Tag Archives: #Lake Geneva

One Year Ago: SBB on a Clear April Morning Along Lake Geneva.

I made these photos on 21 April 2017 along the shore of Switzerland’s Lake Geneva near St. Saphorin.

SBB’s busy double track electrified line and stunning Swiss scenery with bright sun was a winning combination for great photographs.

This was one stop on a week-long exploration of Swiss railways with Denis McCabe while I was preparing my Railway Guide to Europe.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera on 21 April 2018.
Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera on 21 April 2018.


SBB freight. Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera on 21 April 2018.
Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera on 21 April 2018.

Exposed using a FujiFilm XT1 digital camera on 21 April 2018.

Switzerland’s Lake Geneva region is one of  many scenic areas profiled in my new book on European railways published by Kalmbach Publishing this Spring.

Click here to order Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.

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Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel.

I was standing on the shore of Switzerland’s Lake Geneva near the historic Chillon Castle on an afternoon in late April 2017. Above me a clear blue dome provided wonderful polarized light, while SBB sent along a steady parade of scheduled trains, with something passing by every five to ten minutes.

Working with my FujiFilm X-T1, I’d expose a burst of images whenever a train reached near the optimum gap in the foliage, then pick out the best of the lot later.

It really was like, ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ to quote a cliché.

Working with my FujiFilm X-T1 with a 18-135mm lens, I made this view of an SBB locomotive hauled passenger train gliding along the shore of Lake Geneva.
This view was made with a my 12mm Zeiss Tuoit that provide a wide-angle view that encompassed more scenery.

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Into the Sun at Lake Geneva—a nuts and bolts photographic exercise.

Here’s one solution to a difficult lighting problem: A few days ago when I was photographing along the shore of Lake Geneve at St. Saphorin, Switzerland I had a nice clean over-the-shoulder sun lit view for eastward trains, but was looking directly into the blazing morning sun for westward trains.

The scenery was too good to let the photographic opportunity pass.

So what did I do? I changed lenses. Specifically, I opted to use my Zeiss 12mm Touit on FujiFilm X-T1, and then stop all the way down.

What do I mean by ‘stop down’? This is a traditional photographic term that means to close the aperture by a full-stop increment. Say from f4 to f5.6. (Each one-stop change doubles or halves the amount of light reaching the film/sensor. Opening up a stop doubles the light, closing down halves it.) To ‘stop all the way down’ is to close the lens to its smallest aperture. In the case of my Zeiss lens, this is f22.

With the 12mm Tuoit, at f22 the tiny hole with the very wide-angle focal length combine to allow for a sun-burst effect. To take advantage of this sun-effect with a moving train, I had to increase the ISO to 1250, (because f22 lets in much less light to the sensor than I normally would during daylight.)

The secondary difficulty with this image is the narrow exposure latitude of the digital media. By exposing for the sun, I’ve had to seriously underexpose for the front of the locomotive.

This is the unaltered camera-produced JPG, which doesn’t make full advantage of the information captured in the RAW file. Under normal lighting conditions the camera JPG is usual adequate for presentation, but in this circumstance it results in a loss of detail in the shadow areas, specifically at the front of the locomotive.

To compensate for this, I manipulated the RAW camera file in post-processing (after exposure) using Lightroom, which allowed me to brighten the shadow areas and control the highlights.

Unaltered camera-RAW file except for scaling.
Here’s my interpretation of the RAW file, which has been scaled for internet. I’ve lightened shadow areas, removed a few spots caused by shadows of dirt on the front element, and controlled highlights. The flare is an effect of pointing directly at the sun. While the extreme wide-angle  using a flat-field lens design  results in some linear distortion at the edges, most noticeable on the locomotive.

I’ve included a screenshot of the Lightroom work panel that reveals how I’ve adjusted the slider controls on this specific file.

Lightroom work panel showing the positions of slider controls.

Significantly, Lightroom makes a working overlay file and DOES NOT alter the original RAW image. Working on the RAW directly would damage the original file. I advise against working directly with the original. Always make a copy.

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Rails along the Water—St. Saphorin, Switzerland.

There’s something inherently attractive about a railway along water, be it a river, pond, lake or the sea.

SBB’s line along Lake Geneva is a fine example of waterside running. Not only does the lake exhibit wonderful aqua hues, but is surrounded by vineyards, snow capped Alpine peaks and other beautiful scenery.

The trick is finding locations where you can place a train with the water in a pleasing composition.

Easier said than done.

I’d found this location at St. Saphorin by searching the internet and studying Google maps. Last week, Denis McCabe and I arrived by train and made the short walk from St. Saphorin station to a foot bridge designed to grant access to the lakefront for bathers.

Not only did SBB provide transport, but fielded a nice variety of trains. About every five to ten minutes something came rolling along. Below is a sample.

This view is from the road side. I’ve opted to cross-light the train in order to better feature Lake Geneva. If you look carefully, You’ll see the foot bridge in the distance that was the vantage of the other images in this sequence.
Looking east toward St. Saphorin Station, I made this view of an SBB tilting train coming from Milan via Brig.
Just because the water is there, doesn’t mean it has to appear in the all the photos. I like this trailing view of an SBB locomotive hauled passenger train. Exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1.
The classic view; an SBB freight rolls east along the lake. I’m looking toward the station at Rivaz, Switzerland.
For the passage of a local train, I opted for this wide-angle water-level view.
A westward freight made for some hard lighting, but the scenery compensates for the dark front on the locomotive.

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