Tag Archives: Model Train Show

Tracking the Light: Extra Post—Big Train Show photos.

Today, January 24, 2015 was the first day of the annual Amherst Railway Society Big Railroad Hobby Show, or as Mike Gardner likes to call it, ‘The Big Shoe.’

Snow in the morning resulted in a quieter that usual day. I arrived about noon and had ample opportunity to breeze through all four buildings and meet with friends.

Below is a sampling of images. Were you at The Big Shoe? Maybe you are in one of the photos!


The Big Railroad Hobby Show fills four buildings at the Big E in West Springfield, Massachusetts.
The Big Railroad Hobby Show fills four buildings at the Big E in West Springfield, Massachusetts.
Lots of locomotives to look at.
Lots of locomotives to look at.







Slice of Light Photography.
Slice of Light Photography.
Otto Vondrak.
Otto Vondrak.
Springfield Union Station.
Springfield Union Station.


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Amherst Railway Society’s Big Railroad Hobby Show; January 26, 2013

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This weekend (January 26-27, 2013) is the annual Big Railroad Hobby Show sponsored by the Amherst Railway Society. It fills four buildings at the Eastern States Exposition grounds at West Springfield, Massachusetts and attracts tens of thousands of visitors. For railway enthusiasts it’s an epic event and an annual pilgrimage. The show is the living testimony of the late Bob Buck—long time show director and proprietor of Tucker’s Hobbies. Through clever marketing, unceasing persistence and a life-long passion for trains of all scales, Bob built the show from a small railroad hobby event into a massive one. Although Bob passed away in October 2011, the show remains one of his legacies. Last year the society honored Bob with a minute of silence before the show opened; I’m told  you could hear a pin drop across the exposition grounds.

Rich Reed proudly displays  a Bob Buck pin.
Rich Reed proudly displays a Bob Buck pin.

My interest in the show is a direct result of my friendship with Bob. Not only was he one of my most enthusiastic supporters, encouraging my photography from a very young age and promoting my work (and later my books), but also he urged me to photograph the show, sometimes commissioning me to make both publicity and documentary images.

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For the photographer the show is a visually intense and challenging image making opportunity. Thanks to Bob I’d been photographing the show for more than 30 years. In my younger days I’d fumble through the day and churn through 6-8 rolls of 35mm black & white film, and then try to find a half dozen useable images.  While digital photography is a godsend, it hasn’t got that much easier. What’s the difficulty? Thousands of people are packed into the grounds all jostling for views of layouts, while haggling over boxcar kits, rummaging through back issues of magazines and regaling one another with tales of the year’s events. At every step you are confronted with someone bumping you, standing in your way, or thrusting an elbow into your lens. Garish and harsh artificial lighting makes for odd contrast and peculiar color balance while inserting unwanted highlights all over the place. The disparity of scale between the spectators and railway models presents a depth of field nightmare. For the casual viewer the show is pure sensory overload. For the photographer it’s chaos.

Yet, I always bring my cameras. These days I primarily aim to make photos of my friends, my heroes, and the model trains that catch my eye. It’s a complete contrast from my efforts working with ‘prototype’ trains. Yet, when photographing scale trains, I apply many of the same techniques that I use for the larger ones. Here’s just a sampling of today’s efforts.

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Highball Productions

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Slice of Light photography
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Promoting the Steaming Tender; the region’s favorite railway themed restaurant (located in the old Palmer, Massachusetts Union Station).
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Tucker’s Hobbies.

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My North American Locomotives is dedicated to Robert A. Buck.


Reviewing Bob Buck's work in North American Locomotives.
Reviewing Bob Buck’s work in North American Locomotives.


Master photographer George C. Corey.
Master photographer George C. Corey.

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