The 10,000-Foot View

Back to the ol’ Hills Line Mailbag…

"Just a quick note to say I’ve noticed that you’ve moved your photo skills into the realm of outrageously great!  Totally enjoy them.  Keep up the good work."

Comments like this are greatly appreciated. And while I plan to continue to produce and provide what I consider publication-ready photos of The Hills Line, many of which you can view on my Flickr page, there’s one key point you need to remember when viewing these images.

This is not what the layout looks like in real life…

This is what the layout looks in real life.

With today’s technology, I’d argue that there’s no reason you shouldn’t be producing more life-like pictures, especially as such technology becomes more and more accessible. Throw in the ability to self-publish such content through a variety of mediums, and you’ve got everything you need to convince the masses that your model world is a close to reality as possible.

But it also has to look good to your eye.

We should remember that when we’re viewing our layouts in person, we’re generally viewing them from a 10,000-foot view, not scene by scene. So while I’m able to control what I choose to share about The Hills Line in a tightly regulated manner, I’m not able to afford myself the same level of control in person. That fact drives scenic design in a multitude of aspects.

Case in point, the spaces between the warehouses on the east side of the Maiden Lane interchange in Iowa City. I had previously filled those gaps with Mirlon pads and poly-fiber fill to simulate a distant tree line. Scene by scene, it worked. At 10,000 feet, it failed.

It wasn’t a failure of technique, but rather of selection. The scene really didn’t call for such heavy growth, especially when bracketed between a more heavy-industrial setting. Ultimately when I took a step back and really looked at what I created, I wasn’t satisfied.

So I went back to the drawing board, or in my case the photo editor, to put together some more appropriate photo backdrops. Since appropriate images weren’t available, and I wasn’t in the mood to make the drive to Iowa City to acquire them, I used Google Earth Pro to pull down images from StreetView that work for the space.

They’re not the exact vistas that can be seen when you stand at the prototype location, but that’s not the overriding concern. What’s important is that the scene looks right, no matter which way you view it.

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