project by Alpha Whiskey Photography
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Airwolf vs BMW - A Scale Model Project

  • Apr 19, 2018
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Airwolf vs BMW - A Scale Model Project

Spoiler alert: BMW loses.So another trip back to the 80s, this time with Airwolf, a mach one attack helicopter with the most advanced weapon systems in the air today.... Ah, you had to have seen it. Well, I wanted to make just a few random shots with the die cast helicopter model but my friend Brubaker suggested we make a series.Oh boy. It seemed like more work than I was intending to give this project but hey ho, more opportunities to eat and drink. So these were made with a £2 1/43 scale die cast BMW that I found in a supermarket and that happened to be a similar relative scale to the helicopter. I would have preferred a model of Street Hawk but nobody seems to have one.Once again, and on two separate occasions, we set up the shots on our makeshift studio table, arranging the car and helicopter at the positions we wanted. Airwolf was either hung from above with string on mounted on its accompanying stand (later edited out in post). As before, we tried to have as many practical effects and elements as possible to achieve as much as we could in camera. For instance we used smoke for mist in the lair and breadcrumbs for gravel/desert. For the black road we spray painted a sheet of cardboard and stuck two thin strips of yellow electrical tape down the centre. For water we used a pre-crumpled piece of aluminium foil with a blue sheet in the background so that it would catch the colour. We tried to create chain gun bullet impacts in the breadcrumb gravel but our attempts were unsuccessful so I had to try it with brushes in post. The explosion around the BMW was once again from a section of the exploding galaxy I had used previously. The die cast helicopter actually has a button-activated spinning rotor but I decided to create the rotor effects in post too.More often than not we photographed the background first as a master shot before placing the car and the helicopter in the scene. These were then cut, copied and pasted into the master shot along with any of the desired effects. As before, backgrounds were added from my archives (mainly from Colorado for this set) and headlights were added in post too. Everything was edited with layers. My friend Natalia provided valuable feedback on each edit. Despite the potential for ridicule I can honestly say that photographing scale models can teach you a tremendous amount about lighting, composition, framing and processing, all of which are essential to any genre of digital photography. It's certainly not as easy as you might think and does require a modicum of thought, imagination, invention and planning. In that respect it has been just as stimulating as taking images on my travels. Anyway, I'm reasonably happy with our results. There are a few people out there shooting scale models and dioramas (and being paid handsomely for it) but I have yet to find anyone else creating these kind of action scenes. Arguably no one else is that sad! Once again a fun time was had by all and we more or less got the results we set out to achieve. That in itself made completion of this project satisfying. 

Apr 19, 2018

Airwolf vs BMW - A Scale Model Project

This post has 17 photos Apr 19, 2018Comments (0)319 views
Spoiler alert: BMW loses.

So another trip back to the 80s, this time with Airwolf, a mach one attack helicopter with the most advanced weapon systems in the air today.... Ah, you had to have seen it. 

Well, I wanted to make just a few random shots with the die cast helicopter model but my friend Brubaker suggested we make a series.
Oh boy. It seemed like more work than I was intending to give this project but hey ho, more opportunities to eat and drink. 

So these were made with a £2 1/43 scale die cast BMW that I found in a supermarket and that happened to be a similar relative scale to the helicopter. I would have preferred a model of Street Hawk but nobody seems to have one.

Once again, and on two separate occasions, we set up the shots on our makeshift studio table, arranging the car and helicopter at the positions we wanted. Airwolf was either hung from above with string on mounted on its accompanying stand (later edited out in post). As before, we tried to have as many practical effects and elements as possible to achieve as much as we could in camera. For instance we used smoke for mist in the lair and breadcrumbs for gravel/desert. For the black road we spray painted a sheet of cardboard and stuck two thin strips of yellow electrical tape down the centre. For water we used a pre-crumpled piece of aluminium foil with a blue sheet in the background so that it would catch the colour. We tried to create chain gun bullet impacts in the breadcrumb gravel but our attempts were unsuccessful so I had to try it with brushes in post. The explosion around the BMW was once again from a section of the exploding galaxy I had used previously. The die cast helicopter actually has a button-activated spinning rotor but I decided to create the rotor effects in post too.

More often than not we photographed the background first as a master shot before placing the car and the helicopter in the scene. These were then cut, copied and pasted into the master shot along with any of the desired effects. As before, backgrounds were added from my archives (mainly from Colorado for this set) and headlights were added in post too. Everything was edited with layers. My friend Natalia provided valuable feedback on each edit. 

Despite the potential for ridicule I can honestly say that photographing scale models can teach you a tremendous amount about lighting, composition, framing and processing, all of which are essential to any genre of digital photography. It's certainly not as easy as you might think and does require a modicum of thought, imagination, invention and planning. In that respect it has been just as stimulating as taking images on my travels. 

Anyway, I'm reasonably happy with our results. There are a few people out there shooting scale models and dioramas (and being paid handsomely for it) but I have yet to find anyone else creating these kind of action scenes. Arguably no one else is that sad! 

Once again a fun time was had by all and we more or less got the results we set out to achieve. That in itself made completion of this project satisfying. 
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Some of the set-ups...
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Some of the set-ups...

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The helicopter and car would often be cut and copied into the master background shot (minus the rotors).
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The helicopter and car would often be cut and copied into the master background shot (minus the rotors).

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