Sunday 21 January 2024

Trains by Night, a trial shoot in 0 Scale

What, no comic?  Yeah, I figured I might get a few more regular updates done that way.

So, here's a project from a little while ago... I quite enjoy a bit of experimental, night long-exposure photography:

This is the class 101 on my local line, the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.

The only problem with this sort of thing, is it involves being out at night in an area filled with the Standard Mk.1 Drunken Teenage Hoodie Menace, and the rifle-toting poacher.  Plus, the railway doesn't run night trains that often.  Get a night with poor weather, and that's it.

Wales is a little better; this was a quick, improvised shot just to try an idea out whilst on the way to the beach for another night shoot, but with the rather sparse timetable on the Cambrian Coast, it means a lot of sitting around waiting.  I reckoned it was the sort of shot I could do in miniature instead, but wanted to do a test first to try the practicalities before investing time and effort in a working level crossing and similar.

The idea was to knock-up a simple test, something easily portable, and that could be set up quickly in the woods near my parents' caravan in Snowdonia (where I'd be within 2 minutes of a teapot, and a considerable distance from passing nutters.  Well, people more nutty than me messing with toy trains in the dark...)

I had some spare joist wood leftover from the shelf-building in the loft, so used these, in lengths that could be fit into a Really Useful wrapping paper box for storage/transport, but clipped together to make a decent length of line.

Ground cover from hanging basket liner, and Peco 32mm track which I'd bought years ago for a build that never happened.

The trains would be simple pull-along jobs, so I dug into the surviving bits from the Britannia Model Village...

...and these Pacer-esque units, converted from the coaches in cheapy 0-scale (ish) train sets.  This set had done good service in Britannia, and several projects since, most recently the Intercity test shoots back in the mid-2020's.

The plan was to try with two trains; one painted matte-black, the other with coloured carriages, just to see if it made a difference in the final shots.  It also meant I wouldn't have to overpaint the nice BR-esque two tones on the side of the older set.

The chassis were modified a bit, with the fake bogie wheels trimmed off.  The trouble is, they didn't roll very well at all on the track, with their massive toy wheels bumping along on the rail chairs...

This was remedied with some broken old Faller E-train wagons I had, so a bit of carving-up later, and I had...

...the toy carriage chassis, now with the Faller wheelsets.

Internal lighting was a bit of a lash-up, with battery LED Christmas lights on strips of wood, hot glued in place.  I used two different colour temperatures too, one cold white, one warmer yellow.

When I'd used these carriages as background items in "Intercity", I just used masking tape on the windows.  This time though, I planned to use some thin frosted acrylic.


Out on location, with the two planks clipped together.

The train was pulled along by the high-tech solution of some fishing line tied to the loop coupling bar, threaded through a metal eyelet screwed into the end of each plank.

The carriage sides are a little more warped than I'd noticed on the workbench.

Trying quite a long exposure with the softer lights.

The warmer LED's gave a noticeable effect compared to the white set.  Also, the tail lights ended up a bit overscale.

Trying to light the embankment a little, to give the effect of streetlamps or similar illuminating the trackside.

The above shot shows a slight problem with the model train, and how much light was showing.

The issue (which I'll admit I'm somewhat overthinking) is that real Pacer's have their cab lights off when running, as demonstrated by the Worth Valley's set at Oakworth last year... 

...though if it was something like a W&M Railbus (seen here at Ingrow New Years Day just gone), with an open cabin, the lights would be visible spilling through from the cab too.

The problem is, those three windows at the front give quite a nice effect in the pics.

Well, it served its purpose as an experimental shoot for next to no budget, in that it showed the following facts; the trains need to be self-propelled (so radio controlled), probably larger scale, and I need a better camera.  The latter is now taken care of, and I have a better train under construction using some Gauge 2 components, for a shoot this year, hopefully around Easter...

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