Mystical Landscapes (and trains)

Screen Shot 2016-12-30 at 8.28.11 PM.pngI went to see the Mystical Landscapes exhibition at the AGO last week and it got me thinking about light. Specifically how I was lighting the layout. What got me going on this theme was the series of haystacks by Monet. The series is known for its ‘thematic use of repetition to show differences in perception of light across various times of day, seasons, and types of weather.’

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Up until now I had been using the standard 4′ fluorescent fixtures above the benchwork. At 5000K they do a good job and they work well at making colours look natural, but they only provide the look of a bright sunny day. Not always the average lighting in late October on my prototype. What if I wanted to explore how a scene on the railroad might look in early morning, or at dusk? As Monet’s haystacks revealed, changing the light creates a whole new scene. Changing light also creates new emotions associated with that light.

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For example, recently I found the image pictured above on Tom Vaughan’s Facebook page. It struck me in a way that no other photo of a train had. It’s a powerful and gloomy image full of emotion. The photograph conveys the sense of the damp and cold. It was taken on a cloudy short winter day, in an isolated and northern landscape. Not the prototypical train porn shot usually taken in bright sun. The focus of the picture seems to me not to be the train at all. The train is simply part of the landscape. Indeed I would call this a landscape photo with a train in it. That’s what I hope to recreate on my layout and light is one of the ways I hope to achieve this goal.

While I was at Costco picking up some New Year treats, I noticed a great deal on a multi-colour LED strip. With 8 different colours in addition to white (red, purple, blue, green, yellow etc.) and 4 different light levels, this gave me 36 different lighting options to play with. At $40 for 24 feet, this worked out to $1.66/ft. Reasonable enough for a bit of fun.

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Initial results have been quite positive. I really enjoy being in the layout room and running trains with different and dimmer light sources. While perhaps not achieving a 100% realistic version of a night scene (above), the soft, diffused light, muted tones and hazy outlined objects introduce the strong sense of mood that I had not previously experienced on my layout.

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HO/NOT TO SCALE

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Spent yesterday in Cobourg, and caught a very interesting show at the Art Gallery of Northumberland on the 3rd Floor of Victoria Hall. MICRO MACRO features the amazing photographs of Toni Hafkenscheild.

Thought this would be of interest to all of the prototype modelers out there. We spend so much of our time trying to make 1/87 scale look as real as possible; and here is a photographer whose works go the other way and capture reality in a way that makes it look toy-like.

Toni Hafkenscheid is a Toronto-based photographer originally from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In 1989, he graduated from the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and shortly thereafter moved to Toronto. He has exhibited in solo and group shows throughout Canada, the US and Europe, and he has taught photography at York University, OCADU, Ryerson University and Sheridan College.

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Using traditional Tilt Shift analog photographic techniques, Hafkenscheid manipulates his camera to narrow the depth of field in his images, resulting in a visual sleight-of-hand that suggests model train sets, toy buildings and miniatures of all kinds.

This idea occurred to him on a summer trip to British Columbia a few years ago. How bizarre and almost fake the landscape looked. Train tracks were set in an artificial plain of faux cotton trees, plastic buildings, and cardboard mountains, with suggested men and women walking, shopping, etc.

Check out this GlobeandMail article for more on this amazing photographer.

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