I’m constantly impressed by the camera on my iPhone. Even, as I’ve just learned, when it tries to help and does something spontaneously right and wrong, taking the picture it wants instead of the one I thought I was taking.
In the above photo, I’m looking straight into the setting sun while these two GP’s make up tonight’s 509 – the Dartmouth to Autoport train.
In the instant that I pressed the button to take this photo the camera instantly changed the light levels. The sky is washed out. In doing so, look at all that cool detail in the engine’s paint. The way the paint is fading, door by door.
My photo would have been overexposed. My photo is… The camera took a different photo. Together we’ve created something neat.
And in doing so, reminded me of what it was like to be shooting on film, in a time before digital cameras, and still only learning how to take a photo.
I know, my affection for photographing and sharing pictures taken near Alderney Landing here in Dartmouth is obvious.
I am so drawn to the complimentary lines in views like the above. I find places that offer patterns like these attractive and even calming. I don’t know why, I just do. Perhaps it’s that I see a strong architectural relevance here in the way that all the man-made elements repeat a parallel line that converges almost as if to a common focal point. Further that while everything man put here agrees to this pattern, the natural elements do not. There’s a contradiction that to me feels fundamental and standing here feels powerful. And good.
And the train passes through here so often that it’s easy to practice photographing in this location to test it.
Scrolling through the many photos I’ve taken at or near this particular location I noticed something that distinguishes time trackside from the hobby of model railroading: When I’m trackside I don’t get to choose between things like the best way to interpret the scene as a miniature. I just have to be present and enjoy it. That’s a quality I find attractive in the minimalist approaches to model railways.
I wonder what the minimum number of decisions a modeller could make and still complete a layout is or what they are?
I wonder how that completed work would compare to our current, decision-heavy, approach in terms of the experience for the creator.
Is there really a link between the work and the satisfaction?
Just before Christmas a friend telephoned to ask if I might be able to help fix a broken turnout. The piece of track was a brand new Shinohara double-crossover.
Above is the “before” photo showing the issue: simply that the solder joint that bonds that missing point to its throwbar had failed and the point fell out. The point itself was still in great shape so the repair was certainly easy enough.
Just one tiny solder joint later and this second photo shows the completed repair. Like any job, I feel like I spent most of the time practising the setup for the work and the actual soldering took about three seconds time. Since I opted to “repair in place” I was rather proud of not melting any of the plastic parts. Just a bit of minor surface work softening directly under the work which I cleaned up and the scribed the molded grain lines.
I’m really honoured to have been asked to help out. Immediately this helps a fellow modeller but while packing up my tools I couldn’t ignore how satisfying the work was. Helping out is just something I want to do but doing so actually reminded me that I do still enjoy the hobby. That last bit has a value beyond words. I’ve been doubting my future with the hobby quite seriously lately so it was nice to have such a well-timed reminder that there might still be something here for me.
Sure. Yeah. Take selfie down at the Dartmouth yard and use that as the Christmas photo for Prince Street.
I mean, it sounded like a good idea at the time.
Thank you for reading this far, listening when I needed to vent, and encouraging when I needed that sense of community. Thank you for being my long distance pen pals and making this place feel like a part of home.
Living so close to the railroad in Dartmouth provides a great chance to see it regularly. A privilege I really haven’t had since the 1980’s. While I have no plans to interpret what I see in any literal form, in miniature at home, it does me a chance to explore questions I’ve had.
Starting in July I started photographing the track. Different locations, angles, and other perspectives. Not so much of the specific details like tie plates, rail weights, or ballast profile but to help me understand how track relates to the landscape.
Last winter I was playing around with several tests of colours on some lengths of track I had. I was questioning the base colour I’ve been considered my “go to”. Yet, looking at sections like the above I can’t help but see a familiar cast of browns. Maybe because it’s what’s there and maybe just because that’s what I want to see.