It's not surprising that the look of the railroad changes so much with the addition of high-quality photo backdrops - to me, it's very rare that a painted backdrop looks better than a comparable photo backdrop. Still, the degree of change from painted to photo in the case of the Onondaga Cutoff is amazing, and the shift in how the scenes now appear is adjusting some of the foreground ideas I have planned.
Here's a panoramic shot of train SEBU stretched out westbound, headed up the hill through CP 277. This is one of the most shallow scenes on the railroad, and yet with this backdrop completed, the eye is drawn to the train, even with no foreground scenery yet completed. And this is just a quick snapshot! This was going to be a simple scene along a flat swampy creek, but now it will be a superdetailed scene of its own. It's a neat change!
Another nice development is that the backdrop has improved some of the longer shots along the railroad, such as here of that SEBU train coming towards CP 280 with the large Iroquois Paperboard plant in the background, with a backdrop of forest and sky. Again, without any foreground scenery at all, this shot still 'pops' to my eye and will undoubtedly be better with ballast and scenery installed.
Finally, this one's for you, Phil - had to have a model of the first car I owned, an '89 Dodge Caravan, on the railroad. It certainly would have been trackside on the OC as much as it was the Chicago Line proper in the mid-90's! Here it is with a model of my brother's '84 Chevy Caprice on the access road into CP 282. Just another way to tie the model to the prototype!
Happy Thanksgiving to all you out there, best wishes into the Holiday Season. This winter will be an exciting and dynamic time for the Onondaga Cutoff and I'll be reporting it here as time goes on!