Live Steamers Railroad Museum
Big boys with big toys. This strikingly beautiful "real" scale steam locomotive and one of the enthusiasts who work on them. This particular locomotive required over 26 years to build, at a cost of about $250,000. Clearly not a commitment to be undertaken lightly, the rewards of following this focused pursuit is now a spectacular piece of miniature American railroad hardware that so many others can now enjoy.
I tried to create an image of what appears to be a full scale locomotive, only to have the viewer recognize the man in the background secondarily. The real trick was to have the lighting on the person as natural as possible so it looks like he really fits in the environment. If I made Ron really dark, he would have disappeared of course, but then it would not read correctly, and looked “fake.” Notice the lighting in the hill side above his shoulders is brighter than the rest of the hill, the light on the train cab to the right of his arm is the same as the lighting on his arm, and lastly, the lighting and coloring on the hand and oil can is the same as the warm toned bounced lighting on the bottom wheels of the train. All contributing to the desired effect.
While shooting this amazing locomotive, I couldn’t help but notice the cab specifically. Returning a second time to the Live Steamers location to shoot the cab was absolutely necessary, as it was equally impressive in it’s detail and realism. If not for the sight of the owner, Louis, just outside the right hand windows, I think it could pass for a real locomotive cab. All of the dials and gauges really do work, and require a delicate touch to avoid breaking them. If you look closely, you can even see a small scale thermos, oil can and lunch pale sitting on the shelf.
Interestingly, I often hear comments from viewers to my work that these images and subjects look like models, or some sort of diorama scene, because the lighting is so nice, in this case I actually did use a real scale model, and tried to make it look full scale.
To anybody who happens to be in Los Angeles some day, I highly recommend coming down to the Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum for a free ride aboard these impressive machines. Located in Griffith Park, near the Zoo, they are open to the public on Sundays from about 11:00 A.M. till 3:00 P.M. With 20,000 feet of 7.5” of track stretching out over a few acres, including tunnels, bridges, switches and miniature buildings, it is a real treat for “Kids” of all ages.