The thought of painting models has always scared me.
There is a full-page photo in the newest MR showing a
Santa Fe passenger train running towards San Diego
behind EMD units. What struck me about it most was
that the war bonnet paint job looks downright sloppy
to me, especially the back end of it on the left side of
the roof. Was that common ? Or am i seeing a defect
in the photo itself, or a distortion caused by heat ?
The lettering across the front looks partly rubbed out
It's the effect of the angle of view. From directly above, the edges and
lining of the warbonnet would be straight. But the various roof panels
are at slightly different levels, so, when you look at it from a low
angle, the edge looks bent in several places.
The "rubbed out" look is the effect of light reflecting off the glossy
surface of the paint.
But the photo is a good example of why "protoype fidelity" in piant jobs
is a chimera. The red isn't bright enough, for one thing (especially for
new paint), there are thin light lines along edges, which means that the
photo was digitally enhanced, and so forth. Just what the loco actually
looked like on that day the photo snapped the shutter is impossible to say.
Not that "what it actually looked like" is easy to define. There are the
differences in colour vision, some subtle, some not so subtle. Also, we
don't see the scene nicely sharp and in focus from edge to edge, the way
a camera's lens does. Etc.
A photograph does _not_ show you what you would have seen had you been
there. A photograph is as much a constructed image as a drawing or painting.
You might check out this shot of #44c at Los Angeles station:
Sure looks to me like it was running through a sandstorm coming across
the Mojave, and sombody in the yard did a quick shot of silver to the
pilot without masking it first. I've see others like that, too. Note
the faded-out appearance of the front of the lead unit, compared to
the solid colors on the sides. Also possibly the effect of desert
One thing a lot of people forget when considering the reds used on
locos, particularly in the west, and most particularly before 1965 or
so, is that red is possibly the worst color, next to maroon, for
fading when exposed to sunlight. The color the engine was coming out
of the paint shop is rarely the color it had a month or two later. I
suspect that was why the old Athearn blue-box warbonnet units were a
bit orange - they matched the paint to a unit that had been on the
road for a while. I've seen them coming into Chicago that were darned
near Reefer Orange!
Dead right. "It's all relative".
Well, mebbe so... Let's say that a photograph's color rendition is
dependent on as many different factors (age of film, accuracy of
development process, freshness of developer solution, etc., etc.,
etc.) as our perception is.
In later years, AT&SF did get very sloppy with the silver paint. They
stopped taking the time to mask but certain roundhouse foremen
insisted on giving the pilots and trucks a fresh coast of silver paint
right over the dirt and everything else. Almost every last AT&SF
passenger F-unit was this way in later years.
I assume you are talking about the photo on page 63 of the Aug. MR. The
caption for that photo says "Robert Hale photo colorized by John Signor. I
take this to mean it is a black and white photo to which the color was
added. This would explain the appearance.
Palm Coast, FL