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Once again, during my semi-annual trip to Nicholas Smith Trains (coincides with dentist appts. in nearby town) I was blown away by just how neater the displayed trains appear at the 6' to 7' shelf level, given that I stand about 5'11" tall. Whether steam or electric engines, looking slightly upward at them I notice more detail than I do if looking down at the same model at 34" to 44." I believe the recessed soft white lighting within the shelves also plays a key part in the dramatic feel. Yet, the notion of building a layout at 7' high is ridiculous because the track would have to be right on the edge and you wouldn't be able to see past the mainline (not to mention you'd need a very high ceiling and having to work on stilts). If you go too high, like Wegman's G-scale operating ceiling track runs, you lose perspective of detail, though it always nice to see a train running

BTW: Nicholas Smith Train Store is worth a visit. Unfortunately, stores like this are far few and far between and likely getting rarer as people gravitate to online shopping. I got lucky the other day as they had just put out some warehouse finds; I just happened to come across them in the maze of aisles: a rare Polar RR car and caboose, and an older Lionel switch tower that I've been looking for. Plus, seeing stuff in person beats the pants off of catalog and online pictures.

Here's an older video I found on Youtube, though it doesn't capture the impression of being in person, plus the video is not as clear and stable. The higher level shelves appear around 41 seconds into video. I am not trying to plug Nicholas Smith, rather am curious what others think of how trains look awesome at a slightly higher eye elevation. I tried kneeling down in my basement to gain a similar perspective of trains on my outer mainline (near edge of layout) and couldn't get the effect. It's likely that my basement lights (overhead florescent) are inadequate (too bright); and I am going to experiment with UV shields this winter. Then again, maybe there's just something special about Nicholas Smith upper level train shelves

Last edited by Paul Kallus
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In my opinion the change in perspective makes it more real and more visually familiar. Most of my encounters with trains took place with the locomotive looming over me, rather than spotting from a bridge or other overhead location. So it's a more familiar angle to see it from, which adds to the realism and immerses you more into the layout.

When I was running just a simple loop of track on the floor (hoovering up who knows how much dog hair and carpet fluff into that old engine's poor motor) I would lay down flat on the floor, one ear to the ground, and watch the train roll past. It was a magic moment that just isn't the same when you're watching from a chair or standing.

It's simple,  looking down from a bird's-eye view you lose all the details.  Boxcars, reefers, gondolas and flats all look like a bunch of colored rectangles. Same thing with passenger cars. Even diesels and steam locomotives lose their cache.  Scenery looks 2 dimensional when viewed from above.  IMO the best view is from straight on to see all the details of the layout.

I think a lot of it has to do with the way the mind works.  When we view our trains from above we see everything.  We know where the train came from. We know where it is going.  When we look at them from eye level we see what is in front of us.  The mind fills in the unknowns.  When looked at from above the mind sees that the train ran into a tunnel, rounded a curve, exited the tunnel and passed in front of us.  When viewed from eye level our imaginations tells us that the train traveled a great distance and suddenly appeared before us only to depart and continue its journey into the unknown.  I believe that is why children are fascinated by train layouts.  They cannot see the entire layout so their minds fill in the blanks.

Tom

@Paul Kallus posted:

Once again, during my semi-annual trip to Nicholas Smith Trains (coincides with dentist appts. in nearby town) I was blown away by just how neater the displayed trains appear at the 6' to 7' shelf level, given that I stand about 5'11" tall. Whether steam or electric engines, looking slightly upward at them I notice more detail than I do if looking down at the same model at 34" to 44." I believe the recessed soft white lighting within the shelves also plays a key part in the dramatic feel. Yet, the notion of building a layout at 7' high is ridiculous because the track would have to be right on the edge and you wouldn't be able to see past the mainline (not to mention you'd need a very high ceiling and having to work on stilts). If you go too high, like Wegman's G-scale operating ceiling track runs, you lose perspective of detail, though it always nice to see a train running

BTW: Nicholas Smith Train Store is worth a visit. Unfortunately, stores like this are far few and far between and likely getting rarer as people gravitate to online shopping. I got lucky the other day as they had just put out some warehouse finds; I just happened to come across them in the maze of aisles: a rare Polar RR car and caboose, and an older Lionel switch tower that I've been looking for. Plus, seeing stuff in person beats the pants off of catalog and online pictures.

Here's an older video I found on Youtube, though it doesn't capture the impression of being in person, plus the video is not as clear and stable. The higher level shelves appear around 41 seconds into video. I am not trying to plug Nicholas Smith, rather am curious what others think of how trains look awesome at a slightly higher eye elevation. I tried kneeling down in my basement to gain a similar perspective of trains on my outer mainline (near edge of layout) and couldn't get the effect. It's likely that my basement lights (overhead florescent) are inadequate (too bright); and I am going to experiment with UV shields this winter. Then again, maybe there's just something special about Nicholas Smith upper level train shelves

Thank you for sharing! Nicholas Smith is my go to local favorite. Chris, Joe and the rest are the best. I’m blessed for being so nearby. Best! 😎

@BillYo414 posted:

I think they look more realistic because the angle somewhat replicates the angle you see full size trains from in real life. This is part of why I went with a 4ft high layout. I'm taller than that but I can bend over a bit to get the perspective and I have a stool that gives me the perspective perfectly

My layout is the same height: 48 to 50 inches, which I like for easier access  under the layout and for shooting photos and videos.

If you think about it, when we're looking at real trains (from public areas and not on railroad property without permission) we're typically looking up at them. It's a more realistic view to look at the models at eye level or look up at them. Practicality, however, keeps us from setting up a deep layout at eye level as it's more difficult to reach stuff without a step stool. The added bonus of higher layout platforms is the additional storage space below, plus it's easier to work on wiring.

@AGHRMatt posted:

If you think about it, when we're looking at real trains (from public areas and not on railroad property without permission) we're typically looking up at them. It's a more realistic view to look at the models at eye level or look up at them. Practicality, however, keeps us from setting up a deep layout at eye level as it's more difficult to reach stuff without a step stool. The added bonus of higher layout platforms is the additional storage space below, plus it's easier to work on wiring.

If you look through older publications that feature articles on, or are dedicated to, loco pics, you will occasionally see a topside pic (taken from an overpass or tall lineside structure or hill) that calls attention to the topside details and the value the pic has for modelers since most pics are from low angles and lack such details.

@palallin posted:

If you look through older publications that feature articles on, or are dedicated to, loco pics, you will occasionally see a topside pic (taken from an overpass or tall lineside structure or hill) that calls attention to the topside details and the value the pic has for modelers since most pics are from low angles and lack such details.

Definitely true.

@palallin posted:

If you look through older publications that feature articles on, or are dedicated to, loco pics, you will occasionally see a topside pic (taken from an overpass or tall lineside structure or hill) that calls attention to the topside details and the value the pic has for modelers since most pics are from low angles and lack such details.

Absolutely correct!

"One of these days" when I actually have a modicum of scenery in place, I too, will be shooting such pictures of layout "scenes". My hope is to try to make it "logical" as if standing atop a cut, overhead bridge, etc.

I think photographing a layout can be a hobby within a hobby for many of us, and I suspect that will include me.

Gotta' get my butt in gear and get my sky blue backdrops and overhead lighting in place this spring/summer so I can dabble with some scenery when the mood hits!

Andre

It's funny this thread was resurrected because I had to make another sojourn to Broomall and my car mysteriously found a detour leading me to make a quick stop in at Nicholas Smith earlier this week. Sure enough, my eyes gravitated to those scale engines on the 6 to 7 foot high shelving. The French word, trompe l'oeil, comes to mind ~ tricking of the eye, or visual illusion. I have one or two of those engines (Lionel BiPolar was one), and sure enough not only do the shelved engines look more detailed but also larger at the higher elevations. Thus, detail and realism is one aspect as you've all noted, but the models look substantially larger; so much so if I was a newcomer into the hobby I'd bet a case of beer that they were a different scale than models viewed at lower elevations, and of course I would lose . Adequate or even subdued lighting, certainly not too bright, I suspect is also key in this trompe l'oeil effect. Towards that goal, I need to install my UV shields in my overhead florescent lighting.

Last edited by Paul Kallus
@Paul Kallus posted:

Once again, during my semi-annual trip to Nicholas Smith Trains (coincides with dentist appts. in nearby town) I was blown away by just how neater the displayed trains appear at the 6' to 7' shelf level, given that I stand about 5'11" tall. Whether steam or electric engines, looking slightly upward at them I notice more detail than I do if looking down at the same model at 34" to 44." I believe the recessed soft white lighting within the shelves also plays a key part in the dramatic feel. Yet, the notion of building a layout at 7' high is ridiculous because the track would have to be right on the edge and you wouldn't be able to see past the mainline (not to mention you'd need a very high ceiling and having to work on stilts). If you go too high, like Wegman's G-scale operating ceiling track runs, you lose perspective of detail, though it always nice to see a train running

BTW: Nicholas Smith Train Store is worth a visit. Unfortunately, stores like this are far few and far between and likely getting rarer as people gravitate to online shopping. I got lucky the other day as they had just put out some warehouse finds; I just happened to come across them in the maze of aisles: a rare Polar RR car and caboose, and an older Lionel switch tower that I've been looking for. Plus, seeing stuff in person beats the pants off of catalog and online pictures.

Here's an older video I found on Youtube, though it doesn't capture the impression of being in person, plus the video is not as clear and stable. The higher level shelves appear around 41 seconds into video. I am not trying to plug Nicholas Smith, rather am curious what others think of how trains look awesome at a slightly higher eye elevation. I tried kneeling down in my basement to gain a similar perspective of trains on my outer mainline (near edge of layout) and couldn't get the effect. It's likely that my basement lights (overhead florescent) are inadequate (too bright); and I am going to experiment with UV shields this winter. Then again, maybe there's just something special about Nicholas Smith upper level train shelves

Its the G scale rule. If it looks good at 4Ft than its good. The eye plays tricks and changing angles will "look better" Also when above and back from the model your eyes will fill in the missing details. This occurs because your eyes can't see the difference so with your mind smooths it out.

Oops, l thought the subject was real trains, and called to mind standing in a station at nine years old, and staying away from vented steam, as this monster towered over me, huffing and clanking, while the stationmaster passed up a wooden hoop with paper clamped to it.

I think that image is precise why looking up at our models is so impressive.  that perspective comes much closer to replicating that scene visually.

I missed this thread the first time around back in November.  Interesting subject!  I agree with Paul and all the folks who have posted...there's just something really cool about viewing our trains at eye level (or above eye level)-- whether in a train shop or on a layout.

Here's an example of different views of the same locomotives...

Typical overhead layout point of view (looks OK):

DSC_0002

Eye-level view (looks better):

DSC_0006DSC_0007

And here are a couple looking slightly up (even better)...

IMG_3042FILE0018

As always, this is just my opinion!

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Last edited by CNJ #1601

Paul, this is a great thread, I suspect one other thought passes my mind, when we were young, kids, We thought as kids, we ran our beautiful trains on our floors, bedroom, living room, dining room, basement floor, attic floor, temporarily. We grew up, got married (or moved away from our parents home) , or settled down with a job or occupation that allows us to get back into our hobby and building our dream layouts. The big difference, now we want those trains to look realistic and sound realistic, and TADAH, and building our railroads at 48 inch’s to 50 inches off the floor gives us a birds eye view for much more realism. Yes, looking straight at those high tech Locomotives is so much more fun, and walk around Command Control makes it even more better….. I would love to visit Nicholas Smith trains, it’s simply a long drive from Clarksville Tennessee. Happy Railroading Everyone  (1st level 44”, 2nd level 57”, 3rd level 76”)56C70BCE-048C-42C3-9083-BB2C9165948F977A0CFA-A64C-4019-BB24-691C878DAA2A82283918-AB58-4D90-83BD-1F441DE4264E5855701D-E526-4DBA-9C3E-FA9CA1F8F52C

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Last edited by leapinlarry

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