A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

June 30, 2022

iPhone versus DSLR


The cameras in the new iPhones are quite remarkable. They can take great photos when the lighting is good. In model railroad photos, their small size and lens form factor allow for some compositions that are not possible with DSLRs without the use of front edge mirrors, such as low angle views in tight locations. So can iPhones replace DSLRs?  For many applications such as sharing on social media, yes. But the DSLRs still have the advantage, particularly with image resolution, in certain applications. 

Can you tell which of the shots above were taken with the iPhone and which was the DSLR? 

One thing that is not obvious in these web photos is that resolutions are different. The blog ap reduces the images to jpgs to the same resolution. But the original iPhone was a horizontal resolution of 3892 pixels while the DSLR has 5500 pixels.  If you use the rule of thumb of 300 pixels per inch of final image in a publication, the iPhone can do an 13 by 8 while the DSLR can go to 18 inches.   So if you want a two-page spread, you probably need a DSLR. I have noticed in the last 3 articles I have had published by Kalmbach, they used 3 of my DSLR images in two page spreads.  

Here are closeups at 100 percent magnification for both images. There is some blurriness in the iPhone image as I only used 4 images for the focus stack, while the DSLR used 8 and I shot the DSLR at f18. The DSLR had so much innate sharpness that the stacking was almost not necessary.  The iPhone would have been sharper if I did more layers in the focus stack. 

One other neat feature, I used the EOS Canon camera Utility Ap  to control the DSLR to take these photos. The 70D has wifi which I can use with my iPhone. However, I could not get the EOS utility ap to work with my Windoze 10 laptop. Apparently, I am not the only person with that problem. The latest Windoze updates nerfed the EOS Utility ap. I didn't try with my iMac as the iPhone was more convenient. 

iPhone 13 Pro

Canon 70D 

The answer to the question above - the DSLR is on top, iPhone below. My DSLR, a 20 megapixel Canon 70D DSLR, is almost 10 years old, so I decided to upgrade to a newer mirrorless camera. The new technology in autofocus and automated focus stacking plus even more pixels convinced me to go for it. The autofocus tech is not really needed for model railroad shots, but is useful for action shots like wildlife and racing. Even rail fanning shots will benefit. The camera is back ordered now, but I'll post some test shots when it arrives. 

June 28, 2022

Black Hawk Railroad in 1/24th Scale

Fred Hutchison explaining his track plan
The switch stands are fully operational - a benefit of large scale

Storage cabinets under the layout
I visited Fred Hutchison's layout last weekend to provide him with some input on his 1/24th scale Black Hawk Railroad. Black Hawk was an interesting town in Colorado where gold and other minerals were mined and smelted as early as 1859. Two railroads eventually served the town, the Colorado Central and the Gilpin Tramway.

Fred is building a layout in 1/24th scale that is prototypically based. That is not something you see very often. 

It is essentially a one town switching layout. He is trying to replicate the track plan as it actually existed. That is a challenge given the large size of 1/24th scale.

The layout is situated in his garage with a removable staging section that will extend over the driveway. The whole layout is moveable to allow access to the rear. He also built very clever rolling storage cabinets under the layout.

Fred is decorating the garage like the interior of a station.   It will be interesting to see the layout  develop.

June 21, 2022

Life Imitates Art?


I recently was doing some research on DODX heavy duty flat cars and I can across this handy summary of the types of flat cars used by the Department of Defense for their transportation needs. You can find the original document as a pdf at this link.

Do you notice anything funny about this document? 

Look closely at the photo in the upper right where you see the two Abrams tanks riding on a DODX 40000 series flat car.  That photo is actually one that I took of a brass UTI HO scale model flat car with two Herpa M1 Minitanks and Alkem Scale Models tie down chains. I shot the photo on a diorama I made several years ago. I replaced the photo back drop with an image I shot at the UP yard in El Paso. 

Here is a copy of the original photo before they cropped it.  I guess it was a realistic photo.

June 11, 2022

The Op Session that Wasn't

For months I have been scheduled to host an op session on 11 June. Alas, the layout wasn't ready and I had to cancel the session. There have been too many other commitments that have kept me from working on the layout. But, I have made some progress on the layout in that I added a base layer of scenery to the terrain extension near Brooke.  If you recall I added about 4 inches between the track and the fascia as I described here

The first step was that I painted the fascia. The textured paint I used in the past that was produced under the Ralph Lauren brand is not longer available. So I had Home Depot color match it as best they could with flat paint. The good news is the color match is nearly perfect. Furthermore, the missing texture is not really that obvious. I was going to make my own texture by mixing in some sand, but this looks good enough to leave as is.

Next I added the base scenery. I used dirt, ground foam, and static grass. I find that static grass looks better when it is clumpy as opposed to being applied in a large uniform patch. You can buy static grass clumps from commercial sources, but they tend to be expensive. Fortunately, it isn't hard to make your own. I use a cookie sheet as the base. I put dots of matte mod-podge on the pan. Then I apply the static grass with my Grasstech machine. I use a mix of lengths and colors. Once the clumps dry overnight they can embellish the static grass applied in the larger areas. 

I did not add static grass across from the storage warehouse as I plan to install a structure there. But that won't happen for a few more months.  

I have been working on some other projects which I will describe at a later date. Meanwhile, we are off to the North Carolina mountains for brief vacation.