MBTA in the Summer; a Lesson in Midday High-Light.

For the discerning photographer, summer midday high-light presents difficulties with contrast and deep shadows.

In my Kodachrome days, I’d put the camera away from 10 am to after 2 pm during June-July. Kodachrome’s palate and contrast didn’t work with midday high-light and the slides would suffer from inky shadows, exceptionally harsh contrast, and bleached highlights.

Using digital photography and post processing, I can overcome some of the difficulties presented by summer high sun by adjusting color temperature and carefully controlling highlight and shadow detail.

Another tool is the external graduated neutral density filter. By attaching one of these filters to the front of the lens, I can darken the sky to better hold highlight detail and color saturation, while lightening the lower portions of the image area to make for a better balanced exposure and increasing the relative amount of data captured.

Final adjustment is still required in post processing to lighten shadows.

MBTA train 1403 from North Station, Boston passes Shirley, Massachusetts. I’ve lightened the shadows and controlled the highlights to make for a better balanced image. The lighting is still straight up, but the effect is less objectionable.
In both this view an the above image, I’ve used a graduated neutral density filter to hold sky detail and color saturation.
In this view high clouds have slight softened the sun at MBTA’s Wachesett Station.
This scene would have been a nightmare with Kodachrome. Bright whites in the foreground, dark green trees at the sides and noon time sun! Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm X-T1.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

4 thoughts on “MBTA in the Summer; a Lesson in Midday High-Light.”

  1. That last picture is rather clever. The use of the platform ramp and street pavement pulls the image together rather effectively, despite the train being well away from the centre of the scene. A useful reminder of how to make a picture interesting in an era of increasingly monotonous rolling stock.

  2. It would seem that the “Graduated Neutral Density Filter” you are using is likely the same as, similar to the old “Polaroid” brand filter that I still have on my film camera. Likely, just a different brand. I was surprised to see real Polaroid Optics products are still available. They even make different levels of filtration.
    I recall that using a GND filter in low light such as a heavily overcast or rainy day yields an interesting effect that may or may not be desired by the photographer. Mainly, because I forgot to take it off?! But, never the less interesting. Kind of like the pros and cons of B&W.

    1. The filters I use are made by Lee. They are rectangular and use an external fitting that allows the photographer to slide the filter up and down and rotate left to right, to thus adjust the location and degree of filtration. I have both a 0.6 and 0.9 which reflect a 2/3 stop and 1 stop graduation.

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