Irish Rail IWT Liner; A lesson in RAW and JPG.

Thursday morning on my way to breakfast, I made this photo of Irish Rail’s IWT Liner (Dublin to Ballina) passing Islandbridge Junction.

I timed my visit well and so only waited a few minutes for the freight to pass.

I’ve often photographed the IWT at this location, so this was really just an exercise.

Soft morning clouds made for some pleasant lighting, but also a post-processing quandary.

My FujiFilm XT1 allows me to simultaneously expose a Camera RAW file and a camera interpreted JPG. Among the features of the Fuji cameras is the ability to select a film-like colour profile for the Jpg.

In this instance I’ve opted for the Velvia profile, which closely emulates the colour and contrast of this popular slide film.

Another colour adjustment is the white balance control. In this situation I selected ‘auto white balance’, which means the camera interprets the color temperature.

When I processed the photos, I wanted to see if I could improve upon the camera JPG by making subtle changes to the Camera RAW file (which has ten times more information imbedded in it than the Jpg, but serves in the same role as a ‘negative’ and is intended for adjustment rather than uninterpreted presentation).

Below are three images; the a JPG from the unmodified Camera RAW, Camera created JPG, and my interpretation of the Camera RAW file.

This is an uninterpreted JPG made directly from the camera RAW file. (The RAW file is way too large for presentation on Tracking the Light.) I have not made any modifications to color profile, color balance, sharpness or exposure. This file is not really intended for presentation.
This is an uninterpreted JPG made directly from the camera RAW file. (The RAW file is way too large for presentation on Tracking the Light.) I have not made any modifications to color profile, color balance, sharpness or exposure. This file is not really intended for presentation.
My in-camera JPG using the FujiFilm digitally applied Velvia colour profile with 'auto white balance' setting. I made no modifications to this file, except to scale it for presentation and add my watermark on the left.
My in-camera JPG using the FujiFilm digitally applied Velvia colour profile with ‘auto white balance’ setting. I made no modifications to this file, except to scale it for presentation and add my watermark on the left.
This is my modified JPG. Starting with the Camera RAW, I imported this into Lightroom and implemented the following adjustments: I masked the sky using a digitally applied graduated filter custom adjust to increase highlight saturation, decrease highlight exposure, and make for cooler colour balance. On a global level, I made minor adjustments to contrast but lightening the shadow areas, reducing highlight exposure and altering the contrast curve. I also made select exposure adjustments to the pilot area on the locomotive. To match the Camera JPG's perceived sharpness, I applied some nominal image sharpening. (This uses edge effects to make the photo appear sharper on the computer screen.)
This is my modified JPG. Starting with the Camera RAW, I imported this into Lightroom and implemented the following adjustments: I masked the sky using a digitally applied graduated filter and custom adjusted to increase highlight saturation, decrease highlight exposure, and make for cooler colour balance. On a global level, I made minor adjustments to white balance (warmed it up) and to contrast by lightening the shadow areas, reducing highlight exposure and altering the contrast curve. I also made select exposure adjustments to the pilot area on the locomotive. To match the Camera JPG’s perceived sharpness, I applied some nominal image sharpening. (This uses edge effects to make the photo appear sharper on the computer screen.) Got all that?

Incidentally, by using Lightroom, I can make adjustments to the RAW files without permanently changing the original data. This is very important since it would be a mistake to modify the original file. That would be like adding colour dyes or bleach to your original slide to ‘improve’ the result.

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