When my son, a junior at RISD, asked if I’d come up to photograph his final projects, I didn’t have to think about it long. It would be nice to spend time with him and I welcomed the opportunity to explore Providence further. Wynn had created Bantam Market, a fictitious agricultural company for a marketing & branding class. He chose to illustrate the branding guidelines booklet using a Lionel train and buildings bearing the Bantam Logo and graphics. I had helped him to dig the train and buildings out of storage when he was home for Thanksgiving. He placed them in a bucolic diorama he had constructed from builder’s foam, lichen and faux grass.
It was heartwarming to see. When Wynn was a child we spent many evenings working together on a layout in the third-floor guest room. The layout has been down for years and all the trains and accessories had been packed away. I was amused that these toys from a shared past were resurrected for the purpose of academic achievement.
As I photographed the diorama on a cluttered table in the industrial design studio, some Photoshop work was needed to remove elements of the shooting environment. While I could have used my laptop Wynn got me into a computer lab with 27” iMacs and I much prefer a larger screen and more powerful processor for this type of retouching. Not surprisingly, as we were at a design school, I had full access to Adobe’s Creative Cloud. Once the skies were added I reduced saturation, boosted clarity and applied gradients to reduce sharpness to enhance the miniature look.
After several hours of work the cursor began flying around the screen on it’s own closing windows and shutting down Lightroom and Photoshop! Wynn went to the IT office to investigate. It turns out there was someone new working there. While remotely shutting down unused station #1 he also inadvertently shut down #10, which happened to be where I was working. Fortunately, I had saved everything and was back to work in no time. I added mountains and skies in the backgrounds then lit up the headlight and added smoke to the locomotive.
Other aspects of the diorama included a market with rooftop garden and a hotel with billboard featuring Bantam Market’s slogan “Hello Neighbor.” You can read more about it in Wynn’s own words on Behance.
P.S. Wynn’s classmates assumed he was rich thinking he hired a professional to come in document his project.