Tag Archives: #RAW

Steam and Shadow at Esbenshade Part 2

Esbenshade! What a great name for a crossing suited to silhouette?

The other day I presented an example of a telephoto view of Strasburg Rail Road Number 89 leading the Saturday 6pm excursion at Esbenshade Road in Strasburg, PA.

Today, I’m offering two examples of wideangle views at the same crossing. These were exposed as NEF RAW files with my Nikon Z7-II, which has incredible dynamic range.

In this situation to make a silhouette, I set the camera in ‘M’-mode (manual) and used the in-camera meter to expose for the sky. I have my display showing an exposure histogram, the helps me best balance the detail captured in the extreme highlights and shadows. Although this detail isn’t evident in the thumbnail camera display, it has been captured in the NEF RAW file.

After downloading the camera, I import the NEF files into Adobe Lightroom, and use the ‘Light’ slider controls (including ‘highlights,’ and ‘shadows’) to adjust the images to better reveal details across the range of exposure. Again, by keeping an eye on an exposure histogram, I can avoid pushing the limits of adjustment and minimize data loss.

To allow for individual control of the sky, I made some adjustments using the ‘select sky’ mask.

Below are two examples of unadjusted NEF RAW files and the corresponding adjusted images.

This is how the unadjusted NEF RAW file appears (file converted to a scaled JPG for internet presentation) Note the lack of detail in the shadow areas.
This is the adjusted version of the same photo.
Unadjusted NEF RAW file.
This is adjusted version of the same file.

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Work Extra Camera Comparison

Yesterday, Conway Scenic operated a Work Extra on the Conway Branch using GP9 1751. I traveled on the train and at Conway I made several photos of the locomotive collecting a flatcar from some rarely traveled trackage beyond the station.

On the way down, I made a vareity of photos with my Lumix LX7, and noticed that the battery was going flat.

After I exposed a view of the locomotive on the siding, the camera shut down. So, I climbed back on board to get my new Nikon Z7-II to get a few more photos. What I’ve displayed below are unadjusted RAW files from both cameras followed by adjusted versions of each aimed at improving exposure, contrast, shadow and highlight detail, and color temperature.

Lumix LX7 RAW file unadjusted except for scaling. ISO 80
Same Lumix LX7 RAW file, this time adjusted for contrast, exposure, color temperature and shadow and highlight detail. ISO 80
Nikon Z7-II NEF RAW file unadjusted except for scaling. ISO100
Same Nikon Z7-II NEF RAW file following adjustments for contrast, color temperature, exposure and shaodw and highlight detail. ISO100

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Nikon Z6 Color Considerations

My Nikon Z6 Mirrorless camera is an amazing tool for capturing images.

It has a tremendous ability to capture detail across a broad dynamic range.

Its RAW (NEF) files allow for a high degree of exposure latitude and post processing adjustment.

It’s unadjusted files are the closest to ‘true’ color of any camera that I have owned.

And yet, it is almost too much detail. But without the supersaturated punch that I’ve come to accept from my other digital cameras, notably my Fuji X-series.

On Monday, Kris Sabbatino and I photographed New England Central’s 611 arriving at Brattleboro, Vermont under a clear polarized blue dome. A near perfect morning, and yet contrasty with crusty snow on the ground and deep dark shadows cast along the sides of the locomotives.

I exposed for the snow to retain highlight detail with an expectation of making post processing adjustments to the NEF files with Adobe Lightroom.

My goal was to eye-up (estimate) the adjustment of my RAW files in order to emulate the richly saturated color profile automatically provided by my Fujifilm XT1 JPGs. This was an unscientific approximation without benefit from a detail study of the Nikon’s histogram in comparison with the Fuji’s.

Scaled JPG from an otherwise unaltered or interpreted NEF file. Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens.

I’ll plan on making a more critical project by working with these types of comparisons at a later date.

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New England Central 608 at Stafford Springs, Connecticut: Part 1.

In recent months, New England Central’s Willimantic-Palmer freight, job 608, has been largely nocturnal while the railroad undertook a major rehabilitation program.

New rail, ties and crossing protection have been installed. The switches at State Line are improved. And the railroad is in the best shape it’s been in decades.

Monday morning, December 10, 2018, I heard 608 working north through Monson.

That afternoon, I heard the train on its return run. So Pop (Richard J. Solomon) and I headed out to intercept it.

We caught it at both ends of the siding at State Line, then proceeded to Stafford Springs, where I made these views using my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with 12mm Zeiss Touit lens.

High contrast low December sun proved challenging. To make the most of the light, I applied an external graduated neutral density filter tapered and positioned to hold the sky exposure.

Compare the camera produced JPG file with adjusted RAW images. (There is no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. The JPG reflects a ‘pre-profiled’ camera setting based on Fuji’s Velvia color setting. The RAW’s were adjusted by me to reflect conditions at Stafford Springs.)

In post processing, I worked with camera RAW files by lightened shadows, darkened highlights, and reduced overall contrast while warming color temperature and slightly boosting saturation.

Camera produced JPG using the ‘Velvia’ color profile. Other than scaling, this image was not modified in post processing; color, contrast etc are a result of the pre-profiled JPG setting.

This version was adjusted from the Fuji RAW file and reflects the changes discussed in the text.

File adjusted from the camera RAW.

As we departed Stafford, I noticed a better angle to catch the train. Stay tuned!

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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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Lumix Raw-Adjusted on the Train—Changing at Portadown.

Just moments ago, I changed trains at Portadown, Northern Ireland.

I’m writing this from the NIR service from Portadown to Bangor.

I uploaded Lumix files to my MacBook, and adjusted them using Lightroom on the train. Then scaled and uploaded to WordPress via NIR’s wifi.

Or at least that’s the theory.

NIR train at Portadown. Lumix LX7 photo.

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HDR versus Manipulated RAW; or Flowers with NI Railways.

My Lumix LX7 has an ‘high-dynamic range’ feature. Otherwise known by its initials ‘HDR’, high-dynamic range is a technique for digital imaging that allows greater detail in highlights and shadows by combining several images of the same subject that were exposed at different values.

The LX7 includes the HDR setting as one of the options in ‘scene mode’ (SCN on the selection dial). This rapidly exposes a sequence of images and combines them in-camera to produce a single HDR JPG. Obviously you need to hold still when you make the photo.

Also it helps to photograph a static scene or the result my get a bit weird.

In this instance, I photographed some flowers on the platform of NI Railway’s station at Whitehead, Co. Antrim (Northern Ireland).

This is my HDR composite photograph. The camera automatically exposes a burst of images at various exposure settings and combines them in-camera to produce a single image with greater shadow and highlight detail than is normally possible with a single frame.

There are other ways of accomplishing a similar result.

So I decided to compare the HDR with some manipulated versions of a camera RAW file that I exposed of the same scene. With the RAW images, I’d adjusted the file with Lightroom post processing software, selectively altering contrast, gamma, and colour saturation and colour temperature to make for a more pleasing photograph.

Specifically I applied a digital graduated neutral density filter, while making global changes to highlights and saturation.

The output of the RAW is also as a JPG, which I scaled for presentation here.

This view is from a single RAW file exposed with the Lumix LX7 and manipulated digitally to maximize highlight and shadow detail. This is my first of two manipulations.

This is a more intensively manipulated file than the image immediately above. Again this image was from a single camera RAW file. This one features slightly darker highlight values.

I made two versions of the RAW interpretation.

In both sets of images I’ve intentionally focused on the flowers and not the NIR train.

Which do you prefer?

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