Acela Sunset: Miracles of Digital by working with a RAW File.

The long days make for photographic opportunity. While modern digital cameras have the ability to capture scenes previously out of reach with film. Yet, sometimes there’s still work to be done after the fact.

The other day, Pat Yough and I were exploring locations along Amtrak’s former New Haven Shoreline at Madison, Connecticut.

 

“Headlight!”

“It’s the Acela.”

Working with my FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with a 27mm pancake lens, I had very little time to prepare for my image.

However, the colors of the evening sky attracted my attention and I knew I needed to use a relatively fast shutter speed to stop the action. I set the ISO to 6400, which allowed me to use a 1/500th of second shutter speed at f3.2.

(I set my camera manually.)

While the front of the Acela was exposed more or less as I’d hoped, the sky detail was washed out.

Later, using Lightroom for post processing, I was quickly able to produce three variations of the original image that brought back sky detail.

Admittedly the original file isn’t the sharpest image. But, I find one the great benefits of the digital medium is the ability to go back to the camera RAW file and adjust color and contrast sliders to make for a more pleasing final photograph.

Which of the four photos is your favorite?

This image was made from the unmodified RAW file. RAW represents the data captured by the camera. However, often there is greater detail in the file than is immediately evident.
This image was made from the unmodified RAW file. RAW represents the data captured by the camera. However, often there is greater detail in the file than is immediately evident.
First adjust variation. Using Lightroom, I inserted a digital graduated filter to bring in sky detail and improve color saturation, while making over all adjustments to contrast. I also cropped the image slightly to minimize the intrusive visual elements on the left.
First adjusted variation. Using Lightroom, I inserted a digital graduated filter to bring in sky detail and improve color saturation, while making over all adjustments to contrast. I also cropped the image slightly to minimize the intrusive visual elements on the left.
Second adjusted variation: My overall work was similar to the first adjusted image (above) except I lightened the shadow areas. This is an interesting example of an illustration, but really doesn't convey how the scene appeared to me, as the trees to the left of the Acela were really pretty dark. In other words I've over compensated. This does show the level of information captured by the camera.
Second adjusted variation: My overall work was similar to the first adjusted image (above) except I lightened the shadow areas. This is an interesting example of an illustration, but doesn’t really  convey how the scene appeared to me at the time of exposure:  the trees to the right of the Acela were  pretty dark. In other words I’ve over compensated in my interpretation. It  does show the level of information captured by the camera.
Third adjusted variation. Instead of using a graduated filter, as with the first two adjusted images, I made all my changes globally (in other words equally to the whole image area). I brought down the highlights, darkened the overall exposure, while nominally lightening the shadow regions to keep them from becoming too dark. I ever slo slightly boosted the saturation. While a little darker than the other images, this was is closest to what I saw at the scene. (Also, notice I've run this image full frame without cropping).
Third adjusted variation. Instead of using a graduated filter, as with the first two adjusted images, I made all my changes globally (in other words equally to the whole image area). I brought down the highlights, darkened the overall exposure, while nominally lightened the shadow regions to keep them from becoming too dark. I ever so slightly boosted the saturation. While a little darker than the other images, this was is closest to what I saw at the scene. (Also, notice that  I’ve run this image full frame without cropping).

Tracking the Light displays new images each and every day!

2 thoughts on “Acela Sunset: Miracles of Digital by working with a RAW File.”

  1. Last photo with the following subtle local adjustments:
    (a) Brighten the headlights almost to the extent as in the other photos,
    (b) bring out just a touch more the reds and yellows reflected from the sky on the engineer’s side of the nose, and
    (c) crop up on the right corner (while keeping the aspect ratio so the very right will also be cropped out) to the top of the outer rail. This should emphasize the speed as if the engine were leaping out of the photo.

  2. No. 2 for me – I like the lighter trees in No. 3, but the train is then too light.

Comments are closed.