Weekly Photo Challenge – Pastimes

Scottsdale, Arizona.

This week, the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is being hosted by Sue (Mac’s Girl) from her blogging site, The Nature of Things. She writes, “With so much time being spent at home, many of us have been looking for new pastimes or taking up old ones in order stay occupied or even sane…. It could be something that you are trying for the first time or a hobby or interest that you have enjoyed for many years. Feel free to dig into the archives or take a picture to illustrate a current pastime.” You can read her entire challenge post here. I could have focused on some of the pastimes that have occupied my time over the years, but instead have decided to focus on a hobby that has always interested me, but I’ve never taken the time or had the space to get started.

Several weeks ago, we visited the McCormick-Staillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale. It’s a combination city park, railroad museum, and home for multiple model train clubs. My opening photo is a sphere sculpture that features the most common sizes of different gauge model railroads. At the lower left of the image are example train cars in the different scales, but the sphere puts small trains on a globe. It’s a fascinating way to display what could have been displayed in a much more mundane fashion. The sculpture is one of the first things a visitor sees upon entering the model train display building.

On the day we were there, only one of the three huge setups had club members there working on the displays. As you can see by the image above, the building is quite large and this shot only captures a part of this club’s model display. At the time this photo was taken, these two volunteers were working a problem with getting one of the trains to operate properly. It was fascinating watching them work.

I found the model “billboard” on the display tells a story about the volunteers of some experience still having a happy childhood. Having sorted out whatever issue they were having with one of the trains, this lady set about putting a new train on the tracks.

The lighting in the building isn’t super bright, though it’s plenty bright to view the displays. However, I was to discover (too late), that it wasn’t enough light for the shutter speed I used for most of my images. Knowing the light was limited, I took a few images of moving trains and zoomed in on the images on my Nikon D500’s display to see if there was motion blur. There didn’t appear to be any, so for most of the shots, I discovered when looking at the images on my computer, the trains in motion were not completely sharp. A tiny bit of motion blur spoiled most of them. This train was moving slower than most, so it happened to be captured with minimal (can’t say “no”) blur.

I learned that Lego has sets that are designed with model train hobbyists in mind. One section of this display featured a Lego-based scene. Not sure of the story line, but given the Lego saguaro cacti, apparently they are building a replica Statue of Liberty in the Arizona desert.

Thanks again to Sue for the challenge topic this week. It gave me the incentive to process the images I captured at the park earlier this year. In a few weeks, I’ll be posting a more complete collection of photos from my visit there along with some of the history of the park and train exhibits.

John Steiner



  1. What an absolutely fantastic place, John! Along with my passion for doll houses, I’ve always enjoyed seeing and playing with model railways but, as you say, you need plenty of space for that particular hobby. I love the picture of the lady placing the train on the track! She looks very dedicated. They have a model railway at the Chicago Botanic Garden that I visit every year with the grandkids, and we have an electric train set gathering dust in containers in our basement which, if I ever manage to clear out the rest of the junk, I hope to bring out of retirement and set up for the youngest member of our family. Thank you so much for participating in the challenge.

    • Thank you for hosting this week. Truth is, the challenge gave me the opportunity to get these images processed to be included with some others about the park to be published soon. >grin<

  2. Ah John, you do love your trains 😊. This spot looks like a perfect way for you to spend hours shooting away. Glad you explained the opener, I’d never have guessed! Fun choice for the challenge

  3. Wow. That is some museum. Fascinating. RE: the sphere sculpture, ‘but is it art’? 😉 (Tongue-in-cheek, rhetorically speaking, of course.)

  4. A fabulous place, John! Your opener reminded me of the corona virus at a quick glance – glad it was not at all that…

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