Sunday 8 November 2015

Playing Trains

Being as I'm bogged down with doing a big project at the moment, but unable to post info about it as its unfinished, I thought I'd put up some info on a little build I did last year.  A lot of my miniatures building tends to be based around doing prop builds for photography shoots.  And the big photography project I was involved with in 2013/14 was "The Home Is..." which basically was building a living room set, and photographing it in unusual locations (playing on themes of where people felt relaxed etc; there's more over on the Ribbon Photography blog anyway, here )

One of the shoots we wanted to do was at a railway station, and with access to a location for a whole morning, we thought we'd experiment with some of the other room sets beyond the core 'living room' set, and that we'd try some 'hobby rooms' to capture the feeling of someone relaxing in a domestic environment, but with the set located outdoors.  Obviously a good place to start given the locale would be someone playing with a train set. 

Of course, a problem with mainly doing model building for photography is that I don't actually have a model railway to use, so decided I'd have to build one, as quickly as possible.  And preferably without spending anything.  So it was out with the old toy trains leftover from the Model Village build, some scrap wood, and a quickly sketched plan for a fairly complex and photogenic-looking railway based off my old childhood train set.  It was designed to fold-over for transportation, so not to take up too much space but to be big enough to show decently in the pics when unfolded and assembled on-location.

The problem was that it became a wee bit too complicated, and delays caused by prepping the house for the Foster Kids moving in meant there wasn't time to finish it, especially as it was basically going to be a one-use photography project.  So it was time to do something a bit more simple.

The actual build took a morning, come the finish; a derelict Ikea A1+ sized frame turned upside down with the plastic out of it and replaced with wooden sheet, some of my old model railway buildings, an oval of chunky plastic toy railway track, and a load of hanging-basket liner would have to suffice.

The above shows the slightly slip-shod build quality, but then a lot of the problem with the earlier build was that I should have realised I wasn't making an actual model railway, I was making a train set, furthermore it had to look just good enough for the picture, to appear in a single shot, not too large.

The actual 'look' of it is something I thought about for some time; there is a definite distinction between "Train Set" and "Model Railway", by which I mean a Model Railway tends to have months, years, lavished on it, a perfect replica of a landscape.  A Train Set tends to be more simplified, less scenery, definitely more emphasis on trains whizzing about in a circle than realistic operation.

After years in storage, the old buildings were in need of a bit of TLC, but were used for timescale purposes, but also with more than a hint of nostalgia of my old train set when I was little.

Also worth mentioning the train that mainly appeared in the shoot, an ancient Triang DMU which was my Dads.

And so the background, a nice rake of engineers wagons...

...and the shoot, with a few other bits of set dressing quickly improvised for this test shot.

It...well, it looked alright in the photos, but we decided following the test shot and with time running out for the project, we decided to junk the 'hobby room' concept without further development.  But I wanted to use elements of the idea in another train shot, so it was back to the original plastic toy trains, and a plan for a mini-layout which could sit on the floor beside the living room set.  

Quick mock-up, but once again time constraints (with Foster Childs due to arrive imminently) saw it canned.

So to the final shot, and a rather more subtle approach... the train; in this case another little dose of nostalgia, and an ancient model kit of a 9F steam loco built by my late Uncle Verdun; nice to have it appear in the project.

So that was the total of the miniature builds in a project which took a great deal of a year; but as a future post will show, not the only excursion into 'Train Set vs Model Railway' territory...

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