Photos of a Model Train Rumbling Across the Great Outdoors

Model train enthusiasts often photograph their miniature locomotives placed in realistic dioramas, but for his project titled “The Canadian: Ghost Train Crossing Canada,” photographer Jeff Friesen decided to use the real world as a backdrop. He photographs the train in various outdoor locations across Canada to capture its scenic journey. In some of the photos, its difficult to tell that the train is a tiny model rather than the real thing. Friesen says that his goal was to document the beauty of his huge country in a creative way.

Here’s what Friesen writes in the project’s description:

My own cross-country exploration is done by taking the train, but not in the usual sense… I carry the train rather than it carrying me. It fits into a shopping bag from Mountain Equipment Co-Op.

The train is just two inches tall, and it’s a ghost from another age. This is the vintage 1955 streamliner that was first named “The Canadian.” Unfortunately, you won’t find scheduled service for this scenic dome route, though you may see evidence of its passing. For all of you who have come across me working on this project and offered many kind words I hope you enjoy the finished photographs.

The Canadian by Jeff Friesen (via My Modern Met)

Image credits: Photographs by Jeff Friesen and used with permission

  • Craig Dickson

    That’s really charming. I particularly like the shots where the wooden railing stands in for a bridge. I don’t agree that it’s ever hard to tell that it’s just a model train; there are always clear signs, like wood grain or wave patterns in the water, that indicate the true scale. But that’s not a criticism of the work, which is clever, well-conceived, and nicely executed.

  • harumph

    Is that a lightning bolt in the next-to-last one? Too bad the depth of focus wasn’t reversed on that shot.

  • dz

    This is pretty cool. And is that lightening in the background of the second to last photo?

  • quickpick

    i like the first and the one on the mossy trunk from low angle plus the one on the railing top from high angle, those three really make you look twice of what you’re actually
    viewing. the rest are not that impressive, too toyish thus not very well executed, neither visually nor conceptually..

  • jdm8

    The first and eighth one could be almost plausible as real photographs. What I’ve seen some people do is make a back-less diorama section, model the section well and use nature as the backdrop, just make sure you don’t have nature as or near the foreground. If you do it right, it’s very convincing.

  • jclayjim

    What fun and use of imagination. Thanks.

  • Bua

    Imaginative and taking both hobbies to the next level. well done.

  • Kofla


  • Matt

    add me as a friend and check out my outdoor model railroad i had set up in the summer of 2012

  • flightofbooks

    They’re all real photographs. They’re each real photographs that exist in real life.

  • flightofbooks

    you’re assuming the point is for every image to be indistinguishable from a real train. it seems pretty obvious that wasn’t the point.

  • jdm8

    OK, thanks for the nitpicking.