One of the downsides of modeling from afar is the physical distance from me to my prototype. For the IAIS Grimes Line, I could (and routinely did) conduct research to and from work, since I crossed the line on my daily commute. With The Hills Line, it’s a two-hour drive one way from here to Iowa City.
So when it comes to photographic research, either for backdrops or buildings, I have to plan ahead and maximize my time on the eastern side of the state. Even so, there are times that it’s considerably more convenient to pull from Google Streetview photos via Google Earth.
For the large photo backdrop along Lafayette Street, I created a single panorama by stitching several Streetview photos together in Photoshop. Since the Auto-Blend Layers option is an algorithmic process, it took a few attempts until I had a somewhat usable scene. Even then, significant clean-up work was needed. However, that’s true of any photo work, regardless of the source.
The backdrop was sliced into individual sections, each designed to fit onto a letter-sized sheet of paper. Creating a complete panorama from single sheets does create a lot more seams. However, it is much easier to cut and mount one section at a time. Plus, if one part gets damaged, I don’t have to replace the entire scene.
Previously I had detailed how I used 3M Super 77 spray adhesive to attach photos to my rolled aluminum backdrop. I’ve since found a much more forgiving method. DAP Kwik Seal Plus Adhesive Sealant is applied to the back of the paper and spread smooth with either a putty knife or my finger. It acts very similar to wallpaper paste, giving me considerably more time to set and adjust each section.
One in place, I use a rubber roller to smooth the photo section and evenly attach it to the backdrop. Any touch-ups or loose edges can be attached with small spots of the sealant as needed.
I still need to blend the backdrop colors in with the foreground, especially along the roads and sidewalks. Even in this unfinished state, the addition of the photos extends the horizon for miles and miles.