Photographing an RPM

Toronto RPM 2016 - Brian Gauer

Earlier this month, I attended the 2016 Toronto RPM. I had a number of models to display and also gave a clinic on how I ended up being a prototype-inspired modeller in 1:64. But I was also on assignment:

Toronto RPM 2016 - Me and the light box

That’s me shooting a photo of an HO scale Canadian Pacific Railway van modelled by meet organizer Brian Gauer. The photo itself leads off this post.

I was working this meet for Railroad Model Craftsman magazine. Under previous editor Bill Schaumburg, RMC developed a strong presence at prototype modellers’ meets and I think it’s wonderful that current editor Stephen Priest has continued that tradition. I covered the 2015 New England-Northeast RPM for Stephen and I was very impressed with how my photos appeared in the magazine. I look forward to seeing Stephen’s treatment of my material from the Toronto meet (and I will update this post once I know when my coverage will appear in print).

I’ve shot a fair number of pictures of layouts and models over the years, and have developed a style that works for me. My favourite for equipment is a portrait in my photo box using Fillex LED lights, and it’s an ideal set-up for covering an RPM.

I’ve written previously about the box and lights, as I have used it to capture a series of equipment portraits for my Port Rowan layout.

In addition to creating a nice image, I like this combination of lights and photo box because it’s easily portable: the box collapses into a flat package and comes with its own sleeve that includes a carrying handle, while I can fit three lights with power supplies into a wheeled Pelican case. If I really wanted, I could leave one light at home and use the freed-up space for my camera. Meantime, two long zippped cases with shoulder straps accommodate my tripod and light stands.

People are eager to share their work at RPM meets, which makes my job easy. And yes, I always get the owner of the model to place it in the box: I don’t touch other people’s stuff – even with their permission. So if you see the lights and the big white box at an RPM meet sometime, come over and say hello – and bring along a model or two for a portrait!

(And a special thanks to my friend Stephen Gardiner for the portrait of the portraitist!)