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HMS Speedy by Delf - Vanguard Models - Scale 1:64 - Master Shipwright edition

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Curtesy of Amazon I've just received some gear I hope will help improve my photography - a couple of LED lights and a white background sheet. I owe a big thanks to Richard (@Rik Thistle) who recommended these products (here) in the new How to Photograph your Models sub-forum. Richard also provided a link to a very informative Youtube video on photographing small objects in the second post in the new forum.


I'm looking forward to setting up the new kit and playing with it. Hopefully I'll be able to post some improved Speedy shots shortly.



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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, DelF said:

ooking forward to setting up the new kit and playing with it.

That's great, I'm sure it will help.  A few suggestions (which I'd gladly have given rather than kid you about it:-):  Set the backdrop so that the bottom has a gentle curve as transition from bottom to back, no clear line transition makes it appear the ship is floating (see my more formal Cheerful photos of the hull, not the regular ones). Put the ship forward of the back paper by at least a couple of feet to prevent silhouettes of what you're photographing.  Further, set the lights so they are not direct on the subject, with two lights put them at 45 degree angles. I usually have another light between the subject and the paper just lighting the paper, the brighter the whiter - if it isn't lit it will appear gray, which can be fine depending on what you want.


My iPhone 12 pro is good enough I use it for most photos, but for the more formal stuff (and different than other advice I read) I set my Nikon D850 at Flash White Balance (or Daylight), F/11, ISO 400 (or even 800 but more than that is pushing it) and whatever shutter speed** it takes to make those two work but no slower than 1/30 - in that case I'll widen the f/stop to make it work but no lower than f/5.6. The smaller f/stop (larger number) is for full hull shots so its all in focus, but f/5.6 is good for highlighting something like rigging and wider (smaller number) would work but the depth of field becomes so small its not that great of a photo for ship models in my experience, generally you want more to  be in focus than not.


Anyway - have fun with it.  I've traveled the world for my photography, GlennBarlow|Photography , which all came to a crashing halt in 2020 but I hope to get back to it in 2022.


**in Aperture mode, you set f/stop and ISO, the camera decides shutter speed based on what you set.  f/stop, ISO, and shutter speed are the interlocked trinity of cameras, all cameras even iPhones we just have no control.  What ever 1 is set it affects the other two or if two or set it affects the third - getting them right for your subject with the right light is the essence of photography .


Edited by glbarlow
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4 hours ago, whitejamest said:

Your Speedy photographs were already great eye candy

That's very kind James. Some of the close-up shots I've taken have been OK, but I'm not happy at all with the more formal shots I've tried to take, for example in that last batch in post #591. I see a world of difference when I look at the photographs in Glenn's Cheerful log and in the logs James H (@James H) does on Chris Watton's Vanguard prototypes, to name just two examples. That's the standard I'd like to aspire to.


3 hours ago, glbarlow said:

 A few suggestions

That is so helpful Glenn. This is all new to me - apart from my work on astrophotography I'm strictly a point and click novice, so I'm really grateful you've taken the time to set out this guidance. As well as your logs I've also seen your photography website so I realise you know what you're talking about.


I take most of my model shots with my iphone (a relatively prehistoric 6 SE) but I've also got an old Nikon D90 that still takes good photos, albeit in point and click mode. I'll look forward to trying the settings you recommend and will post some results over the next day or so. I might also post the results in the new photography sub-forum as a follow-on to Richard's posts, with a link to your advice which I'm sure others would find useful.



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54 minutes ago, DelF said:

old Nikon D90 that still takes good photos,

My first camera was a D90. It will do just fine. Put in Aperture Mode to be able to set what I suggested. My cameras are in that mode about 80% of the time, manual the rest. 

Auto (point and click) while fine for many things, isn’t great for our models. We need more control to focus on our strings. 

Also try using Single Point Focus. It means using the cursor to move a box around inside your viewfinder to lock the focus on what you want it to be instead of the camera deciding, which is often wrong, in AutoFocus mode. SP can be tricky, but it’s pretty much all I used on the D90. 

Experiment a bit and you’ll be expert in no time. 

James I think has more and better lights specific to product photography. With what you have you can get pretty close. Light Light Light is the key, I move around my work light even when using my iPhone. 

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Posted (edited)

Right, I've had a go with the new lights and backdrop. In the end I went for a material backdrop (here) as it is bigger than the PVC the one Richard (@Rik Thistle) described and I felt it would give me more flexibility in framing shots. Here's one of the first shots I took (before I'd even ironed out the creases in the material!):


Here's a couple more...


Test3_0002-1_edited-2.thumb.jpg.0b42a4cfb2dfdf29779530a25cc0a491.jpgHere's a cropped version of the same shot which I think is better:


Not brilliant but I'm starting to see the potential, especially if I can experiment a bit more with settings. I followed Glenn's advice (@glbarlow) and found his recommended settings worked very well. I did struggle with shadows though, but I suspect that was because my flash is a lot brighter than the LED lights. Either that or I wasn't positioning the lights well. In the spirit of experimentation I decided that if a smaller aperture gives a deeper depth of field and f11 is good, then f22 must be very good. The downside is exposure time, so to offset that I dug out a tripod which also allowed me to dispense with the lights. The last shot above is a 3 sec exposure and, whilst the focus isn't perfect, I think the depth of field is better than I'd normally achieve. 


I've included one shot designed to show that shadows aren't necessarily a bad thing, as they can bring a model to life more than a perfectly lit shot:


Onwards and upwards (and back to actually building the model!)



Edited by DelF
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, DelF said:

f11 is good, then f22

While that’s true, f/22 is overkill. I rarely shoot more than f/13, even with the best lens you can get some barrel distortion around f/22.  Now try changing your white balance to see what you like best. Sometimes Daylight is better than Flash when using a flash, cloudy is too much warmth and Auto is inconsistent in its guessing.  LED lights are great but can toy with color balance. The shadows in part are because your subject is too close to the backdrop. 

Your right about shadows and drama, my Fair American gallery shots are done that way,  Over lighting is as bad as under lightning. Contrast is good and shadows done well add depth. 

Nonetheless your photos from the last time have improved exponentially!!  Well done!  You’ll be headed for Iceland on a photo trip by summer 😃

Edited by glbarlow
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Posted (edited)

As a semi proffesional photographer, I can say that there is a lot of fine tuning you can discuss when it come to photography but I would say the 3 things that is mostly the problem in this forum when it comes to photos is:

1) Light... and then I am talking power. Yes you can light your model in different ways and angles etc... but the you need lots of light to make all details visable. If you dont have proper light equipment your model, you need to bring it close to the window or get every single movable lamp you have. You can also raise the ISO settings and exposure time in your camera but  what ever you do, dont shoot your model in the dark 

2) Clean background. White paper is always best if you want everything to look professional. Fabrics has wrinkles so it can actually hurt more than it helps. The photo is always about the model and not the background. Workbench photos also work as long as you have light and its not to messy. 


3) Strange angles... get down on you knees and dont shoot the boat from above. 




Edited by Vane
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An experiment with oars


I've been busy with building work around the house for the last week or so and have had little time in the workshop. Rather than getting on with the rigging, I thought I'd use the small amount of time I had to resolve an issue that has been bugging me for some time - the boat's oars. The kit oars are photoetch, and whilst the detail is very good they are undeniably flat. I don't mind some of the flat PE parts such as the belaying pins but the oars just didn't look right to me so I thought I'd have a go at modifying them.


I started with 1mm brass rod held in the Proxxon lathe, using files to create the handle shape in one end:


Next, I needed to taper the other end where it fits against the blade. This time the tapered section was too long to work unsupported, so I cut a shallow groove in a small piece of hardwood to hold the end of the rod whilst I filed it. I didn't have enough hands to photograph this stage, but you can see the block in the next shot in which I'm filing a flat in the tapered end for the blade to fit against:


As the PE blades were nicely detailed I simply cut one off and glued it to the rod. Here's the result alongside an original PE oar for comparison:


I think it's an improvement, but I'll reserve final judgement until I've painted it.


Hopefully the building work won't keep me out of the workshop quite so much over the next week or so and I'll be able to crack on with the rigging.





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7 hours ago, glbarlow said:

I'd not have been as creative as you

Thanks Glenn, although I see myself as practical rather than creative. I enjoy the problem solving aspect of our hobby - looking for different/better ways of doing things. I've seen your photography website so I know what real creativity looks like!

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1 hour ago, RockinBudgie said:

an impressive build of a very impressive kit!

Thanks Gray, I appreciate your kind words and I'm glad you've enjoyed Speedy so far. I'm not the fastest builder on the forum but, to (mis)quote an old cliché, the journey is as important as the destination.

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I think I'll go with the modified oars:


Not perfect, but I'm not inclined to try making them in wood. Doing that in 1:48 scale for Royal Caroline's boat was hard enough and 1:64 might be a stretch too far. I may change my mind towards the end of the build if the oars start bugging me again.

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26 minutes ago, PhillH said:

Knowbody would know now they are painted what they are made of

Thanks Phill. I'm happy with them for now but I may still have a go at doing them in wood to get a more natural look. Here's the ones I did for Royal Caroline, albeit at the slightly larger scale of 1:48:


I may set myself the challenge of doing similar at 1:64, but for now I'll concentrate on the rigging.

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Posted (edited)

Boom (and more messing about with brass)


I made all the spars some time ago and covered the various techniques in detail then so I won't repeat all that now. I'll just cover the additional steps as I cross the yards and other spars.


Having enjoyed using brass to remake the oars I thought I'd use it to make more realistic parrel trucks. The kit supplies small round beads which, although about the right size, look a bit round and shiny. As I understand it, trucks were more barrel shaped, the length being slightly longer than the diameter.  I decided 1/16"/1.6mm brass tube would be ideal.


I started marking the tube with a light saw cut at 2mm, using my new tube cutter (thanks @glbarlow!):


Then, on to the Proxxon lathe to shape the tube with swiss files. I didn't think it was worth going to the metal lathe - the little wood lathe is more than adequate for such a small job :


I parted the truck off with a jewellers saw and once I had 16 (eight each for the gaff and boom) I blackened them with Casey's Brass Black. Here's the result:



I started the rigging with the boom topping lift. I actually set up the falls and the sheet before I fixed the parrel round the mast, as I thought it would be more difficult to seize blocks and hooks in situ. This way, I was able to fix the parrel then seize the other end of the lift to the outer end of the boom:


I can't believe how furry that line looks in close-up! At least the shot shows why I like fly tying thread for a neat seizing job.

To rig the extra leg on the boom topping lift I seized a short length of 0.25mm line to the boom then used a fine needle to thread the other end through the lift. I made a fake splice by fraying the end of the line then using my fingers and a drop of dilute PVA to roll the frayed end round the lift. Once dried it looked reasonable:


Next, I loosely rigged the sheet to the boom...


...then tightened the falls:


One minor point here; the kit plan  has the fall belaying to a pin rack on the starboard bulwarks. I tried this but the result looked awkward, with the line running over the deck and pulling the tackle askew. I therefore chose to hitch the tackle to itself. I also noticed after taking this shot that some of the blackening on the trucks had rubbed off on the mast. Fortunately it cleaned off easily. I may coat the trucks with matt poly.


I was going to rig the gaff, but then thought that might make it difficult to cross the main yard so I've decided to do that next.



Edited by DelF
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Great idea with the parrels Derek, they look good. 👍


 I have made oars at 1:64 scale,  I make them by hand, but clean boxwood square stock is required which reduces the breakage rate, but the attrition is still quite high, the blades are also Boxwood.





These are examples I made for the Pinnace on Pegasus.






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2 hours ago, Blue Ensign said:

I have made oars at 1:64 scale

Thanks, you've persuaded me to have a go although you've set the bar high. Did you use castello or european boxwood?

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Boat's Oars


Spurred on by @Blue Ensign I've had a quick go at making my own oars from scratch. Starting with a 1mm square strip of boxwood I reduced it to round with my homemade drawplate (see here) then shaped it in the same way I described earlier for the brass oar. I just had to wrap the dowel in paper to protect it from the chuck jaws:


To make the blade I used the PE oar as a template, sticking it to a thin (0.3mm) strip of boxwood with PVA then carving and filing round it:



After soaking in isopropyl alcohol for a few minutes the blade separated easily after which I glued it to the shaft with a tiny dab of ca. For comparison, here it is with the original PE version and my first attempt with brass rod for the shaft:



Personally, I think the bare wood goes better with the boat, so now I know I can make a reasonable job of oars at this scale I'll knock out a few more in between rigging jobs.




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Posted (edited)

Lower yards


Thanks as always for all the likes and supportive comments.


Back to the rigging. I'd decided to fit the main yard before the gaff thinking it would be easier that way round. In retrospect I was probably wrong as it turned out tricky getting the gaff parrel past all the lines coming down from the yard but at least I managed it. 


On the yard, I started with the truss pendants which are designed to hold the yard against the mast. There are two pendants on the yard, each with a thimble spliced in one end. The plans show an eye splice, but I didn't rate my chances of being able to thread a line through a small eye splice once the yard was in position, hence the thimble. I used the same method described earlier to make the thimbles from 1.6mm/1/16" brass tube:



I wasn't sure how long to make the pendants. The Fully Framed Model says 24 ft. for a vessel of comparable size (quoting Steel, I think) which equates to 114mm at scale. I wasn't sure if this was the total length including seizings and splices and when I did a rough check on the model the end of the pendant was a long way off the deck. It needs to be some way off the deck to keep it out of the way of other tackle round the mast, but I felt 114mm  left it too short so I went for  150 mm which turned out well.


The pendants were seized within the yard slings using throat seizings. I found it helped to jam the thimble on a needle held in the quadhands to keep everything in place whilst I made the seizing with fly tying thread:



According to Longridge in The Anatomy of Nelson's Ships the pendants were seized so that the starboard thimble faced down and the port faced up - hopefully this is visible in the photo. This made sense when it came to passing the starboard pendant through the port thimble and vice versa, as it kept the two lines well apart as they passed round the mast as shown in the next photo, taken once the gaff was also in place:


Crossing the yard was made much easier through the use of a pin in the yard and a hole drilled in the mast earlier in the build.


The next job was to seize a double block into the end of each pendant, with the falls rigged to a single block hooked to an eyebolt abaft the mast. The kit instructions simply say to belay the end of the falls to the nearest convenient point. I believe it is neater and equally valid (according to TFFM and others) to wrap the spare end round the tackle and finish with a half hitch. I used a clip to hold the tackle in place while I did the hitching. I didn't film this for the main yard but the fore yard is identical:




The eagle-eyed may have spotted in the earlier photo of the main yard that I'd forgotten to seize lines to the two jeer blocks sitting next to the truss pendants. My excuse is that this is an unfamiliar set-up for me  - on my previous fully-rigged model the jeers consisted of a single block in the middle of the yard with two single blocks under the top. In that set-up a single line passes through all three blocks forming a letter "M" shape. Speedy's rig is right for vessels of her size and age, I just hadn't modelled it before.


Anyway, by the time I realised I'd seized blocks into the ends of the pendants and didn't want to have to completely redo them. Fortunately I was able to slacken everything off to the extent that I could (just!) seize the lines on in situ. The photo doesn't give great detail but it shows the mess I was in. Not a mistake I repeated for the fore yard!


I differed slightly from the kit by using 0.5mm line rather than 0.25mm as I felt the latter was a bit light for such a heavy yard. I should really have had bigger blocks on the yard to take the heavier line, but having made the decision too late I had to drill bigger holes through the 3mm tiddlers. It says a lot for the quality of the blocks that they were able to take such a large drill bit without splitting.


Rigging the jeers was comparatively easy. Each line went from the 3mm block on the yard, through the first sheave in the double block under the top on same side, back through the single block, back up through the double then down to the deck. The double blocks have long strops that are suspended on hooks either side of the masthead, enabling them to sit just below the tops. I found it easiest to take the blocks off their hooks while I reeved the lines through them, then pass the strops up through the lubbers' hole and back on to their hooks. Chris has the jeers belaying directly to the bitts in front of the mast, a plan which I followed although an alternative would have been a tackle consisting a double block on the and of the line and a triple block hooked to the deck. 


Here's the set-up looking aft:


I'll cover the gaff next.



Edited by DelF
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1 hour ago, VTHokiEE said:

Really nice job on the oar! I'm not certain I can continue to follow your log though it requires too much restraint to not run out and buy some tools 😄

Thanks Tim. Don't blame me on the tools though - my tool collection has increased dramatically since I joined the forum. It's everyone else's fault 😬


I'm looking forward to your next log. I know you were taking a break after Alert but don't leave it too long!



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