Friday 21 January 2011


As a man modelling the diesel and electric era, post steam, pre tops, there's much inspiration to be had in the Bradford Barton photo album series of books. Some of my favourite shots are those where the aparent length of the train is visciously forshortened by the use of a telephoto lens. I strted to wonder if it would be possible to recreate this effect using a model after noticing that one image I'd taken with a very mild dose of telephoto had echoes of the real thing. After a bit of experimentation I hit on a formula, train on a curve, rail level camera, stood well back, max tele dialled in, crop the result tight to the train. Seems to work each time, here's one of my latest taken on Morfa. It's worth clicking on the photo to get the full effect with a larger sized image.

 It'll be interesting to see if it works as well once the scenery is in place. There are a couple of snags however, one is that the camera does need to be a good way in front of the train; this shot (with minimal cropping) had the camera a good ten/twelve feet away from the train. The other is that I'm not sure that this style would suit all subjects. I could see it looking a bit weird with pre group or narrow gauge models, a clash of styles rather than any technical incompatibility.

Monday 3 January 2011


Though my railway tastes are pretty wide ranging I've tended to stick to buying model railway magazines rather than those dealing exclusively with the real thing. I have picked up the odd issue when there's been a feature on a particular interest of mine. Until recently I had never considered Modern railways as being worth a glance. Last year i found two large cardboard boxes of old railway magazines at the local skips. I sorted through and put the old copies of Modern Railway magazines to one side while I trawled through Steam Railway and Railway World looking for anything Cambrian. I finally got round to Modern Railways and what an absolute treasure trove those copies from the sixties and seventies are. Because their style of coverage is current news reportage, rather thn looking back, they tend to cover the mundane as well as the memorable.

One feature that took my eye from this 1972 issue describes the new ships for British Rail's Sealink cross channel services. There's much detail in the report but it's the illustrations that caught my eye. Here's one of the obviously posed publicity photographs; just look at the characters.

In the foreground we have long haired specky bloke chatting up the crumpet (I believe that's the correct 70's terminology), just behind the guy with the shades and tash similarly tries his luck with the blonde. they could easily be extras from Life on Mars. It's the period details like this that the other railway magazines seem to miss out, because of their focus on the railway. I wonder if today's Railway Magazine will fascinate in the same way forty years from now.