Last week on a visit to Cork, I made these views of Irish Rail’s 2600 railcars working Cork-Cobh and Cork-Midleton services from Glounthaune village looking across the water toward Glounthaune/Cobh Junction station.
I was working with my FujiFilm XT1 and Canon EOS-3 cameras. The Canon was loaded with Provia 100F, and we’ll have to wait for the slides to be processed.
Regular Tracking the Light readers know that I often favor low-light ‘glint’.
This is tricky light to expose satisfactorily. It is a matter of getting the balance between highlights and shadows right, which is a subjective decision on the part of the photographer.
Sometimes I take a haphazard approach to photography; I explore and see what I find, then run with what is handed to me. This works well some of the time.
However, I often take a more calculated approach, paying careful advanced attention to weather, lighting and train schedules/operating patterns. Obviously, this works best on railways that make an effort to operate to the schedule.
Back in autumn 2006, fellow photographer David Hegarty and I made several focused trips to Co. Mayo to photograph the Westport Line and Ballina Branch.
On Friday’s the once per week Dublin Heuston to Ballina direct passenger train was scheduled to cross the evening Westport-Dublin daily passenger at Ballyhaunis (one station east of Claremorris.) This meant that the cabin had to be staffed to work signals, points, Electric Train Staff instruments, etc.
I think we made three Friday evening visits before getting it right.
On September 15, 2006, I exposed this trailing glint view of the down Friday Ballina train with a class 071 diesel and Mark 2 carriages meeting a class 201 locomotive leading Mark 3s on the up train to Dublin.
Soon all was to change. The signals were replaced with mini-CTC, the Mark 2s were retired, soon followed by the Mark 3s, and as a result the 071s relegated to freight/per way work.
Yet at the time the most difficult part of this photograph was the lighting! Finding a clear afternoon in Mayo isn’t an easy task.
Special thanks to Noel Enright for arranging for the sun to come out at the right moment.
Long ago I noticed that the curve of the line and angle of the winter setting sun at Westport, Connecticut can make for some nice glint light.
It helps to have a very cold day with a clear sky above. New York City produces ample pollution to give the evening light a rosy tint.
Although I’ve found that glint photos tend to look more effective on slide film, I made these digitally. I also exposed a few slides, but we’ll need to wait to see the results.
Exposing for glint takes a bit of practice. My general rule of thumb is that the exposure for a front lit photo is approximately the same as glint at the same location. However, if a a reflective surface kicks back the sun, it will be necessary to stop down a little (probably a half to a full stop).
To make a dramatic glint light image, it’s important to retain highlight detail, even if this results in opaque shadows. With the Lumix, I use the ‘A’ mode (aperture priority) and then manually stop down ‘underexpose’ the image in order to keep the highlight density where I want it.
If I didn’t override the camera meter, the Lumix would attempt to balance the lighting by brightening the shadow areas and the result would cause the glinting tram to be overexposed (too bright).
Alternatively, I could set the camera manually, but I find in a rapidly changing setting of a city street, I can get a more effective exposure by letting the camera do some of the work.
Back in the old days, I’d have used Kodachrome 25 slide film, which had an excellent ability to retain highlight and shadow detail. To calculate my exposure I use my hand held light meter.
Tracking the Light posts new material every morning.