These N-scale hoppers cars are only about an inch high.

While I was in the hobby shop buying a circle of track to go around the Christmas tree I spotted these little N-scale coal hopper cars. They are  painted and lettered for our local power company. Since I had worked there for so many years it would have been wrong not to buy a couple. I only bought two, even though there were several available, each with different road numbers. I rationalized the purchase by telling myself that these little trains would make great subjects for macro photography.  

Taking a quick photo of that exquisite little lettering for this article was interesting. The camera (yeah, it was my phone) was only about 4" from the car sides. Even so, it's a fairly severe crop of the original image. Given that the photo was taken with the built in flash of the phone, it's not horrible.

So why did I use the phone? It was in my pocket and I didn't want to take the time to set up a tripod or lights for a larger camera. Think of this photo as a sketch. Artists and designers often make pencil sketches of their ideas before committing time to a bigger project. In this case, setting up the camera, tripod and lighting would take a while.  "Sketching" several ideas with the phone (or a small compact camera) is quick and involves little setup time. There are obvious differences in lens focal length, minimum focusing distances and lighting angles. But, it's a quick way to test a concept. It's a technique I've used quite often in the early stages of projects.