Tag Archives: #Spuyten Duyvil

Sunrise at Spuyten Duyvil, The Bronx, New York—lessons in graduated filtration.

A couple of weeks ago, I made these views from a public overlook of the Palisades Parkway that show the former New York Central electrified Hudson Division at Spuyten Duyvil.

The sun was rising through a thick layer of urban pollution with made for a stunning red-orange glow.

My challenge was balancing the light so that the train running along the river wouldn’t completely disappear into the background.

Below are four variations. I’m displaying two photo files, one made with an external Lee 0.9 graduated neutral density filter. The others were made without the external filter, with one of the two images adjusted digitally using Lightroom with a simulated graduated filter.

This is my Lightroom work window. In the big window is the camera JPG of the view exposed without an external filter.

I’ll explain each in the captions, but let you draw your own conclusions.

Image 1: This in-camera JPG shows a view made without an external graduated filter. Except for necessary scaling for internet presentation, I have made no changes to the appearance of the image. This shows the challenging lighting; if I exposed for the sky, the train would be lost in an inky blackness, if I exposed for the train and city scape, the sky gets washed out and loses the effect of a dramatic sunrise. Yet since this image didn’t use a filter, and required no post processing, it was by far the easiest to make.
Image 2: This was image was made from RAW file exposed at the same time as the above JPG (Image 1). No external filter was applied. Using Lightroom, I’ve digitally applied a graduated filter to the sky and manually adjusted the file by lowering highlight and over all density while increasing the highlight contrast and saturation. (By the way, the clouds were naturally terraced, all I’ve done is manipulate the RAW image to allow this effect to be be more apparent in the final image.)
Image 3: In this photo, I’ve applied the external Lee 0.9 graduated neutral density filter to the front of the lens and adjusted it to cover the sky. This tapered filter allowed me to capture more highlight detail in the sky while leaving the bottom portion of the image unfiltered. This is the in-camera JPG, and other than scale the image for internet presentation, I made no further alterations to it in post processing.
Image 4: Working with the RAW file exposed at the same time as image 3, I’ve implemented a variety of small contrast, exposure and saturation adjustments aimed at producing a more pleasing image. Obviously, further adjustment is possible. I could for example lighten the trees behind the train. So this image features both the Lee graduated filter and post processing. To my eye it looks the most like the scene at the time of exposure.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.