Subterranean Lumix Views

My Lumix LX7 with its f1.4 Leica Vario Summicron lens is another fun tool for making photos in the subway. It sure beats my ancient old Leica 3A hands down.

Park Street Station was bright enough so that even back in film days I could get passable photos of paused PCCs in black & white. But these days with the LX7 I can make very publishable handheld views in color.

Using the digital camera in the subway allows me virtually instantaneous feedback. I can check color balance, sharpness, exposure and composition on site. No longer do I need to unfurl wet negatives from stainless steel tanks to find out that I missed my exposure by half a stop.

Of course while instant feedback allows me to make adjustments to the exposure on-site, it does take away some of the thrill of anticipation.

I’ve found that subway images, like most night photos, require a manual exposure override of about a 1/3 to 2/3rds of a stop to compensate for specular highlights (caused by overhead lights and the reflections of same off shiny surfaces such as metal encased columns and enameled station signs).

Red Line station at Park Street in Boston. Exposed using a Lumix LX7 digital camera. ISO 200 f1.5 at 1/50th of a second.
Red Line station at Park Street in Boston. Exposed using a Lumix LX7 digital camera. ISO 200 f1.5 at 1/50th of a second.

In other words, I’ll set the Lumix to the ‘A’ (aperture) mode, then dial in + 2/3 overexposure with the toggle wheel. When I don’t make this correction the images appear too dark coming out of the camera. While I can adjust for this in post processing, I’d rather optimize my exposure to allow for the most amount of detail in the RAW file.

Does all that sound too complicated? By making this nominal exposure compensation to lighten my photos in camera, the resulting images will ultimately require less work on the computer and should be easier to use on the printed page.

The photos display in this post have not received post-processing, except for scaling necessary for internet presentation. Here: I have not modified exposure, color balance, contrasts or sharpness.

MBTA ticket machines at Harvard Square. The glint off the metallic surfaces and screens can result in underexposure. Red Line station at Park Street in Boston. Exposed using a Lumix LX7 digital camera.
MBTA ticket machines at Harvard Square. The glint off the metallic surfaces and screens can result in underexposure. Exposed using a Lumix LX7 digital camera.
Green Line station at Park Street in Boston. Exposed with a Panasonic Lumix LX7.
Green Line station at Park Street in Boston. Exposed with a Panasonic Lumix LX7.
The mix of filtered skylight and artificial lights would have posed a difficult color-balance situation with film. No problem for the LX7, just use the 'auto white balance' feature. Ashmont Station.
The mix of filtered skylight and artificial lights would have posed a difficult color-balance situation with film. No problem for the LX7, just use the ‘auto white balance’ feature. Ashmont Station.
Station sign at Ashmont. Lumix LX7 photo.
Station sign at Ashmont. Lumix LX7 photo.

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One comment on “Subterranean Lumix Views

  1. Tom Warger on said:

    These pictures inside the T are really beautiful!

    I’ve been delighted with the Lumix 7 that I bought based on your discussions of it. It does such a good job of handling a wide range of lighting conditions in one frame–as you say. I appreciate your generosity in sharing your craft.