A bit of a blur

“Train snaking”, by Toni Hafkenscheid

Ross Mair tilts and shifts into the past with Toronto photographer Toni Hafkenscheid.

Memories from childhood often occupy the blurred space between dream and reality. Some of us remember digging up mom’s flowers and making little rock pools near the perrenials (me, for instance), but Toronto-based photographer Toni Hafkenscheid, above all, remembers his model trains. At his exhibition of photos at the A1C gallery, entitled HO, he’ll be sharing those memories with us.

Born in Rotterdam and raised in Amsterdam, Hafkenschied has taken long trips through B.C. in the summers. Like a lot of people from outside of that province, he was struck by how surreal his surroundings appeared.

“I was camping, and staying in the mountains and I realized that the landscape was bizarre looking,” he says. “Where I come from everything is very flat.”

From there he decided that photographing the scenery in the usual way wouldn’t do it justice, so he bought a camera with a perspective control lens—which can explore the depth of field, and headed back west.

“I was essentially chasing trains around the lower mainland, waiting for hours at a time. I was staying in Hope, B.C. and at night you can hear the trains,” he says. “It was very romantic.”

These train-spotting sessions produced a series of photos one could easily mistake for designed sets, pieced together with cotton trees and model trains. They are too perfect to be real, too real to be fakes. The tilt-shift lens blurs the image in such a way that things appear in miniature.

One particular shot of a CP train, snaking its way through the B.C. interior, took him hours to get. Driving around he noticed the S-curve in the track.

“I parked my car, and waited for hours,” he says. “I knew trains had to go through there.”

When he finally got the shot, at first he wasn’t happy with it. He felt it looked too surreal. But he came back to it several years after, when approached to put on this show, and now views it as the centrepiece.

17 of Hafkenscheid’s photos are now on display at the A1C.

Toni Hafkenscheid’s exhibition, HO, is now on display until March 1 at the A1C Gallery, 8 Clift’s-Baird’s Cove, 237-0427.

One comment

  1. Penny · November 22, 2011

    Wow.. this almost looks like a miniature toy set.