“From the cab” perspective

 photo F-Unit-Perspective_zpsxbleldgl.jpg
(A fake cab to enclose a camera might provide a more realistic view of a layout – by controlling what we can see and eliminating some of the things we don’t want to show)

My post on the Cab ride to Port Rowan generated a lot of feedback – thanks for the kind words, everyone!

I found it interesting that a number of people commented on how the “from the cab” perspective changes how one views a layout. Specifically, people noted that it’s not the best way to view a layout, because we design them to be viewed from the aisle – and I agree!

Viewing a layout from the track tends to expose the things we don’t generally see during normal operations. Layout lighting is a big one: we tend to aim lights at the track, and then hide them from our view as we’re standing in the aisle. Putting a camera on a flat car often puts the lights right in our eyes (and it certainly did in my cab ride video).

I’m not overly concerned about that. I think it might help to enclose the camera in a fake cab – for example, by framing what the camera sees so the viewer appears to be looking through the window of an F-unit. Done right, it should reduce the non-realistic surroundings that one sees in a video.

When I look at the image at the top of this post, I’m struck by just how little I can see of the world outside the locomotive’s window. I’m also struck by how easy it would be to mock-up the window – one can’t even see the nose of the F unit, and the interior of the cab disappears in blackness. It’s too easy to not try, so a mock-up window is something I’ll create at some point. Adding the wiper blades would be a nice touch.

(A similar thing could be done with the mock-up of a rear-end observation car for taking video of a following train.)

What I really liked about the video I shot of the layout is how well it connects the various scenes together. This is something I haven’t been able to share with others in the past.

Oh sure – I could publish a layout plan (and I have), and then take photographs or video from the aisle, and mark the plan with numbered photo locations – much like one sees in hobby magazines. But either approach would have its own set of shortcomings:

– A series of photos would still leave questions, like “how long does it take to get from one scene to the next?”

– Video from the aisle would have to consist of a series of static scenes with trains running through them if I wanted to control what the viewer saw, to minimize unrealistic distractions like layout lighting and fascia – so it would be much like a series of still shots in that regard.

They’re both worthwhile approaches – and I’ll continue to share perspectives taken from the aisle. But the cab ride perspective answers a different set of questions for me, and lets me enjoy the layout in a different way, so I’ll continue to share those, too…

8 thoughts on ““From the cab” perspective

  1. “I’m struck by just how little I can see of the world outside the locomotive’s window.”

    But what you can see is essential to the safe operation of the train – there is very little chance for the eye to veer away from looking down the road ahead.

    That’s another insight into railroad design and operations. Amazing what a photo can teach us!

  2. Trevor & Simon,
    While the view may be limited from the cab, the engineer is consistently thinking about what you can’t see. When I went through engineer training, the joke was you had to plan 4 miles ahead, and 1 mile behind of where you were.

      • But the Port Rowan line and the Daily Effort are so far removed from the challenge of running a two-mile long 12,000 ton freight train, told by the dispatcher/RTC via radio of a meet fifteen miles away, trying to regulate one’s speed so as not to block crossings and yet not suffer delay at that meet.

        Branchline railroading as it used to be is so much more fun! One train on the line, hand signals (I was taught about forty or so) instead of radio, and we can go back in time via Trevor’s fine modelling.

        I’m in…

  3. Trevor, It’s a good point as to how little peripheral view there is from the engineers seat especially in the time of boilers or long hoods. But of course being on rails the really important view is the one up the line and the immediate vicinity. I also thought that your video showed the higher switch number size to very realistic advantage and enhanced the strong feeling of actually being in the scene that your superb modeling created.
    Maynard Stowe

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