Brain Storm…

So, for the life of me I can’t come up with a name for this piece and it’s going into a show in June. Problem is, I have been told by the powers that be that they need names and prices for the images right away. This is going to be one of three photographs that are in the show. It’s final size is going to be 60” x 31”.

What would you name this piece?

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Choo Choo just wasn’t cutting it.

While your at it, I recently created a Facebook page and would love if you checked it out and if you like what you see, LIKE the page!


Grant Waddell – Artist

Grant Waddell

Runaway Train…


Sugar Maker


Moving slowly at first the subtle sway feels soothing as the clack clack of track under steel wheels, begins to form those familiar rhythms that seem so far back in my memory. As if being held by my mother in the maple wood rocking chair so long ago.

And out the window, things that are closest to me blur into shades of brown, light against dark. I focus on the horizon, seeing dreams in the distant haze, but always on the edge,

never closer.


The sway, dangerous and unnerving, brings panic. I look around and see others looking out their glowing laptop windows, heads down, at reruns of Honey Boo-Boo and Keeping up with the Kardashians, hyperlinking to dreams of cars, houses and shoes.

In a trance, on track, to a better life…

And I begin to realize what this really means…

And I want off

The Train Part 2…

Here is the final image. I placed the train into the composite and added texture to each component as the model was simply to clean. It needed to look like it had seen some miles. I desaturated the cars as they were very red and looked very plastic which is what you would expect from a scale display model. Steam was built in PS using custom brushes and a Wacom Tablet. The light at the front of the locomotive adds to the realism and nicely plays off the dark rock face above the trestle. I decided that the perspective that the model was shot at didn’t quite match the build to that point and a better fix was, other than chopping a bunch of the mountain away, was to simply create a tunnel. As you can see, the cliff has had extensive relighting and colouring from the original source material. This helped achieve the overall mood I was looking for.

A lot of work which paid off  buy winning a place in Applied Arts Photography Annual.

Train Hero for web

The Train Part One…

Concept and Initial Lighting Direction

It started with an idea and an initial pencil sketch (which went missing) of a train chugging up a mountain side about to go over a trestle bridge. I thought it would be a great exercise to combine traditional photography of practical elements and 3D in a composite that would push my comfort zone as it were. So after visualizing what I wanted it to look like, I created a very rough model and landscape/terrain in my 3D software to see where the best realistic lighting would be (image below). I didn’t want the train to be in full sun because I wanted the lights and steam to be visible. So I placed the “sun” peeking over the other side of the valley so it’s shadow would cast just above the train.

B&W POV 2 Light test copy

Gathering the Elements

Next was gathering the elements to make the landscape that the train would be running up. Several trips out to shoot various cliffs, trees, and skies to add to the library and ultimately to the final image.

Cliffs 0015

Skies 0005

Cliffs 0043

The Train…

The train was a scale model I rented from a local model train shop. I shot it in studio in several sections since the Depth of Field was unable to hold through the length of the model. I took each image into PS to create one seamless train in perfect focus from front to back.

Model Train

The next element to create was the trestle in 3D and using the virtual camera, find the correct camera angle to match the position of the train and to blend it into the created mountainside. The rendered trestle looked like this…

TextureedC5 copy

And then what it looked like dropped into the evolving composite…

Train Sketch 2 copy

Next up (tomorrow) will be the final touches. Add the train and all the effects such as steam etc. Finesse other compositional elements and fine tune.


Not New, But I wanted to Share Anyway…

So Here’s an image that I shot a few years back. An image of my son walking down some train tracks. We were out for a drive and I stopped to take a shot of the tracks sans my son for reference for another image I was working on. He got out of the car and simply started walking and I, simply started shooting. Part of what I’m gong to do is start to share older images that most of the world has never seen but I love. This will, of course be mixed in with new shots that I take for whatever reason I take them.