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 as well.
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 sand.
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.