The deeper I get into modeling, the more detailed I want the backstory to be. Trains running around the layout are awesome and will never get boring, but this hobby offers so much more. One element of that is operations, which I have put a fair amount of thought into and hope to begin sometime in the not too distant future.
If you want an example of a layout with a backstory, just look at any of Ian Holmes' masterpieces. He knows what he wants a layout to do. He designs and operates it so any halfway-attentive viewer understands it too. On top of which he is a great modeler. Total package.
One other aspect of model railroading can be photography. In a way photographing models is like photographing the prototype. You can sit your camera at a crossing and shoot train after train (especially since YOU not the railroad control the train volume-and consists). But just like in real life, that gets boring. What else can you work into the photo to make it more "interesting"? That's the challenge. And that's where this photo comes in.
Wanting something more than just a train at a crossing AND wanting a backstory, I came up with this in my free 15 minutes tonight. We're across the street from the C-Store, just a couple of blocks down from CSM Plant Food. A CSM truck just finished fueling up at the pumps. A farmer's kid, with a shiny new John Deere tractor and offset disk, has pulled in for a refreshment before heading home. A boxcar sits on the CSM spur waiting for a load of bagged beans. All of a sudden an eastbound freight decided to rumble through town. Our intrepid railfan decided to try and capture all of these things in the viewfinder of his camera, and this is the result.
To me, this kind of background is what makes the railroad environment real. It's kind of like trying to figure out what's in all those containers and trailers as a Z train passes as you are out railfanning. Just as I try to figure out what the railroad is doing to better understand why it exists in real life, I want to understand what is going on in my miniature world down in the basement.
As a side note, there is one new item I'm kind of proud of in this shot. The offset disk is a new creation, with a backstory of its own that I will share in a post soon. Here's a hint-next time you see a bag of sequins in Wal Mart, ask yourself what good they might do on the layout.
All for now.