Tag Archives: #white balance

Empty Coal Train Hatzenport, Germany.

The Mosel Valley is a wonderfully scenic setting to picture trains on the move.

In September 2015, my friends and I hired a car at the Köln airport and drove to the Mosel for several days of photography.

We selected this vantage point high above the railway line in Hatzenport and photographed a procession of freight and passenger trains.

I exposed this view using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens; ISO 640 f7.1 at 1/250th sec. White balance was set manually to ‘shade’ to warm up the scene. RAW file converted to a Jpg for presentation.

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Frosty Morning Stafford Springs; White Balance.

I made these views of New England Central job 608 working timetable northward at Stafford Spring, Connecticut.

It was about 7:30am, and the sun was just tinting the eastern sky.

Rather than set my camera with ‘auto white balance’ (a typical default setting), I opted to fix the white balance with the ‘daylight’ setting.

Auto white balance arbitrarily selects a neutral color balance and adjusts the balance based on the conditions at hand. This is a useful feature in some situations, such as photography under incandescent lighting, or in situations with mixed lighting, such as in a museum or subway.

However, auto white balance settings have the unfortunate effect of minimizing the colorful effects of sunset and sunrise and so using the ‘daylight’ setting is in my opinion a better alternative.

But there’s really much a more complex problem; the way that digital cameras capture images is completely different to the ways the human eye and brain work in fixing visual stimuli. You could write a book on that!

Downtown Stafford Springs, Connecticut.

 

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Is the closer view better?

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NECR 3476: Orange Locomotive in Winter Light.

The combination of snow on the ground, very cold temperatures, and low light make for excellent photographic conditions, if you can bear to be outside.

I exposed this view of New England Central 3476 shortly after sunset in Palmer, Massachusetts.

NECR 3476 has a complicated history. Today it may be considered to be a SD40M-2. Originally an General Motors Electro Motive Division  SD45 built for Southern Pacific Lines affiliate Cotton Belt, it was remanufactured in the 1990 which transformed it from 3,600 hp machine (as powered by 20-cylinder 645-diesel) into a 3,000hp machine  (with 16-cylinder version of the EMD 645-diesel) while retaining the tapered (or ‘flared’) radiator intake vents at the back the of locomotive that were characteristic of EMD’s higher horsepower designs.

The snow reflects light from below, thus providing greater illumination of shadow areas that under ordinary conditions would be underexposed at this time of day.

Cold temperatures and clear overhead conditions result in a inversion effect, which traps particulates and other airborne impurities that acts as a light filter resulting in a scene with more red and magenta spectrum than normal.

This effect is intensified at sunset because the sunlight has to pass through much greater amounts of polluted atmosphere because of its relative angle to the ground.

To make the most of these lighting conditions, it helps to set the camera white balance to ‘daylight’, since ‘auto white balance’ while tend to cancel out the effect of the rosy lighting conditions.

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Trenton, New Jersey at Dusk—July 6, 2017; digital photography in low-light.

The other evening I arrived at Trenton, New Jersey on board Amtrak train 55 the Vermonter.

 

Lumix LX7 photo at Trenton, New Jersey, July 6, 2017.

The blue glow of dusk prevailed. That moment between daylight and evening when the hue of the light adds a extra atmosphere to photographs.

That is of course, unless your camera has its ‘auto white balance’ set, which will neutralize the color and make for blander, duller images.

To avoid this problem, I set my white balance to ‘daylight’, which forces the camera to interpret the bluer light more or less as I see it.

These images were exposed using my Panasonic Lumix LX7 in ‘Vivid’ mode at ISO 200.

SEPTA at Trenton, New Jersey, July 6, 2017. Lumix LX7 photo

 

A SEPTA train enters the station bound for Philadelphia.

Other than scaling the in-camera Jpgs for internet presentation, I’ve not made changes to the appearance of these photos in Post Processing; color balance, color temperature, contrast, exposure and sharpness were not altered during post processing.

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Amtrak’s battle-worn Amfleet, now 4 decades on the roll.
Amtrak 55, the Vermonter has the signal at Trenton. The diagonal arrangement of amber lights indicates ‘approach’.