I learned this lesson on my previous layout: It’s worth spending money on your layout lighting.
I’ve stolen time this week – 15 minutes here and there – and hooked up my layout lighting. I’m using a 12-volt halogen landscape track lighting system with a mix of 20-watt spotlights and 10-watt floodlights. As I’ve written earlier, it’s available in the United States from e-conolight.
My lighting goals are three-fold:
1 – Ample but not overwhelming lights for operating sessions;
2 – A strong sense of direction conveyed by definite shadows;
3 – the appearance of a partially cloudy day – I find this more interesting than an evenly lit sunny environment.
I’m very happy with the results on all three counts.
Here’s a view of the spots and floods I’m using, with the flood on the left and spot on the right. For the most part, I’ve paired these so that the floodlight fills in behind the spotlights:
The lead photo an overall view of the lighting at the peninsula (Port Rowan) with the south end of St. Williams in the background. The cable in the distance at right still needs to be secured to the ceiling. It’s the feed from the transformer.
With just the room lights on, Port Rowan suffers from kind of drab, even lighting. Not much character:
Now, turn off the room lights and fire up the layout lighting, and we get something much better. The boxcar is in full sun, with the locomotive under a bit of cloud. Furthermore, there’s a strong sense of direction to the lighting – we’re standing to the south, looking northward, since the end of the boxcar is also fairly strongly lit:
By contrast, this photo is taken looking to the south. Note how the north end of the boxcar is in shadow:
The effect is even better in person.
Thanks again to my friend Gerry Cornwell for putting me onto this system and teaching me the value of good lighting.