Tag Archives: Glint light

Heuston Station at Sunset_Lessons in Glint.

Adjusted TIF file.


In 1998 on a visit to the Irish Railway Record Society Dublin premises, I took a few minutes to photograph from the far end of platform five. I recall, that at the time, this area was accessible without the need to pass through the main station nor transit a ticket barrier. This was four years before construction of platforms six, seven and eight.

Working with a Nikon F3T fitted with an old non AI f2.8 135mm lens, I exposed this Fujichrome Sensia (ISO 100) colour slide of a two-piece 2600 ‘Arrow’ departing Heuston for Kildare.

The Spring evening sun was setting on the north side of the tracks and heavy particulates in the air made for a red-orange tint.

I exposed the slide for the highlights by carefully examining the overall lighting situation with my handheld Sekonic Studio Deluxe light meter and setting the camera manually. This prevented gross overexposure and loss of highlight detail, while making for a relatively dark slide.

Recently, I made a multiple pass scan using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 operated with Vue Scan software, and then imported the high resolution TIF into Lightroom to adjust shadow areas for greater visual detail.

My intent was not to negate the effect of shadows, but simply to reduce the impenetrable inky effect and allow for better separation in the darker areas.

This is the scaled but otherwise unadjusted TIF scan file for comparison–converted to JPG for internet presentation.

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Norfolk Southern on the West Slope at South Fork, Pennsylvania—March 10, 2001.


It was a bright late-winter’s afternoon. Mike Gardner and I were on one of our many photographic explorations of Pennsylvania.

I made this view west of South Fork of an eastward Norfolk Southern freight ascending the famous ‘West Slope,’ on the former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line.

Here I’ve used just a hint of soft glint light to accent the freight, catching the exhaust from the GE diesels as they work upgrade.

At the time I was using a Nikon F3 with MD-11 motor drive fitted with an f2.8 180mm Nikkor prime telephoto lens and loaded with Fujichrome slide film.


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Glounthaune Sunrise—Cobh Junction Glint in 3 photos.

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.

Which is your favourite?

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Sunrise Glint; Trams in Rome.

On April 6, 2017, I was up early to make photos of streetcars plying Rome’s streets.

Here, I’ve taken position where streetcars nip beneath the throat to Rome’s main passenger terminal. My goal was to work with the rosy rising sun to make some glint photos using my Lumix LX7.

These photos are all from the camera produced Jpg files. A little work in Lightroom might make for improved presentation, but that’s a topic for another day.

Any favorites?

I’m looking toward the rising sun working with glint, flare and silhouette—great elements to play with in the composing of interesting and potentially dramatic photographs.

By standing in the shadow of the railway overpass, I’ve blocked the sun from hitting the front element of the camera lens, thus eliminating the effects of flare, while retaining the glint on the side of the street car. I made several variations of this type of image, by playing with the light.

These narrow gauge cars work the vestige of an old interurban line.

Narrow gauge cars paused at a signal.

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Irish Rail’s Friday Glint.

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.

Exposed on Fujichrome Velvia 100 using a Canon EOS 3 with 200mm lens. To minimize flare, I used my handheld notebook to shade the front element of the lens. If there was  one practical lesson from this exercise, that’s it!

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.

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Westport Sunset.

Five images of Metro-North on January 10, 2015.

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.

Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f4.5 at 1/640th of a second. White balance set at daylight.
Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f4.5 at 1/640th of a second. White balance set at daylight. This front lit exposure made for my gauging point for the back lit ‘glint’ photo of the train departing the station. (Below).

Here I need to stop down about a full stop from the head on view. The metallic sides of the Metro-North multiple unit reflected more light than initially anticipated and I needed to compensate on the spot by using my in camera meter to gauge the lighting. The trick is not to over do it. If I stopped down too much, I'll lose shadow detail and the image will appear too dark. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f5.6 at 1//1000th of a second. White balance set at daylight.
Here I need to stop down about a full stop from the head on view (above). The metallic sides of the Metro-North multiple unit reflected more light than I initially anticipated and I needed to compensate on the spot by using my in camera meter to gauge the lighting. The trick is not to over do it. If I stopped down too much, I’ll lose shadow detail and the image will appear too dark. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f5.6 at 1//1000th of a second. White balance set at daylight.

The front lit sign at Westport made for a good place to make a test exposure. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f4.0 at 1/640th of a second. White balance set at daylight.
The front lit sign at Westport made for a good place to make a test exposure. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f4.0 at 1/640th of a second. White balance set at daylight.

Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f3.5 at 1/640th of a second. White balance set at daylight.
Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f3.5 at 1/640th of a second. White balance set at daylight. Here I’ve opened up about a third of a stop compared with the original test photo (Westport sign). I changed the aperture setting manually from f4.0 to f3.5 let more light reach the sensor; I was using the camera in ‘M’ mode, which allowed me to set both aperture and shutter speed manually, without the camera making any adjustments. This is important for getting well exposed glint photos.

The glinting sides of the old grime coated multiple unit are slightly less reflective than the newer cleaner train. Also the angle of the sun is lower. By fixing the white balance at the daylight setting, I can retain the rosy sunset coloration. If I'd used the auto setting, this would have canceled some of the effect of sunset, and I don't really want to do that.
The glinting sides of the old grime coated multiple unit are slightly less reflective than the newer cleaner train. Also the angle of the sun is lower. By fixing the white balance at the daylight setting, I can retain the rosy sunset coloration. If I’d used the auto setting, this would have canceled some of the effect of sunset, and I don’t really want to do that. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens. ISO 200, f4.0 at 1/640th of a second. White balance set at daylight.

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).

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Golden LUAS on Abbey Street, Dublin

October Glint Light

Dublin’s LUAS Red Line tram route follows an east-west alignment on Abbey Street.

This one of the older streets on Dublin’s North Side. Technically the thoroughfare is comprised of St. Mary’s Abbey Street, Abbey Street Upper, Abbey Street Middle, and Abbey Street Lower.

I’ve often walked this route, which has given me a good idea where the light falls during different times of day and over the course of the year.

On the evening of October 4, 2014, I aimed to make a few glint photos of the trams gliding through the city center.

The silver-sided LUAS Citadis trams reflect the setting sun nicely.

On October 4, 2014, an inbound LUAS tram approaches the intersection with Capel Street. I like the sunset  reflections on the tram and the sides of the buildings. By staying in the shadows, I minimize the effect of flare caused by bright light hitting the front lens element. Lumix LX7.
On October 4, 2014, an inbound LUAS tram approaches the intersection with Capel Street. I like the sunset reflections on the tram and the sides of the buildings. By staying in the shadows, I minimize the effect of flare caused by bright light hitting the front lens element. Lumix LX7.

Using my Lumix LX7, I exposed a series of photos with the sun near the horizon. I used the same exposure technique that I wrote about in my post Sunset Under the Shed at Heuston Station, Dublin [http://wp.me/p2BVuC-2by].

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.

An outbound tram catches the sun on St. Mary's Abbey Street. I've used the same exposure technique described above to hold highlight detail on the front of the tram. Lumix LX7 photo.
An outbound tram catches the sun on St. Mary’s Abbey Street. I’ve used the same exposure technique described above to hold highlight detail on the front of the tram. Lumix LX7 photo.

I've chosen a low angle to add a bit of drama. Also, I've allowed the sun in the image which has caused a little bit of flare. In this situation, I feel that the flare works well, and makes for a distinctive image. Lumix LX7 photo.
I’ve chosen a low angle to add a bit of drama. Also, I’ve allowed the sun in the image which has caused a little bit of flare. In this situation, I feel that the flare works well, and makes for a distinctive image. Lumix LX7 photo.

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.

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