“You can’t just paint rust on, you gotta create the rust—layers and layers of diluted paint and weathering chalks,” explains Rob Lewis (@californiagrownginger), whose meticulously crafted “HO scale” model trains reflect a decades-long love of locomotives, graffiti and photography.

Rob, who was born and raised on California’s Central Coast, traces his interest in graffiti back to skateboarding, and his love of trains back to his grandfather, but it was photography, which he fell into after high school, that married the two. “By 1999 I was camping out along the Tehachapi Loop taking pictures of trains,” Rob explains. He even got a job at a photo lab to feed his habit. “People used to trade pictures of trains and graffiti back then, so it was good to have a cheap way to print.” “I always noticed the way different trains would break down,” explains Rob, whose years of train watching and thousands of photographs have cultivated an eye for detail that makes possible his fanatical devotion to accuracy. “You have to replicate what you see, not what you think it should be.”

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