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.
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.
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.
I’ve included a screenshot of the Lightroom work panel that reveals how I’ve adjusted the slider controls on this specific file.
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.
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.
Several lines come together at Rastatt, Germany, which is an historic city south of Karlsruhe.
Since most through traffic is focused on to a short double track section immediately south of Rastatt , the station serves as a holding area for southward trains queued up to pass through this bottleneck.
In addition to DB’s trains, freight is run by a of variety open-access and private operators. Freights share tracks with passenger trains including high-speed TGV and ICE services and the famous Karlsruhe tram-trains.
I made this selection of images on 19 April 2016 using my FujiFilm X-T1.
The technique for both photos is essentially the same, however with the photo below of the Swiss ICN passenger train I used a slight telephoto and opted to crop the sky, rather than use a graduated neutral density filter to balance the contrast/retain detail.
Below is another view from the same location near Erstfeld. Same camera, same lens, but I’ve set the zoom to a wide-angle view and I’m not as low to the ground.
The result is that the flowers remain in relative focus to the train and distant scenery. (Also I’m using the graduated neutral density filter to retain highlight detail at the top of the image).
The train is a bit small, but this photograph is more about the whole scene rather than being focused on the train.