Sunday, April 30, 2017

Legrade: Scene Composition

Photographs and artists are well aware of a basic composition principle that frame vertically and horizontally a given subject in three parts. This old trick helps to frame subject and structure was we see, focussing our observation in directed way.

In the case of Legrade, the same principle can be applied both in plan and elevation. But I wasn't aware of it when I framed the orthophotography thought I tried to balance things so they look good and well composed.

So let's analyze the layout track plan from an artistic point of view:

Column 1-2-3 is all about emptiness with an absence of structures characterizing the mainline.

Column 4-5-6 is about low elevation building and action. This is where trucks and trains are sorted out, employee cars parked, with the office acting as a focal point.

Column 7-8-9 is about density, larger structures (including the tall brick chimney) and car spotting.

We can already assign a role to each column. The first one is the switching lead, the second one the sorting area and the thir one the spotting one.

Now, let's analyze the rows:

Row 1-4-7 is the backdrop that sets the location (coastal trees, office and meat packing plant) with an left to right progression from unbuilt area to densely built area.

Row 2-5-8 is an empty area framed by two built row where action is free to take place. You'll remark all the motion on the layout is focussed in this row.

Row 3-6-9 is low elevation built area that frame the other row but with elements that acts as psychological barriers rather than real ones. They mark the public interface be it the right of way, D'Estimauville Avenue or the large concrete wall of the cattle pen that separate the nasty industrial activities from the neighborhood.

Zone 5 which is the central element is where most action occurs. You will note this open space is framed by the three most important structures: the office, the meat packing plant and the cattle pen. This area is a stage where the "performance" is set while the other zones, mainly 2 and 8, act as supporting spaces. We can consider that about 1/3 of the layout is for plain scenery while 1/3 is decicated to paved are were actions are performed. The remaining 1/3 goes to structures.

Finally, since the layout is about switching a customer, the need for a full train isn't required. However, some people will point out hiding the spot where the track goes through the backdrop at left won't be easy. The area wasn't heavily forested, there was no overpass, tunnel or any such convenient things. However, a clever way to minimize that fact would be to stage the tail end of the train on the mainline. There is suffisant space to stage two 40ft cars with a caboose without fouling the grade crossing. It could be an interesting way to show us some rolling stock while implying the action taking place is part of a bigger scheme.

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