Saturday, June 23, 2012


I picked up some of the Tru-Color paints recently. From what I can tell, I really like their colors. They are a solvent (acetone) based acrylic. I've got a handful of other paints, but not many. I picked up a several Scalecoat and Scalecoat II paints, but found that I didn't care for some of the colors. Particularly the Pullman Green. Also, the majority of the paints I have are somewhat old, and I've found they aren't working as well as I'd hoped.

The Tru-Color paints are based off of the well respected Accupaint line. In addition, being a new paint line, I know that the bottles haven't been sitting on a hobby shop shelf for 10 years. In addition, they are releasing a whole series of box car brown/red colors, matched from actual color chips courtesy of Ed Hawkins.

Having come back to the hobby after painting RPG miniatures for about 20 years, one thing I have found that I don't like is paint pots. I had a full set of Reaper paints, and both they and Vallejo use small dropper bottles. Vallejo has released some railroad colors in the past, but they don't have a huge selection. Anyway, the dropper bottles make it easy to mix to specific ratios but just counting drops. There is virtually no clean-up, and the paints keep for a very long time in bottles like these.

So I've transferred the paint to the same kind of bottles. I was going to write up what I've done, but I found a great blog entry when looking for a source for the bottles:

 It's from an RPG/War Gaming blog, but like the military modelers I find that there are a lot of things we can learn from the RPG miniatures guys as well.

Incidentally, it's vital that you use the LPDE bottles for Tru-Color paints since they contain acetone. It's not very expensive to do this, I highly recommend it. Since the bottles are only 1/2 oz, and the Tru-Color paint comes in 1 oz (supposedly) bottles. I've been able to make a second set for Chris. I have found that the amount of paint in the original bottles is somewhat inconsistent. I haven't graduated the dropper bottles to see if I'm getting the full 1 oz. Considering that for many colors I'll need very little, and others I'll be buying a lot more, it's not a big deal to me.

Now I've got to practice painting...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Photoshop fun

Just playing around with the Sony camera and Photoshop Elements. Here's a picture converted to B&W in the camera with a Photoshop vintage photo filter applied.

This is with a 26mm equivelent lens. I should have the 24mm equivelent tomorrow. Part of what I'm trying to achieve is the same 'feel' as the prototype photography, not just the scene. Speaking of whick, no ballast or other scenery, and the Landers, Frary and Clark factory is still just the simple paper mock-up.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The track gang showed up!

I wandered downstairs this evening, and found myself testing out the track layout for Stanley Works. After two stints in the basement tonight, most of the track is laid:

In the picture you're looking (roughly) east. Of the two sidings in the foreground, the one on the left will be inside a building, the one on the right next to it. These tracks really should be a continuation of the two sidings seen entering the backdrop.

Those two sidings are inside the rolling mill. In reality, there was a single track that went through the rolling mill and across Curtis Street.

The very sharply curved track is the locomotive track for the Stanley Works HK Porter fireless 0-4-0. There is another industrial siding next to that one.

Just beyond the corner is a runaround, with the left track also serving as an industrial track. Just after these converge at the other end will be a gate and the end of the Stanley Works property. New Haven crews will drop off and pick up beyond that gate, and the Stanley Works crew will do all of the switching in the factory.

There are a couple of missing tracks, but I think it will be enough for operations.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Testing Cameras Part II

I decided to go ahead and pick up the Nikon so I can test them side-by-side. So, here are a few shots with the smallest aperture (f/8.3 at 24mm) and ISO 100. The exposure is much shorter than the Sony, (because the aperture is larger).

So the quality isn't quite as good, particularly the F&C kit. In fact, I couldn't do the same exposure for that one because of the computer screen and bright light behind it. The Sony has a touch screen so I could pick exactly where to focus the shot, and the long exposure worked great. With the Nikon the brighter background threw it. In addition to the quality of the pictures themselves, the depth of field is slightly better with the Sony (to my eye anyway).

The other thing that is evident is the wider field of view. The Nikon has a 24mm equivalent wide angle, where the kit lens with the Sony is 26mm. There is another lens available for the Sony that will match that, and is of a higher quality than the kit lens. However, after seeing these, while the 24mm will be beneficial, it's not essential right now.
So I'm still undecided, but leaning heavily toward the Sony at this point.

Testing cameras

I need a new camera. Mine has been broken for some time, and I've been relying on my phone. The pictures are OK, but not nearly good enough for something I would be posting on the True Line Trains site, or for a magazine article. It's been acceptable for posts to the webpage, and family pictures.

So, since my needs have changed since my last camera (a Sony DSC F-717 purchased 9 years ago), I've been investigating the options. In particular, model photography is a much higher priority. Family snapshots are OK with the phone, particularly since I always have it with me. For more specific family events (vacation, etc.), I'll bring the camera along.

There are several classes of digital cameras available now. For the most options and best pictures, a DSLR is hard to beat. The one area it suffers is its size and portability. I'm not all that concerned about size, except for when it comes to being able to get it 'in' a layout. The lens typically sits too high to take a layout picture from a model person's 'eye-level.'

I've also been very intrigued by the various super-zoom options out there, particularly the Nikon P510. Right now it's probably my second choice, and I will probably test one out in the near future. But right now I'm trying the Sony NEX-5N. This is a compact camera with removable lenses. It also has the same size sensor as a DSLR, which is a huge plus in terms of picture quality. It's also a very fast camera, from start to first picture, and in terms of shutter lag. This is important for pictures of kids.

For the model photos, it's small, and allows a very small aperture (f/22), which in layman's terms means that it keeps things at different distances in focus better. The problem with photographing models is that you are both very close (in terms of the lens to the subject), and yet you need to keep things in focus over a range of several feet between the closest object and the farthest object. Having a very sharp focus on a very small part of the model is one of the things that immediately identifies the subject as a model.

Anyway, here are a few test shots using the aperture priority setting of f/22, ISO 100, and a long exposure determined by the camera automatically based on the other two settings.

I'm not an expert by any means, in terms of my knowlege of photography, or the results. But I'm pretty happy with these results. The downside is primarily the need to purchase additional lenses in the event that I want more zoom.

I suspect I will try the Nikon camera before I decide to keep this one. From what I've read, this is a better camera overall, but with my skills and audience the Nikon one will be more than sufficient in photo quality. The only real question is whether it can take model photos like these. Because the sensor size impacts the effective aperture, I'm not entirely sure what the minimum aperture is on the Nikon. Their specifications indicate f/8, but with a smaller sensor this number may be different from the 35mm equivelent and might compare well with the Sony.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Layout Tour and F&C Kit

Well I didn't get around to taking any pictures at the NE Proto Meet. But I had a great time. The layout tour went very well. The only issue was that I found out our coffee maker doesn't work. But 18 people signed the guest book and everybody seemed to really enjoy the layout.

Chris hung out up on the deck to direct traffic and chat with the visitors. As expected, they came in a few waves, but never too many to accomodate.

Since the meet Chris decided that we should build the new F&C NH 36' wood box cars. This is a re-release of the old NHRHTA model, although Steve says it's all new castings and it's a one-piece body. Here's most of the parts after flash has been removed:

The coupler height is way too low (about 0.07") and the trucks don't clear the crossties. Here it is after the addition of 4 red and one gray washer. I'll build up a bolster by drilling a hole to accomodate a styrene tube to build up a new bolster. I also had to modify the coupler box and file the coupler opening a bit to get it to fit properly.

More later.

Friday, June 1, 2012

NE Proto Meet Day One

I had a great time today at the Proto Meet. Showing off a few of the TLT models, meeting some new people, saw a lot of old friends, some amazing models, and Chris and I gave our NH Steam Clinic.

A few of the regulars stopped by for a quick dinner, then I was off to band practice. I'll have to find out how the slide shows were this evening.

The plumber is finished in the basement, so it's time to get it ready for the layout tour on Sunday. Chris and Pete will come by early to help out.

I'm looking forward to another day tomorrow!