Railway modellers spend months if not years perfecting layouts for exhibitions, so why do they appear to give little thought to lighting?
Any experienced exhibitor will know that you cannot rely on the venue lighting to make your layout look good, after all just consider the appalling lighting at The Warley Show at the NEC in Birmingham!
It’s a topic John & I have been talking more and more about at recent shows, some layouts seem to have no lighting whatsoever, some have recycled those old 80′s bedroom spotlights, mounting them attractively on wooden poles and we even noted one enterprising layout recently that had invested in LED technology! Ultimately, this has to be the way forward, however in using very narrow LED strip lighting there simply wasn’t enough light falling onto the layout. Furthermore, whilst this could have been run discreetly across the top of the layout, it had been mounted on drainpipe!
Ingleton Sidings appeared at Wycrail on Saturday 5th November 2011. A well organised model railway exhibition with plenty of friendly club members of all ages on hand to help set up.! Once the layout was up & running, we noticed a halogen spotlight pointing directly down into the hall and facing our layout! Even though Ingleton Sidings is presented in an enclosed box with it’s own internal lighting, the presence of this strong light source meant that unusual shadows were cast across the layout and the usual subtle atmosphere was lost on the day.
All of which got us thinking? Why do we spend so little time and money on lighting our layouts and secondly how do we ensure that our layout looks 100% irrespective of the venue?
Enter on the other side of the Wycrail main hall Catcott Burtle, one of the many stunning exhibition layouts operated by Chris Nevard, much publicised photographer of Ingleton Sidings. Aside from the top quality modelling it was apparent from the other side of the room that this layout was not going to suffer from any external lighting issues. Furthermore it appeared as if the layout had been given a quick once over spray of a very light blue weathering to enhance the features. Chris assured me it had not and invited me to look behind the lighting gantry. There were three small strip lights supposedly from B&Q interspersed with two energy saving spiral bulbs from Tesco. This combination of 5 lights could be viewed to be excessive on a layout of this size however the effect was stunning! When the striplights were turned off it became obvious that the signature “hue” of the layout was not achieved through weathering but clever use of lighting.
Then again when you take a look at Chris’ model railway photographs you realise there is little this guy doesn’t know about lighting!