CSX at Smithton, Pennsylvania: JPG versus RAW.

Here’s an archived digital view I made in the summer of 2011 at Smithton, Pennsylvania along CSX’s former Baltimore & Ohio mainline.

Bad luck, just as this eastward freight came into view, a fair weather cloud muted the afternoon sun. I made a sequence of photos with my Canon EOS 7D.

This is the un-manipulated camera JPG file, scaled for internet presentation. Notice the bluish color balance, the bleached looking clouds and sky, and relatively flat contrast on background trees.

Working with Lightroom, I re-worked the image starting with the camera RAW file. Unlike the camera Jpg which is compressed, the RAW file contains greater amounts of information than maybe immediately evident.

By making nominal adjustments in post processing, I was able to create a more pleasing photograph. I worked on the sky, locally bringing in highlight details in the clouds by moving the highlight slider control to the left, which scales back the relative brightness of the highlight areas.

On a global level (for the whole file), I brightened shadows, warmed the color balance, increased saturation and adjusted contrast.

Lastly, I focused on the train and made very slight (subtle) adjustments to the exposure by lightening and changing contrast.

For comparison, I’ve included both the unaltered in-camera JPG and two versions of the altered camera RAW file.

This is my first version of the adjust RAW file. I felt it was a bit too warm and still too dark, so I made further adjustments as seen in the my second version below.
Here’s my second version of the adjusted RAW. I made a few subtle changes to improve the overall appeal of the image.

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