A Model Railroader’s Guide to Digital Photography

By Brooks Stover, MMR
Photos by the author

For many of us, our interest in model railroading started with a toy train set received as a Christmas gift years ago. But even if it started some other way it’s likely that our interest was heightened over the years by studying modeling done by others through photographs appearing in modeling magazines. For some modelers, myself included, creating good photos of models and layouts has become a hobby in its own right. Today, with the advent of digital cameras, it is easier than ever to create credible images of our models.

I have been fortunate enough to have had a significant number of photos I’ve made of my own S gauge Buffalo Creek & Gauley Railroad, as well as layouts by other modelers, published in modeling magazines. Over the course of many years ‘honing my skills’ I have developed both a basic understanding of what’s involved and a set of techniques that have served me well. The techniques require neither particularly complicated nor expensive equipment. The purpose of this article is to describe “how I do what I do” in such a way that those with little or no previous knowledge or experience in photography might feel comfortable giving it a try. I am not a professional photographer and have not had formal training in it. What is presented here is what I’ve learned by just taking pictures and with a lot of trial and error. There may be other approaches, but what I describe here has proven to work for me and hopefully it will be of value to others interested in getting involved in this fascinating part of model railroading. To the best of my ability, I’ve tried to get the technical aspects correct both through research and dialog with individuals with knowledge of the subject. Since digital photography is the preferred technology today, this article does not include any specific discussion of film photography although a great deal of the information presented here would be applicable.

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