Archive for December, 2010

From the Haigler Creek & Western Railroad to Union Pacific in Dunsmuir

Friday, December 31st, 2010
We attended the Great Train Expo in Pomona, December 18th & 19th, despite the torrential downpour that turned Los Angeles into a rather large puddle a week before Christmas. Attendance was likely diminished due to the historic rainfall (this is the third wettest December since they started keeping track in 1877) but it was a successful show despite it, and Don and his son Alan (who helped out in my stead) met some fine Southern Californian train folks.

We spent the holiday down in So Cal where our respective families still reside.  I was given a tour of the Haigler Creek & Western Railroad, my dad’s N-scale layout which is under construction, and took some pictures.  Below you can see the roundhouse and turntable in the foreground of this photo with my dad inspecting some track in the back section.

Dad Working on the Haigler Creek & Western Railroad Photo by: Cat Cook

Bill Haigler Working on the Haigler Creek & Western Railroad - Photo by: Cat Cook

All of these switches work and the lights light up! It’s quite something.
The Control Panel for the Haigler Creek & Western Railroad - Photo by: Cat Cook

The Control Panel for the Haigler Creek & Western Railroad - Photo by: Cat Cook

Here you can see some, just some… of the detailed wiring involved in the Haigler Creek & Western Railroad. You can also see some washers used as counterbalances for the coal mechanisms.
Bill Haigler working on the wiring for the Haigler Creek & Western Railroad - Photo by Cat Cook

Bill Haigler working on the wiring for the Haigler Creek & Western Railroad - Photo by Cat Cook

On the way back home we took a spur of the moment jaunt into Dunsmuir, CA. Just as we pulled into town, so did a Union Pacific train coming from the south.  Don quickly navigated us down to the tracks and I jumped out to wave at the engineer and snapped this photo of the GE ES44AC and accompanying video in the nick of time.
UP 7736 (a GE ES44AC) entering Dunsmuir from the south - Photo by Cat Cook

UP 7736 (a GE ES44AC) entering Dunsmuir from the south - Photo by Cat Cook

And here’s a video of most of the rest of the train as it pulls into the station for a crew change:  Union Pacific pulls into Dunsmuir

I’ve been through Dunsmuir at least 8 times before while traveling on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight but as the schedule always puts the train there in the dark of night I’ve never seen the town properly before. Our plan is to go back and spend a day there since it is only a 2-hour drive from Merlin, OR.

A Semaphore in front of the Dunsmuir Post Office

A Semaphore in front of the Dunsmuir Post Office - Photo by Cat Cook

Happy new year to all and happy railroading!

Tilt-Shifting the Rogue Valley Railroad Show

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010
Last weekend was the 33rd Annual Rogue Valley Train Show which was well-attended by happy train-lovin’ people. Here’s a picture of the show floor from my perch up in the balcony where our big ol’ booth was located.
Rogue Valley Model Train Show (Photo by: Catherine Cook)

33rd Annual Rogue Valley Model Train Show - November 27th & 28th 2010 Medford Armory (Photo by: Catherine Cook)

Have you heard of Tilt-Shift Photography? It’s a way of manipulating certain aspects of a photograph to make the subject appear smaller than it really is. For example when applying this technique to a picture of a football stadium full of people everything looks like it is actually a miniature, or model, if you will.  Often when we photograph our train layouts we try hard to avoid our models looking like models but this photography approach attempts to do just the opposite – make real life appear like a miniature model! I thought this was pretty cool so I decided to give it a go with some pictures from the train show… miniaturizing real-life people who are looking at miniature trains helps satisfy my daily recommended intake of irony, let’s proceed!

So I found a tutorial on how to accomplish this. Let me state first off, I am by no means a professional photographer, I’ve never taken any classes on the correct way to use a camera or frame a shot so forgive the amateur mistakes you may be subjected to in this blog.  First we have to choose a photograph. Possibly the most important requirement of a successful tilt-shift fake miniature picture is having the right kind of photograph. You want to mimic that the viewer is looking down at a miniature so a shot from a higher vantage point looking down at the subject is key. We are going to work with the photo shown above. Next you will need a photo editor, I’m going to use Photoshop 5.0.  Here’s how we turn the above photo into a fake miniature photo:

  1. Open photo in Photoshop
  2. Press Q to enter Quick Mask
  3. Select Reflected Gradient Tool in the Toolbox
  4. Left click in the center of where you want your ‘in focus’ section of your photo to be and drag straight up to where you want it to start going ‘out of focus’ (this adds a hazy red fog to part of your photo)
  5. Press Q to exit Quick Mask
  6. Click the Filter drop down menu and select Blur>Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 7.5 pixels (the tutorial referred to above says to use Lens Blur but my version doesn’t have that, Gaussian Blur seems to do a similar effect)
  7. Press Ctrl-D to deselect the areas you selected with the gradient tool
  8. Click the Image drop down menu, select Adjust>Hue/Saturation and increase the Saturation by 80 (or to your taste)
  9. Click the Image drop down menu, select Adjust>Curves and drag the tonal curve until you like the look of the shadows (may not be necessary)
  10. Save it as a new image, voila!

    Tilt-Shift Fake Miniature Version

    Tilt-Shift Fake Miniature Version of the 33rd Annual Rogue Valley Train Show Photo (Photo by Catherine Cook)

This should (and does to some extent) look smaller, though I could use some more practice.  Below you can check out some more pictures from the show before and after my attempts at Tilt-Shifting them. First we have the Rogue Valley Model Railroad Club’s Layout:

Before Shot - Rogue Valley Model Railroad Club Layout (Photo by Catherine Cook)

Rogue Valley Model Railroad Club Layout (Photo by Catherine Cook)

After Shot - Rogue Valley Model Railroad Club Layout (Photo by Catherine Cook)

Tilt-Shift Version - Rogue Valley Model Railroad Club Layout (Photo by Catherine Cook)

Here’s another before and after shot showcasing the Siskiyou Toy Train Club:
Before Shot - Rogue Valley Train Show (Photo by Catherine Cook)

Siskiyou Toy Train Club - Rogue Valley Train Show (Photo by Catherine Cook)

After Shot - Rogue Valley Train Show (Photo by Catherine Cook)

Tilt-Shift Version - Siskiyou Toy Train Club - Rogue Valley Train Show (Photo by Catherine Cook)

Before Shot - Rogue Valley Train Show (Photo by Catherine Cook)

National Railway Historical Society, Southern Oregon Chapter - Rogue Valley Train Show (Photo by Catherine Cook)

After Shot 2 - Rogue Valley Train Show (Photo by Catherine Cook)

Tilt-Shift Version - National Railway Historical Society, Southern Oregon Chapter - Rogue Valley Train Show (Photo by Catherine Cook)

Well that’s it for my initial foray into Tilt-Shift Fake Miniature photography. To see some well-done pictures using this technique (by people who know what they are doing) check out this page: Tilt-Shift Photography

Happy Railroading!