Narrow Gauge Rack; Contrast in the Alps.

 

Below are two versions of an image I made of a Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn narrow-gauge train engaging the Abt rack system on its steep ascent from Göschenen to Andermatt.

These were made with my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera on my visit to the Alps with Stephen Hirsch, Gerry Conmy and Denis McCabe in mid April 2016.

The first is the unadjusted (except for scaling) Jpg produced in camera. Notice that the sky is washed out and lacking in detail.

Camera produced Jpg exposed at Göschenen, Switzerland where the MGB meets the standard gauge line over the Gotthard Pass.
Camera produced Jpg exposed at Göschenen, Switzerland where the MGB meets the standard gauge line over the Gotthard Pass.

The second image is a Jpg that I produced from the camera RAW file by making nominal contrast and saturation adjustments in Lightroom.

Improved image; this was made from the RAW file by adjusting contrast and saturation .
Improved image; this was made from the RAW file by adjusting contrast and saturation .

The aim of the second image was to hold the sky and highlight detail that was lost by the camera Jpg. This demonstrates the ability of the RAW file to retain greater detail than the Jpg.

 

Instead of using an external graduated neutral density filter, as I had with some previous images displayed on Tracking the Light, I used the equivalent graduated neutral density filter in the Lightroom program.

 

Why not use the external filter in this situation? Two reasons:

  • The external filter is cumbersome and takes time to set up.
  • I wanted to improve the appearance of the sky without darkening the mountains. Using the electronic filter gives me the ability to selectively control highlights and shadows in the graduated area selected by the filter, while the external graduated filter would have covered the top of the image and darkened the mountains as well as the sky.

Both are valuable tools for improving a photograph.

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