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Photographer, scribbler, model maker, beer fancier, self confessed train nutter & general nerd.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Smartphone experiment

iPhone 7 photo as shot, note bleached highlights and clogged out shadows. Click for a bigger view
Love them or hate them, for mobile phones are very much part of every day life. For me it's my calendar, diary, sat nav, point of contact, and these days increasingly my out and about camera, unless I'm doing a proper photoshoot. Occasionally, very occasionally I use it as a telephone as well!
An edited shot, adjusting shadow and highlight detail, as well as rewriting the white balance. Click for a bigger view
Adobe produce their well known photo editor Lightroom for mobile devices as a free app. There are many good editors out there like Google's rather excellent Snapseed, but Lightroom allows you to shoot in RAW/DNG format by opening up the phone's camera in the app and then selecting the RAW option. 

Enthusiastic photographers will know that shooting RAW has many advantages over in-camera JPEG, with one of the best being far more control over highlights, shadows, incorrect exposure, noise, white balance after shooting on the comfort of your home. The downside of shooting RAW/DNG is that the files are far bigger - much bigger!

Mobile phones tend not to give great results under artificial or low light, with colours being frequently off or muddy. So as a test, I thought I'd see how much better results could be using the Lightroom app to shoot a few snaps of one of my layouts, and then exporting the DNG/RAW file to Photoshop on my laptop to extract what I could out of the mobile phone images (an iPhone 7 in this case). I could of course edit a traditionally shot with the smart phone camera JPEG, but adjustment, especially white balance is very limited. Editing the RAW/DNG file allows far more control in this respect because you are accessing the original data before it's turned in to a JPEG in your phone which loses much of the data.

Okay, I'm blabbering and running out of time, I'll do a better feature on this if interest suffices!

Monday, 1 May 2017

Exit Right - Fountain Colliery Update

Yesterday I dedicated time to sorting out the right hand side where trains exit stage. Disappearing roads in to a backscene are a problem, whist they can look ok to the eye, they rarely work in photographs. With the day job snapping model railways for the popular press, I encounter this frequently, so wished to avoid this with my own modelling which is more likely to be seen online than at shows (One or two shows for me a year are quite enough).

As a workaround, my bits and bobs box had a nice set of gates crying out to be used (I think there were off some long gone Bachmann ready to plonk buildings). So, with those in place, I wonder what is beyond those forbidding gates? Some Adams Family type lair? The local inbred gentry along the lines of Sir Henry at Rawlinson End? A top secret cult? RMweb? A government covert operations centre? I imagine we'll never know. I'm open to suggestions of course...

The warning signs are reused from old old layout that lost its crossing. They're scratch from some bits of plastic, a splash of paint and a computer printed sign.

The little pre war car is from a white metal Springside kit made many years ago. Austin 7s were tiny little cars, it looks under scale, but it is in fact quite right. In the UK, pre-war cars were still quite a feature right through to the 1960's, we did a lot more make do and mend in those days.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Fountain Colliery - housebound

This weekend's progress. I've been stuck at home with Norovirus (probably picked up at some music jam I imagine - my other interest), so with certain facilities being nearby an ideal excuse for a bit of Model making. These latest grabs give an idea of how it's all going.

I need to make more tress mostly, the collieries in the Forest of Dean really merged with nature. Last night I did the pond/bog in the foreground. I'm hoping Saffy the cat hasn't been on it overnight, it's a bit sticky with a thin layer of gloss. I also need ferns, dozens and dozens of them.

I've 6 or so weeks to go to the exhibition debut at The Warminster Expo on Saturday 17 June, so hopefully plenty of time to add lots of detail. I'll be next to Paul Marshall Potter of Albion Yard fame with his delightful 'Shelfie', so expect us to form the naughty corner.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Fountain Colliery! We Have a Name!

I've finally a name for my Forest of Dean project - Fountain Colliery - it sort of sounds 'Forest of Deany', probably because of a well known pub in Parkend that the real trains would rumble past with their loads of free mined coal or aggregate.

I've the Warminster Show booked for the 17th of June, so thought it only fair to give the punters a name. The hitherto 'Forest of Dean Project' not really running off the tongue.

So here goes, a very concise run through of what's been going on over the last few weeks. As usual click on the images for a bigger view.

Ballasting - starting with regular sand fixed in to place with diluted PVA 'in the time honoured way*' (*sounds better is you say it with a squeaky voice for that 'old school' tweed clad model railway expert effect). DAS clay is then smeared over and tamped down for a smooth effect. More on that here HERE

Next, paint is slapped on with interior emulsion 'matchpots', the sides of the rail and chairs are later dry brushed with a chocolate or rusty shade. Best not overdone, just a hint.

The static grass is applied everywhere - using winter and autumn shades, those colour being about right for late summer early autumn. WWS Scenics kind sent me some of their new self adhesive grass clumps to try out, you can see a few of those. I rather like them.

Foliage has also been added to where the 3D meets the 2D - that was mainly achieved with Sea Foam and flock. A little Halfords Red Primer was misted over the resulting bushes and trees to give them that September look - before placing on the layout of course! Before you ask, you can find a post about the Cornish engine house here!

On Sunday I started to address the let hand side with an elevated tub run knocked up with some 3mm foam board clad in corrugated plastic card. The panelling effect was achieved by a movable mask and dry-brushing greys and browns. On the left you can see the foundations of the bog with iron polluted water pumped up for deep down underground.

All a bit brief? I'm currently penning a series of features for Model Rail mag....

That's it for this post.... plenty more to do, sitting and typing here won't get any of it done - see ya!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Forest of Dean Colliery Update

Progress is now moving forward at a good rate. So much so that I hope to be taking it to a show in Warminster on Saturday the 17th of June. Well, that's the plan, I do have a standby layout just in case.

The track is now laid and wired up, above we see the basic diorama style presentation. Built in lighting has also been added. I use photographic bulbs, they give a good level of light, without being too cool or warm.

View looking stage exit right, the pub provides a good scenic break. There will be a level crossing there too.

The track plan here, subject to a few changes should give an idea of where I'm going with this. Foot print is around 4ft 3" by 1 foot deep.

Preparing the backscene, using Halfords automotive paint on to card. Most of the backscene will be hidden behind trees and buildings, so nothing too detailed or complicated is fine.

The card backscene was later inserted in to the diorama case and glued in to place. The pegs are just holding the top in place while the glue sets. PVA in this case.

The track has also been ballasted using sand. This is just a sub layer, a slurry of modelling clay will form a fine screed over the top to give the impression of fine cinders and clinker. The later colouring, which will be far removed from the clean and clinical look here.

The photo taken on my Polbrook Gurney Colliery layout will demonstrate where all this is going! It can be tricky at times to imagine the finished result. Luckily this is a proven method. Fingers crossed!!

Here is my deadline! Gulp.

Ps. Here's an old blog post from a few years ago explaining my ballasting in greater detail. http://nevardmedia.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/creating-effect-of-ash-ballast.html

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Tuesday Photo

Click for a bigger view
44417 carefully propels a rake of empties up the gradient in to Polbrook Gurney Colliery. Note the ancient tipping wagons to the right. It's likely they were used for removal of spoil.

The 4F started life as an Airfix model dating from around 1982. Recently I commissioned Phillip Hall to pop a decent chassis under it. Phil, with his amazing mechanical skills has made it fully compensated with pick ups on every wheel including tender. It sticks to the track like a limpet, and has an incredible pulling power. To try to match the fabulous chassis, I performed some cosmetic work on the rest of the engine with a new paint job and lots of extra detail. This one really is a keeper, and the odd time I do an exhibition, this little beastie will run all weekend even on the dirtiest track without missing a beat.

The contractor's wagons are part of a rake of 3, from the excellent RT Models white metal kit range.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Ahead of its time?

Dug this late 1970s Airfix 14xx out the other day. I recall it was one of my first weathering exercises around 1980 using airbrushing and dry brushing. I also added etched cabside plates.

The body with separate handrails and other detail was well ahead of its time for UK outline back then. I think it still looks pretty good. Sadly the chassis is quite the opposite, almost 40 years on it's s very much a non-runner. Might be worth putting something else under there from Comet or High Level in due course.

Here is the little locomotive posed on Brew Street, my recent 'nano' layout.

Above photo grabbed on the new (ish) iPhone 7, click on it for a bigger version.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

On track...

Forest of Dean Project update...
Cork sheet as a track underlay is so 2007 darhlings...
I lay my track on 6mm foam board, then insert and glue it in to the diorama case. It's much easier to align the trackwork properly outside the diorama case. That Bertie #borderterrier supervising.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Cornish Engine House

The latest building for my Forest of Dean project.

Knocked up the last week on and off; a scratch built 'Cornish Engine house', which would have been used to pump a mine free of excess water. It's made from embossed plastic card, cornflake packs and coffee stirrers.

The stone courses don't quite match nearest the cam because I'm a bodger. Some ivy growing up the side will take care of that as a bodger's fix! The building on the right and chimney are Skytrex mouldings. Scale 1/76. The engine house is around 8 inches high (20cm).