SEPTA at Sunset, Neshaminy Falls—Tracking the Light Daily Post.

February 27, 2012.

SEPTA’s stainless steel electric multiple units are well-suited for low-light glint photographs.

Pat Yough and I were exploring former Reading Company trackage north of Philadelphia and ended the day at Neshaminy Falls, Pennsylvania. Here SEPTA’s electrified route from center city to West Trenton, joins CSX’s freight route. I exposed this image using my Canon EOS 7D.

  Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 28-135 zoom lens set at 28mm; f5.6 at 1/500th of a second; 400 ISO. Natural light; in-camera JPG without any changes to color, contrast or exposure in post processing.

Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 28-135 zoom lens set at 28mm; f5.6 at 1/500th of a second; 400 ISO. Natural light; in-camera JPG without any changes to color, contrast or exposure in post processing.

Key to a successful ‘glint’ photo is pre-selecting the ideal exposure. From years of experience, I’ve learned that to make this type of photo work, it is necessary to set exposure for the highlights, while allowing the shadow areas to go slightly dark.

This requires a bit of balance, since over compensating for bright highlights will cause shadow regions to become opaque, while failure to account for the glint effect will result in an overexposed image that loses the rich low-light atmosphere.

This photo makes for an excellent example since I got that balance right on-site and without the need for any post process compensation: What you see here is my in-camera JPG without manipulation (except for scale adjustment for web presentation). The original RAW file has more detail.

Also, since photo includes the sun, it provides a lesson in the necessary angle to produce the ‘glint’ effect. An alternative method is to crop the sun from the photo, either by blocking it with some natural source in the photo (tree, building, cliffside), or by using a shading device to prevent its rays from directly touching the front lens element (I often use my handheld note book).

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