Friday, August 07, 2020

Testing Focus Stacking

The last weeks I have tested taking photographs with my iPhone on my non scenicked layout.
I don’t run much trains nowadays, but do take a trip down to the layout room almost each day to empty the tank of my dehumidifier.
One evening the low norwegian sun came in through the window casting a nice light on the engines sitting in the yard.
I just had to pick up my iPhone and take some photographs.

Just a few days later I remembered James McNabs excellent post Focus stacking for Fun (and profit) on his The Hills Line blog, a nice switching layout being built.
He shows the steps using his iPhone and the app CameraPixels to take 10 photographs. Then he stitched the pictures in PhotoShop to a photo with great depth.

I had the free CameraPixels Lite app, and took some photos with it.
It has some limitations, so I bought the CameraPixels Pro app for just a few bucks or Norwegian Kroner (NOK).
I think the upgrade is worth it as I get full size pictures and can shoot with RAW format. I use the DNG format.

I bought a small micro stand for my iPhone and did take some testphotos with the lite version of the app.
I also somehow remembered that CameraPixels also has a remote control on my Apple Watch!
Then I don’t have to tough the camera when shooting, which eliminates blurry pictures due to shaking.

One note. Do give room for cropping the picture after stacking the photos as the stacking process is not perfect around the edges.

I used James McNabs process but imported the pictures in LightRoom first.
The only adjustment in LightRoom was enabling camera lens correction.
Then I exported the 10 pictures to PhotoShop.
I learned that since I go from LightRoom to PhotoShop that I had to do an other step in PhotoShop before stacking:
I had to choose all layers, then go to Edit, select Auto-Align layers and set Projection  to Auto
Then run Auto-Blend Layers with Stack Images selected. 
That is where the magic happens.

I then saved the picture and got it back as a TIF-file in LightRoom were I did cropping and final adjustments.
The whole process does not take a lot of time and is well worth the effort, at least I think.

There are of course other photo editing programs that are able of Focus Stacking.

The other day I went down in the basement and again found the sun shining through the window. I took the above photo lit only by the sun.
See the result using the CameraPixel Pro app and DNG above.

Here are some examples of my first efforts with the CameraPixel Lite app. 

Sunday, May 03, 2020

OBAS Di3 in action on the P&SF

My very first attempt on editing a video with iMovie.
Shot with my iPhone7 when I just had an attack of model railroading.
Just wanted to run a train, and then got the desire to shot a video.
A far cry from a good video, but hey, model railroading is supposed to be fun!
And for me living with a serious disease causing me to not have opsessions for a couple of years, and also not been able to do much on the layout, or run trains, this felt good :)

Family Party

Front End Friday Family Party.
A norwegian type Di3, former NSB (Norwegian State Railways), now private owned OBAS 3.632 joines the family in Mobest Yard, Phoenix Arizona.
.. Or, is it the american relatives who have come from far away to Halden, Norway, just under 100 miles north of the Swedish Manufactor NOHAB in Trollhättan? The very same factory that built the Norwegian Di3's.
All of them has EMD 567 diesel engines! Or at least the prototype.
With our model railroads, anything can happen :)
The OBAS engine is the first norwegian I have bought for more than years when I swapped out my norwegian rolling stock with US models.
And this is why this model was a must. The railroad in my hometown Halden is electric territory, end of the InterCity line to Oslo. The OBAS engines was kind of a sensation here in march 2005, pulling a train with paper rolls for export.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

A new bridge for the P&SF

My son Eivind, built, painted and weathered me a Walther Cornerstone Trough Girder bridge for my P&SF layout.
I am not sure yet if this will represent the bridge over Hassayampa river near Wickenburg, or the bridge over Aqua Rivernear Phoenix.
That depends on how and when the layout develops.
Thank you Eivind for the good work.
He took the pictures and I used focus stacking with the help of PhotoShop.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Cleaning track and grapithe treatment

Railroaders rest atfter cleaning track before doing the grafithe treatment on the tracks.

Graphite 3B block.

Reference articles:
Graphite track treatment - discussion on the MRH forum

Graphite is a conductor.
Please shut the power to the rails of before starting the treatment.
If not you will have a short that might cause harm on your DCC system.

Monday, June 06, 2016

W.H. Constable IceHouse and Desert cooling

After the opsession I grabbed my Pentax K5 DSLR camera and headed down to the basement.
Photo is an other hobby of mine, and from time to time I am in the mood to do some shooting and work in Lightroom. 
This time I even tryed something new: Photostacking in Photoshop.
This photo is made up of eight, I think. I used my DA 35 f 2.4 AL lens and placed the camera right on the top of the layout.

As always, the buildings are temporarely placed on the layout. This is actually walls from one kit, the Walthers Cornerstone R.J. Frost Ice & Storage
The left building will be a stand in for the old Ice House near Union Station in Phoenix.
It was once part of the W.H. Constable Ice & Cold Storage plant.
The building leaning to the wall at right will be Desert Cooling.
I could not resist such cool names!

And yes, those were industries once served by ATSF in Phoenix
Desert Cooling might not be a cold storage plant, and I might change the name to W.H. Constable Cold Storage or something completely different.
This is my layout! It is inspired by the Peavine, but not following it to closely!

Here are some more photos from the layout after the may 2016 opsession.

The yard:

 Glendale Industrial District with the Ash Fork Staging Yard hanging over it:


Opsession May 24th 2016

I enjoy watching the layout come alive when friends are coming down in my basement for an opsession. Sadly I have not been able to host opsessions so often I would like the last years, but finaly we managed to operate the P&SF late in May.
The room is pretty small and become pretty crowded. Four to six people is maximum.
When enough operators show up, I can be host and supervisor or even take a nap when things runs smothely! Like this thuesday.

Here are a few photos from this day:

The Hassayampa Chief waiting in the Ash Fork Staging Yard. This is an Intermounain F3AB I bought this spring. It has ESU LokSound decoders factory installed. Just in time for the opsession ESU launched its new Full Throttle features, making running diesel enginees more fun. I still have to learn more of all the features though.

The rest of the pictures shows the yard crew working hard to sort the cars.
The SRX reefer train with SFRD reefer cars is my signature train: The Salt River Valley Express with Letuce and other perishables from the fertile Salt River Valley in Arizona.
I try to run one each opsession

Did I mention? Operating is fun!

Aids for operating the P&SF

Operation is fun, but it also requires some paperwork and some time for set up.
I use the well known CarCards and WayBills (CC&WB) system, with a little twist.

I print my own CarCards on heavy cardstock using EMRI - Easy Model Railroad Inventory. The program can be downloaded here.
I found an Excell sheet on the late Wolfang Dudlers site (link) and based my WayBills on his sheet, but with some significant changes.
First – I do not use four cycles per WayBill that needs to be turned. I use only one cycle per waybill, but have two to four or even more WayBills in each pocket of a CarCard.
Second  - I have have color codes for different switching areas and staging, making it easier for my crew when sorting cars.
For now I do not have details on what goodies the car ships, just the industry and the industrial area or staging.
I also have some cards with HOLD telling the crew to replace the car at the same spot.

My crews follow the instructions on the WayBills, but do not turn them or move them.
Between the opsessions I do move the front WayBill in the pocket of each CarCard to the back of the stack in the pocket.

I have mounted some boxes from Micro Mark for the CC&WB cards. I have also made some taller cards with appropriate colors the yardmaster can use when he is blocking the trains. I have also written some instructions on those.
I have schematic plans for the yard or industrial district hanging in clear plastic envelopes beneath the boxes. This is an idea I found on the great MRH-forum.
I also has schematic plans for the whole layout hanging around.

I have no timetable, but a loosely based sequens set up for the trains we are running.
A pair of passenger trains, the ”Hassayampa Chief” and a motorcar runs from Phoenix Union Station to staging and back during the opsession.
All freight trains are extras. The yardmaster calls for a freight train out of Mobest yard when he has 14-16 car going west or east, which still is to the same way to small staging yard.
We try to not send freight trains to the yard when the yard crews has lot of work.

I have also made  a kind of instruction sheet for each train. This has some instructions on trainhandling and use of horns, some tips, the number for the DCC decoder and a list of the functions of that decoder.
There is a system map and also a switchlist on the back side for those who wants to use such a list.

The opsessions are very informal, and we do have lots of fun operating the layout

Sunday, June 05, 2016

P&SF - main goal for the layout

When preparing my layout for an op-session last year, in a flash I could put words on what is my main goal for my layout:

Build a layout that is fun to operate!

Scenery, buildings, weathering, details etc will be a bonus if I ever come around to build that.

When it  comes to operation, I like many things:

Industrial switching
Yard switching
Local freight trains
Mainline freight trains
Reefer trains (SRX)
Long trains
Helpers (steep grades)
I like to operate

on my own
with my son
with a couple of friends
But I really have a good time when the layout becomes busy with my operation crew of 4-6 people
Actually, I do already have had lots of fun with operation on this layout, despite lots of temporary solutions.

From the Arctic Ocean to the Arizona Desert

My history with model trains include both the Arctic and Arizona. I have never  been in Arizona, but my model railroad is inspired by the Peavine – the Santa Fe branch from their transcontinental mainline to Phoenix.
My first train set, however, was bought in colder climate, in Longyearbyen, 78 degrees north.

I lived there 1960-63 as a small boy together with my family. I even visited Ny-Ålesund further north, a small settlement that probably hosted the worlds northernmost railroad-operation hauling coal from the mines to the harbour.

Christmas eve 1963 we were back in continental Norway, but my parents had a real surprise for my brother and me: They had bought a Märklin starter set with some extra track and cars. I have scanned some of my fathers old slides, and it seems that one of those cars might have been an UP-gondala!
My mother says she never knew that she started a life long interest in railroading and trains.

The next autumn we moved to Hol in the Hallingdal valley. Bergensbanen, the mainline between Oslo to Bergen runs through the valley. When not at school I was often found on the “StationRoute” the combined freight and passenger bus between our village and the station. I am not sure of how much help the bus driver actually got from us kids, but he was a kind and funny man.

I built and tore down the tracks a lot of times. Those layouts got more advanced, but I never got into building scenery. I must admit I still have no experience building scenery.

I came to Oslo in the mid 70s and soon discovered a good hobby shop. They introduced me for the German magazine MiBa and even to an US locomotive, which I later think must have been a SP GP38 from Atlas (Roco). I never bought that one, but that could have changed my model railroading history (smile).

During these years I did move from the Märklin 3-rail AC to 2-rail DC and now with Norwegian prototype.

I bought my first issue of the ModelRailroader some years later. During the years following I was more and more influenced by modelling US-style. In 1996 I eventually  swapped out my Norwegian and European equipment with US-models. I never looked back.

I learned about the Peavine line in an issue of the Warbonnet. It features an important branch line running through different kind of scenery, from pine covered hills to the desert and the city of Phoenix. Until 1961 it also had very steep grades with helper operation. Just what a modeller wants. My model railroad is inspired by the real Peavine in the early 60s. I do not try to model it closely.

When I switched to modelling US modelling, my three sons bought there own rolling stock. Only the oldest one, Eivind is still a model railroader.

A couple of years ago, when browsing through my first issue of ModelRailroader, the February 1982 issue, I made a surprising discovery. In that very issue there was a mention of the Santa Fe, Prescott & Phoenix - the Peavine line – in the first instalment of John Olsons series on the Jerome & Southwestern.
That layout was set in the Arizona desert. But Arizona has more to offer, even heavy snowfalls.

Maybe I should bring my old cross-county skies when visiting the CAMRRC in Prescott? Thanks to Bruce Petrarca - the founder of Lichtfield Station and the DCC-columnist in MRH - I was introduced to this club.

Yes, it is a small world, and with our model railroads we can build a world from an other continent, maybe an American is building a Norwegian prototype? I know there are Germans and Dutch who do.


This was copied from my blog over at the MRH-forum.
I got some comments on the difference between Spitsbergen and Arizona.
If you want to read those, please follow this link.