Tag Archives: #Silhouette

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.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Freight Pan Silo

Last Friday evening (April 23, 2021), Kris Sabbatino & I made sunset photos at the Cape Cod Canal lift bridge.

Mass-Coastal’s freight was assembling its train at Canal Junction in Bourne, Massachusetts, giving us several opportunities for silhouettes of the train moving across the bridge.

Clear skies made for ideal sunset silhouette conditions.

Working with my Nikon Z6 digital camera with 24-70mm f4.0 lens I panned the train as it pulled north across the bridge. For this image, I had the ISO set to 100, aperture set to f4.0 (it’s widest setting), and the shutter at 3/5ths of a second to capture the motion.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Old Boston & Maine station at Ely

It was a clear cold afternoon when Kris Sabbatino and I headed north from White River Junction following the old Boston & Maine line toward Wells River.

We were about an hour ahead of Vermont Rail System’s freight that was running to its CP Rail connection at Newport, Vermont.

I exposed these digital silhouettes using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens set to f22. In post-processing using Adobe LightroomI adjusted NEF (RAW) files .

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Snow Train Silhouette

Yesterday morning, I photographed Conway Scenic’s Snow Train as it crossed the River Road bridge in North Conway, NH bound for Attitash.

The sun was directly behind the train, and if working with conventional theory for railroad photography I might have dismiss these lighting conditions as unworkable.

This is the scaled image but otherwise unmodified from the camera RAW file. This was before I made the adjustments as described below.

Instead, I opted for a sunburst silhouette. Working with my FujiFilm XT1 and 16-55mm Fujinon zoom lens, I set the aperture manually to f22 (the smallest setting). By using the smallest lens opening, I caused diffraction of the direct sunlight that results in the sunburst effect. This is enhanced by filtering the sunlight through the tree branches against a clear blue sky. I adjusted my exposure to maximize the sun burst, which resulted in underexposure of the main subject, which is GP35 216 leading the Snow Train.

After exposure, I walked back to my office at the North Conway Station to adjust the image for final presentation. First I converted the Fuji RAW file using Iridient X-Transformer, and then imported this into Adobe Lightroom. I lightened the overall exposure, while lowering highlights to make the most of the sunburst, then lightened the shadow areas to brighten up the train. Finally, I boosted overall image saturation to make sky seem more blue, and lowered contrast to lower the impact of the photograph. 

My sunburst silhouette after adjustment. Notice I minimized the wire in the sky at top right.

These adjustments required less time than the five-minute walk from River Road to the North Conway Station.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!