(Note to younger readers, Brian Monaghan was the Railway Modeller's official photographer back in the 70's and 80's. A bit like Chris Nevard, but with film. He once appeared in the mag wearing a bowler hat and surrounded by ladies, Charlies Angels style. Mr Nev doesn't get anything quite so glamorous.)
Last weekend I'm sure I notice more cameras floating around than normal at a model railway exhibition. They came in all shapes and sizes from mobile photos to decent high-end DSLR's. It was a real shutterfest. Many hundred of pictures must have been taken of our layout alone.
What the heck does everyone do with them ?
I mean, it's not like you can't find pictures on tinterweb or even in magazines. Are they all carefully filed away for future reference and dug out to aid modelling ? I don't think so. In fact I suspect that any interest passes about a millisecond after the button is pressed. It's the fun of framing the shot, capturing the moment that the photographer is interested in. Like big game hunters, once the trophy is bagged, it's on to the next kill. Sure, friends might be shown the results stuffed and mounted, although probably on the back of the camera rather than framed on paper, but it's a collecting thing.
And what a lot of big cameras. I'd hate to explain that a lot of pro's favour something smaller such as the Cannon G9 rather than lug anything as chunky around a show. A decent compact will give results perfectly adequate for most of this stuff anyway - if you are shooting for print then this isn't done while jostling with the great unwashed over a barrier. One might suspect that they are big boys toys...
The one benefit of all digital as far as those of us inside the barrier are concerned is that you can switch the flash off. This is a simple enough trick that no one with a film camera ever seemed to manage. For years the unwary operator could expect to look up several times a day to BAM, another flashgun and some dazzle in the eyes for the next five minutes. All that for a badly focused shot of a toy train.
It's not like I want people not to take pics. It's flattering and if you ask we're even happy to pose locos for you (Note: This is a limited offer that covers only the loco in use unless the show is very quiet. We do not intend to bring out a series of trains in the middle of a busy session just so you can play at being Tony Wright. And yes that does happen.) so you don't have to click while it's moving. I take photos myself and stuff some on Flickr as well as using them for detail and inspiration. But I never try and record an entire show via the medium of a camera. I like to look at stuff that isn't on a 3 inch screen.
As for video cameras - well they have been mostly displaced by DSLR's but not entirely. And who watches that stuff again ?