For the discerning photographer, summer midday high-light presents difficulties with contrast and deep shadows.
In my Kodachrome days, I’d put the camera away from 10 am to after 2 pm during June-July. Kodachrome’s palate and contrast didn’t work with midday high-light and the slides would suffer from inky shadows, exceptionally harsh contrast, and bleached highlights.
Using digital photography and post processing, I can overcome some of the difficulties presented by summer high sun by adjusting color temperature and carefully controlling highlight and shadow detail.
Another tool is the external graduated neutral density filter. By attaching one of these filters to the front of the lens, I can darken the sky to better hold highlight detail and color saturation, while lightening the lower portions of the image area to make for a better balanced exposure and increasing the relative amount of data captured.
Final adjustment is still required in post processing to lighten shadows.
If I captioned this post, ‘23K passes Shirley’, would you have looked any way?
The other day when Paul Goewey, Bob Arnold and I were photographing trains at Shirley, Massachusetts, I exposed these views of the daily westward intermodal train symbol 23K that originates a few miles to the east at Ayer.
The Lovely Trees: These two massive trunks have fascinated me for years, and make for an excellent means to frame up a photo. Here, in the first view the intermodal train is almost incidental to the scene.
Which of these views of Norfolk Southern/Pan Am Southern’s 23K do you prefer?
We were heading for Ayer. We’d heard some non-descript chatter on the radio about Pan Am’s POED (Portland to East Deerfield). I had the MBTA schedules on my lap. The sun was shining brightly.
Bob Arnold was driving, Paul Goewey was riding shotgun, and I was in the back.
“There’s freight cars moving west!”
“It’s the POED, turn around”.
“The new SD40-2s are in the lead!”
These were the coolest engines in New England as this moment in time, and they’d handily presented themselves in nice light.
Our opportunity was narrow and before long we were saddled with waddler (a slow moving car that impeded our forward progress). However, the freight was only ambling up the grade, and we began to overtake it.
I rolled down my window, set my FujiFilm X-T1 to ‘turbo flutter’ (continuous high) with a 1/60th of a second shutter speed to ensure the effect of movement, and made bursts of images of the shinny blue engines on the move.
Despite the frustrations caused by our less than quick progress, we were soon ahead of the freight. At Shirley, Massachusetts the road and the old Boston & Maine are parallel. Bob asked “where should we stop.”
“Pull in short of the new signal bridge. . . Here, it’s open and clear.”
It was a fire drill as we bailed and assumed photographic stance trackside. POED was bearing down with its diesels roaring. We only a few moments.
I set my camera’s focus position, readjusted my shutter speed (to stop the action), set my zoom to a wide position to allow for more broadside on the engines, and looked to minimize poles, wires and extraneous brush. My shutter setting was still in ‘turbo flutter’.
I waited until the locomotives were close and exposed a prolonged burst of images, while aiming to position the lead locomotive nose at the upper left of the frame for maximum visual impact.